2023: Atiku Launches Online Radio for Presidential Campaign, FG Insists on N5m Hate Speech Fine

Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has launched an online television that will henceforth propagate his social and political activities.

Atiku Abubakar

It was learnt that the event took place at the Five Star Bristol Palace Hotel, Kano, where a video clip showed the former vice president speaking on his vision and aspiration.

Atiku was represented at the occasion by one of his sons and political allies, particularly PDP members.

The Atiku TV was launched by Hajiya Baraka Sani, a former Kano State Commissioner for Agriculture and Special Adviser to former president Goodluck Jonathan.

Baraka Sani said the ‘Atiku TV’ is a new approach that will change Atiku’s mode of reaching out to people from analogue to digital, henceforth.

She explained that the contents (about Atiku) for the television will be developed in YouTubes and circulated on the cyberspace, via WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms of the new media.

Four-term Senator representing Kano North, Sen. Bello Hayatu Gwarzo said a lot of politicians will soon begin to copy Atiku’s style.

“In developed countries, people sit in their homes and watch campaign plans of candidates on the television; you must not carry hundreds of vehicles and begin to move from one village to another and from house to house.

“The digital campaign sets the records of your campaign promises straight, so that people can hold you responsible when you fail to deliver on your promises.

“Most Nigerian politicians go to elective office empty headed, that is why you hear of several blames when things fail to work as expected,” Gwarzo said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has explained that any speech, broadcast, or publication that denigrates a person, a group of people on the basis of their sex, religion, political belief, or origin is hate speech”.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the explanation on Thursday when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum held at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

“Any broadcast or publication that tends to erode social cohesion that is an attack on our inclusion and common value is hate speech.

“Those who go to television and denigrate one person or the other with a view to cause social disharmony have breached the hate speech code.

“They know what they are doing, and they must be made to pay for it,” the minister said while justifying the increase of hate speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million in the amended National Broadcasting Code.

The minister said the fine was raised for national security and to serve as deterrent to those bent on destabilising the country through the use of fake news and hate speech.

“No country is going to sit down and fold its arms and be destroyed by fake news or hate speech especially in Nigeria where we are divided along ethnicity, religion and culture.

“In practice what we found was that when the fine for hate speech was just half a million, people were reckless because they could easily pay the half a million fine.

“As a matter of fact, our findings show that when people take advert to broadcast houses and the broadcast houses refused the advert on ground that if they air them they will be fined half a million Naira, the purveyor of hate speech will say, don’t worry, we will pay you N1 million extra.

‘With the N5 million we want to see whether they will add another N10 million to their advert rate.

“For us, it   is very practical and for those who said it is primitive, we disagree with them because we want to save Nigeria from purveyors of hate speech,’ he said..

Mohammed said that hate speech had a long history and the government had been proactive in addressing the menace because of its potential threat to national security and cohesion.

He recalled in 2017, that the ministry devoted an entire National Council of Information meeting to discuss the effect of fake news and hate speech.

The minister said he equally launched a national campaign against hate speech and fake news and embarked on advocacy visits to media houses across the country on its dangers.

Speaking on the effects of hate speech, Mohammed said it led to genocide in Rwanda where over 800,000 lives were lost as well as the killings in Bosnia and Cambodia.

“What we are doing in terms of sanction is minor when compared to what have been done in other countries like Iceland, Norway, UK, Germany and South Africa where hate speech is criminalised.

“Hate speech attracts either fines or jail term or both in many countries, including the UK and South Africa,” he said.

The minister added that the social media has aggravated the menace of hate speech and fake news and the government will not relent in its resolve to control the medium without stifling freedom of speech.