If there is any meeting point for the deplorable; any organized centre for all the madmen roaming the cyber streets of Nigeria; any museum where the perfect portrait of the disgusting bile in this nation is preserved; any ground for the free flow, acculturation, accumulation, institutionalization and normalization of negative thoughts among nationals; any psychiatric home where the mentally and intellectually unstable and disabled are assembled to treat the psychiatrist; it is unarguably Africa’s largest forum, Nairaland, with its sorry Alumni and Undergraduates. Like this country, Nairaland has gone from a centre of hidden disgust(a milder shame existed in the hearts of the supporters and promoters of evil in the past) to a center for the display of brain drain, despotism, nepotism, tribalism, stupidity, religious intolerance, nation shattering and petty mindedness. Nairaland once housed the sun.
This is not an attempt to insult or misrepresent the forum. It is not an unjustifiable attempt to dissuade internet users from surfing the Nairaland website. The forum itself could serve as a fertile ground for understanding the microcosm of this country’s macro problems. Far be it for me to paint a person’s good work in the bad light just to feel good. This is simply an alert to all lovers of commonsense, peace, love, and the Nigerian Government to this shattered public toilet defacing our national flag, contributing its ugly 1% to the dearth of positive values and thought in the land. This is a report from an outsider turned insider, a visitor turned member, whose moral, intellectual and spiritual lungs have been manhandled by Nairalanders(the forumites).
Nairaland is owned by a guy, Seun Osewa, who claims to have no believe or faith in God–an atheist. The site over the years has become a brand that the Nigerian Government created the username ‘Presidency‘ to reach thousands and millions of Nigerians. Like most forums, it has rules and regulations to encourage reasonable and healthy discourse. But like all dictatorial ailing governments, the rules only work for a few. I will be detailing how disturbing, inconsistent, dictatorial, destructive and troubling the activities there are and the implementations of these rules.
“Don’t Abuse, Bully, Deliberately Insult/Provoke, Fight, or Wish Harm to Nairaland Members OR THEIR TRIBES”.
The efficacy of this rule is as real as the statement that sharks walk on land. As truthful as the statement that humans can only survive in water. Anyone who needs a formal education in tribalism, hatred, insult and provocation of tribes with demeaning powerful images and heart wrenching words, finds shelter in the Nairaland forum. There you will see hatred walking on two feet. Bold, loud and contagious. If you are not careful you will contract the virus.
In Nairaland, Nigeria’s and Africa’s largest forum, the Igbos of the South East Nigeria are called Flatheads/Flatties/Flatinos, Developers and Chestbeaters; the Yorubas of South Western Nigeria are referred to as Afonjas and Brown Roof Republic; the Northerners (irrespective of tribe) are called Abokis, which in reality means ‘friend’ but used here with the intention to disdain and and ridicule people from that region.
The members who call the Igbos ‘flatties’ do so because of their ‘research’ that all Igbos are characterized by a flattened back head. They are called ‘chestbeaters’ to reinforce the stereotype of their proud attitude, a trademark of the gorilla. And when they are called ‘Developers’ it is with that irony of a sick man who claims to help others but can’t help himself. ‘If you developed Lagos why can’t you develop your village?’
The people who call the Yorubas ‘Afonjas’ get their inspiration from a certain warrior who connived with the Fulanis to attack Ife but was betrayed and killed by his connivers. Whenever this word is uttered the goal is to paint the Yorubas as betrayals and servants of the Fulanis. Taunting them with the take over of Ilorin as a result of betrayal and cowardice. When they call Yorubas ‘Brown Roof’ people, the intention is to tag the Yorubas, using the ancient brown roofs of Ibadan(A City In Yorubaland) as stepping stone, a backward people.
The Northerners also get their own share of the insult. The word ‘Aboki’ which implies ‘friend’ in Hausa language is used when a person from the North misbehaves. To most southerners in Nigeria all northerners are Hausas. The same thing is evident on Nairaland. The ‘Aboki’ is a beast and doesn’t worth the attention of humans. He thinks after he acts and acts before he thinks. Any report of crime on this forum from the north welcomes chants of ‘Aboki’
There are also names like The OSUS, Saboteurs, Ugwu Exporters, Yoruba Muslims, Ugandans, Biafrats, Oily Soup, South Waste, South Yeast, Boko Haram, used in response to persons of different regions. A Yoruba man is caught with a human head and all of a sudden all Yorubas are Ritualists. An Igbo drug pusher is caught in far away Singapore and all Igbos are drug dealers. A man with an Hausa sounding name is caught planting bombs and all Hausas(and northerners) are Boko Haram members and have no value for life.
