Nigeria has been drifting apart. Hateful speeches and comments have become a social media thrill.
Youths take to social media to join in the fun, scorning and reveling in bringing people down, even in their misfortunes.
For this and more, the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) recently engaged youths in Lagos, in a one-day seminar tagged, ‘Safer Internet Programme And Capacity Building Against Hate Speech.’
Resource persons from Nollywood, including actor and activist, Hilda Dokubo; filmmaker Tunji Bamishigbin; the popular marketer, Igwe Gab Okoye, aka Gabosky and veteran actor Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey, attended the event, which held at the Suru Express Hotel, Ikeja.
Also in attendance were youths from all councils and development areas of Lagos State, who were educated on how to resist being used to fan the embers of hatred in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria.
According to the Convener of the seminar and Executive Director of NFVCB, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, as content regulators in the media sector, the attention of the youths needs to be channeled towards issues that will promote peace and not division, intolerance and marginalization of the vulnerable.He said: “The National Film and Video Censors Board’s Safer Internet programme is aimed at promoting a better and positive use of Digital, Information and Communication Technology. As a content regulator in the media sector, the Board had done a lot to ensure that the Internet and the electronic media are not used for negative purposes. As a matter of fact, the internet and the electronic media become unsafe when they are used to propagate fake news and hate speeches.”
Dokubo engaged the youths with practical example of how information are usually thwarted for selfish reasons, causing misinterpretations and disaffection among people.“Media has gone beyond film and television, and today, nearly everyone is a Reporter and Content Producer as the social media provides us the free platform of broadcast through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube,” she said.
She described hate speeches as activities, and weapons used to instigate, and nearly always results in violence and destruction of all that that the people represent. “At the end of the day we never are able to trace its origin. Sad! Therefore I call my talk today ‘The Anonymous Voice’,” she said.
“Hate speeches are a violation of our sensibilities; they attack our people, race, belief, sex, culture and more. These hate people argue passionately about issues, believes, ideas, and policies. It’s not always pretty – but the right to say what we believe, and to publish those beliefs has been and are still an essential part of our freedom as a people and our democracy as a nation and must be said without hate even as we motivate others into action.”
While urging participants to delete such messages rather than to spread hate speech, said: “The phones are very smart, but I believe you are smarter. This workshop is meant to guide you in such a way that when you get a hate speech, you don’t send it to the next person.”
Speaking on Social Harm Caused by Film Content and Solution, Bamishigbin called on participants to engage with people of other ethnic groups and religions, not only as a way of getting to know and understand them better, but to also change their perception of you by making progressive statements.
He said it is important to form such associations that cut across divides so that the other person is seen as he truly is; not how a third party has portrayed them.“Don’t be a third party hater,” he said, adding: “We should deal with the issue of hate speech with all that we have by demystifying it, verifying it, distilling it and getting better informed.”
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