Hate speeches, misinformation dangerous for Nigeria, says Mohammed

Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Suleiman Adokwe (left); Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Prof. Sonni Tyoden and Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, during an extraordinary meeting of the National Council on Information in Jos …yesterday

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, yesterday said hate speeches, distorted facts and misinformation, which have become the major scourge of our time, were dangerous for the country.

He stated this in Jos, Plateau State at a one-day Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the National Council on Information, stressing that calling the extra-ordinary meeting attested to the seriousness of the issue.

He pointed out that the theme of the meeting: “Hate Speeches, Fake News and National Unity,” was aptly chosen as it brought to the fore the looming danger facing the country.

His words: “Although I have repeatedly called attention to the dangers posed by hate speeches, disinformation and fake news at different fora, no one gave the issue the attention it deserves until it started threatening the very foundation of our national unity.

“It was Gina Greenlee who said ‘experience is a master teacher, even if it is not our own.  I am sure many here have heard or read about how hate speeches and incitement to violence played a significant role in the 1994 genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead in Rwanda. Well, it is worth rehashing here for the purpose of this discourse.”

He recalled how anti-tutsi articles and cartoons in the Kangura newspaper, as well as hate speeches and incitement to violence on the RTLMC – Radio-Television Libres des Mille Collines, helped to set the stage for that genocide.

“The station was set up by hutu extremists and received the backing of most rich and prominent people in that country. Those who saw the danger posed by the station called for it to be shut down, but against the backdrop of freedom of speech, such calls fell on deaf ears, until it was too late.

“Some 23 years later, Rwanda is yet to fully recover from the impact of the genocide, triggered by hate speech and senseless incitement to violence,” he lamented.

He said the hate being spewed on radio stations across the country is so alarming, adding: “If you tune to most radio stations, you will be shocked by the things being said, the careless incitement to violence and the level of insensitivity to the multi-religious, multi-ethnic nature of our country.”

Mohammed lamented that unfortunately, even the hosts of such radio programmes do little or nothing to stop the hate speeches and half-truths, stressing: “This must not be allowed to continue because it is detrimental to the unity and well-being of our country.”

In this article:
Lai Mohammed


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