Bolaji Abdullahi, national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says his party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were guilty of hate speech during the 2015 electioneering.
Speaking on the topic ‘Online hate speech: Can social media reduce its spread?’ at Social Media Week, Lagos, Abdullahi said hate speech is a product of hatred.
“Some societies, like ours, worry about hate speech in the context of what hate speech can cause, rather than what hate speech can cause,” he said.
“It is inevitable; when you begin to frame people in a particular way, it will lead to some action. My masters is on politics of identity and the media.
“One of the great minds I encountered was Mahmoud Makdandi whoworked in Rwanda. He said every act of war all through history is started by speeches; what people say.
“You cannot target people and kill them, until you have been able to redefine them. You have to, first of all, redefine them in a way that denies them of their humanity.
“If you look at Rwanda, one group started calling the other cockroaches, and when you call human beings cockroaches, it is easier to kill.”
The APC spokesperson said what Nigerians saw in the build-up to the 2015 general election was unprecedented in the nation’s history.
“I doubt if Nigeria has experienced anything like what happened in 2015; the two major political parties, I would say were equally guilty — both APC and PDP,” he said.
“What happened was that we turned the election of 2015 into a war, and once you say is that you’re fighting a war, the standard of morality is the first casualty, and then they say anything is acceptable in a war.
“We said things to each other that was unbelievable, we behaved as if we could destroy Nigeria and still be in power, over what I don’t know.”
He said as the national spokesperson of the APC, he has been speaking with other spokespersons across various states to curb the spread of hate speech, and maintain decent conversations across party lines.