By: Moshood Muhammed
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.
In the build up to the 2015 General Elections, caution was thrown into the wind and modesty spanner got lost in the can of oil of exuberance by many, including the supposed highly placed individuals, public office holders inclusive, in their usage of words on other people. This saw many prophecies by those tagged as “agents of doom” pronounce the break-up of Nigeria while international community had their attention shifted to happenings in the country.
Then, campaign of calumny, derogatory statements, advertorials, and all sorts became arrows in the hands of the ruling class and the then opposition. They flew freely, from all corners across the polity. No one perhaps would have doubted the prophecies, as fears in the land for a possible military coup heightened, as another school of thoughts believed.
Religious and traditional leaders among others were a part of this dastard and divisive prone act. A king in Lagos state, with reference to the state’s governorship election and in a bid to make his choice candidate known made a statement that caught a serious backlash across the country. That was the magnitude of the shameful act, it did not spare the highly reverred stool of an Oba – king, a well respected position in the land.
Two years into the leadership of the country, led by the President Buhari, the trend has continued unabated. And no doubt, it has become widely spread like a fire during harmattan, and it has become a norm, to the regret of the current leadership of the country. This time around, it has taken a new but more serious dimension, especially as the call for a sovereign state of Biafra by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) goes into head.
Asides the ethnic nationality coloration hate speeches has successfully courted, religious individuals, groups, mass media and online platforms have also lent shameful dancing steps into the trend, whether overtly or covertly. Media platforms owned by politicians and their allies have been used in doing the BAD JOBS.
More recently, social media have become the new hotbed, as the popularity of the internet-facilitated communication platform has further promoted this ugly trend. Anonymous, wrongly attributed messages are spread across, either cautiously misleading or unconsciously popularized by various individuals, with a view to sowing ember of discord among various nationalities and groups making up the country.
Sadly, all these events have further weakened the unity of the country and the peace being enjoyed is likely to be sent to its early grave.
Speaking recently on this rather unfortunate situation and possibility of another round of civil war, going by the recent provocative events, a former military administrator, Rt. Gen. Ibraheem Badamasi Babangida, said hate speeches was one of the reasons the country engulfed in a civil war years ago and warned that such may repeat itself, should the barrage of odium comments go unchecked.
In view of the foregoing and considering the dangers inherent in the ugly monster rearing its head, the government and its various agencies should ensure that a proper orientation of Nigerians is done, while law enforcement agencies should employ the relevant sections of the country’s constitution in prosecution of ANY individual who uses, promote hate speeches, regardless of how highly place such may be, including social media users. The giant of Africa and most populous black-skinned state in the world is not a lawless country. Law should be made to take its course!
Religious, traditional and sectional leaders should be weary of their actions and inactions, serve as worthy peace ambassadors to their followers, preach tranquility and ensure grievances are settled without raising dusts. Even IF there will be a break away, as being clamoured for, it can be civilly done. Like a sound fellow once sounded, wars are no picnics!
Similarly, mass media and indeed Nigerians must also see the call for oneness, unity and peace of the country as a collective business and assignment. Messages that are capable of undermining the relative peace being enjoyed by the country must be discouraged.
Nigeria is and will always be a prosperous country, when her people stand together as an indivisible entity. The diversity of the country is an uncommon blessing. It is beautiful! #standwith9ja
May God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria!