There are so many online news media and social networking sites available to any one who is computer literate. In the UK, USA and other overseas countries, it is just with the press of a button and the computer comes on as electricity is constant.
The Internet has now become a world of imagination and fantasy for some of our bloggers and contributors. For these individuals, there is the tendency to cowardly use it to forge an alter ego and act out their feelings of anger and inadequacy.
This is my point. The Federal Government of Nigeria as led by Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has suffered tremendous insults especially online. In-fact the name Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has become a football to be kicked about by any Nigerian who has access to the internet.
There does not appear to be any respect for the man who occupies the highest office in our country. He has been called various names some not worth mentioning and imagined. Yet this man wants to make a difference since being voted in by Nigerians and he continues to tell Nigerians this in any forum he has the opportunity to talk to Nigerians or talk about Nigeria.
I also criticize and offer advice, so please don’t get me wrong. I believe there is nothing wrong with criticising your government or leaders especially when you mean well and for such a criticism to bring out the best among leaders.
However what I frown at and what every well meaning Nigerian should also frown at is the incessant, abusive language used by online bloggers and contributors. The abuses do not seem to be limited to Dr Goodluck Jonathan as other individuals are also abused incessantly and indiscriminately but President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be the most abused. This does not tell the world we are moving forward as a country.
I was discussing with a friend and he said to me, ‘Believe me; many of these bloggers do not know their right from their left when it comes to management. They have not had any practical management experience to criticize any one in management. If at all they know about management, it is only what they might have read in books; that is, if they even understand what they have read’.
My expression of what my friend said is not an insult and should not be taken as an insult or abuse to any blogger or online contributor as I do not intend to commit the same offence I am shouting about.
There are bloggers abusing government functionaries of corruption who have been brought to the UK and USA by funds corruptly acquired by their parents. This is not to say that children of corrupt parents should not criticize. My take is that they should first of all criticize their parents before pointing fingers at others.
In 2010, I gave a talk to Nigerian students of University of Nottingham on brain drain during the 50 years independent celebrations. I told them point-blank that many students of Nigerian origin have been brought to UK and maintained by funds that are fraudulently acquired. Yet many students are bloggers online abusing Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
Now before, anyone abuses me and possibly asks how much I have been paid to write this, let me categorically state that I have not met Dr Goodluck Jonathan before and I am not on his pay roll. I am a practicing physician in the UK and I believe in what I am writing on.
At this stage of our development in Nigeria, what we need is constructive criticisms with solutions on how to move the country forward. If we do not do that we will find ourselves still criticizing for the next fifty years to come as nothing done will ever be right for us.
I am even more worried that young people especially those between the ages of 20-40 who should be thinking about what development the country should have are the ones blindly criticizing without providing and suggesting solutions. These young ones are not thinking about what they would offer to their country.
My advice is that for any criticism of government activity, there should be at least one suggestion of solution.
I remember one of my teachers as a junior doctor who told me that for any medication you prescribe, you should know one side effect. That way you become a better doctor. Therefore for my fellow bloggers, contributors and online critics, please let us proffer one solution for any criticism we give to the government as led by Dr Goodluck Jonathan. I am too sure that the man who wants to make a change and difference will listen, read and act.
I know and do not doubt that there is freedom of expression but uncouth language on uncensored news media does not present that news media and her editors as civil. So media editors should see how some decorum could be enforced where possible.
Those who abuse others especially our leaders online feel that they are free of the perceived consequences as they do not have to face the individuals they abuse eyeball to eye ball. But every Nigerian has a social responsibility towards the country whether we agree or not. And I do not think that abusing our leaders is the right way to exhibit that social responsibility.
It's sad and unfortunate that our advanced communications also brings out the darker side of many people. This to my mind can not be in anyway considered as development or advancement.
My fellow bloggers should think and develop online etiquette. So, how should we behave? I believe we should behave, exactly the same as offline. Be polite and don’t get into a blazing row and abusing individuals for a start-off because you want to contribute to a discussion on a topic that is dear to you. This is not to say that the ‘cracked pavement’ report on a medium like twitter should vanish. Leaders want to know what is going wrong among the led. However, abusing them is not going to solve the problem especially in Nigeria.
Controversial criticisms are different from abusive ones. Please feel free to criticize but stop abusing our leaders. Tell our leaders where they are going wrong but stop abusing them. For the abusers of today will be the leaders of tomorrow to be abused again in a vicious cycle.
Credibility, consistency, responsiveness, integration , civility and respect should be our character online.
Anyanate Ephraim is a practicing physician in the UK