•  Oyegun: Hate speeches fallout of 2015 presidential election

Chinedu Eze in Lagos and Onyebuichi Ezigbo in Abuja

Former Ghanaian President, Jerry John Rawlings, has advised Nigerians to stop threatening one another on tribal and ethnic grounds, saying such amounts to the invitation of warfare which is not only unhealthy for the country but a disincentive for national political development.

Rawlings said given Nigeria’s multi ethnic and tribal configuration, tribal or ethnic threats were a recipe for social disharmony.

Expressing his disdain for the build up of such threats, Rawlings said he is not comfortable with such negative development, rearing its ugly head in Nigeria urging agitators hiding under tribal and ethnic considerations to forthwith desist from such practices.

Rawlings spoke yesterday in Lagos after attending the 12th Annual Lecture organised by the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA), Ekiti State branch.

He urged Nigerians to stop the ethnic war and help one another so as to foster harmonious co-existence.
Rawlings advised Nigerians to consider electing people with leadership integrity into public offices.
He said as much as Nigerians desire performance based leadership, the people could sustain good leadership if they vote rightly.

Rawlings said the challenge of governance in Africa bothers on leadership without character.
He said: “By character, I mean distinctive qualities that overcome the challenges we have as constituencies and organisations. Let’s learn to be gracious. I am sad over the mean behaviour of my fellow black man. African countries are plagued with several challenges such as agriculture, deforestation, bad economy, governance, education amongst others.”

He also said he is worried by the classification of Nigeria and Ghana in terms of high rate of corruption by Transparency International (TI).

Rawlings said: “Transparency International shows that countries in the South South region of Africa failed to address corruption and that Ghana and Nigeria rate high in corruption indices. However, some leaders have the will but not the character to fight corruption. The fight against corruption in Nigeria calls for integrity and wise approach so that it will not conflict with the lives of the people.”

He said when Nigeria fights corruption rightly, it will not only do well for Nigeria but Africa and the world generally, because of its population.

“Nigeria has the pride and integrity. Most African countries cannot meddle with you people,” Rawlings said.
In his speech, the guest lecturer, Dr. Makanjuola Owolabi said Nigeria’s past till now can best be summarised as one of bad leadership with mediocrity.

Mediocre leadership, he said is the exact opposite of what Nigeria needs to urgently drive her progress and development.

Meanwhile, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the rising wave of hate speech, negative religious and ethnic utterance and actions as is currently being experienced in the country is a fallout of the 2015 presidential election which should not be allowed to continue.

In a statement made available to newsmen yesterday, Oyegun described perpetrators of hate-speeches, images and songs currently circulating in part of the country as worst perpetrators of terrorist activity than Boko Haram insurgents.
Reacting to the audio recording which he described as “dangerous and despicable,” the APC National Chairman called on security agencies to promptly apprehend those behind the recording and other similar acts, “no matter who they are.”
He said: “Every ethnic-based crises of whatever nature had started with hate speech. When people within the same country frame and define one another in the manner intended to set them up for violent attack, then they are setting themselves up for a major disaster.

“The ‘merchants of hate’ don’t know or just don’t care about the consequences of the fire they are stoking in the country. But they have the experiences of other countries to learn from. Rwanda remains a classic example on our continent. “However, even as terrible as Rwanda was, it would be nothing compared to what could happen if a huge country like Nigeria is allowed to fall into the disaster of hate-driven conflict. This is why we must all rise, regardless of our political differences and condemn these ugly and shameful acts with one voice.”

Odigie-Oyegun observed that even though ethnic distrust is not new in the country, the rising wave of hate speech, negative religious and ethnic utterance and actions as is currently being experienced, is part of the fallouts of the 2015 presidential election.

“Anyone participating in an election knows that there could only be two outcomes, you win or you lose. When you lose, you prepare for the next election. What we have seen however is that since 2015, some politicians and political groups have carried on as if they wish the country itself to collapse just because they are no longer in power. This is tragic indeed,” he said.

The APC chief appealed to the Acting President to direct the security agencies to ensure that those behind these odious acts are promptly arrested and swiftly brought to justice, saying “we cannot sit idle and watch a few disgruntled individuals destroy our democracy, and God forbids, the nation that we all fought hard to achieve and build.”