simplynaijaforum

Posts Tagged ‘NIGERIAN’

BOKO HARAM – Don’t Talk to Mass Murderers, says Soyinka

In ANYTHING on November 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm

LAGOS — Nigerian Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka said Friday that trying to end a deadly insurgency by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram through dialogue would amount to “abysmal appeasement.”

President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year encouraged the Islamists, blamed for hundreds of deaths since 2009, to publicly state their demands, and his government has confirmed that “back-channel” talks with the group are ongoing.

“When I say, ‘don’t talk to murderers,’ that is exactly what I mean,” Soyinka told foreign media at an international conference in Lagos.

“Don’t talk to mass murderers. Don’t talk to those who have made the killing of innocent people their philosophy,” he added.

Soyinka described the violence blamed on the Islamists, which has included attacks on security forces, government officials and Christians in church, as “completely out of control.”

“Then you, the assaulted, say, ‘please, come and talk to us. Please, we don’t know what you want’ … What kind of language is that? That is the language of abysmal appeasement,” he said on the sidelines of the Kuramo Conference on development.

Nigerian security forces have so far been been unable to stamp out the violence and have themselves been accused of massive abuses in combatting the Islamists.

Amnesty International has charged the military with carrying out summary executions, particularly in the northeast where Boko Haram is based, and Human Rights Watch has said the military could be guilty of crimes against humanity in combatting the group.

“There has been the condemnable scorched earth policy of the military,” Soyinka said, adding that he believed that such killings had occurred.

Africa’s first Nobel literature prize winner however described the insurgency as a “security issue” that posed a new kind of challenge for Nigeria’s military.

Violence linked to Boko Haram is estimated to have claimed 2,800 lives since 2009, including killings by the security forces, with the worst violence concentrated in the mainly Muslim north of Africa’s most populous country.

The group has said it wants to create an Islamic state in the north, but its demands have continuously shifted.

Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

PHILIP EMEAGWALI: THE FACE OF AN INTERNATIONAL LIAR AND CONMAN

In ESSAY on September 11, 2012 at 6:57 am

 A Citizen Investigative Essay On SaharaReporters, New York

Philip Emeagwali stirs up diverse emotions in Nigerians, Africans, and black people around the world. His claim of being a father of the Internet, of having invented the Connection Machine, of possessing 41patented inventions, of winning “the Nobel Prize of Computing” and of being a “doctor” and/or “professor” have been conclusively debunked with widely documented evidence.

Fraudulent claims help  Emeagwali get on the Nigerian N50 postal stamp

Yet, the figure of Emeagwali as a black scientific, engineering, and information technology genius and pioneer continues to loom large over discussions of black achievement. The legend of Philip Emeagwali’s purported inventions, widely proven to emanate from the perverse deceptive genius of the man himself, endures and proliferates among Nigerian and black groups around the world.

Only recently, the USAfricadialogue googlegroups listserv managed by Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas hosted a discussion on Philip Emeagwali’s vast fraud. Participants in the discussion included Nigerian and African intellectuals, scientists, engineers, and IT professionals. Overall, the discussion reinforced and reiterated one of the worst kept secrets in the Nigerian Diaspora, especially in its online community: that none of Emeagwali’s highfalutin claims, on whose strength he has curried and continues to curry favor and recognition from gullible and hero-hungry black people, is true.  Yet, just a few days ago, one of Nigeria’s more visible dailies, The Vanguard, included the academic and intellectual fraud in its list of 20 “most influential Nigerians.” Curiously, unlike previous Nigerian publications and profiles on Mr. Emeagwali, the biographical write-up accompanying the nomination does not repeat any of the well-known claims and “achievements” that Emeagwali has aggressively and fraudulently peddled about himself — claims that many of our people regard as truth. Apparently, the journalists at The Vanguard have become exposed to the widely available refutations of those claims and now know that they are false. But that, precisely, is the outrage. If they know that he is not a father of the internet, did not win “the Nobel Prize” of Computing as he claims, has no invention patents, did not invent the connection machine, does not have a single academic publication, and is neither a “doctor” nor a “professor” by any definition of those terms, why did they include him on the list? What makes Mr. Emeagwali “influential,” his ability to deceive Nigerians and line his pockets on the black speechmaking circuit?

Nigerians and black people deserve to know who the real Philip Emeagwali is. This will save them from the embarrassment of continuing to celebrate a fraud while real black scientific achievers and pioneers starve for attention and recognition. To correct Nigeria’s scientific and technological lag there is a need for investments — both financial and motivational — in the sciences, engineering, and IT fields. Nigerian youths need inspiration in the quantitative and scientific disciplines, but they should get it from actual, not pretending, black scientific, computing, and engineering heroes, not from phonies like Mr. Emeagwali. Patented Inventions Or The Invention Of Patents?

Debunking the many myths of Mr. Emeagwali’s “achievements” is one the easiest things to do on earth if you have a computer with Internet access. Let us start with his claim of possessing 41 (32 by some accounts on some hero-worshipping black websites) patents for various inventions. A simple search at the website of the US Patent and Trade Mark Office (here: http://tarr.uspto.gov/) reveals that Mr. Emeagwali has only one registered patent, for Emeagwali.com, his website. He has no other patent listed against his name. It is the same patent that most owners of independent websites apply for to legally protect their proprietary rights over the website and its contents. We can state conclusively then that Mr. Emeagwali has no patented invention of any kind, contrary to his and his supporters’ claim.

