The increasing resort to hate speeches/songs on various organs of the mass media, especially radio and social media, does not bode well for the unity and stability of the country. It is a clear indication that national cohesion is under serious threat, as the trust and confidence holding the nation’s diverse ethnic groups together appear shaken. Nigeria is now seemingly viciously divided along ethnic, religious and political lines.
These hate speeches/songs are reprehensible and absolutely condemnable. They should not be encouraged or tolerated in any part of the country. Therefore, every step must be taken by the government to stop these fissiparous tendencies. We say this because every war starts with hate speeches or war of words.
It is good that many Nigerians, especially politicians and socio-cultural groups, have all condemned the hate communications and urged the government to go after their sponsors. The National Economic Council (NEC) headed by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has resolved to designate special courts for purveyors of hate speeches and suspected terrorists and kidnappers, while President Muhammadu Buhari, who returned to the country on Saturday, strongly warned Nigerians to desist from incendiary communications. The government should not wait until great harm is done to the peace and stability of the country before acting. This is the right time for it to rein in the purveyors of these hate songs. The increasing culture of hate speeches, hate songs and quit notices will plunge the nation into avoidable crisis if the government fails to act now.
While Osinbajo said the inflammatory communications could lead to genocide, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, warned that they could set the country on fire just as it happened in Rwanda. The Federal Government should rise up and check the unpatriotic act.
We welcome the assurance by the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, that the Federal Government is taking proactive measures to end the hateful and divisive speeches. The government should be swift in sending to the National Assembly the Executive Bill to Curb Hate Speeches in the country. The bill should be accorded accelerated hearing and passage into law, provided that it does not gag the freedom of expression enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. The bill should propose punitive measures that can curb hate speeches.
There is urgent need for restraint on inflammatory communications. Nigeria and Nigerians cannot develop under the current atmosphere of rancour and hatred. It is important that we act responsibly and respect one another. The Rwandan genocide, which claimed over half a million lives, was precipitated by hate songs and speeches.
We should avoid the road to Rwanda and embrace the road to peace through dialogue. We should learn from history and the mistakes of others. We do not need a soothsayer to tell us that the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder that can explode with little prompting. The Federal Government should work hard to unify the country. All the federating units must be given a sense of belonging in the Nigerian enterprise, socially, politically and economically. Without doubt, lack of trust and unfounded suspicions have deepened our fault lines and divisions. Poor leadership, bad governance and marginalisation have led to series of agitations in the country. Nigeria cannot make appreciable progress without adequately addressing these ills.
Since majority of Nigerians want this country to be restructured in such a way that it will be fair to all the federating units and ethnic groups, we believe that the Federal Government should urgently do something in this direction. The government must strive to fulfill the aspirations and yearnings of the people.
It is necessary to instill equity and fairness in the governance of the country. Nigeria can only fare well in an atmosphere of equity and justice.