The federal government’s campaign against hate speech has received a boost from the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).
This came before the last Saturday’s governorship and States House of Assembly elections, as the Board took time to engage the youths in a one-day seminar tagged: ‘Safer Internet Programme And Capacity Building Against Hate Speech’.
Held recently at Suru Express Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, the programme had resource persons from Nollywood, including actor and activist, Hilda Dokubo; filmmaker Tunji Bamishigbin; popular marketer, Igwe Gab Okoye aka Gabosky and actor Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey.
Also in attendance were youths from all the local government areas of Lagos State, who were tutored on how to resist being used by bigots to fan the embers of hatred in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria.
According to the convener of the seminar and Executive Director, NFVCB, Adedayo Thomas, as content regulators in the media sector, the attention of the youths needs to be channeled towards issues that will promote peace and not division, intolerance and marginalization of the vulnerable.
He said: “The National Film and Video Censors Board’s safer Internet programme is aimed at promoting a better and positive use of digital, information and communication technology. As a content regulator in the media sector, the Board had done a lot to ensure that the Internet and the electronic media are not used for negative purposes. As a matter of fact, the Internet and the electronic media become unsafe when they are used to propagate fake news and hate speeches.”
On her part, Hilda Dokubo engaged the youths on practical example of how information are usually thwarted by a bigots for selfish reasons, causing misinterpretations and disaffection among people.
“Media has gone beyond film and television, and today, nearly everyone is a reporter and content producer, as the social media provides us the free platform of broadcast through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube,” she said.
Dokubo described hate speeches as activities and weapons used to instigate, and which nearly always result in violence and destruction of all that the people represent.
“At the end of the day, we never are able to trace its origin. Sad! Therefore, I call my talk today ‘The Anonymous Voice’.
“Hate speeches are a violation of our sensibilities; they attack our people, race, belief, sex, culture and more. These hate people argue passionately about issues, beliefs, ideas, and policies. It’s not always pretty – but the right to say what we believe, and to publish those beliefs has been and are still an essential part of our freedom as a people and our democracy as a nation and must be said without hate even as we motivate others into action,” she explained.
The actress, however, advised that rather than spread hate speeches, receivers should delete such messages instantly.
“The phones are very smart, but I believe you are smarter. This workshop is meant to guide you in such a way that when you get a hate speech, you don’t send it to the next person,” she pleaded.
Speaking on ‘Social Harm Caused by Film Content and Solution’, Bamishigbin urged participants to engage with people of other tribes and religions, not only as a way of getting to know and understand them better, but to also change their perception of you by making progressive statements. He said it is important to form such associations that cut across divides so that the other person is seen as he truly is; not how a third party has portrayed them.
“Don’t be a third party hater,” he said, adding: “We should deal with the issue of hate speech with all that we have by demystifying it, verifying it, distilling it and getting better informed.”