It is heart-warming that the Federal Government has identified "Hate Speech" as a national vice. Anyway, that is not the whole picture! Hate Speech is not the starting point of the vicious cycle. It is neither the fountain of the malaise nor the foundation of the ‘new troubling culture’ that is drawing wedges between brothers and building walls, between sisters. A country that is skewed and branded to dispense injustice can never be free from hate. In Aristotle’s voice, ‘man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives--- without justice’! Nigeria has not been a country where people are perfected to be the best. We are nurtured by injustice to be hard on ourselves, on our country and on others. Rulers over the years have created Hate Environment for citizens to live in. Rulers are guilty even though the rest of the citizens are not victims! We are all accomplices!
Youths across the country are going through unending unemployment, yet you have government ministries, departments, and agencies carrying out secret recruitment. Opportunities and Employments are dispensed to children and relatives of Ethnic and Political patrons as a matter of privilege rather than a matter of qualifications and experience. No equal opportunity for all even in a country where unemployment has almost become a state policy. And you want Love Speech from those short-changed?
Criteria for admission into Federal Schools; secondary and tertiary have bred much more hate than diversity due to manipulation of both the processes and outcome. Those who rob Peter to Pay Paul will have a lot of Paul to clap for them. Definitely, not Peter! He will not dare to applaud them. Peter, in frustration, will fight back, even from his distressed position; and with every available tool! A Victim’s cheapest tool is his or her mouth, the speaker of all words that flow from heart and mind.
The youth who recently won a niche of victory in the ‘Not Too Young to Run' campaign should beware of the management of its implementation. The 'seeming success' of Not Too Young to Run' campaign will amount to nothing if the battle of 'Not Too Poor to Run' is not won. Its counter-productivity and the antithesis will be felt when the space created is only effectively available for the children of the rich. Expensive political system vis-a-vis poverty and unemployment of youth will produce this unintended outcome! Yet, you expect Love speech from those who will be negotiated out for no reason other than they are poor youth?
Civilization has become a joke in Nigeria; freedom, a ruse, even as we continue to labor in vain for peace in the mist of everyday injustices that have become the manifest feature of our private, public and societal lives. Those who should know better are defending the heresies of avowed wreckers of country and conscience. In policy and practice governments, over the years have brought disgrace, humiliation, and reproach upon Nigeria, a state they have turned to the nation without nationalities and a country without citizens. We are Yorubas, Ibos, Hausas, Niger Deltans among others. But not Nigerians! Our bellies have become our god, what to eat, our prophet! We live in an era of cruel counter-revolution- of hyper tribalism, - of rentalism, - of nepotism, -of prebendalism and – of unjust denialism. So, why not of hate? Wise states are authoring their development and driving their progress with lessons learned from past failures and present efforts. Wisdom, knowledge, and commitment to collective progress determine the baseline of humanity and define how far one goes in a world set on edge by competition. Does Nigeria understand this context? In the face of mounting challenges posed by corruption, exclusion, poverty, leadership failure, intolerance, injustices, institutional errors and exponential spread of disenchantment, can Nigeria stand, without the right values to contend these? Nigeria has been unlucky. We always have rulers that present us the choice of doing evil than that of doing well. Rulers who make you to hate than to love. Rulers addicted to social injustice, and obsessed with nepotism.
How do we walk out of the cold love, vibrating hatred, hostility, and aggression that invade our firmament like colossal? How do we smack the keg of false ideas that propel and sustain mediocrity in our land?
A strike at the very roots of values that breed and nurture honesty, character, integrity, humility, respect for others, social justice, tolerance, accountability, transparency and human dignity would yield results. A new dawn is possible with leadership and followership driven by these values. A new dawn will come when leadership becomes the platform of and for service when service delivery becomes the right of the people and state exists absolutely for the sake of the people. When the primary purpose of the state is indeed the security and welfare of the people. There is no secret weapon for battling vices. The best way to win the war is by creating an open society, ensuring entrance for all and providing exit door for those whose values run contrary to good conscience. We do not have to crush the vicious. We can take them to the threshing floor. Drive them through the mills and turn out better product molded with good input, using new standard of values and reformative laws.
No law can decree love into existence. To end Hate Speech, end Hate Governance. Create just, equal and open society!
Gbenro Olajuyigbe is an Abuja based Executive Director of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative.