FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Nightmare of Political Elites, Right of Masses — By Ogo-Oluwa Adelakun  - Penangle | News Portal in Nigeria
Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
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What exactly is freedom of expression and why is so vital to the survival of different democracies round the world?

What role does it play in governance and does it availability always translate to progressiveness?
Popuplar British actress Nazanin Boniadi hit the mark  on this issue when she said “our rights are interconnected and inseparable. When freedon of expression is threatened, the rights to freedom of association and assembly, of thought, conscience and religion are also comprised”.

According to that statement, the freedom of expression basically guarantees other freedoms and without it, freedom itself would have been relinquished.

The aforementioned statement may be veritable because if we really take time to examine things, the truth, often time comes across as being offensive or even insensitive especially when those who decide what the truth is or how it must be said belong to the political class.

On the other hand, freedom of expression is not a free ticket to say or do just about anything without caring much about the impact or consequences on a person or a people. The gift of freedom of expression is closely knotted and designed with the ribbons of social responsibility because even though we will definitely not agree with all aspects of how life should be lived in the country or what direction the government should take, we must ensure that our speech is not garnished with hate or malice.

Trust me, being socially responsible in this regard is not only good for you but even better for the unity of a country like Nigeria whose democracy and togetherness many have said “hangs by a thin thread”.

However, those in leadership of the country must desist from making gestures that resembles the totalitarianism we unanimously agreed to forgo in order to ride into the sunset of the current democratic dispensation. As former U.S president Harry .S. Truman put it in a letter to congress in 1950 “once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

These words are ones those at the helm of affairs must carry in mind as such must guide them whenever they seek to make policies either for the code of ethics for media practitioners or for day to day Nigerians. This is important because in carrying out responsibilities of the government to rid the country of hate speeches or fake news that could trigger an uprising, the government of the day must also recognize that a very thin line separates the good they mean for Nigeria from premeditated or intentional actions to gag the press and by extention the people.

The Nigerian leadership must never forget the United Nations declaration of human rights which says “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

In trying to solve problems, we must do our best not to create new and unnecessary challenges. Freedom of expression must be guaranteed and more importantly, freedom after one has expressed him or herself must be assured.

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