It has become a norm for Nigerians to survive on their own. Certainly, we have come a long way to learn that waiting for the government for such things as even basic amenities might most likely mean you will wait ’till thy Kingdom come’. As a result– we generate our own electricity, dig our own boreholes, repair our own roads, buy our own transformers among other things.
Definitely, all of these things affect Us directly unless we stand up and fix it.
A couple of months ago, Nigeria went agog with news of the Hate Speech Bill. The senate (influenced by the Presidency) had apparently reached their limits with how Nigerians express their opinions on Social Media ‘irresponsibly’. In an attempt to curb Nigerians from spewing hate at the government that we elected and gave power to, a bill was proposed for every defaulter to die by hanging.
I won’t even bother to talk about what counts as hate speech, or what metrics will be required to know who says what and from where because such information hasn’t even been made clear by the government. I won’t also bother to talk about why such a grievous judgment comes to hate speech givers when supposed ‘law-makers’ who commit the most grievous offenses such as money embezzlement go scot-free with merely a slap to the wrist. And I will also not talk about how this bill is obviously against my right to free speech.
What I will, however, talk about today is the need for Nigerians to stand up and create means to ‘survive’ on our own, as we’ve always done. This atrocious bill is a ‘call to service’ to not just the tech guys who will be most affected by the course that the bill stands for– but rather for everyone whose freedom is threatened by the potentials of the Hate Speech Bill.
I am thinking that if the bill gets passed into law, (and it is seeming more and more like it would) tech can kill it before it even spreads its wings to take flight. Apps should be created that will block or counter whatever metrics the government will put in place to nab anyone who speaks their mind. Because come to think of it, if every person in power does what they were elected to do, there won’t be a need for anyone to hate-talk against anyone!
If it is on the WebSphere, then I dare say the possibilities are endless with tech to tell these guys in power that our right to free speech cannot be taken away. There is a long list of things that they owe us. Our right to free speech shouldn’t join that list.
The power that social media affords us Nigerians apparently intimidates them, and rather than relinquish it because of a silly bill, we should fight with our heads bowed in coding to create apps that will make the bill shrink back into an ugly, dark, wet corner, where it will starve to a painful death.
It is sad to know that in other countries, technology companies are collaborating to do such things as helping to eradicate human trafficking, but here we are in Nigeria, talking about combating hate speech bill. Anyways, we are Nigerians and we have got to do what we got to do.