Iba Gani Adams, Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, on Tuesday described those behind the controversial Hate Speech Bill as pretenders.
Speaking during the 2019 edition of Ajagunmale Festival in Lekki, Lagos, Adams said though the National Assembly had bowed to pressures from Nigerians to remove the death clause for violators of hate speech, there was need for public enlightenment and education to change the narrative on the issue.
The Aare admitted also that many Nigerians were ignorant of issues relating to media information gathering and literacy, insisting that the law must be flexible to accommodate other people’s interests.
“It is a cheery news that the National Assembly and proponents of death penalty for violators of hate speech had bowed to pressures from Nigerians, but in a gathering like this, it is not out of place to raise and discuss issues that affect us holistically.
“The political game that had been playing out on the issue of hate speech and a death penalty for violators need to be considered with utmost importance.
“I must confess truly, that I have been monitoring the reactions of eminent Nigerians on the issue,and I think those reactions were commendable. Those that spoke said death penalty for a violator of hate speech was barbaric and unacceptable,” he stated.
He added that hate speech could incite violence and damage relationships in a society, though there was need to understand and protect individuals’ rights to freedom of expression.
“It is also a fact that freedom of speech is an integral component of a free society. Therefore, imposing death penalty on violators is uncultured, barbaric, and not acceptable in our society,” he explained.
The Yoruba generalissimo flayed those behind the bill, saying politicians that were also the chief promoters of this bill were the harbinger of hate speech, describing them as products of hate speech, especially, during campaigns.
“Many of our politicians today are pretenders. During their campaigns, they promised you heaven on earth, and shortly after they have been elected, you hear a different story entirely.
“I feel sad sometimes whenever I look back and see how Nigeria has drifted from its original ideals of our forefathers, but I always take solace in the belief that one day, whether now or in the nearest future, we shall find our feet and get back on the right track,” he stated.
In his remark, Executive Chairman, Lekki Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Mr. Ogidan Mukadasi, said his administration would continue to support the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the Olokun Festival Foundation(OFF) on ideas and projects that could launch the community positively to the world.
He added that the huge attendance of guests at this year’s edition of Ajagunmale festival had really helped in boosting the tourism potentials of the community.
The guest lecturer, Adams Kolade, an Associate Professor with the Lagos state University (LASU), Ojo, spoke on the need to embrace the core values, culture and tradition of the Yoruba race.
He noted that Yoruba race was gifted with potentials to be the best, declaring that efforts should be made to sustain and promote the Yoruba cultural identity through festivals like this, even as he applauded the Aare for the courage to sustain the laudable ideal of the organisation.