“The ‘Classical Thermodynamics’ Of Hate Speech”: Nigeria as a ridiculous case study.

All of a sudden, Nigeria is wary of the dangers of hate speech! We all suddenly realize it is wrong to incite people against themselves. Whao! Except I grew up in another Nigeria, this country had always thrived on the very essence of hate. The tribes doesn’t even have to be far away from each other. There are many tribes, often from the same state, that will rather go to war, than allow their offsprings cross-marry. Such deep animosity among tribes have existed for years in Nigeria. Many parents have had to endure very bitter feuds with their children, who often coincidentally, fall in love with partners who come from “forbidden” tribes. Other parents don’t waste any time in imbibing the culture of hatred for certain tribes and peoples into their children, poisoning their minds about them, and convincing them to see such people as worse than filth, thereby continuing the tradition of hate. I’m surprised this ungodly culture has been preserved for ages, and no one sees the hate as unnecessary.
Then, go to religious houses. Perhaps, we should leave out traditional religious worshippers for now. They are better behaved in this regard. In mosques and churches, adherents are taught to hate the “other religion”. To be honest, muslim clerics are actually the greater culprits here, though not all of them fall into that category. But, from experience, religious clerics have often used their exalted positions to spread religious hate and bile. Many pastors have taught their followers to see Muslims as deluded, radical and unstable fellows, who are forced against their will to serve a very demanding God. They are taught to be wary of them, not eat anything offered them during their ” idolatrous festivals”, and never be closr friends with them. At least, Christians aren’t asked to harm Muslims. The reverse scenario is often worse. Many Islamic clerics teach their followers to regard Christians, especially, as swine. It is regarded an absolute abomination for a Muslim lady to be married to a Christian, or even for any Muslim to convert to Christianity at all. Once, through blaring loudspeakers, I heard an Islamic cleric spewing so much antichristian bile, that I concluded that every Muslim in that meeting must either be disobeying his orders, or a religious war would break out soon. We can’t also deny the effect of such hate messages on the large number of radicalized Islamic extremists in the country. We all pretend as if such hate doesn’t exist at all, and we continue as normal.
The monumental distrust between the North and South can’t be fully examined in one essay. The Northerners see the Southerners as arrogant, overbearing and weak. The South, sees the North as an irresponsible lot, incompetent, lazy and backward. For years, the dividing line has grown thicker and thicker, until almost all southerners today look at the North as a parasitic region which retains power almost at all cost, while the North decides to reciprocate by putting its massive numbers to use. To achieve this divide, many fables have been invented to make one region hate the other, and pitch their people against the other. During elections, such divides are often magnified. So,its never about what a person brings to the table, rather, its about where he is from. This hate has existed for years, but we often gloss over it. Its almost as if we love to retain the animosity, so that we can use it to arouse our people in case an emergency battle is required. We love to fan the embers once in a while, here and there, to be sure we are not caught unawares.
These are crucial issues that require deep attention because it is the very cause of our divisions as a nation. However, we ignore them because they aid our political agenda. When it suits us, we play the race card, the ethnic card, or the religious card. When it hurts our political chances, we quickly reach for the flag of oneness and unity, and deceitfully hoist it, calling for sacrifices and love. It is so ridiculous, that during the 2015 elections, many contestants under the umbrella of the PDP in the North, often attached a picture of Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the then opposition APC onto their campaign posters and billboards. What were they doing? Playing the race card!
Earlier this year, Audu Maikori, attracted the wrath of the Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai. His offence? He spread an inciting information about an ongoing genocide against residents of Southern Kaduna by the Fulanis. He was wrong on one Twitter post actually, for which he actually offered a retraction and an apology. Otherwise, Audu was abundantly correct on the state of things in southern Kaduna. The trouble was that el-Rufai was already so incensed that Audu Maikori, or anyone for that mater, could be making his government look so bad, and making the Fulanis look like murderers. For being wrong one out of ninety nine times, Audu was arrested, detained and brutally charged to court. He was inciting with false information, the government said. Audu took the trials in his stride. Months later, some old men, old enough to pass for grandfathers, claimed they were Arewa Youths, speaking for the North, shocked everyone, except themselves (and their entire region actually), by issuing a quit notice to all persons of Igbo extraction in the North latest by October 1, after which they would be forcefully ejected. Until that point, we never knew Nigeria had landlords who could, at will, issue such sweeping orders. Again, the Kaduna governor roared. He claimed the men would be arrested for such treasonable felony. Of course, he never arrested them. Infact, the minister of interior, a Northerner, charged primarily with keeping the peace at home, offered excuse after excuse on their behalf. After deceitful consultations, they had the effrontery to grant a world press conference, and graciously withdrew the quit order, admonishing the Igbos to be of good behaviour henceforth, or the order would be reissued. To add salt to the injury, a sitting governor was with then at that inglorious event. They even went as far as claiming President Muhammadu Buhari actually prevailed on them to lift the order. Almost as if the president himself acknowledged their right to issue such an order, and begged them, for the sake of peace, to tamper Justice with mercy. So, el-Rufai only bluffed. There was no way he could ever arrest those guys. The race connection was too strong to turn his back to!
So, Nnamdi Kanu is a criminal for asking for a referendum, while people who threaten violence on entire tribes can walk free. Even with police protection. Kanu has been to jail, has enjoyed bail, and is about being arrested the second time, while some have not even been arrested once for worse crimes. The North simply played the race card.
However, its pertinent to note that the recent faux outrage against “hate speech” is extremely hypocritical. First, this government hasn’t hidden its disdain for free speech because it helps expose its hypocrisy and ineffectiveness. Then, they conveniently class Nnamdi Kanu’s utterances as hate speech while ignoring many worse statements, not to talk of inciting music, in the North. The recent campaign against hate speech is simply a double edged sword. To silence the growing number of critics this government naturally has, and find a legal means of stopping Kanu. The problem is, there is no way they can ever logically go after hate speech, in their warped logic, without piercing themselves. The then opposition APC was an epitome of hate speech in itself. Social media was awash with anti-PDP and anti-Jonathan rhetoric. The party literally climbed to power on the wings of hate speech, if we’ll call freedom of expression by that new name. Now, the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has been charged to monitor phone-in programmes on radio and TV with a view to cancelling it altogether. The freedom a person has to phone into a live programme on air, and express his personal opinion is about to be revoked. Social media accounts with anti-government rhetoric are to be shut down or apprehended. News articles with anti-government tones are to be closed. North Korea would be proud!
The truth is that with so much hate speech and hate acts living with us as Nigerians, this government has chosen to turn its sights on mere free speech. And Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu may be overzealous and plain deluded about some of his demands and actions, but, there are better ways of handling him than just making him look like a criminal. When he was arrested in 2015, he was barely known. Today, he is a cult hero. Yet, the government thinks they can deal with Kanu by painting him as a hate speech advocate who must be arrested for the unity of Nigeria! We already know our cry for unity is only heard when our man is up there. Otherwise, “let Nigeria burn” is the message! Our cry for unity is fake. Hate speech is engrained in our culture, and we know it.
While in the University, perhaps, the hardest course I took was called Classical Thermodynamics. I barely understood it. I just managed not to fail it, because it made little meaning to me, even as the professor that handled the course spoke entirely over our heads. This new aggression against, and the definition of hate speech in Nigeria has the same effect on me. I barely understand it at all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s