The 1994 Rwanda genocide, described as the one of the most horrific crimes against humanity since the Holocaust of World War II of 1945, had come and gone, but analysts say its impact on humanity remains fresh in many minds, particularly the survivors.
Analysts have argued that the genocide which set tongues wagging was heavily instigated by hate communication as exemplified by media reports, especially the radio broadcast that fuelled the sectarian crisis leading to the mother of battle in Africa in that country.
This negative development culminated in the crisis that cost Rwanda no fewer 800,000 lives and destruction of property.
Hate communication, therefore, has become a worrisome phenomenon due to its negative impact in fuelling socio-economic and political crises in any society globally without recourse to regional, ethnic, political and other divisive boundaries.
The Nigerian society is not immune to hate communication and the Federal Government says it is not letting things lie low in mitigating the effect of it, particularly among the political class.
Keen observers of political development in the country described government action as apt as stemming hate communication will go a long way in dousing tension toward the 2019 general elections and make the exercise peaceful.
Worried about the cases of hate communication in the country, the Nigeria Press Council, in conjunction with World and Image Limited, recently organised a one day workshop on hate communication, with the theme, “Hate Communication in Nigeria: Identify its Roots and Remedies.”
Declaring the workshop open, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja, reminded Nigerians that hate communication should not be seen as free speech. He, therefore, urged the media not to offer their platforms for hate communication.
The minister noted that the fastest way to nip the dangers of hate speech in the bud was for journalists to say no to the trend.
“I have always said that hate speech is not free speech.
“For example, while the Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, it does not guarantee freedom of hate speech.
“That’s because hate speech could be the precursor of violence, of genocide!,” he said.
Mohammed noted that a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society like Nigeria could not afford to allow hate speech to thrive.
“A fledgling democracy like ours is too fragile to luxuriate in hate speech. We must all say NO to hate speech,” he said.
He commended the seriousness the Nigerian media for the time devoted to mitigating the dangers of hate communication.
“The fact that the media takes this issue seriously is very encouraging because in most cases, the media – wittingly or unwittingly – provides the platform for the dissemination of hate speech.
The Lead Consultant, Word and Image, Chief Jide Adebayo, expressed worry over increasing instances of hate communication in the country and stressed the need for journalists to be in the vanguard of checking the development.
The Chairman of the occasion, Mr Bayo Onanuga, also decried the growing level of hate communication in the country.
Onanuga who is the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), expressed worry that hate communication was capable of disrupting the corporate existence of the country.
He said that the workshop was apt, adding that the theme was germane to the national mood, considering the prevalence of hate speech.
“It is something to worry about and it is worrisome to me as a Nigerian, because the way hate speech is being ventilated every time gives me fear whether there will be a nation in this country in next few months or years,” he said.
Ononuga said that Sections 29 and 38 of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the right of every Nigerian to freedom of speech, expression, freedom of thought and freedom to hold opinion.
Onanuga said all the Human Rights Charter signed by Nigeria like the UN Declaration on Human Rights and African Charter on Human Rights guarantee the freedom of expression.
He, however, said that Section 45 of the Constitution expressly states that all these”freedom are not absolute”.
“It is this lacuna of the law of our freedom not being absolute that decides what you call hate speech and libel.”
Ononuga, therefore, urged the Federal Government to invoke the relevant laws like Cyber Crime Act to control the epidemic of hate speech before it destroys the society.
The Lead Consultant, Word and Image Ltd, Chief Jide Adebayo, said ‘’We are here because our children are from this country and we owe them the responsibility of bequeathing to them a country of mutual trust and love, where they can attain the best of their potential.
“We are here because we are a people of purpose, a people of solution, a people of intellect, and a people of direction, who are convinced that solution to national challenge lies with the people and with the professionals.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Sen. Suleiman Adoke, said that ‘’hate speech is a global challenge to the extent that social media is being considered for censorship.’’
He called on the politicians and media practitioners in the country to be cautious of the trend, in order not to throw the country into crisis.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Mr Nnamdi Njemanze, said the workshop was conceived to x-ray the causes and remedies to hate communication in the country.
The NPC boss advised media practitioners to adhere to ethical principles as part of efforts to counter hate speech in the country.
He stressed the need for the traditional media and other media professionals to focus more on professionalism and effective gate-keeping to guide non-professional players.
Njemanze also enjoined journalists and editors to avoid the bandwagon mentality driven by the social media, to break the news no matter how poorly processed.
