By Charles Ogbu
The importance of the media in any cause can never be over-emphasized. More often than not, the media, when fully exploited by an evil genius, can make a victim of oppression seem like the perpetrator while the real perpetrator is left looking as though he is the real victim. Even in war, propaganda which is spread through the media, has the capacity to make a weaker side seem like an invincible army thereby bringing down the morale of the other army. And how can you win a war with soldiers who believe their opponents are invulnerable? Such is the degree of the power of the media.
During the 2015 general election, the APC proved to us all that much more than coins and gold, the media is an indispensable factor in matters of controlling people’s opinion. With their firm grip on the media, they were able to control the narratives and Goodluck Jonathan was successfully made to look like the most corrupt Nigerian leader while Buhari was portrayed as a reformed democrat with zero tolerance for corruption. This packaging was so strong that even as I type this, the archbishop of Canterbury still think Buhari is not corrupt.
Perception is everything! And perception is a product of the media.
Make no mistake, the biggest singular undoing of Ndigbo in Nigeria today is their continued failure to invest in the means to not just tell but own and shape their own story. This, right here, is the cause of the sum total wars and woes Ndigbo have continued to contend with in the British Contraption that is Nigeria.
Truth is like a shadow. It is nothing, actually, except what historians and book-makers want it to be. And more often than not, these historians and book-makers almost always have their own prejudices and biases. And with these, they tell their version of the “truth” not to present facts the way they are but primarily to present them the way their own prejudices and biases will be accommodated and made part of what will be regarded as the truth. And woe-be-tide you if you are part of this story but for some reasons, you are not among those historians and truth-shapers and moulders
The worst paradox of the irony of the tragedies of the 1967 Biafra war IS NOT that millions of people of the old Eastern region, mostly children, were gruesomely re-united with their Maker in a senseless war in which they played no part whatsoever. Not at all. It is that 50 years after BIAFRA, those who provoked the avoidable war and even went ahead to commit grave war crimes by targeting innocent children, have almost succeeded in twisting history to paint themselves as victims while the real victims now seem like the aggressors.
Today, those who fought on the Nigerian side twist tales of the Biafran war to sound like Nigerians were living in the proverbial garden of Eden before Ojukwu just woke up from some malaria-induced dream and rushed to declare Biafra. They would never tell you how Igbos residing in the North started falling victims to the vampiric spirit of our Arewa neighbours as far back as 1945 in the Jos anti-Igbo pogrom, 15 solid years before Nigeria even got her Independence. Neither would they tell you all the number-less efforts Ojukwu made to get the Gowon-led government to halt the merciless butchery of Igbo civilians in the North.
And if they can’t tell you any of these, how can you expect them to tell you that they were the ones who caused the moral tragedy that was the war by violating the last minute Aburi-Accord that would have saved the situation?
How can a supposed Nation-state deliberately refuse to protect a people and still stop them from taking measures to protect themselves??
The average Nigerian erroneously believes that Ojukwu’s refusal to recognise Gowon as head of state after the killing of Ironsi was because he (Ojukwu) wanted to be head of state of Nigeria, and not because he was hellbent on protecting military tradition of having the most senior officer, Brigadier Ogundipe, succeed Ironsi. Apart from Brigadier Ogundipe, there were Commodore Wey, Col Robert Adebayo, Lt-Cols Nwaw, Imo Kurubo, Effiong, Njoku and several other Lt-Colonels who were all commissioned before Gowon.
But to those without the means of hearing the other side of the story, what literary goddess, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes as the Danger Of A Single Story becomes their lot.
And this is so because one of the parties to this story (Ndigbo) is yet to realise the strategic importance of owning, shaping and telling her own story by investing in the media.
Now take a look at the current Biafra agitation:
Nnamdi Kanu and his Biafra agitators have never killed a fly. They don’t even bear arms. All they are asking for is a referendum which is the most civilized legal means of deciding issues of self determination. Kanu is not the one stopping Nigeria from being restructured. The North is! The hausa-fulani controlled government is! Kanu’s agitation has even succeeded in sparking off the much needed conversation about the undesirability of the maintainability of the status-quo. So in actual sense, this current Biafra agitation remains the best thing to have happened to this Lugard Cage.
But how does the government-controlled Nigerian media portray Kanu’s agitation??
They mischievously mis-represent his peaceful call for a referendum as a call for war. Some Igbos who were born with a talent for political correctness have already bought into this beautiful nonsense.
If Baba-Yemisi, a Yoruba man, can identify with Oduduwa, and Alhaji Musa, an hausa-fulani man can proudly see himself as Arewa, why is it wrong for Ogbu-nwa-chima, an Igbo man, to identify himself as a Biafran?
Don’t bother, I will tell you why:
It is wrong because the Nigerian media, which you have no stake in, have so determined!
A wise man does not attempt to stop the rain from falling. He takes measures to stop himself from getting wet.
As a people, we need to positively conspire to evade the Nigerian rain by making our presence felt in the media sector. And we need to do it now! If we don’t tell our story ourselves, others will twist and tell it in a way that we will be left wishing the story had not been told at all. And our children and children’s children will be left bearing the shame of a sin their parents never committed.
“Until the animals learn to tell their stories, the history of the hunt will always, favour the hunter, not the hunted”