Political landscape becoming toxic with hate speeches, says Sanwo-Olu
The first lady of Lagos State, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, has said that the political landscape is becoming toxic with hate speeches, imploring stakeholders in the democratic process to respect opposing views.
She stated this while delivering her goodwill message at the 2022 International Day for Tolerance with the theme: ‘The role of religion in democratic governance in Nigeria’.
Sanwo-Olu asked that leaders should not only preach tolerance but also be tolerant.
“As a result of the heightened political campaigns in line with the mood of the nation as we prepare for the general elections next year, the Nigerian political landscape has been sharply polarized along political inclinations and this, to me, is not out of place since the hallmark of democracy is the freedom of choice and speech.
“However, it has also been sadly observed that the political landscape is becoming toxic with hate speech, fake news, and outright disinformation being employed. This has resulted in name-calling, mudslinging, and all sorts of dangerous tactics and antics.
“For me, even as we call on political leaders to be tolerant of views that are considered to be at variance with their beliefs and socio-political leanings, all stakeholders must learn to respect such opposing views.
“To this end, religious leaders have an important role to play to deploy the Pulpit in our Churches and the Minbar in our Mosques to deliver sermons that lay emphasis on peace, love, and tolerance.
“Intolerance can trigger crises of monumental proportion; hate speech, fake news, and disinformation can activate violence and war, and the truth is no meaningful development can occur in an atmosphere devoid of peace and harmonious relationship among the diverse groups that make up the society.”
The Chief Imam of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr Saheed Ahmad, has warned religious leaders, christian and Muslim, not to see vision or predict that a candidate would win in the coming election because it has the tendency to breed violence especially if the candidate loses.
He added that they should not organise special prayers for politicians to win elections because religious leaders would lose their respect as politicians who win often feel they paid for it while those who lost, thinks the religious leader is not sound
Ahmad also implored religious not to collect donations or seek politicians support to build churches and mosques during election period because it has the tendency to corrupt with politicians seeing the Greek gift as mobilisation fees.
According to him, Muslims must vote according to their faith which demanded that in their choice they must be just, fair, equitable, and not panning towards ethnicity and colour.
On his part, former Vice Chancellor, Ajayi Crowther University, Professor Dapo Asaju, stated that Nigerians are suffering today reason they must chose leaders on the basis of quality and not allow religious sentiment to determine their choice.
He maintained that Nigerians must by all means avoid religious and ethnic wars because it will not do the country and its citizens any good leading to more suffering.
He added that religious leaders are watch dogs who must help political leaders to govern aright by calling them to order when they go astray as well as give quality advice.
Asaju said that Nigerians should not use religion to influence political process, rather it should be in their pockets though it should positively influence what they do as leaders.
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Lanre Elegushi, said that it is important to spread awareness about the importance of tolerance in the society most especially when various beliefs and faith admonishes tolerance to one another.
“Our religious institutions have a great role to play in educating and enlightening the populace with regards to their civil responsibilities and obligations to national survival.”