Nnamdi Kanu's whereabouts may be unknown but his hate-filled, pro-Biafra propaganda is streaming from two mobile apps.
YES. IPOB got digital. There are Radio Biafra and Biafra TV apps in the Google Play Store.
While Radio Biafra is a somewhat popular name, Biafra TV is described in the Store as a platform that “provides an interactive medium for promoting Biafran awareness”. RBL Management, a London-based shell company that has been traced to Nnamdi Kanu in the past, is credited as the developer of both apps.
In 2012, Kanu gained national prominence with his vitriolic rants on Radio Biafra, an internet radio station that broadcast signals from his council flat in Peckham, bouncing waves off telecom masts in the East.
The station gained a strong following among young and old in the East in little time. It was instrumental in drumming up pro-Biafra sentiment before Kanu’s return to Nigeria. The station no longer runs on its old frequency.
You may be forgiven for thinking Radio Biafra has completely gone underground; but with 50 thousand downloads each, it’s clear that’s not the case.
Whether or not they actually work is another matter.
The Biafra TV app grants access to four channels, each creatively named “Channel 1”, “Channel 2” and so on.
Channel 1 features a talk show, with a variety of guests discussing conspiracy theories that are consistent with the tone of IPOB’s message.
In the background, there is an image of Nnamdi Kanu, credited as the “Supreme Director”, watching over like a benevolent god who ran away and left his people to fight.
Channel 2 appears to be a news channel, with broadcasts from events and pro-Biafra rallies.
Channel 3 features propaganda rants from notable pro-Biafra agitators that will remind you of Nnamdi Kanu’s rhetoric.
Channel 4 features typical anti-west documentaries from Al-Jazeera that seem to fill holes in IPOB’s ideology.
Two things stand out. Pro-Biafra propaganda dominates the programming, consistent with the rhetoric pushed by Kanu and the IPOB. On the other hand, it appears that there is very little content and most of the shows can go on a loop for a whole day.
Radio Biafra is slightly different, and from the tone of the reviews by consumers, its popularity has not waned. The app opens to a screen with the station’s logo and a tag that reads “… in defense of freedom”.
The comments beneath the app’s profile suggest that quite a number of listeners are enthusiastic about this so-called defense of their beliefs.
One of such comments, written under the name “Mazi Uzochukwu” reads, “Radio Biafra is a blessing to the self-determination struggle of the indigenous people of Biafra.”. Another reads, “OMG. The truth is here. This is my simple religion. There is no need for temple; no need for complicated philosophy”.
The crux of the station is long monologues, based on misinterpreted history, conspiracy theories, and pro-Biafra propaganda. Still, there is space for interviews and pro-Biafra covers of popular songs.
One of the most popular is a cover of the USA for Africa posse cut, “We are the World”. This version sings “We are the Biafrans, we are the one who will change the world”.
Between these two platforms, there is sufficient programming to meet the needs of those who found a place in IPOB’s ideology and unwitting listeners who want to understand the message.
With internet and mobile penetration higher than ever, it presents scary prospects that underline the influence of new media platforms such as these.
For context, the number of downloads on both apps are baby numbers next to the 1.5 million people who are subscribed to its posts and content on Facebook.
Since 2014, the Federal Government has made several attempts to take Radio Biafra off the airwaves. In 2015, three members of IPOB, David Nwawusi, Benjamin Madubugwu and Chidiebere Onwudiwe were detained at various times during the year for connecting Radio Biafra transmitters to Ericsson masts in eastern states.
Dealing with a mobile application is an entirely different proposition.
As of the date of writing this, Nnamdi Kanu is still nowhere to be found. The IPOB leader disappeared into not-so-thin air after the Nigerian army invaded his home in the town of Isiama Afara in Abia on Thursday, September 14, 2017.
Despite a pending suit and the word of his surety, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe who guaranteed his presence in court, Kanu has not surfaced.
Fans of his speeches may miss his presence but for those who know, there are two apps on Google’s Play Store where the hate speech and propaganda never ends.