FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeThursday, November 1, 2012
eoeke@aol.com


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THE NIGERIAN CRITICS AND INTERNET TRAWLERS,
AN EXAMINATION OF THE DENIERS OF THE NIGERIAN REALITY

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n Igbos adage says “those who bring termite infested fire wood home should not be surprised that lizards invite themselves for lunch”. In other words, that people should not ignore their roles whenever unintended consequences emanated from their innocent actions. As a commentator in Nigerian affairs, I get two types of mails. The nice mails come from normal people, who have respect for others and truly want to see a better Nigeria. They are objective in their comments and criticisms and often have very nice things to say. They either write to inform, share experience, correct or congratulate you. Their mails are always a joy to read. The second type of mails come from the nassicistic internet trawlers who write to enlighten you because they believe you are wrong and their impetuous mails full of insults and overvalued ideas, their contribution to enlightenment. These critics show very little or no respect for your views, and attempt to establish their superiority. They communicate with insults, abuses and denigration, suggesting inability to distinguish between an individual and the perspective he or she advocates in a matter. Their criticism is a personal attack at the author and do not focus on the issue in question. It is my experience with the later type of commentators that I wish to explore in this article.

Since February 2011 when I started to publish articles on Nigeria, I have received a lot of mails from Nigerians, majority of which are just great to read, like the two below, and a few which are bad, ugly and outright grotesque. It is what these mails say about the authors that are intriguing. Please read on.

“Dr. I just read your article on Achebe's book. Although I have not read the book yet, I am compelled to say that no one has articulated Achebe's views better. Your writings give my generation hope amidst the sense of nostalgia they always evoke. It is becoming increasingly challenging to grade your articles since I can only assign A+ to all of them. Doctor, need a book and that will make a better gift of your wonderful mind. Respectfully, Henry.

Doc, Thanks for this educative and insightful series. Wow! It is packed. Though it makes for sombre and reflective reading, it is much needed at this critical time in our history. I really appreciate your impartiality in critically analysing where we are as a nation.

I salute you. Whether those in power want to hear the sordid truth or not, I believe that the generations coming after should know that we attempted to answer the intractable questions regarding our nationhood. Thanks for doing that for us in our generation. I realize how much work and research must have gone into this series. We appreciate you. I am one of your regular readers. K R

Contrast these with the ones discussed below where the authors starts with incorrect inferences on the basis of inadequate or false information and self-defined concept which leaves them unable to distinguish adequately between imagination and reality. What I find interesting in the mails is the serious error in information processing in the authors which informs their unrealistic thinking that leads to their self-defeating and irrational behaviours.

To illustrate the above hypothesis, I will examine the emails from two Nigerians; Dr Femi Adebayo and Mr Alphonsus Nwadike who sent me hate mails following the same article for which I received the mails above. I reproduce these emails for their richness in what they say about the personalities and mind-set of the authors, and hope that by migrating this debate to the public domain where it belongs, other Nigerians would form their impressions about the necessity and appropriateness of their mails and the inner workings of their minds.

The point is not that these two nationalistic critics disagree with my views on Nigeria as a failed state. It is that their mails do not focus on the issues in question and are usually full of abuses, foul languages and false generalisations. In addition, attempts to guide the discussion into a civil debate focusing on the issues in question only gives them more excuses to further denigrate, belittle, rubbish and threaten. Dr Femi Adebayo and Mr Alphonsus Nwadike seem to believe that no one should criticise Nigeria and that those who do, are ignorant of something which only both of them seem to know about Nigeria. So they often start their rejoinders from a position of superior knowledge, completely devoid of courtesy and respect for the ignorant offender and then attempt to condescend to teach the erring mortals what they must accept. Woes betide you, if you respond to point out the fallacy of their arguments or contradict their assumptions. They are completely impervious to the views of others and are quick to accuse others of the very thing they are doing, a classical demonstration of projection. I have taken time to study some of their mails and research if they have behaved in similar manner to other people and what I found was a pattern of sending abusive mails to people who hold contrary views from them suggesting that the problem may be with their personalities and emotional maturity.

On July 10 2009, Mr Nwadike wrote “I have carefully studied a recent article, published on Nigeriaworld, written by Uche Marian Sikirat and Uche Eugene C, and titled as "African women and intimate partner violence: Deadly but neglected." Without mincing words, that write-up is preposterous in verbiage and content because it is bereft of intuitive sense and critical thinking. When a piece of writing contains a lot of fallacies, its message is bound to be misleading to and lost on the readers. I have no doubt that the authors have read some materials, bordering on the issue of violence against women, but their ability to translate their understanding into a true societal or cultural context leaves nothing to be desired,” I looked up the meaning of ‘preposterous in verbiage’ and was in in not wiser. I wondered what the authors wrote which he found completely unreasonable ,especially in a way that was shocking or annoying in the use of too many words or more difficult than are needed to express his ideas; for this is the real meaning of his highfalutin words

