Religion and ethnicity were the two most dominant issues over which people fired hate and hurtful speeches in Nigeria, the 2016 hate speech index by the Centre for Information Technology and Development, (CITAD), has shown. Mallam Isah Garba, the centre’s Coordinator of the Hate Speech project showed this in a report to the just concluded 3rd North Central Zone Internet Governance Forum in Minna, Niger State.
But more disturbing is the finding that about 92% of hate speeches were in English language, showing that those who practice hate speech were educated Nigerians and are in the position to know the implications of what they were doing. The implication is that hate speeches in Nigeria has that element of deliberate or willful deployment. The Coordinator’s data also indicated that Facebook accounted for about 66% of the items captured. Again, this is a platform run by informed business managers who are complicit in any unpleasant outcomes of the hate speech practice without any rescue lying for them in the fact that they are merely business people.
Experts would say these are the global, ideological and governance context of the phenomenon of hate speeches in recent Nigerian politics deserving of attention in containing it. Others draw attention to the dialogic and interpretive complications in the determination of what constitutes a hate speech or the role of power over interpretation of speeches in relation to whether they are hateful or not. Right now, much of the campaign against hate speeches are totally unmindful of these complications as the anti-hate speech jargons, slogans and rhetoric follow a formulaic notion of hate speech as something standing there empirically independent of interpretative politics.
CITAD, on its part, is drawing attention to a high proliferation of hate on the platforms of our social media; low sensitization by government agencies on the dangers of hate speech; underfunding of the agencies that should be creating awareness on hate speech and its dangers and other issues of national interest, especially the National Orientation Agency; low sensitization at community and family levels on the need for peaceful co-existence between both religious and ethnic identities in the country.
Others are youth access to the use of internet without proper guidance either at school or family level; the negative sides of the internet even as it is a major source of information, knowledge and a platform for economic activities; low utilization of the internet, especially within government at state and local government levels; Child pornography and gender-based sexual harassment as threats to some internet users.