The moderators of this forum who ought remove these comments and ban the culprits leave it for the viewing public to digest. The comments grow with likes and shares and are still not deleted. The thread/topic is moved to the homepage with all those ill words intact. More likes appear for the warriors on both ends. Young and old members and guests who had little to no atom of hate against other tribes are encouraged to upgrade. They see an insult on their tribe by a certain username and are hurt. They see it again and the pain is multiplied. After some conscious feeding of their minds with hate, they create an account, if they don’t have one, and reply the unrestrained tribalist having the upper hand. The moderators are still quiet, no one is banned or warned, the ugly texture of their vomits still bare, and the cycle continues. When it is easier to receive a month ban for asking for peace and reason from the forum admins then you know there is a trace of madness in the place. As a member, one time I was banned for three weeks for questioning this forum’s stand on peace. When it elapsed and I narrated to forum friends what happened, I was banned for misrepresenting the reason for which I was previously banned.
One of the most intolerant behaviour exhibited by the handlers is found in the Religion Section of the forum. A page there reads:
“Due to the religious diversity of the Nairaland community, it’s impossible to come up with policies that will make everyone happy. We can’t give everyone what they want, even if we try, because some people want the opposite of what some other people want. We do not seek to favour or help or disfavour or harm any religion; our priority is the Nairaland community as a whole – what’s best for Nairalanders as a group. If you have complaints about our policies, or questions about why we’re doing this or that, please send your complaints to the supermods via the home page. We’ll respond to your complaints as quickly as we can and update this thread with the answers to your frequently asked questions”
While other faiths/ideologies/religions share one section there is a subsection for the adherents of the Islamic religion. There is a feeling of bias, and rightfully so, in handling the two sections. While Atheists, Christians, Muslims, etc, are free to create and comment on threads in the general Religion section, a member must accept the tag below to comment or post topics on that subsection.
Some would say a personal business runs how the owner deems fit. That’s true. Just that in this case greater interests and participation have stripped full rights of ownership from the owner. The fact that the Presidency has an account with the Nairaland forum is proof. It is no longer one man’s business but a national forum.
In the same section, insults on different faiths are dished out continuously. If the claim above on tolerance is respected no one should get away with name callings of other faiths and positions as is the case with Nairaland. The number of moderators can’t serve as excuse. It can’t be. Low number of moderators is not the reason why threads promoting hate are pushed and left undeleted in the sections.
One of the rules also reads:
“Please Post All Topics on The Right Section and Don’t Derail Threads by Posting Off Topic”
The biased and morally compromised handlers use this line to throw lengthy ban on members and exhibit demi-god powers. They alone decide what could be regarded as off topic. There are some handles, irrespective of how they instigate hate and post off topic, they are never banned. It seems like some of the members are sponsored and the forum complicit. It seems the site has sold its soul to the highest bidder. The worst topics with low content value are easily pushed to the homepage while the reasonable ones are left to die in the sections. The goal is never to elevate Nigerians’ minds but to garner traffic and control. Control over what we think. Control over whom to hate. Control over what we believe. Control over us.
Littered in the first five comments on topics pushed to the homepage are members in pursuit of the coveted ‘first to comment’ crown. If a topic created on a section has potential for the homepage, these group of people rush and drop comments with the first position(the next after the original post) and page in sight. You wonder if they are twelve year olds when the topic is finally moved to the homepage with their edited comments praising and thanking God and their family for being ‘first to comment’. The second and third posters often throw sarcastic comments at the first, admiring his position and hoping for a day to be up there.
These comments are never deleted. The comments get likes and shares running into hundreds. This has resulted in posters typing just a dot to book space to this Lalaland. You could see ten comments with just dots fighting for the first position and whining, sarcastically, when they lose the race. I don’t hold the forum responsible for the IQ level of their members but I do hold them responsible for feeding and watering these shameful use of the brain. The goal is usually to get likes and the admins fuel it. Someone might write :”It will not be well with Buhari, the gworo chewing maga” on a thread discussing the dangers of Kidnapping. Another writes :’Jonathan only knows how to drink ogogoro” on a thread discussing about power supply. Besides these being off topics they are also irrational and brain damaging. These insults are not hidden and the culprits are not punished. They are left to feed the rage of diehard Buhari’s(the current President) and Jonathan’s(the former President) supporters. They are left there to feed the hatred of one party against the other. They are left there because they are money and control mills and will surge traffic when counter insults pour in.