On 4 November 2009, One Mr Joseph Ike wrote about Mr Nwadike, “Frankly speaking, Nigeria and Nigerians have grown above the whims and caprices of such ideologies shared by Mr Alphonsus Nwadike which is likened to those still living in the hegemonic age. I lack enough words to express my joy after reading the piece done by Mr Ejikwa Osam where he used all manner of wisdom, intelligence, maturity and knowledge to over write the draconian views of Mr Nwadike. If I am not mistaking, this should be the second major article posted by Mr Nwadike on the Nigerianworld.com, the first entitled (Unconstructive criticisms, the bane of our nation), an insulting article posted as a rejoinder to the article made by one Dr. Yekpabo. Just as Mr Osam did, I tried rebuking him for trying to close and shout people down for their personal opinion but he remained adamant throughout our discussion. Below was part of my email to him:

“Mr Nwadike, from your write up, you sounded like a scholar, with your succinct eloquence, choice of words and counter attacks and accusations levelled against Dr. Yekpabo, incidentally and unfortunately your so much acclaimed intelligence seemed to have beclouded your sense of reasoning so much so that you could not reason properly and come up with a constructive criticism. By the way, had you in the past written any article for public interest where your ideas were meant to enlighten the people and probably lend hands in their capacity building of some sorts or succeeding in making people have a better thinking orientation after reading your article? I doubt if you had ever from what I could imagine from your sinister article of hate and attack on Dr. Yekpabo. When I read your rejoinder, I almost wept aloud because I thought that our Nigeria people who have gone out a little bit farther from the nation’s shores and having seen better ways and means of doing things in other countries could go home and address the ills and malaise of their country by applying such formulas but here we are, getting such words, thoughts and feelings from someone who portends to be enlightened. Indeed, Nigeria is sick and may not get out of this malady in our generation when people of your type are still alive.

You know what Mr Nwadike, I would have felt better if you had been sent by the Minister of information, the rebranding woman specialist to post this article, and would have concluded that this is one of the gimmicks of the government to divert people’s attention, but to have learnt that you, out of your right thinking senses have come up with such an article meant that you are very much demented and need the assistance of a psychiatrist. I have now changed my conclusion to be that you may have been one of those old felas who have received the government sponsorships, grants or something and would never see anything bad in today Nigeria”.

On August 10 2009, One Tosan Mogbeyi wrote of Mr Nwadike “I read Mr Alphonsus Nwadike article “unconstructive Criticisms, The Bane of our Nation”. Which was a rejoinder to Dr Austin Yekpabo’s. I read the article over and over, and wondered if Mr Nwadike understood the content and context of Dr. Yekpabo's article. If there is anyone offering an unconstructive criticism, it was Mr Nwadike. Honestly, I just didn't get what the article was all about. It seems to me that he glanced through Yekpabo's article to the "footnote of the last page" and saw the credentials of Dr. Yekpabo, and then started hitting the keyboard to write his rejoinder. Dr. Yekpabo wrote a nice and informative article about the ills hindering Nigeria's progress and here he is being criticized unjustly.

I don't know where to start commenting the rejoinder. But I will try my best to bring attention to some of the ridiculous points in it. Please no offense meant. I apologize if he thinks otherwise. First, it appears he has a dislike for Dr. Yekpabo, because he has been in USA for many years without going back to Nigeria to "contribute to it."

On 18 October 2012, I received the mail below from Mr Nwadike as e-mail in size 18 bold fonts. It was copied to Dr Femi Adebayo which I found intriguing and unusual for people commenting on my articles.

“To most experts, the term leadership is not just about the government of a country, an organization, or state. To them, leadership is the ability of an individual to influence the behaviour of others. Perhaps, for over ten years, you have published several derogatory, calumniating articles on nigeriaworld.com against Nigeria, her leadership and people, and none of them seems to have yielded any positive influence on or changed the Nigerian character. This means you must lack effective leadership yourself. Short-sighted Nigerians who think like you, who masquerade themselves as Nigerian social critics, who think that Nigeria will become UK, Japan, China, USA overnight and don't see anything good in Nigeria have in the past and present ended up in disappointment, disillusionment, and failure. Nigeria is what she is today in material development because Nigeria is inundated with social critics who lack positive leadership, insight, foresight, hindsight, objectivity, balanced judgment, and sincerity of purpose. If you like, flood the nigeriaworld.com with daily articles that make a ridicule of Nigeria, Nigeria will surely outlive you at last, just as she has done in the past to myopic Nigerians like you who think that the best way to bring about national development in Nigeria is to write and publish articles that destroy Nigeria, instead of those that help her to grow as a nation. Alphonsus U. Nwadike.

