Hate speech is an integral aspect of a people gravely fragmented, failed in articulating collective aspirations. It is usually programed to illicit anger, hate, which ultimately dangerously affect corporate existence. Hate news in Nigeria has cultural, religious flavor, which is used as veritable seasoning for political meal of hate on the person or persons in power at a point in time.
It is indeed instructive that most hate messages are coated in fake news to achieve desired effect. The pervasive media anchored on social media platforms facilitate the unbridle dissemination of hate and its fake components with speed and resultant acrimony among people in any given society. It is therefore laudable or so it seems in some realm of reasoning for the All Progressive Congress (APC) to demonize, criminalize hate speech, rating it same level with terrorism. It is therefore nice for the ruling party to keep vigil on social media accounts against perpetrators of hate speech.
When I mentioned “certain realm of reasoning” on the sanction against hate speech, I am trying to exclude those who are sharply divided against the clamp down of hate speech merchants. While in a democracy, every opinion counts, it is also instructive for government and people to always imbibe acceptable approach in going about even the best decisions. The most reasonable way for the APC to achieve responsible citizenry or opposition party is to restitute on the past hate verbal attacks. Rising from post 2015 trend of hate comments to put clamps on the wheels of hate authors must come with references and restitution to past senseless hate lessons that has culminated into a revenge mission. If that is not done, the roar against hate peddlers will be misconstrued.
In Nigeria we have always failed to address the past, thinking we can move on oblivious of what we may have done to hurt feelings across divides. Nobody is standing like a tree against what the present ruling party did while in opposition, it is however instructive to assert that the present energy of hate was sadistically deployed when the APC was in opposition. Interestingly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) absorbed the blows, played the big brother and refused to address the issue with the merit of sanction it deserved.
For the APC led government to properly wrangle the monster they created, they must apologize for the unruly nature of their leaders, which precipitated to hate among their supporters with sad shower of dangerous words and graffiti’s by teaming supporters. It is believed that beside the glaring thievery of the then PDP government, hate speech wrapped in fake news chaperoned the APC to power in 2015.
Now that the beast of hate is properly consolidated and sitting on its high stool winning souls against the corporate existence of Nigeria, the opposition think it’s a tool to win elections rather than a virus capable of exploding the foundation of what unite us as a country. Already hate campaign has commenced against the hate speech sanction. Attempts to hurl behind bars persons caught authoring hate speech will draw flaks based on construed thoughts on the premise of breach to free speech.
The usual rhetoric’s of skewed political interest should not be deployed by the ruling APC in addressing the ugly trend of hate spreading across the country on social media. Hate speech must be defined from all its parameters of breach and sanctions identified. We must realize that some people are on social media primarily to feed the interests of their paymasters by spreading hate. Just like terrorists, this class of hate authors clone media, adopt fake identities to play their dangerous game. These verbal terrorists are good analysts with highly volatile context to any content of national importance in the country.
It is very necessary for the APC led administration to first engage massive enlightenment campaign to educate Nigerians on the harmful effect of hate and fake contents on the cyberspace. They must use themselves as example based on their hate approach to politics until 2015. They must not hide away from the fact that they birthed hatred among Nigerians in their despicable approach at ousting the PDP. It must be told that the ruling party lied so much, hated pathologically the then ruling party to the extent that many campaign promises quickly became a nightmare when they took over government, when hate instead of work became their mantra. They must tell how hate continued after 2015 election until Nigerians got tired of blames and soon demanded for flame of action.
Yes, hate speech waxed so strong before and after APC took over government. Now that electioneering year approaches, without an unreserved apology to Nigerians, there is hardly a thing they will say against hate that will make sense to those who have decided to cling to the hate lesson so adopted to apply against the ruling party in 2019. The best time to properly mend fences on true reconciliation was the meeting between the president and leaders of political party platforms in Nigeria few days ago. That would have been the best opportunity to properly restitute by recanting on past reckless tackles.
Written by Israel A. Ebije
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