The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appealed to traditional rulers to support the government in promoting peace and unity across the country, amid rising cases of incendiary statements and hate speeches capable of tearing the nation apart just as he warned that ‘most people have forgotten how hate speeches helped to trigger genocide in Rwanda in 1994, killing about 800,000 people.’
The Minister, who made the remarks in Abuja on Friday when he received the Olowo of Owo, Oba Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi III, on a courtesy visit to his office, said the phenomenon of fake news, disinformation and misinformation must also be checked to guard against any attempt to undermine the unity of the country.
“Hate speeches are being spewed out daily, with reckless abandon. Most people have forgotten how hate speeches helped to trigger genocide in Rwanda in 1994, killing about 800,000 people.
“When the hate speech phenomenon is added to the growing problem of fake news, disinformation and misinformation, we have a most incendiary mix that could undermine the unity, peace and security of any country.
“This is why I want to use the opportunity of this visit of His Royal Highness, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi III, to appeal to our traditional institutions across the country to intervene urgently to douse the tension enveloping the land,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the traditional rulers have a huge role to play in keeping the country safe and keeping the people united, adding: ”They have always played this role, but we need them now more than ever.”
He also appealed to the media to always exercise a great deal of restraint in their reporting, so as not to aggravate the tension caused by the divisive tendencies, including hate speech.
“As I have always said, it is because we have a peaceful country that professionals, including journalists, can carry out their daily chores. It is therefore imperative for us all to be part of government’s efforts to make our country secure and peaceful and keep our people united,” the Minister said.
He described Oba Olateru-Olagbegi III as an epitome of humility and simplicity, and promised to do everything within his power to bring to fruition the project to turn the Olowo’s Palace into a national monument, in appreciation of the historic contributions of the Olowo to the country’s development.
In his remarks, Oba Olateru-Olagbegi III said he is visiting the Federal Capital Territory for the first time under this administration, with a view to familiarizing himself with the leadership of the country, especially the Minister of Information and
Culture, who is in charge of the nation’s cultural heritage.