By Philip Yatai
A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Centre for Peace Advancement and Socio-Economic Development (CPAED), on Sunday warned against dangerous speech, saying it can tear the country apart.
The Coordinator of the NGO, Mrs Jane Obiora, gave the warning in Kaduna, in a statement to commemorate the 2021 International Day of People Living Together in Peace.
The UN General Assembly has declared May 16 as the International Day of Living Together in Peace, as a means of mobilising the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity.
Obiora explained that dangerous speech was any form of expression, verbal, text, musical or images that were used to encourage violence towards an individual or groups based on identity, religion, nationality, sex and disability.
According to her, dangerous speech has been weaponised by political, religious and civic leaders to mobilise people against each other, thereby promoting violence.
“For decades, various communities in Nigeria and Kaduna State, in particular, had relationships built upon love and respect, but the trend of dangerous speech has blown away the love, tolerance, and unity that we once enjoyed.
“The conventional media, social media, and blogs have become the channels used by people of different ages to spread the voices of hate, division, misunderstanding, intolerance and lack of respect.
“If unchecked, this could lead our dear state and nation on the path of war that could tear the country apart.”
She said that CPAED in partnership with Beyond Conflict and Peace Initiative Network (PIN), was committed to preventing and mitigating violent conflict and extremism.
She expressed concern about the growing level of dangerous speech being expressed on media platforms and on the streets, adding that the development has ruined the social fabric the country was built on.
“This is why CPAED and PIN have joint forces to celebrate the International Day of People Living Together in Peace by campaigning against the use of dangerous speech and intolerance in communities of Kaduna state and Nigeria at large.
“We must all challenge the use of dangerous speech in our communities to counter impending violence.
“We must change the narrative by recognising the humanity we all share in common, strengthened by love, peace, and tranquillity.
“We, therefore, call on governments, Civil Society Organisations, media, bloggers, academia, politicians, religious and traditional leaders, women and youth groups to join the campaign of countering dangerous speech and promote social cohesion, love and peace,” she said.
The coordinator also appealed to citizens using social media to refrain from using dangerous speech and desist from sharing posts and tweets containing hate and dangerous content.
“Instead, use your social media to practice and preach the word of peace in all the nooks and crannies of Kaduna State and Nigeria at large,” Obiora urged.