US envoy lauds ‘hate speech bill’ says its an ‘impressive piece of legislation’

Yusuf Bello| The political officer, of the US embassy in Nigeria, Jerry Howard, on Tuesday was quoted to have said, he is impressed with the level of work done on the hate speech bill currently making the rounds in the national assembly.

Howard made the disclosure when he visited Sabi Abdullahi, sponsor of the bill, in Abuja, according to a statement from the senator’s media office.

According to the statement, the American diplomat, who visited the Senator to engage him on the proposed legislation, described bill is an “impressive piece of legislation needed to address issues of discrimination, hostility, and violence in Nigeria.”

Howard continued, “We want Nigeria to succeed and we think a prerequisite for Nigeria’s success is successful democracy.”

“For democracy to succeed, the people must have a house, the people must have a place where their representatives can argue and complain, come up with new ideas and come up with solutions to guide the executive branch and lead the country forward.

“I’m very impressed with the research you’ve done on the bill. The media has had a field day with this, really. You’ve thought it through.

“I was depending on the media for my education, and it was very misleading. You’ve done your research and it is very interesting.”

Howard, according to the statement, advised the senator to properly engage other stakeholders, including the civil society, to “sell” the idea of the bill to them.

“You’ll need to talk to civil society organisations, you need to educate them. You’ve educated me.”

Responding to the envoy, Senator Abdullahi said the bill, is aimed, among other things, to address discriminatory practices which is part of the reasons why violence takes place in Nigeria.

Abdullahi said, “It is discrimination that creates the socio-political imbalance that you see leading to a group feeling shortchanged and marginalised.”

“Discrimination is also another very serious matter why I sponsored the bill. This bill basically is about preventing discrimination, and prohibiting people who incite violence.”

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