Lessons Nigerians must learn from Hate Speech as election draws nearer

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Introduction

Genocide is a product of premeditated thought, mostly caused by spiteful comment against a person, gender, religion, sexual course, country, state, local council, village town and so forth, extremely fuelled by political undertone.

Such a comment is malicious and known as Hate Speech. A speech like that has led countries into wars against the other and ethnic groups against the other. However, countries and groups are not sleeping on their oars watching this swell. The concern on the use of inflammatory language moved a group like the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide for a discussion among specialists on February 5, 2013.

Its disclosure was to map out ways to docile the use of language that incites people to genocidal missions, where the rights of speech of people would not be infringed upon. This concerns the United Nations so much that it has an arm in its Commissions known as Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, with the likes of Adama Dieng as Special Advisor.

The world has been into in-depth research to diagram out overpowering ways to implement laws against speech that leads to harm from the right of speech. It frowns that many targeted populations are called obnoxious names like ‘beasts’ or ‘asshole’ as a way of violence against them, of which has most times backfired leading to genocide.

But while in some countries people seek redress under the civil law or criminal law when displayed with such dehumanizing speech or conduct or writing or broadcast against their race, religion, gender, sexual direction… others take to violence. One place where the world is skeptical about is the Internet which is often used by persons to incite comments leading to genocide, because the use of speech in the Internet is not regulated.

This portal is mostly used by political critics or politicians against the other in order to mislead the unsuspecting public so that their post would sound politically, economically and socially correct against their prey. In an investigation conducted by Karen Eltis, Loyola University Chicago School of Law 2011 Law Journal Conference, New York University law professor, Jeremy Waldron submitted the parity rights of sufferers as a countervailing curiosity to instigators’ freedom of speech, saying “The question is about the direct targets of the abuse. Can their lives be led … and their worst fears dispelled, in a social environment polluted by these materials?”

Supporting Arguments

It is exactly 75 years, September 1 2014, since the beginning of World War 2. Henia Bryer is a survivour of the Holocaust of 1941 and 1945. At a home in Cape Town, Bryer told newsmen that she survived four concentration camps during the massacre of the Jews and other ethnic and political minorities by the German military.

In information with the News24Live, Bryer’s problem was not that she survived the tribulation, but that she continued to suffer from the nightmare. During that period, Adolf Hitler cited the Germans against the Jews as their real problem. Jews were assembled in concentration camps and were later burnt alive, gunned down, cremated and meted out with every forms of bestiality that exists in the world of cruelty.

Over 10 million people were sent to their early graves. This number is excluding about one million Jewish children who were felled in the bad portent. The same thing happened in Kenya in 2007 during its general elections in which over 1, 400 persons were killed aftermath of the elections. Kenyans who casted their votes peacefully, did not expect any forms of chaos, let alone, the one that took many lives, but for hate speech.

Their ethnic uprising started when the Kenyan electoral commission announced that there was a technical problem with its electronic vote-counting scheme. This sent jittery into the spines of the people that a section had lacerated into the machine to cause irregularities in the counting process, hence genocide. The International Criminal Court, ICC, later arraigned a Kenyan radio broadcaster for transmissions foregoing the post-election violence of 2007-2008 in Kenya.

The same were the fates of Rwandans and Bosnians in the mid-1990s, when they experienced genocide and war respectively. It was after the genocides in Rwanda that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda recorded the first “incitement to genocide” case in the world, leading to the conviction of radio broadcasters, a newspaper editor, and even a pop star for the misdemeanor. The ICC in 1995 criminalized Jean-Paul Akayesu, a former Rwandan bourgmestre (otherwise known as mayor) for provocation to genocide. It was believed that Akayesu gave a speech that was instantaneously pursued by mass murders.

Conclusion

Many groups and organizations like the MacArthur Foundation, the US Institute of Peace, the International Criminal Tribunal, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, African Media Leaders, Media Initiative Against Hate Speech, and so many other groups are doing wonders to impede the use of hate speech and genocide as methods of expressing anger. A much more severe consequence of hate speech which is genocide can be averted if people use less harmful statements that are not believable, dishonourable or undetected by the population. Genocidal crimes and violence should be prevented and the trouble of methodical encouragement to hatred prevented.

Government at all levels should make-illegal such acts, cruel, logical, and state-arranged hate misinformation under international law. Authorities should treat organized incitement to hatred as a form of harassment, as was upheld by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which was also experienced in Kenya, but while also regarding the significant precise to freedom of speech.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Children at the mercy of malnutrition

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition had accounted that at least 10 million children are affected by stunting in Nigeria. This is excluding 11.7 million children approximated that will be affected by stunting by the year 2025.

