Stop Promoting Agents of Hate Speech – Peace Corps Commandant Tells Journalist

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Stop Promoting Agents of Hate Speech – Peace Corps Commandant Tells Journalist


By, Uchechukwu Ugboaja

Following the Presidency’s position of declaring hate speech a crime, the Commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps Mr. Dickson Akoh have asked journalists to desist from giving air to the proponents of this dangerous trend in the country.

He made this statement while addressing journalists who attended the Abuja Chapel Correspondents Dinner and Award Night at the Radio House, Abuja an event that was attended by prominent personalities including the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd.).

According to the Peace Corps Commandant, some of the problems coming up apart from the tendency to cause division in the country it is intended to ridicule. It is also a product of irrationality that people could go to the social media and post the kind of messages that is circulating now, that is why in my goodwill message to the Abuja Correspondence Chapel, I advocated the fact that the media especially the journalists should de-emphasize the reports of such nature.

If we allow hate speech to go on unabated, it could eventually consume us all, so we have to de-emphasize the kind of publicity we accord them especially hate speech and divisive preachings which end product is usually chaos. Remember that several journalists have lost their lives in the field as a result of these forms of conduct, so we must not give them the sort of recognition or coverage that they seek to promote their negative cause“.

Reacting to the Peace Corps Bill which has been passed by the Legislature and waiting for Presidential accent after series of legal crisis that forced other security agencies led by the police to shut down their operational HQ months ago, Mr. Akoh Insists that for every normal course there must always be one set back or the other.

There is nothing wrong because most of the people that generated the controversy I’m sure haven’t even read the content of the Bill. I can tell you authoritatively that the bill is not out to take over the function of any existing government establishment,” he said.

“The core mandate of the Peace Corps is to develop, empower and provide gainful employment for the youth in order to facilitate peace, volunteerism, community services, neighbourhood watch, nation building and other related matters. There is no existing government establishment that is carrying out these core mandates.

“We believe and acknowledge as a matter of fact especially we the Peace Corps officers and men appreciate the efforts of our security forces to tame the tide of insecurity in the land, however a critical examination of the causes of insecurity reveals that it is basically amongst the youth, and so I would rather recommend that we use 10% of our arms budget in the fight against insecurity to empower the youths because that will reduce drastically the level of crime and insecurity in the country.

“The concept of this neighbourhood watch is an appreciation of the fact that while at the topmost level the security forces are doing their best, then at the grassroots or community levels where these notoriety is bred these youths can be trained to supply whatever designated government agency with the daily movement and activities of people which is what is obtainable in civilised climes.”

With regards to the poor welfare and renumeration associated with journalism in Nigeria, he believes that regulators of the industry can take a cue from what is obtainable in the banking sector.

In the banking sector there are regulatory bodies and when we have issues of failed banks due to issues of mismanagement of resources or personnel, the regulatory body usual steps in. Journalists also have a regulatory body which is the NUJ which I strongly feel that if anyone just wakes up to set up a media house without adequate financial capacity to take care of the welfare of the staff, such outfits should be appropriately sanctioned.

“You can’t be growing while your personnel keep diminishing that shows irresponsibility. So my call therefore is that the regulatory bodies should do something urgently to safeguard the media profession in the interest of the country.”

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