BEFORE THE HARVESTS OF DEATHS
By Afolayan Adebiyi
Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Deputy Chief Whip, from Nassarawa State did revved up the mood of the nation with his death for hate speech bill at the National Assembly few weeks back. He did not only jolted his colleagues at the Red Chamber, but sent a shock waves across the length and breadth of the country. But he was damn right. Only, he did not or has not proposed the other legs of the bill. The nation at this critical point need a radical approach to her legislation than we currently have or have witnessed in the past. I guess, it is this essential radicalism that the distinguished Senator sought to bring into the hate speech bill.
I am not really interested in the cacophonous noise that followed the introduction of the bill. Let all stakeholders bare their minds. But the crux of the matter is, whether we manacle our thoughts and speeches or not, the choice before us all now is narrow.
From all fronts, the country has been fractured by certain actions and inactions of the people, the very citizens. This time, I am not going to lay the blame on the door steps of any leader. We, all of us, everybody, jointly fractured the country. At this point, no bill, no law, can cure, save by our collective actions and inactions.
The sour truth today is that the Centre has been broken, the chord is slacked and just no one is tendering to it. At newspapers’ stands, bus stops, inside public buses, just anywhere, comments of our people could be nauseating. If these are casted away as streets talks, what about the cyber space that has been virtually occupied by socio-political arsonist. No bile is consider indecent to spew out.
The social media angle is most worrisome. These arsonists have taken over totally. But we only need to ask ourselves how we got to this low level.
No arguments, most of our leaders have by their actions and inactions pushed a lot to the precipice of depression. The open debauchery in governments, the shenanigan in opportunities allocations, and the subterfuge often deployed in climbing the ladder of success, be it political or social simply can drive one nuts. Unequitable distributions of opportunities, welfare package in accessing these opportunities opens the door to hate and perfidious actions.
However, curing these social malaise by a mere legislation is never going to work; it can only breed more anomic reaction from the populace.
If the senate defiantly go ahead with the bill, and eventually pass it to law, I can comfortable argue it that many of us will end up the hanger man’s gallows. This is a badly fractured country, politically, socially, religiously and even culturally. Nothing unites us. Those who erroneously claim football did should keenly listened to the comments of some people once the team lists is announced. Instantly, you start hearing murmurings of this sections dominate the list or that section is not there.
The idle but overfed Senator that thought up the idea might be a genius. But he is being smart only by half. He should do a little more. Death penalty for hate speech, no matter how antithetical to the national health is incomparable to sabotaging the economic interests of the nation. Hate and inciting comments cannot do more damage than rigging of elections to the national psyche.
This psyche of this nation is down, far down than ever. The citizenry are running on low patriotism strength. If those few, who by an act of Providence occupy privileges positions now fatuously think regulating the thought process of depressed and famished citizens is the way to go, then let’s wholesomely welcome the hanger man. It’s sure going to be a season of harvests, bounteous harvests of deaths.
Deaths for hate speech alone cannot lift up the sagging Spirits. The national Assembly still need to do more. It is not hate speech or social media abuse that demands attention. Corruption of any definition sure does too. So also is misappropriation and any other infraction that negates the Appropriation Law. We need to tell the World that we are a saner people.
The Senator Abdullahi bill may not eventually see the light of the day. This will not take anything away from its essence. The reality is that our collective consciousness have been jerked into its possibility anytime in the future. We should expect a more radical National Assembly to revisit such legislation and possibly expand it when the time comes.
Afolayan Adebiyi, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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