It’s manifest that unending consequence of malnutrition will befall the mental and physical development of children. The World Health Organisation, WHO, had appended that Nigeria’s primary health care level, remains the weakest link in effective health delivery.

In 2013, a national broadsheet versioned that six years after a 2007 Federal Executive Council approved establishment of the National Nutrition Council of Nigeria, the council was still not been set up, complained the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN).

malnourished children

(Picture culled from internet)

An advisor with Save the Children Nigeria was reported to have raised apprehensions that “Nigeria has not prioritised nutrition as it ought to be. Up to 33% of children who die in Nigeria die because of a fundamental malnutrition problem. Many would not have died if their nutritional status was good, and that is a fact.”

The international body affixed that this has profound implications for health and for human development and, presents a major obstacle to attainment of Millennium Development Goals in the country and globally.

WHO warned that one million children under five die every year in Nigeria, 35% of them due to causes attributed to malnutrition. The source held that in the north alone, half of all children under five are stunted, and one in five suffers from acute malnutrition.

The worldwide body examined that to date the Nigerian government has not provided the necessary leadership or response to the crisis. So, coupled with this, is a weak and fragmented health system, which is unable to provide the most basic, cost-effective services for the prevention and management of common health problems, said the body.

Connoisseurs had attributed the malnutrition saga to food crisis that has befallen Nigeria and, children are the most hit. Above 60 percent of an estimated 170 million Nigerian populations are severely affected. As at 2013, the ratio was that about 1.5 million children in northern Nigeria were being at the risk of immense malnutrition.

But in the face of absolute hunger, an explanation informed that Nigeria mislays on daily basis to the tone of N1b on contraband rice. The insurgents’ activities in the northern part of the country have in-addition been contributing to the increasing level of malnutrition as farmers are forced to abandon their farms for their dear lives.

The estimated numbers of farmers who have abandoned their farmlands were given to more than 60, 000, with more than 30, 800 acres of rice farmlands left uncared for. The unrealistic policies of the Federal Government in the agricultural sector are aswell abetting to the food insecurity. In 2013 alone, a bag of rice mounted to N13, 000.

Products such as fish, bread, meat, cereals, chicken, yam, onions, beans, vegetable oil, tomatoes, groundnut oil and others are also on the increase. In 2013, a source reported that the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) had in a statement issued in September, warned that Sahel States in northern Nigeria were faced with severe food insecurity, adding that poor families had used up their food stocks and were facing high food prices awaiting the next harvest.

The source sustained that the indices also noted that over 1.4 million children in the North were at risk of severe malnutrition. The source maintained that the revelation also came as scores of people had suspected that the country’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) had been usurped by dishonest operators across the country’s borders; in the case of rice, the implementation of high tariffs for rice importation had brought legal imports into the country to a standstill, creating a massive demand from staple consumers.

In the presence of this, about 46,687 children were lucratively treated of acute malnutrition while 910 children were not successful by November 2014, in Sokoto State, reported the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), which has been in operation in that state since 2010.

The local government areas that were affected were given to include Binji, Gudu, Gada, Goronyo, Illela, Tangaza, Wamakko, Sabon-Birni and Sokoto South. The office of the Ministry of Health in the state lamented that the state government would include the procurement of RUTF (Ready-to-Use-Food) in the 2015 budget, due to the success of the CMAM. That was coming when a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA’s) broadcast instructed that anyone who has visited any of the 216 Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition, (CMAM), sites set up by UNICEF in the seven Sahelian States of Gombe, Jigawa, Borno and Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Kano may not forget in a hurry, the sight of the unfortunate Nigerian children affected by Severe Acute Malnutrition.

An online source frowned that some children, whose parents fled from Boko Haram insurrections on their communities to hiding places in the Gowza Local Government Area in Borno State, have died as a result of hunger and malnutrition. Children in states such as Ebonyi, Delta, Benue and Bayelsa were also at risk of acute malnutrition. The Federal Ministry of Health in 2013 admitted that “41 per cent of Nigerian children under age five suffer stunted growth as a result of malnutrition,” whereas Nigeria was said to have gathered in, about N9 trillion in federal revenues in 2012, reported a source.