Njemanze said that media professionals must strenuously balance between freedom of expression and respect for equality, justice and dignity.
“We must not also gloss over the rift and fault lines thrown up by this phenomenon, but rather seek ways of intermediation.
“If we do so, the other adjunct of hate mongering, false news will also be addressed to the barest minimum through subjection of the news process to the best practice of verification, accuracy, balance and fairness.
“In a multi-ethnic and diverse society such as Nigeria with centrifugal tendencies, the phenomenon of hate speech or communication calls for the interrogation of fundamental principles that underpin our nation to address the root of these insidious inclinations in some of us.”
The President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), AbdulWaheed Odusile, called for national dialogue on hate speech to bring all stakeholders together with a view to reminding them about their roles in countering hate speech.
Dr Segun Olanipekun, whose paper dwells on ‘’Nigeria: Communication and the Social Construct of Hate Mural,” cautioned journalists to be wary of the manner of social construct they use in dissemination information to the public to check hate communication.
He describes social construct as one of the key concepts in sociology indicating the way and manner groups of people create meanings through social interaction in their frequent interacting with one another in a common language or culture.
“They do these through repeatedly and commonly held language, sounds, symbols, gestures, dance, food, even colours.
“These are some of the ‘tools’ that are used to socially construct our viewpoint of reality. Thus, this social construction of reality often separates us,’’ he said.
Prof. Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu, who spoke on “Social Media Platforms: For information or Disinformation’’ recommended convocation of a sovereign national conference or surgical restructuring of Nigeria.
Professor Usman Pate, who spoke on “National Interest, National Security and Security Reporting’’ stressed the need for journalists to be mindful of their role in ensuring peace and development in the country.
He called on media professionals to adhere to ethical and professional codes of practice and engage in investigative journalism.
“Media practitioners must at all times have the nation’s national interest at heart in their news reportage and in opinion leadership,’’ he said.
Ahmed writes for News Agency of Nigeria.
An Open Letter To FCT Minister, Chief Nyesom Wike
Dear Hon Minister,
First, a disclosure. You may not know me but we have met on two occasions in the house of our mutual respected Oga, first as a minister of state and second as a Governor, but l doubt if you can recognise me now. I am one of your admirers and critics.
As a two-term Governor of Rivers State, you did well in terms of infrastructure, for which l often commend you. I, however, sometimes disagree with you, particularly what l consider your streaks of high-handedness against those who disagreed with you politically.
I am writing this letter, with the hope that Don would send it to you, after watching your media interview with particular reference to your protégé and successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara, a guy l have never met. No doubt, he would not have emerged as governor without your imprimatur. I do not have the details of your disagreement, and I am not even interested. What I am interested in is you to rise above the alleged offence.
Take a deep breath and have an introspective view of your political trajectory since 1999.
1999-2007: Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman
2007-2011: Chief of Staff, Rivers State
2011-2015: Education Minister (State)
2015-2023: Governor, Rivers State
2023-till date: Minister of FCT
And you are just 55!
I stand to be corrected, nobody from Rivers State has been so politically favoured and blessed by God as you are, not that you are the most politically-savvy politician from the State but it is just the Grace of God. I plead with you, do not take such grace for granted.
As governor of Lagos State in 2010, Governor Babatunde Fashola told me something that has stuck with me till today, regarding power and leadership. There was a three-month old strike by doctors in Lagos over pay increase. I stepped in to mediate between the doctors and the state, which by the grace of God, l was able to pull through after extensive negotiations with the doctors, and the strike was called off to the relief of millions of Lagosians. In the course of the mediation, Fashola told me that some people asked him to fire all the doctors but he made this profound statement: “Restraint is a powerful tool in leadership; the fact that you have the power to do something but chose to look the other way.” That statement has stuck with me till date. Why do you think American presidents, despite the temptation to press the nuclear button, when their interests are threatened, rather exercise restraint by refusing to go that route? It is leadership restraint.
Permit me to recall a story which you yourself regaled your audience with at the 70th birthday reception you held in honour of Dr Peter Odili. You said that when you wanted to contest for the Chairmanship of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council in 1998, you approached Dr Odili, whom you were meeting for the first time and sought his support. He obliged by giving you his support, and according to you, he gave you the first financial support towards your ambition, even when he himself was campaigning to run for the governorship of Rivers State. You became the chairman, and when you wanted to go for a second tenure, some political actors removed your name, and according to you, you ran to Dr Odili who was then the governor and he saved your political career by reinstating your name.
