(Editorial By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El – Rufai was reported as saying that hate speech and false news were the greatest threat to national security. As an elected state governor in the current administration, El-Rufai’s comments have the potential of influencing public opinion.
While we concede that he is entitled to his opinion as a Nigerian and an elected governor, it is important that every matter be put in their proper contexts in order not to mislead the uninformed.
There is no doubt that spoken words are powerful, but in this case the Kaduna state governor appears to be looking at the symptom, instead of the real problem; the effect instead of the cause.
While hate speech could be a threat to national security, we believe the greatest threat to national security are ‘hate’ or unfair, divisive and provocative actions of people in government.
It is the tradition in Nigeria that appointed and elected government officials pledge the oath of allegiance and subscribe to oath of office, to be fair to all in the discharge of their duties. That they will not allow their personal interests to conflict with the collective.
Unfortunately, in the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has witnessed appointments, policies and actions that many perceive as clearly in favour of some sections of Nigeria, and unfair to others. What some people turn around to interpret as hate speech are backlashes provoked by the indiscretion of some government officials.
It is a known fact that there can be no peace in an atmosphere of injustice. It therefore follows that, unjust actions will naturally elicit agitations and crises. And that is what is happening in Nigeria.
In our opinion, it will be a waste of time for anyone to condemn those who are reacting to perceived injustices against them while pretending not to see the cause. The verdict of scientists, we learnt, is that, “ in every action, there is equal and opposite reaction”, and that principle aptly explains the increasing restiveness across Nigeria.
In the last one year, Nigerians have been unusually agitated by perceived unfair actions of the federal government, leading to different, and sometimes confusing prescriptions to get the country out of the woods.
Actions of the federal government that Nigerians consider irregular are many but we shall take one example: the lopsided recruitment in 2016 of cadet officials into the Department of State Security, otherwise known as DSS.
Of the 479 commissioned officers who passed out in Lagos on March 5, 2017, Katsina State where President Mohammadu Buhari and the Director General of DSS, Lawal Daura comes from had 51 slots. The entire south-east, made up of five states had 44. While the entire north-west had 165 officials, the south-south had only 42.
A breakdown of the distribution of the cadet officials, state by state as widely published in Nigeria are as follows:
Akwa Ibom 5
Cross River 9
The figures speak for themselves. Those who decide to ignore the feelings of others should be blamed for reactions to their unfair actions.
In our opinion, perceived abuse of office by those in government remains the greatest threat to national security. The pockets of agitations and what some refer to as hate speech etc. are the voices of people who are speaking against the alleged mindset of some persons in power to favour some sections of the country over and above others.
Until that error in our public life is seen for what it is and corrected, agitations for justice by stakeholders who feel short changed in Nigeria will continue because you cannot spank a child and stop him from crying.
If those in government rule with the fear of God, and give to every Nigerian his due, we shall record minimal agitations.