Not only that, Nigeria as at the year in quote was the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world. The Editorial of a national paper, July 28, 2013, affirmed that ignorant parents, who are not acquainted with healthy diets for growing up children, are a major factor in these unhealthy national statistics. The source continued that long years of the neglect of agriculture by the states concerned, which was ignited at the advent of an oil rent-driven economy, widespread poverty and the recent insecurity occasioned by Boko Haram’s terror campaign, also, have seriously eroded the capacity of families in the North to feed the children.

On 2014 World Food Day, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Nigeria, painted the need to scale up successful nutrition interventions in Nigeria. Its fear was that half of women of childbearing age in Nigeria are anemic (62%) and almost a third (29.5%) of children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, a leading cause of childhood blindness. It’s understood that children in Nigeria do not enroll at school earlier due to analysis that suggested that they do not reach their full potential height due to malnutrition. They also do not reach their full potential, academically, due to malnutrition.

The information hinged the reasons why Nigerian children are set back, saying that about 29.5% of children under the age of five suffer from vitamin A deficiency. With all these, Nigeria was in the 2013 Hunger and Commitment Index placed on the menu as a ‘very low commitment’ country that was yet to tackle hunger and under-nutrition. According to a testimony by Save the Children, a UK-based charity organization in 2014, titled, A life free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition, Nigeria was listed alongside India, Bangladesh, Peru and Pakistan as countries faced with malnutrition.

It was observed by the group that about a quarter of parents in Nigeria (27%) appears to be struggling the most, to feed their children. For-this-reason, children go without food for an entire day. According to the World Bank in 2008 on the malnutrition prevalence, weight for age (% of children under 5) in Nigeria was reported at 26.70. Experts analysed that prevalence of child malnutrition is the percentage of children under age 5 whose weight for age is more than two standard deviations below the median for the international reference population ages 0-59 months.

The experts’ data was based on the WHO’s child growth standards released in 2006. The Trading Economics quoted the World Bank as saying that exclusive breastfeeding (% of children under 6 months) in Nigeria was reported at 13.10 in 2008. It defined exclusive breastfeeding as the percentage of children less than six months old who are fed breast milk alone (no other liquids) in the past 24 hours. Also, low-birth weight babies (% of births) in Nigeria were reported at 11.70 in 2008. The source defined low-birth weight babies as newborns weighing less than 2,500 grams, with the measurement taken within the first hours of life, before significant postnatal weight loss has occurred.

Conversely, NSN had suggested that to get out of this conundrum, authorities have to scale-up of community management of severely malnourished children, budget lines at all government levels for nutrition interventions and mechanisms for public-private initiatives targeting nutrition. The body in-addition suggested that the new media should be a vital portal where the nutrition intervention should be taken to, to enable communities have a property feel of the intervention than hosting conferences. A perspective also suggested that government at all levels should begin a sustainable campaign that will educate children and their parents about the importance of a balanced diet.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855.

Dangers of Wike’s candidature

By Odimegwu Onwumere

It is only the blind that cannot see the handwriting on the wall, but with modern technology, the blind can read. Nonetheless, this is not with the inharmonious candidate of the Rivers Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barr Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike. He does not want to read nor see the ignominious handwriting that even his party fellows are showing him on the wall, where he is head bent on and desperate, believing that he is the next governor of Rivers State, after the tenure of Governor Chibuike Amaechi expires in May.

One of the handwritings on the wall against Wike is that the PDP in the state is divided, with many stakeholders holding the viewpoint that Wike is running the affairs of the party with the state’s party chairman, Brother Felix Obuah, like garrison commanders: They do not want true reconciliation with these separated party fellows. Listening to comments by some PDP stalwarts on the Rhythm FM, Port Harcourt conversation, Saturday, January 10 2015, anchored by the sonorous Segun Owolobi, attested to the fact that all are not well with the PDP in Rivers; all because of Wike.

With that, it is obvious that many party men and women would work against Wike in the February 28 governorship election, hence making viable the boast by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state that even with the endorsement of Wike by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, the former would not get up to 10 percent votes in the election.

Much as Wike has been widely fingered to have emerged the candidate of the PDP in the state through spurious maneuvers, which led to 16 contestants in the party to cry foul, Wike is closing his relationship with many party faithful, who could have stood for him than some yesmen he has been voyaging to the nooks and crannies of the state to campaign with. Apart from the fact that the train which delivered him as the PDP candidate in Rivers State is uncertain, he may have killed his political career on arrival with his loquacious tendencies and instigation of fears into the veins of the residents through his unguided and unedited statements.

