POETIC JUSTICE 203 – By Mshinaram Warigon Ahrey

TELEPHONE BOOTH

Those bootless booths

Conspicuous like sore thumbs

They were your saving grace

Especially when you were broke

Like a church’s ragged rat

In dire need of monetary salvation

The student, highly harried and obviously anxious

Straining to hold his Pee in the Queue

The girl inside the booth

Not minding her ‘Ps’ and ‘Qs’

Gisted animatedly with a paramour

Like there was no tomorrow

Those precious coins

You needed were hard currency indeed

When you finally got a chance

To call your folks for some stipend

To assuage your leaked pockets

Suddenly the network went bad

A monotonous voice told you

You should try again later

Sometime ago, you had just a coin

Lady luck smiled at your desperation

Upon inserting the lone silver coin,

All hitherto stored coins rattled out

Making those beautiful sounds

That brought tears of joy

And you didn’t feel obligated to turn them

Over to NITEL

Finders keepers, you thought with glee

When rain was hewn from

The rough belly of the heavens

And thunder rolled like the

Laughter of a monstrous nightmare

The network became atrocious

But booth sheltered you

From the sputum of ferocious rain

How many times you went

To join the queue in the hope

That a desperate damsel might yet

Seek a knight in shining armour?

Amorous and filled with testosterone

Caution hauled at the arms of the winds

In search if a tryst

Once, you encountered a naive village boy

That wanted to be like the Joneses

Strutting his stuff like a marabou stork amongst peacocks

He took the receiver and turned it upside down

The mouthpiece clamped to his right ear

Then shouted::

“Hello,hello!Why ‘am I hearing you through my mouth?”

©William Warigon™2019

Opinon: Death for hate speech, Crown for corruption

Death for hate speech, Crown for corruption

opera.com

Nov 12, 2019 9:03 PM

No, it is not a film trick. The news reports are real, the Nigerian Senate may soon pass a bill that will ensure that any Nigerian who insults the religion or tribe of another is put to death by hanging. Yes, you heard it right. The punishment for insults in Nigeria may soon be death!

On November 12, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, representing the good people of Niger North and the current Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, presented to the chamber, a bill for the establishment of the National Commission for Prohibition of Hate Speech.

The bill stipulates inter alia, “a person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and /or directs the performance of, any material, written and/or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.”

While hate speech should be discouraged by everyone and expressions are better made in the full consciousness of our diversity and fostering of national unity, hate speech remains in the realm of expression and should be treated as such. It is not a capital offence and can never be!

In the 8th Senate, Senator Abdullahi Sabi Aliyu introduced the bill on the floor of the chamber but it was immediately knocked out by the Senate President. The reintroduction of the same bill by the same Senator points to a sinister move to further gag the expression of Nigerians on national issues.

In explaining what hate speech connotes, the bill stated thus: “hate speeches are comments that insult people for their religion, ethnic, linguistic affiliation, racial contempt among others.”

With this explanation, it is evident that that which is now being dressed as hate speech is already covered in the criminal code of the Nigerian law. Introducing any bill again is merely a means to an expected end.

Secondly, the failure of the bill to fully define how to connect a speech made by someone to the death or loss of life of another leaves it ambiguous. It can be effectively used to implicate anyone while claiming a previous comment caused loss of life.

The most ironic part of the exercise is that Nigerians have for years been pushing for the National Assembly to pass a bill that will not only criminalize corruption but makes it a capital offence with capital punishment as being done in some Asian countries.

These advocacies seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

The greatest factor endangering the survival of Nigeria as a country is not how people choose to address their fellow countrymen but rather, how public office holders have since time immemorial wasted and profligate our common patrimony.

The real danger to Nigeria is when funds meant for the development and construction of health care centres are fully disbursed to contractors but not a single work gets done. When pension funds remitted over the years by workers are stolen from government coffer without a trace. When roads that have been awarded and re-awarded for years become death traps as a result of stolen contract funds. When insecurity persists in the North East as a result of lack of fighting equipment and lack of morale for the soldiers, yet billions of naira are released annually for these items but they get looted. These are some of the factors that ruin a nation.

To make matter worse, the perpetrators of these evil and sleaze are merely given a slap on the wrist when they are caught and often returned to office almost immediately. The law makes it easier for those who are directly responsible for deaths on our roads or mortality as a result of bad health care service to plea for bargaining. It is a mockery of the natural order.

To add salt to an open wound, the new bill created another cash cow for the overburdened rent system of our public institution.

Senator Abdullahi Aliyu is proposing for the establishment of an entire Agency of government to track insult. The proposed National Commission for the prohibition of hate speech will have a chairperson, a governing board, director-general, directors, deputy directors, assistant directors amongst others.

All these individuals will appoint aides, have allocated travelling allowances, new official cars, enormous salaries, an annual budget and personal security. All these, just to stop people from insulting each other or insulting the politicians who should be open to criticism.

The Senate should leave us in peace to insult each other, this should not be their concern. The people are hungry, jobless and losing hope. They should proffer solutions to these.

Boladale Adekoya is on Twitter @adekoyabee

*Disclaimer

The above are strictly the personal opinions of the author and not reflective of the position of this blogazine

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