Osoba urges media to stand against Hate Speech Bill
Former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, yesterday, tasked media practitioners in the country to stand against the passage of the Hate Speech Bill before the National Assembly, as it portends great danger for the survival of the nation’s democracy.
He urged practitioners to take up the challenge posed by the bill squarely, by explaining to members of the National Assembly why the bill must not be passed.
Chief Osoba spoke at the official presentation and launch of two books, The Gatekeepers (volume two) and Nigerian Journalism: 160 Years of Advancing Accountability, Promoting the Public Interest and Speaking Truth to Power in Lagos.
Lawmakers championing the bill claim it is necessary in the interest of security, peace, and unity, but the language of the bill appears to create criminal offences that would allow authorities to prosecute peaceful criticism of the government. This, experts say, would violate international law protecting freedom of speech.
Chief Osoba urged journalists and media organisations to ensure that the bill was killed before it got further approval, having survived the first and second readings.
In view of activities of some bloggers and non-professionals, who have turned the social media to money-spinners by spreading falsehood, professional journalists must provide alternative for the readers, he asserted. This, he said, should come through credible and investigative stories that are educative and spread via the social media platforms.
“I read in the papers that the Senate president said the bill would not sail through. But, it has now passed through second reading, and passing second reading means that it will go before a committee, and the committee will call for public investigation.
“Now, the challenge before all of us is to write not just columns and editorials why the hate bill must not be passed, we must make presentations before the committee,” he said. Osoba, a journalist, advised practitioners to create opportunities for celebrating themselves rather than recognising others.
Those featured in the book are veteran editors and columnists, including former editor of The Guardian, Abraham Agbodo; former editor-in-chief of The Sun, Mike Awoyinfa; Gbenga Omotoso of The Nation, Olusegun Adeniyi of ThisDay, Olabisi Deji-Folutile, Martin Ayankola, Dare Babarinsa, Eric Osagie, Onuoha Ukeh, Tokunbo Adedoja, Don Okere, Eze Anaba and Bisi Olatilo.
Others include, Azuh Arinze, Juliet Bimah, Debo Abdulai, Tokunbo Ojekunle, Ademola Adegbamigbe and Seye Kehinde.Author of the books, Mr. Femi Kolawole, said the biographical work was to recognise inspiring contributions of Nigerian journalists who are among the best and brightest in the continent, to good governance and democracy as well as to commemorate 160 years of journalism in Nigeria since Rev. Henry Townsend published the first Newspaper, Iwe lroyin, in 1859.
“The book takes the readers down memory lane on how it all started, looking to the past, assessing media practice today, discussing issues that matters to media’s continued relevance and sustainability, while projecting into the future,” he said.Kolawole, who is the chief executive officer, Posterity Media, advised practitioners who get political appointment to work for the progress of the profession rather than bring journalism into dishonour.