Our hate industrial complex

The 2023 presidential election has come and gone but the ripples it generated will continue to dominate discourse for some time to come. This is because while the outcome of the election was welcome to the millions of Nigerians who voted for the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, millions of supporters of other candidates, especially the duo of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr Peter Obi, believe that their own candidates should have been declared winners.  

Any good student of Nigeria’s political history would easily understand that the outcome of the election was quite predictable. The levels of preparation and arithmetic of the support bases of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would ordinarily suggest that it was a party to beat in the election.  Nevertheless, there is a lot of hoopla among those who are fixated on the popularity of the candidates of their chosen parties, mainly the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP).

What appears as a major ripple of the 2023 presidential elections is the under-estimated but far-reaching prevalence of hate industrial complex in Nigeria. For context, hate industrial complex owes itself to military-industrial complex, a term first used by the five-star general and former president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell address to his country on January 17, 1961. The term means the network of individuals and institutions involved in the promotion and production of weapons and military technologies.

The hate industrial complex is a web of individuals and organisations committed to weaponising hatred to achieve their objectives. In Nigeria, the actors consist of ethnic supremacists, religious bigots including leaders, the political jobbers, the unprofessional media, the hagiographers, the bloggers and the celebrities all empowered by the High Tech, especially the new media. They are the cyber-hyenas that tear others apart and devour them alive, the internet bullies that viciously attack others at the drop of a hat and the cyber-assassins that fire poisoned arrows at their victims to destroy their integrity.

The stock-in-trade of the hate industrial complex is to bombard you, in the words of Umair Haque, with “billions of hateful, violent, rabid tweets, status updates, comments, videos” to make you to loathe and detest others. Here, “hate on a mega-techno-industrial scale is produced, digitised, distributed, and trafficked for mega-profit. It has become an industry — in fact, one of the world’s most profitable industries…but the rest of us are drowning in it.”

Now, hate has dominated the public space, especially the Internet, to the extent that the cyber-warriors descend heavily on anyone that publicly aligns with a candidate other than their own. Outright lies, distortions and half-truths are manufactured and delivered, with millions of people hating others for nothing other than the picture that has been painted by those who have taken an overdose of ethnic jingoism, religious intolerance and political extremism.

Regardless of the circumstances in which we may find ourselves, we must appreciate the fact that nothing ultimately happens without God’s wish and this is where the act of God comes in. As matter of fact, it is always good to factor God’s plan into our plan because all plans become void without the divine plan. However, we don’t always remember the God Factor and we end up disappointed, distressed and despondent.

Then, everyone has to demolish their internal hate industrial complex because hate is ultimately counter-productive. As Nelson Mandela once noted, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” More often than not, haters suffer more than their victims because they harbor emotional toxins in their hearts. The negative energy that is even deployed in destroying others could have been used for purposes more productive and socially rewarding.

For our own peace, there are two major antidotes to hate: empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and to see things from his perspectives, not just ours. It is about understanding and sharing the feelings of others. Compassion, on the other hand, is about engaging in acts of kindness in speech and in deed. As no one wants to be hurt, compassion would make one exercise restraint before hurting others.

For many of us Nigerians who are (un)justifiably angry, anger management is key to the attainment of our long-term goals.  There will be less hate in the society when we manage our anger, think before we talk or act, control our emotions, identify possible solutions, decide not to hold grudges, use humour to lessen tension,  seek help when necessary and apply the Golden Rule, which is that you treat others the way you want to be treated.     

So, let’s count our blessings, learn our lessons and pull down the walls of the hate industrial complex.