Freedom Of Speech And Opinion

The freedom to express one’s opinion is said to be an inalienable right, that is a right that that should not be taken away from anyone. In order to ensure that people are free to express themselves most civilized countries have that right entrenched in their constitution. But like all rights it is not absolute, it has its limit and that limit is not left to the whims and caprices of any individual.

It is a thing of joy that we can express our views even though we do not agree with each other and we ought not to agree with each other all the time.

Those who believe in one Nigeria are entitled to that belief, those who advocate for it’s break up have freedom of expression except that under the law that would be illegal. It is just like advising Nigerians to go steal from the people who steal public funds, that would be a good thing in some people’s opinion since all they would be doing is getting back what rightly belong to them but the law says that is not an excuse and the people who perpetuate this would be charged with theft and you can be sure would be convicted since it is legal to take the law into your hands.

If someone in exercising his freedom of speech expresses an opinion, some expressing their own freedom have every right to disagree with the opinion of that person and that would be legal.

Okonkwo has the right to express his opinion to have a separate nation out of Nigeria. Some of us disagree with him and the law of course would punish such a step should one be taking to actualize that dream since that would be against the law.

Taslim has the right to opine that Obasanjo’s government is the best thing to happen to Nigeria. Some of us disagree with him but he has the right to say that and that of course is not against the law.

Abati is a fine writer that more often than not raises some nice points that are germane to the Nigerian question. I respect him as an individual and have been reading his columns in the papers and listening to him on patitos gang but that doesn’t mean that I agree with all his points. Some I do agree with.

Even the legal big wigs in Nigeria, Prof. Sagay and Gani Fawehinmi disagree as to whether or not Alams immunity extends beyond the shores of Nigeria.

There are always two sides to a coin. There’s a Yoruba adage that says we can not all sleep and have our heads in the same direction. That would be sad indeed.

The fact that we do not agree with each other does not mean we should abuse each other or believe that we are better than the next person. People have reasons for their opinions and even though some might think that their reasons are stupid or childish they still have the right to their opinion.

I believe in one Nigeria and as such share that opinion with people such as Taslim Anibaba, I love Nigeria, Uche, Ajia and maybe Palamedes, at least from their contributions on this board. People like Okonkwo and others appear to disagree with us. Which is fine so far as it remains an opinion.

I however belief it is wrong for Mr. Anibaba, some of whose opinion I respect to state thus in his contribution to Mr. Balogun’s article:

“ Those Who Matter In Nigeria, The Real Stakeholders Are Talking And Encouraging Mr. President So It Is Not Important What Some Janitors And Cab Drivers Somewhere Far From Nigeria And Who Apparently Do Not Even Know The Country's Constitution Say”

No one has monopoly of wisdom. To me these words are what is making our leaders unpopular.

It is sad that those who spent years in school graduated and could not secure a job in Nigeria as a result of which they had to leave that country. Some of these people are lawyers, doctors, engineer and the like. Some of these people were not given the positions that they are qualified to occupy in their host countries and thus have to do what it takes to write the qualifying examinations in their various fields.

I know a friend of mine that I graduated with from OAU, we also went to the law school together. He is in UK now and is into computer business. Does that disqualify him from being a stakeholder and does that mean he doesn’t matter when it comes to Nigeria? It is his country and being a trained lawyer would it be right to say he doesn’t know what the constitution says because he doesn’t support the modus operandi of this administration? There’s also a colleague of mine who now lives in Chicago. He used to be a cab driver before he qualified as an IT Auditor. Does the same thing apply to him? Another colleague of mine is in UK now and he’s into the health profession. Is he disqualified too? There’s another friend of mine in Dallas Texas who, thank God was an engineer in Nigeria and is in that profession here in the USA. Does that disqualify him? Dr. Balogun that Mr. Anibaba agreed with his article is living abroad. Is he disqualified too? I used have my Law Office on Lewis Street right across from the sandgrouse market and it was demolished due to lack of respect by Nigerian police. I have brothers and sisters, nieces and of course my kids still living in Nigeria. I am a qualified lawyer in Nigeria but presently doing security job in the USA, does that make me any less a stakeholder in Nigeria? I spent 2 semesters studying the constitution amongst other subjects. Does that mean I don’t know the constitution?

In America, some people agree with President Bush that terrorists should be hunted and brought to justice; some do not agree with the way he’s going about it. The president himself refers to their most precious document as piece of paper. Someone reminded him that he’s President Bush not king Bush. Does that make his opponents less Americans than he is?

Like I told Mr. Taslim in one of his earlier articles, it is wrong to cast a sweeping aspersion on a class. Everyone, whether we agree with their views or not who are Nigerians and even those who are not Nigerians are stakeholders as far as that country is concerned, and no one opinion is superior to the other but that of the majority. Majority can be wrong too sometimes.

Some of the people who are opposed to Obasanjo today do so on principled ground. When he was in prison people like Wole Shoyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana and others were at the fore front of his release. This are people I LOVE NIGERIA referred to derogatorily.

When an opinion is expressed here, let’s have the grace of letting people comment and let’s have the maturity of ignoring those who resort to insult rather than reason to attack our views. Once you start talking like them they have succeeded in bringing you to their level of immaturity.

