EL-RUFAI, HATE SPEECH AND VIOLENCE-FREE 2019 — Nigerian Pilot News
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EL-RUFAI, HATE SPEECH AND VIOLENCE-FREE 2019

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CAN, Dunamis raise alarm over El-Rufai's planned demolition of worship centers

When the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) launched a campaign against hate speech and fake news last year as a preventive measure to stop inciting utterances that might heat up the polity and cause confusion ahead of the 2019 polls, it scarcely thought that its leaders and supporters will fall prey of the same offence as prime suspects. The latest suspect is no other person than the stormy governor of Kaduna State, Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai last week.

Speaking on an NTA live programme, El-Rufai was widely reported to have threatened foreign nationals he felt might interfere in Nigeria’s upcoming general elections with death: “Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene. They would go back in body bags,” he was quoted as saying.

For the purpose of clarification, “body bags” refers to the sack used by emergency personnel during rescue operation to pack body or remain of death persons, be it as a result of disaster, diseases, acts of terrorism and war. So in context, what the statement by the governor means is that, any foreigner who tries to interfere with Nigeria’s elections will be attacked and killed and their body or remain will be packed in body bags and taken back to wherever they might come from.

We are wondering what kind of leaders Nigeria has produced in this historical time. Why should anyone addressed as a leader in a decent society utter such a feral statement? Is that the best way the governor could express himself?

Nigerians note that el-Rufai is well known for highly inflammable statements. In this instance, this is a clear inciting speech. This is type of statement is capable of setting the country on fire. Is it European Union, US and UK election observer missions invited by INEC to come and supervise elections he will hack down?
In the first place, there is no proven case of a direct interference. If there is, it is yet to be seen. So, was any need for that murderous statement?

Of course, like many Nigerians, the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) viewed the statement as yet a big threat to a peaceful poll. According to its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, El-Rufai’s comments was inimical to peaceful, free and fair elections and threatened that its party might opt out of “the National Peace Accord, if no action is immediately taken to curb this trend” of hate speeches and incitements by the APC leaders and supporters.

The party further alleged that “This is in line with plans by the Buhari Presidency and the APC to effect a mass deployment of top security officers, particularly the police, to intimidate, harass and manhandle Nigerians that will not support the self-succession bid of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as aiding APC thugs to snatch ballot boxes and orchestrate violence in the elections”.

As torrents of public condemnations greeted this threat of violent attack that appear targeted at foreign mission election observers, the government of President Muhammdu Buhari rose up in defence of el-Rufai. According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, “There is nothing more to sneeze at. The Governor spoke strongly in defense of national interest”.

We differ on the presidency’s lame defence of Governor el-Rufai rather than spanking him. The violent and hateful utterance credited to the governor does not reflect a ruling party that has the will to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The ruling party should caution el-Rufai and its supporters to refrain from making inflammable utterances contravening its anti-hate speech campaign as have become the norm. Nigeria is greater than APC or PDP.

QUOTE
We differ on the presidency’s lame defence of Governor el-Rufai rather than spanking him. The violent and hateful utterance credited to the governor does not reflect a ruling party that is willing to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The ruling party should caution el-Rufai and its supporters to refrain from making inflammable utterances contravening its anti-hate speech campaign as have become the norm. Nigeria is greater than APC or PDP.

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