Before NairaLand Goes To The Dogs; An Open Letter To Seun By Suraj Oyewale
Dear Seun Osewa,
As your very good friend and one of the most regular users of your online discussion forum, Nairaland, Africa’s biggest web-based platform, I am worried about the turn of things on your platform. I have discussed this with you in private emails several times, but it does not appear to me that you have heeded the advice. Of course, Nairaland is your private baby and I cannot force my opinion on you, neither can I tell you how to run it, but as an active user of the forum for almost 7 years, I am passionate about its future. I therefore consider it imperative to let this out, if not for anything, for records purpose.
I was the moderator of Politics section of Nairaland between August 2010 and January 2013 and I know how things work there. Your conscious efforts at tilting Nairaland to favour PDP are very worrisome.
Public forums begin to lose it when they lose their neutrality. Any public forum that is secretly guided by partisanship is on its way to destruction.
You have openly lamented that Nairaland has been deployed as APC propaganda machine in the past, which was very disappointing. I told you nobody deliberately tilts Nairaland to favour APC, that the seeming bent was because APC folks are more vocal, open threads every minute, and track and post juicy anti-PDP topics from all sources. Now, have they done anything wrong? Is Nairaland no longer a free place? Is thread opening no longer free?
All over the internet, from Facebook to Sahara Reporters to Twitter to discussion forums of popular websites like Punch, there are more people speaking against PDP and they are the most vocal. Did you expect Nairaland to be different? Opinions are free for God’s sake, Seun.
The PDP guys are few in number and hardly engage in winding intellectual debates like the anti-PDP guys. Did anybody stop them from opening threads? Did anybody stop them from aggregating pro-PDP news items for Nairaland?
It is rather unfortunate that you have been paranoid that there is official collusion by your appointed moderators with the anti-PDP folk, when in actual fact; it is not only on Nairaland that they have the upper hands. Did Facebook staff also collude with Nigerian Facebookers to make anti-GEJ posts dominant?
Think of this, Seun.
Your clampdown on APC and official promotion of PDP will do Nairaland no good. Stifling opinions is not the hallmark of a respected forum. Let the arguments and sentiments flow naturally. Using your power to guide it, is dangerous. Have you noticed that despite all your pro-PDP efforts, the PDP supporters still cry that the forum is anti-PDP? You can never satisfy them.
You remove APC threads from homepage, tweak headlines to damage APC, while promoting PDP with positive homepage topics.
A case in point: This topic (http://www.nairaland.com/1679518/apc-wants-okonjo-iweala-allison-madueke-suspended) reads “Group Want Okonjo Iweala, Allison Madueke Suspended” in the primary source (Punch), but you edited it to read “APC Want Okonjo Iweala, Allison Madueke Suspended”. There was no mention of APC in the original report but you sneaked APC into the headline and put it on Nairaland homepage – viewed by over 1 million people daily – just to damage APC. This is very petty, friend. You have also being doing same to topics positively reviewing Sanusi.
There are other cases of removing positive reviews of APC from homepage. While you are entitled to your personal preferences – and there is nothing wrong in personally preferring, and even defending PDP in personal capacity – but using a supposedly non-partisan platform to stifle sentiments is not best practice. I don’t want to believe Nairaland has been bought by the PDP. Or if it is so, simply let us know it is no longer a neutral forum.
In conclusion, let me disclose once again, although you already know, that I have sympathy for APC, but I will never trade objectivity for anything. As my friend on Facebook, you would have known that my loyalty is only to a good cause, not to any party or person. I am a strong fan of Lamido Sanusi and if you followed my Facebook posts very well, you will see that I have also openly voiced out my disappointment with the shallowness of his 27-page response to the financial recklessness allegation, just as I have also sent my regular Facebook missiles the way of APC. I have also not hesitated to commend performing public servants in PDP like Godswill Akpabio. Gagging a supposedly neutral political discussion platform like Nairaland will not do anybody any good as 2015 comes near. I don’t want to believe your forum has been bought.
Suraj Oyewale (Jarus)
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