Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi(left) and the keynote speaker, Prof. Wole Soyinka at the Ripples Nigeria Dialogue, ”Rebuilding Trust in a Divided Nigeria” in Lagos ..yesterday. PHOTO; NAJEEM RAHEEM.
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has urged Nigerians to resist the passage of the hate speech bill by the Senate into law saying it is an attempt to silence criticism. He maintained that the bill must not scale through.
He spoke at the maiden edition of Ripples Nigeria Dialogue with the theme: ‘Rebuilding trust in a divided Nigeria’ held at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Lagos.
The bill, which reflects the growing concern over the spate of violence in the nation, was sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger State.)
It passed the first reading late last month and seeks the establishment of an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, which shall enforce hate speech laws across the country, ensure the elimination of the menace.
The Nobel Laureate said: “Life has become so trite, so cheap, that a group of supposedly rational, intelligent people in this world, especially a world that is trying to get rid of its degrading punishment called capital punishment and they come and decree hanging? No, they’re not going to hang anybody.
“They just want an instrument to silence people. It is ironic of course that I should call Nigerians to resist this law,” he said.
He maintained that Nigerian’s character requires transformation in the wake of wanton killings by herdsmen as he slammed President Muhammadu Buhari over his “inability to get justice” for victims of clashes between farmers and herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents.
Soyinka said what the country needs now is justice and not sympathy.
He said rather than visiting the affected areas, Buhari should speak on people’s security needs, and bring perpetrators to book.
Soyinka said failure on the part of government has been the reason the country is yet to get over the security challenges.
He stated that building a new Nigeria requires ‘frankness’ and lamented the country has not been encouraging in terms of economy.
Soyinka insisted that president Buhari should have by now sacked Nigeria’s Defence Minister Dan Ali over the incessant harassment of innocent citizens by the military personnel for no just cause.
He condemned the minister for his comments on why communities blocked grazing routes and expected herdsmen not to react.
Soyinka said the excuse of some herdsmen for invading some communities in the south is because the Lake Chad has dried up.
He also wondered why the government has failed to tag herdsmen as terrorist as it did to other groups charging it to declare as terrorists the herdsmen in the country.
Soyinka upheld it is high time the government gave a stern warning against the carnage and utter destruction herdsmen inflict on the communities largely in Benue State.
The Nobel laureate also described the country as sick and empty deserving of the term ‘shithole’ as said by the United States President, Donald Trump.
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He condemned the humiliation of Nigerians by the military personnel, stating that the humiliation of Nigerians led him to relocating abroad.
Also speaking, former Anambra Governor, Peter Obi said if Nigerians knew what governors are earning, they would be silent on Shehu Sanni’s expose of the jumbo remunerations of Senators.
“You just knew that of the Senators, you are shouting, if you know that of the governors, you will not be here.”