One of the fears among the people is that if Wike could be brazenly boastful on February 21 2014, at the handover and inauguration of the PDP buses to 23 Local government Areas in the state, saying that the Rivers State governor would be arrested after the declaration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the reelected president of Nigeria in 2015, then the fate of the ‘common’ Rivers residents under the stewardship of Wike is terrifying. He might decide to pocket all of us because his ‘godfather’ in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan has won.

We could remember the insubordinate stance and stand of Wike when the “controversial police commissioner” then called Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu was in Rivers State. Where and whenever there was political ceasefire, Wike as then supervising Minister of Education, would do everything to spark the litmus paper and the whole state nearly went aflame. He does not call a hoot to telling a sitting governor that the Port Harcourt International Airport as well as land and sea borders in the state would be shut to prevent Governor Amaechi from fleeing. This is the typical Wike who sees himself as the next governor of Rivers State.

amaechi and wike

In that highlight, Wike who was not an accountant and was never an auditor was quick to apparently reference the approval given by the State House of Assembly for the governor to withdraw the sum of N30bn from the State Reserve Fund, saying, “They can sit in Government House and approve whatever amount of money they like for Governor Amaechi to spend. But let me tell you all now, Governor Amaechi and his friends will account for all the monies that they are appropriating and spending now.”

 

Adding, Wike said, “Once the Independent National Electoral Commission announces the victory of President Jonathan, we will immediately shut down the Port Harcourt International Airport and all land and sea borders in Rivers State to prevent Governor Amaechi from escaping. Does he (Amaechi) think we don’t know that he is planning to run away? But he and his cohorts will not succeed.

 

“All they can do thereafter is to lock themselves inside the Government House and at the appropriate time, we will go there and pick them up one after the other. Believe me; Governor Amaechi will surely account for all our monies that he is frittering away now. We will not allow the looters of our treasury to run away from justice.”

 

That was the archetypal Wike for you; a man who believes that the much a man talks like a dramatist he is, the more he receives accolades. But this is not true. If Wike could insult the governor of his state the way he had done where he was seeking for favour from the Jonathans and yet was pretending to be fighting their cause, then the providence of the residents would be problematic under his leadership.

 

Many of us had thought that Wike was a saint when he said that “Amaechi is afraid. We will not beg him. Why is Amaechi afraid of everybody? He is afraid that the Speaker of the House of Assembly will betray him; he is afraid that the Chief Judge recommended by the National Judicial Council will betray him. Why is Amaechi afraid of everybody? When did Amaechi become an oracle or priest that everybody will now make an appearance (before) to swear?” But what played out in the primary election of the Rivers PDP on December 8 2014 has shown that Wike was the most fearful human being on earth. If he was not, he could have made provision for the now 16 aggrieved party men and women to contest in that election alongside with him.

 

If truth be told, Wike’s emergence as Rivers PDP flagbearer has been rejected by those who matter in the PDP in the state, except for the light featherweights in the party, like the chairman. Many Rivers people have seen his candidature as a continuation of the party’s war against the state. For example, the state APC chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, on December 9, 2014, not up to two days that Wike was said to have become the PDP candidate, dismissed the candidature of Wike as an imposition. Ikanya even ‘pitied’ the PDP, saying that the process that led to Wike’s emergence will cause ripples in the PDP. And here is the party today!

 

In Ikanya’s words, “We have watched with amusement the macabre dance by the PDP and its leadership which culminated in the imposition of Chief Nyesom Wike as the party’s flag-bearer for the 2015 gubernatorial election. To us, the emergence of the cantankerous and disreputable Wike means an easy victory for us as he cannot in any way be compared with our candidate, the very reputable and visionary Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside. The battle is now between the Rivers State people and the forces of darkness which the PDP represents.”

 

Ikanya affirmed, that Wike could emerge after the alarm unitedly raised by the 16 other PDP aspirants that were duped of their hard-earned money – as the outcome of the process had already been determined by forces whose hatred for Rivers State is legendary – speaks volumes about the extent to which the Presidency and the PDP national leadership are prepared to go to humiliate the good people of Rivers State.

 

Ikanya asked, what is more? For President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP leadership to disregard the warning and pleas by Rivers State Elders such as Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Chief A.K. Horsfall and Jonathan’s own ethnic Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, on the dangers of Wike’s candidature portends to the peace, progress and unity of Rivers State simply demonstrates the level of disdain and scorn that the Presidency and PDP leadership have for Rivers State and her people.

 

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com