The ever-increasing recourse to hate speeches on disparate organs of the mass media, exceptionally radio and social media, is ominous and advances a threat to the unity of the country.
It indicates that national coherence is endangered, while the trust and confidence holding the nation together appear flustered. Our beloved nation seems to be deeply divided proportionally along ethnic, religious and political lines.
The antagonistic speeches that beleaguer the country are reprehensible, absolutely condemnable and objectionable. They shouldn’t be advocated in any part of the country. Rather, every step has to be taken to subjugate the tendencies. It is a known fact that most armed hostilities globally begin with these speeches.
Fortunately, many Nigerians have comprehended the danger inherent in detestable and malicious pronouncements. They consistently denounce them and urge the authorities to go after the sponsors. It is placating as well that the federal government is not relenting in checking the nuisance.
Recently, the National Economic Council (NEC) headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, resolved to designate special courts for administrators of hate speeches, suspected terrorists and kidnappers.
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari also cautioned Nigerians against incendiary speeches upon his return from medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
Much as the words of advice and admonition are apt and commendable, they should not terminate at mere public pronouncements. Action has to be taken where necessary. The government shouldn’t hold up until great harm is done to the peace and stability of the country before swinging into action.
In fact, this time is apposite to rein in purveyors of these rankling, infuriating speeches. There is no doubt that the increasing culture of repugnant communications and quit notices will squander the country into needless crisis if the government dispenses the state of affairs with kid gloves.
While Prof. Osinbajo thought inflammatory communications could result in genocide, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, warned that they could indeed set the country ablaze just in the same way it happened in Rwanda. That is why everyone must levitate and check the capricious act.
However, the recent statement by the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau, is cheering. The minister affirmed that the federal government was taking proactive measures to end up abhorrent and discordant speeches. One of the measures is the transmission of an Executive Bill to Curb Hate Speeches to the National Assembly.
The development is gratifying, but the bill has to be accorded accelerated hearing and passage into law, provided it doesn’t constrain the freedom of expression aggrandized in the Nigerian constitution. It should propose severe penal measures that can inhibit hate speeches.
We must understand the necessity for restraint on inflammatory communication. Nigeria cannot advance under the current ambiance of gall and loathing. From this it follows that we have to act responsibly and show deference to one another. Don’t forget, the Rwandan genocide that claimed almost a million lives, was precipitated by hate speeches.
Let’s avoid that road and embrace the path to peace through dialogue. Of course, we have to learn from history and the mistakes of others. Given the current state of the nation, we don’t need an oracle to declare that the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder which could explode without much prompting.
Bearing this in mind, the federal government must work harder to amalgamate our country. They have to do this by giving every state and every ethnic group a sense of belonging socially, politically and economically in the Nigerian enterprise. A quick intervention is required because lack of trust and suspicions have deepened our fault lines and divisions.
What’s more, poor leadership, bad governance and marginalization have caused series of agitations in the country. Unarguably, we cannot make any progress without addressing these ills adequately. Regrettably, we have hardly recognized this fact.
Since most Nigerians, especially from the southern part of the country, are asking for the restructuring of the nation to ensure equity to the federating units and ethnic groups, the federal government should give due contemplation to the agitations. That is why government exists after all; to meet the aspirations and yearnings of the people.
Nigeria can only fair well in a milieu of equity and justice. That is why it is fundamental to instill those moral qualities in the governance of the country.