I replied, “My dear Mr Nwadike. “I am surprised to read your outburst and do not have the slightest idea what might have provoked it. I also note that you copied it to one Femi Adebayo someone who have sent me similar insulting and underserved hate mails. You two must be birds of the same feather. I have done a little research on you and found out that this is your stock in trade and many people have attempted in the past to educate you on the art of communication, courtesy and respect for other people's opinion but it would seem that they have not succeeded.

I do not wish to start a cycle of insulting mails from you. I have articulated my views on Nigeria in over 104 articles I have written about Nigeria since February 2011 contrary to your assumption. I also note that you have contributed about twenty articles on Nigeria and I would rather not comment on their content and quality. What the people who responded to them said speak for themselves.

I am just an ordinary Nigerian who has expressed my views. You do not have to agree with them but I hope you will respect my right to hold them as I respect yours to disagree.

I would suggest that you review the way and manner you communicate and learn not to communicate with insults and ensure civility in all your communications. I feel no necessity to answer your rhetorical questions. As they say, past behaviour predicts future behaviour and as Sigmund Freud said, civilisation began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock’. Have a great day and once again, learn to respect those who you do not agree with. It is a sign of maturity and enlightenment. Regards Eke “

What has followed since these initial emails has been a number of E-mails from Mr Nwadike telling me I do not understand what failed state means, that I am ignorant and stupid. He boasted about his wife being a magistrate, haven written a book about tenancy, his four children being American citizens and advised me to buy his book on tenancy to become more enlightened about Nigeria. All these left me bemused to say the least.

As if these were not enough, I suddenly received another hate mail full of venom from Dr Femi Adebayo. “Nwadike, you are wasting your time writing to that your tribe's man, E.O Eke. He is a bundle of arrogance and infantile complacency. He thinks he is the only Nigerian medical doctor who has been able to travel and live abroad. He is living in UK which is, on all ramifications, inferior to USA where I reside. He likes to blow his own trumpet and is rabidly self-opinionated. He hates to be criticized but he likes to rain abuses and ridicule on his fatherland. His opinion about western civilization smacks of inferiority complexes. To him, the term failed state is synonymous with failed government. He does not know the difference between a state and a government. He is waiting for his British slave masters to come to him and redefine failed state for him at his age and self-avowed exposure.

I have read his articles about homosexuality. The way he defends homosexuals is suspicious to me. He sounds like one of them and a Nigerian prodigal in UK. Bandying words with such a mad dog who does not see anything wrong in homosexuality is, to me, a waste of precious time. He has written in one of his articles that he would better like to live perpetually in a country full of homosexuals than in Nigeria where there is a law against them. He is fervently writing against Nigeria because he knows that people like him (homosexuals) have no foothold and place of refuge in Nigeria. He thinks that when he writes and publishes an article on internet, all Nigerians would stand up and worship him. Little does he know that his write-ups do not make any sense to Nigerians, unless his fellow nonentities and ho....mo.......ls. To him, Nigerians have no values and are still uncivilized while the British have very high moral values. That is the idiot to whom you are wasting your time writing an email. He is a typical Nigerian prodigal in UK and I don't believe he has travelled back to Nigeria since he left her shores for UK. As you said, let him flood Nigeriaworld with his abusive articles against Nigeria, Nigeria will eventually defeat and outlive him. One tree does not make a forest”

Thanks, Dr. F. Ade.” The mail was very rich in what it revealed about the personality, emotional maturity and social skills of the author. It provided me with another very good evidence of my hypothesis that a person’s personality can be deduced from how they communicate and respond to things they find objectionable. Unfortunately, Dr Femi Adebayo may not agree to a personality test, to test the falsity of my hypothesis.

After I published the first part of my series on Nigeria as a failed state, I received a random mail from one Dr Femi Adebayo on the 22 of July 2012, from the blues.

“If Nigeria is a failed state, it means E O Eke (a Nigerian) is also a failed human being, a good-for-nothing individual, a nonentity, a nincompoop, and a never-do--well whose opinion/information on issues concerning states/nations is not worthy of belief. The problems with Nigerians, especially those of them living abroad, are servile western mentality, inferiority complexes, and inability to separate true/objective international reports from canards, put in place by citizens of western nations to eulogize, to promote their own nations and denigrate others. Dr. Femi Ade.

I felt that the mail was written with the intention to abuse and denigrate. The language was vulgar, quite crude, uncivilised and beneath a person claiming to be a doctor. It was full of false assumptions and generalisations. What struck was the total lack of respect for my person. His arrogance, hubristic attitude, unjustifiable anger and contempt for me were palpable in his assumption that I must be mad and lack ability to think for saying something he does not agree with. His assumption that my defence of the right of homosexual not to be discriminated against means that I must be one betrays a rather primitive, traditional, prejudiced and intolerant mind which lacks true understanding of liberty and individual freedom. It was clear to me that I was dealing with a man with very large ego, whose psychological evolutionary state was still at very infantile in spite of his educational degrees. He was communicating to me in a way no civilised person should talk to another human being. Maybe, unaware that the words we use to describe our feelings, ideas or convey our beliefs, understanding, thoughts and convictions; betray our attitude, personality and emotional maturity. It was obvious that he was adamant and insight less, and I wondered what personality trait might dominate in his life which would explain his behaviour.

