Hate speech: Wrong nar­ra­tive for na­tional dis­course, in­te­gra­tion

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

The re­cent po­ten­tial threat on na­tional unity posed by hate speeches em­a­nat­ing from var­i­ous parts of the coun­try has cre­ated anx­i­ety and doubts on whether or not Nige­ria will still re­main a sovereign en­tity.

An undis­cern­ing mind can eas­ily draw the con­clu­sion that these threats posed real and po­ten­tial dan­ger, es­pe­cially when viewed against the back­drop that those who ex­pected to speak against such threats in or­der to douse the ten­sion it gen­er­ated are either keep­ing quiet or re­act­ing a bit too late.

Such sit­u­a­tion gives an in­cline and sus­pi­cion that the elite, who are ex­pected to im­me­di­ately con­demn the hate speeches, are either in sup­port of the ut­ter­ances or are spon­sor­ing such ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause of in­com­pat­i­ble group in­ter­ests. An­other ob­vi­ous temp­ta­tion is the pos­si­bil­ity to con­clude that most Nige­rian elite are pur­su­ing sec­tional in­ter­ests rather than na­tional in­ter­est.

As Nige­ri­ans and for­eign­ers alike pon­dered on what will be­come the fate of Nige­ria when the hate speeches were tak­ing its toll on the coun­try, a glim­mer of hope that it was not bad af­ter all man­i­fested when lead­ers and stake­hold­ers from the South East met with Act­ing Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo.

At the meet­ing the South East lead­ers in­sisted that the unity of Nige­ria is not ne­go­tiable and this sig­ni­fied that all hope is not lost and that the sit­u­a­tion is still re­deemable. Apart from the meet­ing with the South East lead­ers, Os­in­bajo’s en­gage­ment with lead­ers of North­ern ex­trac­tion and their coun­ter­parts from other geo-po­lit­i­cal zones pro­duced sim­i­lar re­sults. The en­gage­ments and the uni­fy­ing words showed the power of per­sua­sion and re­spon­sive­ness of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and the roles in could play in dous­ing ten­sion in the coun­try.

The out­come of all the en­gage­ments showed that the Nige­rian State has come to stay. How­ever, the only ob­served chal­lenge is how the dif­fer­ent eth­nic, re­li­gious and cul­tural en­ti­ties that make up Nige­ria will be ac­com­mo­dated in such a way that no group will feel alien­ated or marginal­ized in re­source al­lo­ca­tion, wel­fare, se­cu­rity of lives and prop­erty.

Based on re­cent de­vel­op­ments, it be­hooves that the prop­a­ga­tion of the neg­a­tive sides of the na­tion’s his­tory should not be the point of fo­cus in na­tional dis­course rather, the col­lec­tive ef­forts of its past and present ef­forts should be up­held and prop­a­gated in the spirit of one­ness and col­lec­tive de­vel­op­ment.

A poignant ques­tion to ask is why must Nige­ria re­main one? The na­tion is the only African na­tion that pos­sesses im­mense hu­man and nat­u­ral re­sources that at­tract most at­ten­tion from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity es­pe­cially the su­per pow­ers. Nige­ri­ans must also be mind­ful of the clan­des­tine agenda of those na­tions that are en­vi­ous of the div­i­dends of our di­ver­sity.

Ghana, Togo, Cote d’ Ivoire and Sene­gal over­came se­ces­sion threats at dif­fer­ent points in their his­tory and this should be a les­son for Nige­ria since it is the mouth piece of the African con­ti­nent. For the na­tion to con­tinue en­joy­ing such sta­tus, po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, peace, se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment are key qual­i­ties.

It is im­por­tant to un­der­score the fact that no African na­tion, split through ref­er­en­dum or by civil war has re­ally achieved high level of se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment. Most of the coun­tries that ex­pe­ri­enced wars or civil strife still spend scarce re­sources to pro­cesses and pur­chase arms to fight against in­sur­gen­cies. Nige­ria should avoid such sit­u­a­tion con­sid­er­ing that fact that the na­tion sur­vived a civil war that lasted three years.

In­fer­ences could be drawn from Libya and South-Su­dan. Both coun­tries de­pict the gloomy pic­ture of di­vided na­tions torn apart by strife.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of a dy­namic pol­icy of unity of pur­pose which the cur­rent lead­er­ship is lean­ing to­wards will en­sure that all Nige­ri­ans have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the col­lec­tive in­ter­est. The full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the strat­egy will halt per­ma­nently ag­i­ta­tions for se­ces­sion and con­sol­i­date the much de­sired unity of the na­tion.

Any move to cause war or civil strife in Nige­ria should be avoided be­cause of its neg­a­tive im­pact on the growth and de­vel­op­ment of the na­tion. Ay­obami Akanji, Abuja.

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