Fast forward to when you completed your tenure as the chairman of the local government, when your erstwhile friend, Rotimi Amaechi, who just became the governor, appointed you his Chief of Staff and that administration commenced a process to humiliate Dr Odili by setting up the Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where your benefactor, Odili was the target and was put in the witness box.
Later when cracks began to emerge in your relationship with your boss, Amaechi, you ran back to your benefactor, Dr Odili to apologise for how your administration humiliated him. As a large-hearted person, he forgave you, and that began a wonderful relationship till date. Why am l making references to these incidents? If Dr Odili could forgive you and took you back, why can you not also forgive your political offenders, including Fubara, particularly since God has been so good to you?
Anyone who has traversed Ada George Road, Port Harcourt and seen the humongous, palatial estate you reside in, that takes a substantial part of that road, would know that you are not lacking materially. Coupled with that, you are a Minister in the current government and your wonderful wife is a judge. What else does any human being want?
My brother, please calm down, and let go of your ego and learn from history. Who would have thought that a whole General Shehu Yar’Adua (rtd) could die like a chicken inside prison; who would have imagined that a whole Bashorun MKO Abiola, the then richest man in Africa could spend five years in detention and die in custody, despite his international connections; who would have imagined that Major Hamza Al-Mustapher, the de facto Head of State during the junta of General Sanni Abacha, a man even Generals genuflected for, would spend 14 years in prison? Please, pause and think. This life is ephemeral. As the book of Ecclesiastes 1 states: life is vanity.
In Oyo State, there used to be the strong man of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu but his house in Molete, Ibadan is now desolate after his death. Adedibu was law as far as Ibadan politics was concerned. He was feared by all political actors across the nation. Before him, there was Busari Adelakun, otherwise known as “Eruobodo” in Ibadan politics. They have all been consigned to the dustbin of history. Learn from these because whether you like it or not, you would also pass away one day like all mortals.
God has been so good to you. Though I do not have the details of your feud with Fubara, you claim he is an ingrate, but this same “ingrate” took bullets for you as your Accountant-General when the EFCC was investigating your government. If you did not have confidence in him, you would not have put him forward to succeed you. Please, rise above political offences and be a leader. May it not be counted against you that since 1999, your successor would be the first governor of Rivers State to be impeached. No garland for such feat. It would be a pyrrhic victory and your new political masters in Abuja would even be wary of you. You are new to Bola Tinubu’s school of politics. Do not get carried away.
May God guide you right.
By: Richard Akinnola
Abbas Recommends Privatisation Of Nigeria’s Refineries
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas, has recommended the privatisation of oil refineries in the country to enable them function optimally.
Abbas gave the recommendation yesterday, while receiving the management of NNPCL led by the Group Managing Director, (GMD), Mr Mele Kyari in Abuja.
He described the state of refineries over the years as shameful, adding so much money was being spent on workers as salaries and allowances for doing very little.
“There is need to make these refineries have multi -dimensional uses, if there is no crude oil, are there other activities that can make the workers to be active so that why they earn is deserved? I need you and your management to look at how we can turn around these decades of losses.
“One way to do so is to find a way to privatise these refineries; we have spent so much money and time deceiving ourselves that some businesses can be run by government.
“In the case of the refineries, we have now realised that some sectors of NNPC business can only be handled by the private sector and our refineries are one of those.
“The inadequacies will become manifest as soon as Dangote refinery comes on board because the competition will be there and inefficiencies of the refineries will become more naked.
“I want you to put it as part of your cardinal objectives; let us find ways to privatise our refineries so that they can be active ,so that in the near future, they will be able to compete with new refineries that will come up,” he said.
Abbas said that the NNPCL is central to the economic development of Nigeria, pledging the commitment of the House of Representatives to supporting the company to succeed.
According to him ,the House is concerned about the high rate of oil theft as it is draining revenue, affecting forex availability and causing inflation in the country.
The speaker said that the House had inaugurated a special committee on oil theft,to interface with stakeholders with a view to addressing oil theft in the country.
Earlier, Kyari said that all refineries would become fully operational and Nigeria would become a net exporter of petroleum products by the end of 2024.
He noted that subsidy was responsible for poor activities at government-owned refineries over the years ,saying that the removal of subsidy was already attracting a lot of private sector investments.
“I can confirm to you that by the end of December latest, we will start the Port Harcourt Refinery; early in the first quarter of 2024, we will start the Warri Refinery and by the end of 2024, Kaduna Refinery will come into operation.
“This is the commitment we are giving today and you can hold us accountable on this.
