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Educate Nigerians on content of hate speech bill, US Embassy official tells Abdullahi

Jerry Howard with Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi

Political Officer of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, Jerry Howard, on Tuesday described the Hate Speech bill before the National Assembly as an “impressive” piece of legislation needed to address issues of discrimination, hostility and violence in Nigeria.

Howard stated this during a meeting with the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, at the National Assembly, Abuja.

Abdullahi is the sponsor of the Hate Speech bill.

According to the US embassy official, the visit was intended to engage the sponsor of the bill and to seek an understanding into the proposed legislation under consideration by the Senate.

Following explanations of the bill by Abdullahi, Howard described the response of the media as “misleading” and “hysterical” of the contents of the bill and what it actually seeks to achieve.

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He, however, advised the sponsor of the bill to engage and educate Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in the country on its proposed contents so as to muster support for the bill.

Speaking on the decision of the US embassy to engage the National Assembly on the bill, Howard said: “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.”

He commended the lawmaker for the level of work and research carried out on the bill.

“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.

“But you have a difficult job selling this to the NGOs, CSOs. You need to talk to them. You’ll need to talk to Civil Society Organizations, you need to educate them. You’ve educated me,” Howard said after Abdullahi explained the contents of the bill.

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