Prof. Innocent Chiluwa of the Department of Languages and General Studies, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun, on Saturday urged journalists and other Nigerians to avoid inflammatory statements to strengthen Nigeria’s unity.
Chiluwa said that Nigeria could not afford to accommodate hate speeches, and its attendant tension on the polity, at this time.
The don spoke at the 23rd Inaugural Lecture of Covenant University.
Reports have it that the lecture had the theme: “The Language in Conflict and Peace: Representations of Identities in the Media and Internet”.
He noted that inflammatory speeches had implications for the peaceful coexistence of different groups in the country.
“Hate speech and negative linguistic representations of the ‘other’ have the tendency to exploit grievances and fears built-in long-standing suspicious and competition among groups,” he said.
The don appealed to journalists across the country to always exhibit professionalism in disseminating information.
He said that public perception of war or conflict was often a reflection of media framing and representation of conflict.
“Journalists and Nigerian media need not be biased in their reportage and information dissemination, as many people lose their lives, thousands displaced and property worth millions of naira destroyed during conflicts or crises,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to adopt an approach that would position them as builders at workplaces, homes or in relationships through their choices of words.
According to him, people can transform society by deliberately engaging in discourses of peace.
“Let us embrace and support the discursive practices of peace so as to build the future we desire,” he said.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abiodun Adebayo, said the lecture was organised to provide sustainable solutions to challenges in society.
Adebayo said that language played a major role in reshaping perceptions of the world, and was considered by authorities as a linkage to the minds of many people.
“The use of language has become a critical issue and social problem, as differences in religion, languages, social misrepresentation, among others, can lead to conflicts and crises,” he said.
The vice-chancellor said that language could also be used to build peace and harmony.