MICHAEL EWETUGA



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Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
Mango posted on 12-19-2005, 21:30:08 PM
I basically suspended posting here for 2 reasons because people constantly refuse to stick to the topic being discussed, thereby making reasoned discussion difficult. Also there is the unwarranted use of abusive language.

The problem is that there is no moderation of content by the administrators. I understand that moderation is time consuming, and therefore expensive. However, the administrators could cultivate a network of regular posters to become joint moderators. I'm sure we could find a nice balance between freedom of speech and reason.

AT ONE POINT, the NVS looked like a MASSOB forum with a constant stream of articles from the likes of Rudolf Okonkwo. Most of these articles were saying the same things and using the same arguments. Also the authors rarely responded to arguments that countered the thrust of their articles. Effectively, they just put the poison out here, and disappeared untill they return with more poison. I simply got bored with it.

To make this medium more effective, every participant needs to be registered, and it needs to be better moderated. However, this is still easily the best serious Nigerian forum around.

Regards,
Mango
My Opinion
Unregistered posted on 12-19-2005, 23:07:56 PM
This used to be a decent forum until Govt implemented a policy, then the affected entered here to vent their anger. They should go to the other forums. We don't do tribe hate or personality here. We cannot all sleep facing the same direction but some members do precisely that. they make tribal and racial slurs and pass abusive remarks just because they want everybody to believe what they believe. You do not bring down a "failed" Govt by internet nor do you persuade others whom you have labeled Govt paid agents. The ultimate effect of their activity is detrimental to the forum. I hope the writer of this piece will not encourage what he preaches against.
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
Abraxas posted on 12-19-2005, 23:21:36 PM
Michael Ewetuga:

Please be patient with Nigerians. Do not underestimate the deep-rooted damage caused by about 30 years of visionless military dictatorship on the attitudes and behaviourisms of Nigerians. The irony of it all is that, today, the same Nigerians are being reformatted (sorry, they call it reformed) by the same gang of mercenary political soldiers that actually derailed their values and ethics for over a quarter of a century: I am talking about Yakubu Gowon (GCFR), Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR), [B]Mohammadu Buhari [/B](GCFR), Ibrahim Babangida (GCFR), Ernest Sonekan (GCFR; a military stooge, and a decoy for remotely controlled despotism, via IBB in Minna), and [B]Abdulsalami Abubakar [/B](GCFR)).

Thanks to the advent of the Internet, Nigerians can at least effectively vent their over-bottled up frustrations safely. Please observe that, despite the absurdity of having one of their former military dictators championing the midwifery of their so-called nascent democracy, there still is no freedom of expression of opinions as such yet in Nigeria under OBJ. What Nigerians have now is no better than what they had under Abdulsalami Abubakar, or Sani Abacha, or Ibrahim Babangida, or Mohammadu Buhari, or Olusegun Obasanjo in army uniform, or Murtala Mohammed, or Yakubu Gowon, or even Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi!

Finally, I wish to thank you very much for efficiently isolating the OBJ-sponsored official Aso Rock sycophants, praise-singers, cheerleaders, and moles in the Nigerian Village Square: i.e. Taslim Anibaba (FCA), I love Nigeria, Uche, Ajia, and Palamedes. Fantastic! Well done.

But then, let us face it, even they have a right of opinion, a freedom of choice, indeed, the liberty to express their thoughts freely, in a country where harmless concerned mothers cannot even express their feelings about institutionalised mediocrity, without risking being tear-gassed or/and clobbered by a police force founded on a mentality and doctrine of brute colonial repression.

Thank you very much, and please let us all have a happy New Year, after a Merry Christmas.

Abraxas.
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
Tola Odejayi posted on 12-20-2005, 03:54:16 AM
Mango,

As you may have seen in the notices appended in the comment area, the comments will eventually be open to registered members only, so your concerns will be addressed. We just need to sort a few things out first. But you will agree that things aren't as bad as before.

We're working on some changes to the structure of the teams running the board... we'll finalise these shortly. In the meantime, if you're interested in helping out with the moderation effort, send a mail to administrator@nigeriavillagesquare.com
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
TASLIM posted on 12-20-2005, 07:01:19 AM
Thank You Once Again Mr. Ewetuga For Your Article And For Your Comments.

I Agree With All That You Have Said. However, I Am Indeed Very Sorry If Anyone Felt Insulted By What I Wrote In Dr. Balogun's Column .
It Was Like Saying We Are Winning Dont Mind Them.

Once Again I Am Sorry If Anyone Felt Slighted/

Taslim
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
Unregistered posted on 12-20-2005, 07:07:46 AM
abraxas,

I want to know why you have decided to tinker with my name. If you read Mr Ewetuga's submission very well, you will realize that he stated the fact that he and I shared similar convictions. If you have read any of my submissions also, you will realize that I try to be fair in my analysis, though I have criticized President Obasanjo heavily, I did not make it a choice, I did so based on principle and the facts on the ground. I have chronicled what I see as the gradual decline of the state of Nigeria. If tomorrow, Mr Obasanjo change his ways, I will be glad to support his efforts, as at right now, he has not earned my confidence.

