Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who is afraid of the internet?

The internet for many young Nigerians is the place to get news, information and sometimes even knowledge. In a country whose history with the media has not always been too “cordial”, it is sometimes necessary to read news about Nigeria through online sources. Not because online sources are more reliable but sometimes online sources are able to publish stories that many Media houses in Nigeria will not touch with a ten foot pole. They are able to criticize our leaders and give honest opinions in matters concerning our country. They are also free from being “shut down” by the SSS and the Nigerian government.

In the midst of all the different sites and news agencies online, are also blogs. Blogs are online journals published by individuals on the internet. Most blogs are like diaries, with the blogger sharing his or her personal life, ideas and opinions. A blogger can decide to share his views on flowers, children, coffee… basically anything he/she wants. Some blogs focus on politics. They put up news about different political issues and share their opinions on the matter.

The numbers of Nigerian blogs dealing with political issues have slowly increased on the internet over the years. Some blogs publish only news about Nigeria while others might share their opinions or engage in lively discussions. For the young, blogs are where the debates happen. Since Nigerian Television Channels and newspapers often do not pose the hard questions to our leaders, (which is totally understandable when one considers the number of journalists that have been assassinated in this country) normal citizens have taken over and are now asking the questions that Nigerian journalists and correspondents fear to address.

Many bloggers are anonymous but there are also a few that choose to blog without any anonymity whatsoever. Jonathan Elendu is one of the many bloggers who uses his real identity online. He maintains a blog that features news and political articles about Nigeria and of course, does not blog from Nigeria. He has however been arrested or rather “invited” by the SSS on arrival to the country. I think Nigeria is certainly going backwards if the government insists on arresting citizens because of news articles published on the internet. The internet is too huge a place to wage war on.

How many more bloggers do they wish to arrest? There are thousands and thousands of people all over the world that publish stories and news about Nigeria daily. Even for an experienced blog reader, it is impossible to keep up with the number of articles being published about Nigeria. From students to pharmacists, pilots to teachers, it seems everybody has something to say about Nigeria.

For the first time in a very long time, Nigerians are actively participating in discussions about the future of our Nation. People are engaged, committed and ready to help our country in any way they can. It will be a shame if this has to end because of a few articles that the government does not approve of. There are many articles all over the internet that I do not enjoy reading. However, unlike our government, I do not have the ability to arrest anybody just because I disapprove of the kind of stories they publish. I do not have the power and I hope I never do. Power is a dangerous tool and a country that continues to use such a tool against its own citizens is heading for doom.

P.S: If una dey find me, I don enter my canoe go swamp. Tufiakwa! SSS is not my portion! E be like say e dey safer to stay with those militants them, at least I hear say them dey feed their victims well well!

waffywaffarian@yahoo.com

9 comments:

SPEECHgirl Bucknor said...

hey!

liked this piece!

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Jaycee said...

I have no clue why SSS would choose to arrest Jonathan. Where did our democracy go? Instead, the Government should be focusing on amending the mistakes about which political bloggers write.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Good one Waffy!

Doja said...

I have never been under any illusion that the era of detaining people on trumped up charges without trial was over in Nigeria.

Just...Toluwa said...

wouldnt it be a lot easier if the government released a statement refuting whatever they felt was not true.

"The internet is too huge a place to wage war on." Very very true. How many people will they arrest? How i wish Jonathan was an American Citizen. Would love to see what they would have done then.

TheAfroBeat said...

Have to go with Doja on this one, Elendu's not the first nor the last, but we have to keep fighting for freedom of speech, otherwise things will never get better. I definitely remember being warned by friends/acquaintances early on about the dangers of blogging about Nigerian leadership in anything less than a positive light. And I remember thinking, "the SSS REALLY has time to troll the internet looking for inconsequential bloggers like myself...puhlease".

As you say Waffy, the govt can't shut down any piece of negative press/criticism it disagrees with, the truly constructive response would be to counter such criticisms with actions that speak otherwise.

Thanks for sharing!

Naapali said...

Well said.

N.I.M.M.O said...

Waff,

Very well said.

And in response to your 'What if?' question, if you ever hear that someone called N.I.M.M.O has been 'invited' by SSS, EFCC, NNS or anybody else, don't just sit behind your laptop please, organize all bloggers and storm the place commando style to spring me otherwise, when I come out all of una go hear am.

bumight said...

blogs are increaasingly becoming the source for information that Newspapers refused to carry. During the US presidential elections sef, there were lots of stories that bloggers carried that media houses began to address days after.

It is just sad that Nigeria is returning to its Abacha days when u dared not say anything for fear of being "carried"