There is a new development in this country that all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and colour must rise up to before it’s too late.
The Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria has announced a clampdown on free speech in the country and it won’t be for the good of a nation with nascent democracy like ours.
The federal government through the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) on the 17th of August 2017 announced a new broadcasting code for broadcasters in the country which is nothing but draconian. In the new broadcasting code which will be effective from October 1 2017, the following will obtain;
- Stations allowing callers to air “perceived hate speech” to be fined ₦500,000 per incident.
- Stations must pass calls through screeners before airing.
- Newspaper reviews limited to once daily.
- Limit of 5 call-in shows per day.
- Cost of calls to be borne by stations, not callers.
- Ban on discussion of ongoing court cases.
These six laws are nothing but an infringement on the Freedom of speech of Nigerians as enshrined in section 39 of the 1999 Constitution and the United Nations charter of which Nigeria is a signatory.
To start with what is hate speech? According to Wikipedia, “Hate speech is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.”
A careful analysis of this definition, shows that the first proponent of hate speech is no other person than the APC through their campaigns and the President himself, as we won’t forget his baboon and dogs comment in 2011 and his Washington 97% & 5% comment after the 2015 elections.
Moving further, the directive of the NBC to Broadcasting stations to control calls that are made on their phone in program, as well as newspaper reviews and discussion of judicial cases is an intervention taken too far.
This is simply an indirect way of gagging the press.
We resisted it in 1985, 2017 won’t be different!