Don’t Post False Information on Nairaland
There have been cases where the admin deliberately push false news to the viewing public simply because a counter information has been made available. A very poorly cooked topic is presented by a member but instead of closing the thread, the moderators allow it to grow into multiple pages with handles ripping each other apart with words. To worsen it, it is moved to the homepage for the consumption of all forumites and guests who can’t locate the respective sections. Hours later, another thread countering the content of that obvious lie is created by another person and it is moved to the homepage. Most times both topics appear at the same time, but, for controversy and gains, instead of closing the lies and preventing any of these, they push them separately to the homepage. The people who saw and read the first story may not see or read the second real version. For the forum, it is not about value and truth.
This site is home to desperate bloggers who push anything just to get views. If lying that their parents died in a ghastly motor accident will bring traffic, some of these bloggers will do it. If lying about an imaginary killings in some section of the country will bring traffic they go ahead and do it. A photo that betrays the authenticity of the stories after some Google image search is allowed to tell true stories. No conscience or fear of the repercussions. It is the permanent site for the conglomeration of all of Nigeria’s faeces. While it is a good place to read the news and current affairs in Nigeria, it is the worst centre for positive online interaction among Nigerians.
“Don’t Threaten or Defend Violent Acts Against Any Person, Tribe, Animals or Groups (e.g rape)’ is another rule.
To begin with, I don’t know what they mean by violence against animals or what qualifies violence against animals in the sense displayed on Nairaland. This is the only forum where killing of every animal from rats, alligators, squirrels and snakes are glorified. All you need to have your topic on the homepage is to kill an animal, preferably a snake, and post the gory photos on the forum.
The online world is a place of power. It covers our identities and exposes a man. Cowards and proponents of timidity become brave. Children insulting elders. Elders acting like children. The experience can be likened to an open secret ballot, where different votes are counted and the choice of someone you thought a partner add to your misfortune. The amount of likes generated by hate posts on the forum is a call for concern. The likes elongate the message of the members commenting. If one posts an awful comment, the support he gets from likes and shares could neutralize his venom or make it more potent. He knows he is alone or with company from the number of likes he gets. If he was ashamed of the words in the past or not confident enough in using them, the likes, shares and responses he gets, build his confidence or dwarf it. Knowing you are not alone is psychologically motivational. A person of a different opinion sees it and counters it. He gets likes and shares too and the same thing happens. The Admins are watching but no one is punished. The hate, negative energy and confidence is fortified.
The last rule I will be looking at reads:
‘Please Report Any Post or Topic that Violates the Rules of Nairaland Using the (Report) Button.
At this point you must have seen that the rules only exist as alphabets not verbs. Nobody responds to your reports here unless it’s something that is part of their grand scheme of things. The members, whom without their presence, the forum can’t exist, have many enchanted inmates who have lost their sense of freedom. Men and women who don’t report or complain the moderators poor handling because they are scared of getting banned. At the slightest provocation, let’s say, a joke with the mods, without indicating it’s a joke, could get one banned for weeks or months. The bans used to be 24 hours and progress with respect to the frequency of the offense. But now a person could be banned for 50 years for a minor offense while the major offenders roam freely. Madhouse!
This nation needs peace. The truth is, we are too divided as a nation to afford more bad blood. Most Nigerians hate every other tribe except theirs. Some even hate their own tribes. We are intellectually and morally backward. But we mustn’t encourage or feed this hate. We mustn’t give it room. A Nigerian forum shouldn’t be encouraging hate, either by negligence or participation, amongst Nigerians. Whoever is paying people for the spread of hate against any part of Nigeria should stop it. We need the repetition of positive values. Nairaland has smart people. Smart people with kind hearts and positive messages. Selfless people helping in little and big ways to change human lives. But a student who scored 30 over 100 got an F. It’s time to see helpful posts on threads or none at all instead of offering a very bad one. It’s time for a reasonable level of sanity. And the Presidency, as a registered member, must involve in changing the curriculum.