The Media, Nigerians Should Rise Against Hate Speech Bill Now

. . . I Thank Akwa Ibom People For Doing God’s Will To Return Gov. Emmanuel To Office


Barrister Emmanuel Moses Enoidem, a former Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State Executive Council is the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). An astute and very principled politician, Enoidem in this interview berated the proponents of Hate Speech Bill and also bared his mind on some issues that affected the last general elections. Excerpts:

What Is Your Take On Hate Speech Bill Currently In The National Assembly?

I want you to know that the Hate Speech Bill being considered by the National Assembly is the worst form of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience bill that is being proposed by any government anywhere in the world whether under military or civilian government. It has a very negative intention, it is criminal in action. I am saying this because even under the military with her Decree 4 which is similar but the content of Hate Speech has more negative provisions when compared with Decree 4.

If they pass that bill believe me it will unfold and rear its ugly head later. This bill has two major instruments. One is to help President Muhammed Buhari to secure a third term; a proposal that is in the mill. Let nobody deceive you, he will also use it as as a lethal weapon against those who will come against the Islamisation of Nigeria. The RUGA Project that was stood down is being reactivated in subtle manner; they have some vendors now, who go about meeting village heads to acquire lands. The Myetti Allah asked for about N150billion for the purpose but the Federal Government has given them about N100billion. They are still insisting on the balance of N50billion and that money is for them to buy land privately at different location of the country that is the penetration strategy. If you check 1804 when Usman Dan Fodio invaded the North with Islamic religion, war at that time was accepted as a measure of acquisition of lands. History has it that war was the fiercest way of acquiring land from people and at that time it was accepted. Dan Fodio came with his Army and penetrated the North, conquered the Hausas because the Hausas has a more organized system of leadership than the people in the South East which included our area who are republicans in nature. North and West believed in having supreme leaders at the time and the occupationist forces conquered and killed those leaders who resisted them.

However they could not conquer the middle belt people who also stood their ground. The current warlords still tried recently to overrun Benue State which resisted them again under Governor Samuel Orton. Seeing that war may not achieve their desire they proposed the RUGA project. As I am talking to you, the vendors are here in the state trying to buy lands from people telling them they want it for hospitals and schools but eventually the Hausa/Fulani will come and occupy and colonise the place and make it a Muslim enclave. It is a penetration strategy. Now this law that is being proposed was supposed to have come as an Executive Bill, but they got one Senator in the National Assembly who is sponsoring it for them because they know that if it comes as an Executive Bill, the intentions will be easily detected so they got the Senator involved to bring it as a Private Bill. I believe that the press should stand up to their responsibility as the watchdog of the society. Who defines what Hate Speech is? In 2014, Buhari said the Baboons and monkeys will be soaked in blood. Nobody has ever made a statement as criminal as that before but he got away with it. In same 2014, Buhari said there will be a revolution in Nigeria and he got away with it. And someone said there will be a revolution and he is currently in prison. These are clear signs of despotism and fascism in leadership. If the press keeps quiet you people will be the first victim so you cannot run away from it. It is better you all stand up and confront the evil that is coming because it will pull down the country. It is very shameful that in 2019 someone will come up with this kind of a bill, very disrespectful, insulting to the common conscience of the country, very insulting to the image of the country and very damaging to all of us. We need to stand up and speak against it as a people.

If the agents of the RUGA Projects are here, what are top political stakeholders doing to dissuade the village heads from selling lands to them?

I will like to meet with the commissioners of Local Government and that of Lands to call the meeting of the entire village heads to tell them that anybody that sells lands to any foreigner without the approval of the government will be removed. We need to be on the watch out for things like this now. If you are a Christian and goes to the North to cite a church nobody will give you any massive land for that purpose. Christians should be very careful. God helps those who help themselves

The dream of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to preserve Akwa Ibom State in the 2019 governorship and state house of assembly elections has materialised. How did this happen?

It was not a surprise because I knew there was nothing that could displace the PDP in Akwa Ibom State. The events that happened between 2015 and 2019 did not change anything despite the defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The best outing for APC in terms of membership in any location, ward or local government in the state, is not more than 30%, including Essien Udim and Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas. It is not possible for 30 per cent to displace or overtake 70 per cent. If the results of the recently concluded elections are put into consideration, it would be discovered that it is basically about 30 per cent to 70 per cent APC-PDP ratio. So, I was not surprised at the result.

