The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Adams, has 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 is need for public enlightenment and education in order to change the narrative on the issue.
The Aareonakakanfo admitted also that many Nigerians are 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 cheering news that the National Assembly and proponents of death penalty for violators of hate speech has 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 needed 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 are commendable. Those that spoke said death penalty for a violator of hate speech was barbaric and unacceptable.
“Actually hate speech can incite violence and damage relationships in a society, but we need to understand and protect the individuals’ rights to express their opinions freely and peacefully. 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 are also the chief promoters of this bill are 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 are 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”
In his remarks, Executive Chairman, Lekki Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Ogidan Mukadasi, said his administration will continue to support the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and the Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) on ideas and projects that can launch the community positively to the world, adding that the huge attendance of guests at this year’s edition of Ajagunmale festival has really helped in boosting the tourism potentials of the community.
“It is our duty and responsibility to sustain this laudable programme, therefore, as a government, we will continue to play our role. We will continue to support the Olokun Festival Foundation to ensure that this festival becomes one of the most celebrated festivals in the state,” he said.
The Guest lecturer, Associate Professor Adams Kolade, from 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 is a gifted race with potentials to be the best, declaring that efforts should be made to sustain and promote the Yoruba cultural identity through festivals like this. He applauded the Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land for the courage to sustain the laudable ideal of the organisation.
“Language is an integral part of our culture. All over the world, the Yoruba tradition and heritage are next to none. As a race that have been so blessed with all these potentials, there is need for us to sustain all these and one of the best ways to sustain our cultural identities is to cultivate a new habit which will be directed at promoting what is truly ours,” he said.
The Onilekki of Lekki, Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun, expressed delight at the success of the event, saying Ajagunmale Festival has come to stay in the area.
He charged all members of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress not to relent in their efforts, declaring that the traditional institution across the South West will continue to support the foundation.
Meanwhile, Iba Gani Adams, said with the celebration of Ajagunmale Festival, Lekki will soon become a top investment destination in Lagos State.