Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Umar Dahiru, have called on politicians to avoid hate speech in their campaigns and utterances, in the build-up to the 2019 general elections, so as not to create tension in the country.
They were joined in the call by the Publisher of Premium Times, online newspaper, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, who spoke at a conference on hate speech and campus journalists’ award in Abuja.
Both speakers, at a lecture organised by YouthsDigest magazine, with the theme: “Curbing hate speech on social media,” warned that hate speech must be avoided by politicians and religious leaders in the interest of the corporate existence of the country.
Adesina described hate speech as “evil which does nobody any good” and appealed to the political class to learn from the evil that befell Rwanda and Kenya as a result of hate speech from their leaders which created tension and civil disturbances for the two nations.
Specifically, the presidential spokesperson appealed that Nigerians, individually, must check and guard personal utterances, especially unsubstantiated allegations capable of provoking misunderstanding among various groups and political class.
“Let me say it here that hate speech does nobody any good and we must learn from what befell Rwanda and Kenya, as a result of hate speech and unguarded statement from their leaders. As a people in a united nation, we need to check ourselves personally and critically, too, from unsubstantiated allegations that can pitch the people against one another and provoke disturbances.
“It will not be out of place for stiffer legislation to be put in place to curb and check the use of hate speech to settle issues, but the most important one is personal check from unguarded utterances”, he stressed.
Adesina pleaded that liberty must not be taken for granted by the people to begin to concoct unsubstantiated allegations unjustly through the abuse of social media in the interest of corporate existence of the country.
Dahiru appealed to political, religious leaders and Nigerians to sustain the prevailing peace in the country.
“My stand is that Nigeria has challenges, but, as patriots, we must put the interest of the nation first, because, we will get it wrong at the end if we play up personal interests above that of the nation.”