I did a search in the internet on Dr Adebayo and found out that he has written six articles in Nigeriaworld, mainly foul mouthed, abusive and insulting rejoinders to original articles which were critical of Nigeria. I then replied Dr Femi Adebayo > From: eoeke@ao.com Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 06:16:22 +0100 To: femi07@hotmail.com

Dear Dr Adebayo, “Thank you for your comment. It is sad that someone like you can respond to an article the way you have done. This is not civilised debate but simply a display of primitive instinct which true education is meant to improve. You must find the book 'The Republic by Plato and read it. Read especially where he described the cave of ignorance. Why have you responded with insult to an issue that is not personal? I did not call Nigeria a failed state. I merely explained why the world called Nigeria a failed state. I do not know if you are a medical Doctor. If you are, I would not be surprised because you may be in a privileged position in Nigeria. Second, medicine does not lend itself to critical thinking as all one needs is ability to memorise facts and regurgitate them.

Your response does not show that you understand my article and I would advise you to read it again. I would also advise you to learn not to communicate with insult and personal attacks, but to focus on the issue and remain polite. Civility is the Mark of the civilised mind.

I am very disappointed by your mail. Not because you abused, and insulted my person without any justification, and generalised about Nigerians abroad, but because you simply ignored the issues. Your response gives away the kind of person you are and your prejudices. If people who call themselves doctors can respond the way you have, what hope has Nigeria?

There is no need to shoot the messenger, focus on the message and you will understand the messenger. Truth always confounds. I will advise you to take your pen and refute all the facts in the article so that people can then come to their own conclusions. This is how civil debate is conducted in developed societies. Your behaviour is not civilised. Do have a lovely day; just remember there is never a good reason to insult a person who has never insulted you. Regards Eke.

What followed was a number of impetuous, pretentious, boastful and insulting emails lacking in respect, with apparent attempt to disparage, belittle, and at the same time; attempting to convince me that he is right and I am wrong in an issue in which there are only perspectives. I became very worried because I understand too well how people with such nassisistic traits would go to prove that they are right and what they are capable of doing to others. Dr Adebayo came across to me as very easily annoyed, with inflated ego, boastful, insensitive to the feelings of others and prone to devaluing the achievements of others. I stopped replying to his mails and his insults stopped coming only to suddenly reappear after I exchanged emails with Mr Nwadike.

This has made me to wonder why these two gentlemen are targeting me, and what I have done wrong to deserve their hate campaign and vituperation. This is because I am very much aware that all man’s inhumanity to man starts with denigration. Have they been sponsored by the people whose actions inform my articles? Is this a new way of targeting those who speak out about the rot in Nigeria and offer alternative solutions? I hope that these two gentlemen will pause and re-examine what their emails say about their personalities and mind-set, and make the necessary changes in their attitude and style of writing before it is too late.

All being well, migrating this issue to the public domain will force them to reflect on their behaviour, personality, worldview and information process, with the view to reflecting on the impact of their style of communication and behaviour on others. Moreover, I hope that it would enable them accept that what they are doing is unacceptable, unjustifiable and wrong, and understand that no human being deserves to be abused, insulted, and vilified for expressing his or her views. In making this analysis, I have taken excerpts from correspondences I received from these two Nigeria critics, their own writings and the comments of those who have been affected by their abusive and degrading comments. Dr Femi Adebayo and Mr Alphonsus Nwadike should know that the use of the internet to send hate mails is a criminal offence in Britain and that Britain has extradition treaty with Nigeria and America.

I sent this article to Mr Nwadike to review for factual inaccuracies, corrections and objections before publication. Below is his response.

“I have read the trash you have written as an article. Eke, I herewith challenge you to send that trash for publication on any news medium of your choice. After its publication, you will swiftly and immediately see how I will react, using any way and means of my choice. If you are not a coward and a monkey, allow that trash to be published as you have said. I have NOTHING to correct in it because it is a mere trash of writing. According to Ndigbo, a fly that does not hear cha! cha! cha! usually gets buried with a corpse in the grave-pit. Remember, I have warned you that If you like you can flood the nigeriaworld.com with daily articles that make a ridicule of Nigeria, and that Nigeria will surely outlive you at last, just as she has done in the past to myopic Nigerians like you who think that the best way to bring about national development in Nigeria is to write and publish articles that destroy Nigeria, instead of those that help her to grow as a nation”. Alphonsus U. Nwadike

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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