Was it about the party itself or the leadership of the state?

It could definitely be the combination of the two. By 1999, Akwa Ibom was a glorified village. All the developments in Akwa Ibom today are the products of the PDP government from 1999 to date. The party is in tangent with its followers. It would be difficult to dissolve a successful marriage without the permission of the couples. That is exactly what the APC wants to do in Akwa Ibom State.

Apart from that, there was a strong sentiment about giving Governor Udom Emmanuel a second term. That is strong enough on the side of God and humanity. People appreciate the need for justice, fairness and equity. Udom Emmanuel has tried as governor to deliver on the dividends of democracy under very tedious circumstances. Trying to stop his second term bid is something a typical Akwa Ibom person would not want to hear.

Victor Attah and Godswill Akpabio from Uyo and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Districts respectively served two terms each. The exception would have been Governor Udom Emmanuel from Eket Senatorial District. Akwa Ibom people did not want to hear that because that would amount to injustice driven, inequity and lack of conscience. A typical Akwa Ibom person is very sincere, truthful and committed to the values of truth, and nobody can take that away from us, hence the massive resistance against the attempt to stop the governor, who eventually won with a landslide.

Recalling the last election, do you think the card reader performed well?

The wisdom in the card reader was designed to check the overbearing attitude of some politicians and fraudulent vote allocations. The card reader was made to give value to each voter, so if that card reader was not deployed to check those excesses of politicians, then the votes from Essien Udim would have found their way into the final results then. In 2019, every vote had to count and the card reader is the height of getting this done.

Do you wish to wave aside the sentiments that Akwa Ibom has lost the chance of being connected to the centre?

Connect what to which centre? How much have we gained from the so-called centre? We do not have anything from the centre even when a Southerner was President and Godswill Akpabio was governor of the state. What was he able to bring from the centre into the state in his eight years in office? Is it Buhari that will come and give us development in the state? What have we got in the last four years of President Muhammadu Buhari in office? Nothing.

We had Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister for Budget and National Planning; Nsima Ekere, the immediate past Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); Managing Director of the Oil & Gas Free Zone, Umana Okon Umana; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang. What have they brought from the so-called centre into the state?

It would be a waste of time to expect that the federal government will bring any development into the State. That is why we need a governor that will think about developing Akwa Ibom, not the type that will take the little money we have to Abuja.

You are one of those alleged to have destroyed Godswill Akpabio’s political career? Aren’t you?

Anyone who paints me in that light is not correct. I stood my ground to give value to politics, honesty and discountenance selfishness in leadership. Before the defection of Godswill Akpabio, we had at least 20 different meetings between December 25, 2017 and August 8, 2018 where we tried to persuade him, using all manner of parameters, even kneeling down before him to get him understand that he does not have any place outside PDP where his honour lies, but all to no avail. He cannot accuse anybody of conspiracy. If anybody conspired, he was the one conspiring against the state. He betrayed the state and the entire people.

When we went to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, we all contributed money to hire and arrange the stadium and not less than 20,000 people were mobilized to the stadium to give him his second term mandate without any opposition in the party. Unfortunately, all he could say was that the people will go with him anywhere he goes no matter the platform. That was too boastful. The highest level of pride. He cannot accuse anybody of undermining him. We were in love with Godswill Akpabio till August 8, 2018 when he made public his decision to dump the party. Anything that happened to him can only be placed on his personal altar.

There were high expectations that the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, would win, but the margin of votes between him and the APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, was wide. What went wrong?

Our party was rigged out of the election. We were rigged out of the election in the North with the help of the military and police. There was suppression of voters in the South-South/South-East including the Middle Belt. What happened in the last election was because it was a local election, and the sentiment of the people could not be suppressed like they did in the presidential election. The back servers of INEC show that PDP won the election. How can anybody think that Nigerians, in 2019, would still vote for Buhari after what we passed through in his last four years?

What is your advice for the people of Akwa Ibom State and Nigerians?

I want to thank them especially Akwa Ibom people for standing with God and returning Udom Emmanuel back to office and voting for our party massively, for maintaining the peace and harmony in the state and also standing on the side of justice, fairness and equity. I thank them for not being intimidated during the election. I also thank Nigerians for standing by our party. PDP is the only party that has national character.

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