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The Different Profiles of Nigerian Internet Warriors

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“I read the writings of those who bring issues to the table for discussion. For reading them maketh me a full man; conferencing (debating) with them a ready man; and writing and challenging them an exact man.” – Sir Francis Bacon

The internet is so vast that it circles the world from east to west and from north to south. Many people do not know how big the internet is. It is beyond “all human understanding.”

Apart from its vastness, the internet provides the users and abusers with cover and anonymity, which partly accounts for why users say things that they may not say in other mediums and in other physical places. There are no geographical boundaries or political spheres which make regulations almost impossible to implement or even to legislate. But the world is gradually coming to terms with an unregulated and uncontrolled cyber space. Eventually there would be at least internet protocols for users.

But meanwhile I see that the profiles of Nigerian users of internet fall under several categories and reflect the ethnic, religious, rivalries, and political beliefs etc., of each group. When Nigerian gather in this World Wide Web they bring to the table the attitudes one would expect in such a gathering with the exception that these attributes are exaggerated by the anonymity that the internet provides even when writers use their real names.

a.   Profile 1. These are users who love Nigeria and who want to use the internet to bring for discussion, issues they consider important to Nigeria. They want to educate; to convince; to influence, other users to their point of view. They welcome intellectual debate without being condescending, cavalier, haughty, or disdainful to the views of others even when they disagree. This group is approachable and humble but firm in stating their positions. But defend the points of view with vigor and with verifiable facts. They are usually well educated and to a large extent objective and not overly ethnocentric. Most often they write under their real names.

b.   Profile 2. This group of users see the internet as place to spend some time to relax just as one would do after a hard day at the office. To this group this is an after work bar. They spend a good amount in this bar for joking (ima njakiri as the Igbo would say). They make fun of other users and have even spread a few rumors, believing that every other user can tell njakiri (joke) from the truth. They make caricatures of one ethnic group over another. Like most comediennes they sometimes speak the truth which is like a grain of wheat in a bushel of chaff which one would search for a long time before one finds it.

c.   Profile 3. This group is hard to define. My best effort would be to say that this group represents resentful people who use the internet to bring out the venom in their hearts. They spew hatred and abuse in their writings. They blame the society for every short comings in their life or blame other ethnic groups for whatever they conceive is wrong with Nigeria. 

Their angst is poured first among the Igbo followed by the Yoruba and then on other ethnic groups. I say first against the Igbo because some Igbo join in the slaughter (verbal) of the Igbo. This group is the least educated among the warriors. Please note that by education I do not mean paper qualifications for I believe that among Nigerian internet users 90% have at least a bachelor’s degree, many have graduate education and quite a significant percentage have terminal degrees. Educated here means:

The main ingredients include “the capacity for independent thought, a sense of relationship between different questions, a sense of history, respect for evidence and a sense of how to define and approach important questions.”  (Hanna H Gray President University of Chicago)

d.   Profile 4.These are cheerleaders, or what the Igbo call “oti nkpu” and Fella Ransom Kuti called follow-follow people. They echo any words from the paymaster dead or alive. Some of the paymasters include Awo, Zik, Ojukwu, Bello, GEJ and now Buhari. This group is not capable of discerning truth from fiction and has no principles whatsoever. They think they are serving their master well by allowing him to parade himself naked in the public square. They tell the president that it is OK to disobey court orders; that his exclusive appointments are defensible; that peaceful demonstrations by unarmed civilians and so on, should be stopped by combined armed forces shooting at sight.

e.   Profile 5. These men and women are the job seekers. They are very close to profile 4 people except that when they come to accept that there is no job for them from the administration they turn against the administration. They become the strongest critics of government in power often in contradiction to the positions they once took. Membership in this group often include the highly educated among Diasporas who have reached the end of the road in their careers abroad but are still too young to retire. There is not much strong desire to serve the motherland but to get their share of the “national cake.” Those lucky to be hired will usually adopt the same chop-chop ideology they vigorously opposed from their ivy desks in foreign countries.

Do you know anyone who qualifies in any of these categories? Where are you?

Being aware of these “types” is supposed to make you enjoy what you read. I enjoy the entertainers because they help me laugh which is their motivation. I read the writings of those who bring issues to the table for discussion. For reading them maketh me a full man; conferencing (debating) with them a ready man; and writing and challenging them an exact man (Sir Francis Bacon, amplified).

It takes all of us to be a country.

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts


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