”In 2024, many initiatives, including the rehabilitation of our refineries, and also the efforts of small- scale refiners, and the coming of the Dangote Refinery, will make Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products.
“We will no longer be talking about fuel importation by the end 2024, I am very optimistic that this will crystalise,” he said.
Kyari said that it was not the practice of the company to publish its financial statements some years back , but that the practice had changed, and all the company’s accounts from 2018 till date were now in the public space.
Kyari put the expected government revenue from the company by the end of 2023 at N4.5 trillion, saying that NNPCL was returning value to shareholders in line with the objectives of the Petroleum Industry Act.
Kyari said that the company had a robust supply plan assuring that there would be no shortage of fuel over the Christmas season and beyond ,and that no one could hold the country to ransom.
FAAC: FG, States, LGs Share N906.96bn
The Federation Account Allocation Committee says it shared N906.96billionn among the three tiers of government for October 2023.
FAAC disclosed this in a communiqué issued at the end of its latest meeting on Wednesday.
According to a statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Finance, Stephen Kilebi, on Wednesday, the total figure shared for October was a slight increase of N3.48billionn compared to the N903.48billionn shared in September 2023, recovering from a decrease recorded in the previous month.
The total amount included gross statutory revenue, Value Added Tax, Augmentations from Forex and Non-oil Mineral Revenue, and electronic money transfer levy, among others.
The communique disclosed that although a gross total of N1.35trillion was generated, only N906.955billion was shared to the three tiers of government as Federation Allocation for October 2023.
The total revenue distributed for October 2023, was drawn from Statutory Revenue of N305.070 billion, VAT of N323.446billion, EMTL of N15.552billionn, Exchange Difference of N202.887billionn and Augmentation of N60.000billionn, bringing the total distributable amount for the month to N906.955billion.
From the total revenue from Gross Statutory Revenue, Value Added Tax, Electronic Money Transfer Levy, Exchange Difference, and Augmentation of N60bn, the Federal Government received N323.355bn, the States received N307.717bn, the Local Government Councils got N225.209bn, while the Oil Producing States received N50.674bnas Derivation, (13% of Mineral Revenue).
The Communique stated that “the Federation Account Allocation Committee at the end of the meeting indicated that the Gross Revenue available from the Value Added Tax for October 2023, was N347.343bn, which was an increase from the N303.550bn distributed in the preceding month, increasing to N43.793bn.
“From that amount, the sum of N10.894 billion was allocated for Cost of Collection and the sum of N10.003 billion was given for Transfers, Intervention, and Refunds. The remaining sum of N323.446 billion was distributed to the three tiers of government of which the Federal Government got N48.517 billion, the States received N161.723 billion, and Local Government Councils got N113.206 billion.
“Accordingly, the Gross Statutory Revenue of N660.090 billion received in the month was lower than the sum of N1,014.953tn received in the previous month of September 2023 by N354.863bn. From that amount, the sum of N38.942bn was allocated for the Cost of Collection and a total sum of N316.078bn for Transfers, Intervention, and Refunds. The remaining balance of N305.070bn was distributed as follows to the three tiers of government: Federal Government was allocated the sum of N147.574bn, States got N74.852bn, LGCs got N57.707bn, and Oil Derivation (13% Mineral Revenue) got N24.937bn.
“Also, the sum of N16.199bn from the Electronic Money Transfer Levy was distributed to the three tiers of government as follows: the Federal Government received N2.333bn, States got N7.776bn, Local Government Councils received N5.443bn and N0.647bn allocated for Cost of Collection.
“The Communique disclosed N262.887bn from Exchange Difference, which was shared as follows: Federal Government received N93.323bn, the States got N47.334bn, the sum of N36.493 billion allocated to Local Government Councils, and N25.737bn given to Derivation (13% of Mineral Revenue) while the sum of N60.000bn was for Transfers, Intervention and Refunds.
“It disclosed that N60.000bn Augmentation was shared as follows: the Federal Government got N31.608bn, the States received N16.032bn, while LGCs got the sum of N12.360bn.”
Also, the balance in the Excess Crude Account stayed at $473,754.57 as of November 22, 2023.
FAAC revealed that N50.674bn was given for the cost of collection, and N386.081bn was allocated for Transfers Intervention and Refunds.
Petroleum Profit Tax, Import Duty, VAT, Customs External tariff, and EMTL increased significantly.
However, Excise Duties, Oil and Gas Royalties, and Companies Income Tax recorded a decrease.
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