Many readers tell me they love to read the reactions that I occasionally publish here. I have chosen to publish, as is my custom, a sample of the many responses that last week’s column provoked. Enjoy:
It gets really upsetting sometimes - people spew hate on fellow people. I've had to walk out of groups when I couldn't stand it. For the political cannibals in government at all levels in Nigeria, I must admit I love to call them all the names— thieves, scoundrels, bastards, gluttons, hypocrites! How I wish a quarter of the rage on Cyberia would be targeted at the cannibals! People like David Mark have called for a censoring of social media (!). The man is shocked that right in his lifetime social media is affordable to the poor. He thought NITEL (RIP) will monopolize forever.
Philip Ikita, Abuja
Wow! You hit the nail right on the head. What a piece!! As usual you never fail to impress your readers about not only the flamboyance of your write-ups but the sincere and accurate depiction of reality. I admire your overwhelmingly thoughtful articles because they are almost totally value-free. I hardly write comment on anything posted online due to the acute frustration I have over the kind of gutter and unprintable 'comments' Nigerians leave on any issues. I will finally say I'm only continuing to use this platform because of progressive, neutral-minded people like you. I urge you to continue your good work because we are with you always.
Amir Bagwanje, London
You have said what exactly the case is. I also used to be a marathon contributor to many popular online discussion fora. But seeing how degrading things were becoming I bade them farewell. People at a slight 'provocation' will passionately pour all sorts of insult on you, or your whole ethnic group, or your religion and the like. And there's nobody to call them to order. Though sometimes the moderators/webmasters of the forum would try to censor the sites, often to no avail.
Muhsin Ibrahim, India
I look at it as a function of the decay of our educational system over the years, as you mentioned in one of your articles. However, I completely agree with and share your view. I hope when they ventilate their anger completely something good will start coming out opf online discussions. But when?
Kasim Ibrahim, Lagos
This is the reason I don't waste my time reading comments under many articles or even reading the articles themselves. I rather go back to some of your previous articles and read them up again. It is just pathetic.
Alhassan Abare, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I like reading comments of people, but I hate insults. Comments tell you more about the opinion of people over a phenomenon. However, some comments are highly toxic. This is not a game of blame, but some people/groups and media houses must be encouraging and enjoying these societal negative traits, whether knowingly or unknowingly. There is one online group that I am currently in where no one is spared the daily insults by members of the group. The group has more than 5000 members, but every day, rains of insults pour down from very few unscrupulous members, and nobody cares to call them to order. Some media houses, I think, like the rain of insults.
Muhammad Abdullahi, Kano
As usual, this is a good piece. This narration hit me too yesterday when I read Rudolf Okonkwo's article on Sahara Reporters about Stella Odua. It is disgusting. And it has made me sometimes not want to go to the comment immediately after reading well-thought out columns. The problem with these comments is not the harshness they evince, but the outright ignorance they portray under the cover of anonymity. I read comments insulting an old man like Sonala Olumhense. When I was in the western part of Nigeria, when an old man farted you said ''ekare baba''( that is, well done sir).
Johncyril Chuks Ukwueze, Benin City
Thank you for sharing your concerns on this unbecoming cyberian culture that has unfortunately become a national pastime, particularly among the youth. It is sad that Nigerians of different ethnic, religious and regional backgrounds don't see eye to eye in discussing national issues. It is indeed increasingly becoming impossible for Nigerians to have logical discourses on the internet, and this is alarmingly getting entrenched in our psyche that any reader predictably knows the kind of comments that will follow a particular piece given the suggested identity of the writer. Most heart-wrenching is the fact that some sites are no-go areas to some people by virtue of their ethnicity, region or even religion! Sometime ago when I was into reading comments of pieces on Saharareporters and the like, I really believed Nigeria would collapse. Now I just don't waste my time reading those comments that are largely comical at best or ridiculous at worst. As much as some appear outright blasphemous, I know deeply that the commenters of such trash have something missing in their upbringing and education. No one with decent 'home-training' and sound education will actually look at things that way unless, of course, s/he is a born fanatic!
Usman Zakari Ibrahim, Katsina
Thank you for the above mentioned article. You said what has been bugging me for a while. I wouldn’t blame anybody for what is happening now but the politicians. It looks as if from 1999 Nigerians who hitherto had been leaving in peace suddenly woke up to realize that this one is a Christian or Muslim, Hausa/Fulani or Igbo/Yoruba or minority and majority. The issue of ethnicity and religious differences became very glaring during the present administration.
Abubakar Nataala (email@example.com)
It's encouraging to know there are sane individuals still in this country. Some things I sometimes think I alone notice. Well, I like this article. I hope it speaks not only to those who reason. Thank you.
Salihu Muhammad Alfa (firstname.lastname@example.org)