.Says it is a misplaced priority
By Rotimi Ojomoyela
A legal luminary, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN has advised the National Assembly to be more productive and stop chasing vanity, saying the controversial Hate Speech bill should be discarded immediately.
He urged the lawmakers to shun the retrogressive bill which has generated so much bad blood among Nigerians and focus on legislating on policies that would cushion the effects of insecurity, poor education, hardship, and bad roads that plaque the nation.
Olanipekun described the proposed bill as not only anti-people, dictatorial and self-serving but also contradicts the principles of fundamental human rights.
Expressing disappointment that such a bill could emanate from the National Assembly, Olanipekun warned that the Hate Speech bill will cause disaffection and endanger the fragile unity among the ethnicity nationalities in the country if passed and assented to by the president.
On the falling standard of education in Nigeria, Olanipekun called for more funding of education through governments, corporate bodies, and philanthropists.
He also expressed concern on how tertiary education is gradually going beyond the reach of children of the poor in the country, calling for support from all and sundry to enable them to have access to education.
Olanipekun spoke on Saturday in Ikere, Ekiti State, during his annual scholarship awards for over 100 indigent but brilliant Nigerian students through Wole Olanipekun Foundation.
The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) enjoined the NASS to focus attention on laws that would make the ordinary Nigerians feel the impact of government.
“I am happy to note that it is not an Executive bill. You know you can have an Executive bill, members’ Bill or Private bill.
This Bill is being initiated from or by the NASS. I am happy because the bill didn’t originate from the presidency. I think we are mixing a lot of things up. People commenting that Buhari wants to gag the press. I do not agree with them because the bill did not come from the Presidency. But it is unfortunate that it is coming from the NASS.
“Let me advise the NASS to be more productive, let us stop chasing vanity, and things that are counterproductive. To me as a lawyer, as an elder, this bill will be counterproductive. The bill will bring disunity even among family members. We should not bring disunity. Wife and husband disagree, and if such happens, will you report your spouse for hate speech?.
” My little knowledge of the law will not open my eyes to the definition of hate speech. In the law of defamation, we have libel, and slander and vulgar abuse. And they would tell you vulgar abuse is not actionable, we are all human beings, we all have emotions, every man has his own lull moment.
” Let us caution ourselves in this country, and my fear is that those who make the law might become victims of such a law. They should respect the sanctity of human life. Nigeria is not in a stone age. We have laws that have taken care of all offences in Nigeria. No review, no amendment will make it acceptable, but they should withdraw it outrightly. We will forgive them if they show that they erred”, he stated.
He charged the beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme to imbibe the culture of role modeling, by patterning their lives after a successful person in the society and work towards surpassing him to make their future great.
In his lecture entitled: ‘Philanthrioist Vision in Relation to Youth Education’, a Professor Education, Dr. G . O. Oyinloye, said philanthropism is imperative in Nigeria in view of the high level of Poverty, saying the UNESCO research on education revealed that over 13 million children dropped out of school for lack of funds in Nigeria.
Appealing to the recipients to see education as a potential weapon to acquire knowledge, skills, and values that can transform the lives of the populace, Oyinloye said: “Education well planned for and financed will equip the recipients with knowledge with which changes and transformation will be brought to the society. In a country where poverty is high and the government can’t guarantee free education, philanthropists must come to the aid of the poor”.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, represented by Education Commissioner, Mr. Foluso Daramola, said part of the ways to make education accessible by his administration, was by abrogating fees in primary and secondary cadres to attract out of schools children.
Fayemi said his government will be paying a sum of N240 million for over 13,000 students that will write WAEC in 2020, being part of the efforts to ensure that all impediments to education are removed.