Before you start lumping people together, you have to understand their positions. Apparently where Mr Ewetuga has made a brilliant submission, you have made an uninformed one.

A.Y.Ajia
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
EezeeBee posted on 12-20-2005, 07:33:51 AM
For goodness sakes, people, take the time to read and realize that the man's name you all bandy about incorrectly is B-A-L-O-G-U, not Balogun!
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
Malcolm12398 posted on 12-20-2005, 09:12:15 AM
I'm sorry if the article appears disjointed, I was very angry when I wrote the article and I noticed that some sentences were not even completed. A situation that shows that my fingers couldn't keep up with my brain.

I hope those who would be in the board would not stifle validly expressed opinion. I don't see why anyone should resort to insult though. When I was taught the art of argumentation in school, Dr. Dipo Fashina opined that when someone attacks the person it shows he doesn't have better argument to counter the other person's submission. Don't attack the person because that's cheap and don't put everything down to ethnicity. Let us also try to respect valid laws even though we are not in that country. The rule of law is the basic foundation of civilized society. If our politicians don't let's show we are better than them.

Those who support the president and those of us who opposed him do so because of our love for the country.

I also want to point out that it is to the shame of our nation that its professionals are in some other countries doing odd jobs. We would love to stay back in Nigeria and practice what we spent years learning plus that's our country but do these people care about us? Just yesterday I read in the papers that the Southern leaders are meeting so they can retain "power". They are not talking about serving the country, they are talking about power and that's all they care about. Power over us. We should stop using the words leaders with regard to these people because they are not, they are just professional politicians who are there to steal and the rest of us can go take a dive.

We are all stakeholders. We may not agree but we are all concern about our country, at least some of us who want just one country and if we have the right people it could be better.

MICHAEL EWETUGA
To Mango and Taslim and the likes of them
Reason posted on 12-20-2005, 11:41:27 AM
Note what the enemies of development are saying here: sticking to the topic means you must agree with their viewpoint; straying from the topic means you must not refute ALL their invalid arguments; admin of NVS needs to censor those who refuted their own fallacious reasoning and warped thinking pattern.

What of accuracy? What of objectivity? What of skepticism brought about by your past and present history of failures and wickedness and deceptions? What of open-mindedness when your arguments have been proven to be baseless? Who will enforce and moderate these things?

You cannot beat people on the head and call that argument or democracy. Democracy means freedom of expression. It means no single man or group is above the rules of justice. It means retributive/coherent law, not your emotion-ridden gibberish and warped jingos and clichés and backwardness!!!!

Yeah, build your own temple according to your ways; define and construct your own constitutional superstructure with your own blood-su'cking elites. But you must allow us to be without your ways.

If you must have your personal attacks and ethnic warfare, then be man enough to expect our responses in the same direction; if you must continue to live in your backward jungle, then be strong and just enough to allow others to live in their own world as they see fit, not as you must define them. Do your own thing, but allow others to do their own thing. Be a tyrant, but not in our own homes. Be lawless, but stay within the bounds of your own nation. But so long as you desire to indiscriminately force your grotesque jingos and clichés down our throats, then expect our calculated response because we are no longer your faceless phantoms. As Soyinka said, "You cannot save us. Therefore, we must try to save you from your self-destruction."
Re: .FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION
Abraxas posted on 12-21-2005, 07:15:37 AM
Over a quarter of a century of the sustained militarization of the Nigeria psyche has resulted in the institutionalisation of such autocratic reflexes as intolerance, intimidation, impunity, and chauvinism in the Nigerian paradigm.

It is amazing to see how most Nigerians that one encounters in cyberspace, frequently make rather sweeping assumptions about reality, most of the time. Typically,they make sweeping assumptions about almost everything around them: for example, the identity (i.e. nationality; race; ethnicity; gender; age bracket; religious persuasion), or the general worldview or situational frames of reference of their fellow travellers in the information super-highway. This is a pity, even though it is understandable.

It is a pity because Nigerians often claim that they yearn to jettison their sad dictatorial military past, indeed, to warmly embrace democracy. And yet, time after time, one observes the unrestrained exhibition of brazen autocratic tendencies by most Nigerians, even in an environment like the Nigerian Village Square that is supposedly a market place of ideas!
The ideal of democracy is that there are certain minimum and non-negotiable rights that any human being is entitled to exercise, and to defend, if need be: the liberty to express their thoughts, beliefs, or opinions, and the right of consensual association, no matter how objectionable such may be. In a democratic culture space, you just have to learn to accommodate human beings, even if you seriously believe that you are a god!
It is therefore not surprising that those bad habits, entrenched by about 30 years of brute militarization of the Nigerian value system, often distort the dynamics of basic inter-personal transactions between most Nigerians and the different publics with which they may have to interface.

We just have to be patient with the reprogramming process, which unfortunately is further inhibited by the continuous active participation of the very wrong role models that degraded the values and ethics of Nigerians over the past quarter of a century with their militaristic worldview and leadership: i.e. Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ibrahim Babangida, Mohammadu Buhari.
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