Specifically, Mr. Emeagwali claims to have invented the Connection Machine (CM-2). This false claim is displayed boldly and shamelessly on Emeagwali.com in the section on “inventions” and “discoveries.” Some black websites like this one http://inventors.about.com/od/blackinventors/a/black_historyE.htm credit Emeagwali with inventing the Hyberball Machine Networks (or the supercomputer). Both claims are demonstrably false. The connection Machine, which is capable of conducting simultaneous calculations using 65,000-processors, was conceived by Daniel Hills and built by Thinking Machine Corporation, which Mr. Hills, along with Sheryl Handler, founded in 1982. This information is widely available on the web. The so-called supercomputer is therefore clearly not the child of Mr. Emeagwali by even the most generous stretch of the imagination.

Internet Pioneer?

Mr. Emeagwali claims to have used the CM-2 Machine to carry out billions of calculations by connecting over 65,000 processors (computers) around the world. He claims that this was the rudimentary foundation of the Internet. It is on this ground that he has aggrandized to himself the title of “father of the internet.” But this is a barefaced lie at worst and an egregious exaggeration at best. And it is so absurd in its circular logic that it is hilarious. First, as stated earlier, Emeagwali did not invent the Connection Machine on which his “experiment” relied. Second, Emeagwali used more than 65,000 independent processors “around the world” (meaning on the Internet) to do his calculation. This means that the Internet already existed and that he RELIED ON it for his calculations. Unless the Internet he claims to have fathered is different from the Internet that already existed at the time of his experiment (and which we all know as the existing internet today), he COULD NOT have invented the Internet or fathered it. He could not have been using an internet that, by his claim, did not exist until he invented it. As this website http://www.boutell.com/newfaq/history/emeagwali.html makes very clear, Emeagwali’s research did not contribute to or help invent any of the known components of what we now know as the internet:

Philip Emeagwali did work in supercomputing in the [late] eighties……. But supercomputing and the Internet are very different areas. And Emeagwali did not contribute to even one of the hundreds of Internet standards, or RFCs (Requests For Comments), that were created in the early decades of the Internet—an open process that anyone could participate in. His supercomputing research was completely unrelated to the Internet.

Emeagwali’s research was thus irrelevant to the evolution of the internet. Emeagwali did his supercomputing experiment in the late 1980s. By then, the “core standards” and protocols for information and data flow on the Internet already existed. And although, improvements have been made to the template since then, Emeagwali did not make any of those improvements and cannot therefore claim credit for them.

Emeagwali’s tenuous—and fraudulent—claim to internet fatherhood rests on his assertion that “the Supercomputer is the father of the Internet,” “because both are networks of computers working together.” This, experts agree, is not true, as supercomputing is just one component of the Internet and in fact RELIES ON the rudiments of what we know as the internet to work. So, if anything, the internet concept is the father of supercomputing, not vice versa. But even if we accept Emeagwali’s wrong logic, the fact that he did not invent or pioneer supercomputing means that even on this flawed premise and logic he cannot be considered a father of the internet.

Authentic histories of the internet are accessible all over the web. One can be found here: http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.shtml#SC69. Many people played leading roles in inventing, improving, and constituting the vast technologies, protocols, and ideas that gave birth to and perfected the Internet. It is interesting that none of them is nearly as vocal in claiming that he is a father of the internet as Mr. Emeagwali, who did not contribute to the invention of the internet in any shape or form and in fact relied on the already existing internet to conduct his research. One of the most significant contributors to and pioneers of the internet is Vinton Cerf, who is today a Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google Inc. Other important figures in the development of the Internet include JCR Licklider, Bob Taylor, Paul Baran, Donald Davies, and Lawrence Roberts. If anyone deserves the title of father of the Internet, it is these people. Yet, none of them craves or has appropriated the title. When interviewed about their contribution to the Internet, they often humbly outline their actual contribution, crediting others with other components and shunning the title or insinuation of having fathered the Internet.

The only “history of the internet” source to even recognize Emeagwali as a legitimate computer scientist to be mentioned when chronicling the history of the internet is the book History of the Internet: A Chronology, 1843 to the Present by Christos J. P. Moschovitis, Hilary Poole, Tami Schuyler, Theresa M. Senft. The book was published in 2001. Although Mr. Emeagwali proudly displays the book’s reference to him on his website and claims that the “father of the internet” moniker (which has since been lazily picked up by several media platforms) originated in the book, there is absolutely no such reference in the book. The book’s reference to Emeagwali only states how Emeagwali’s research “effectively stimulate[d] petroleum reserves” by “harnessing the power of parallel computing.” And it is clear from a cursory analysis of the linguistic properties of this specific reference to Emeagwali that Emeagwali himself supplied the material and the claims articulated in it. It is also clear from the reference that it has nothing to do with the internet but is about improving the modeling of oilfields or oil reservoirs. The content and prose are eerily identical to the autobiographical write-ups and claims on Emeagwali.com and on black websites that simply lift and republish Emeagwali’s claims and self-written biography.

The Nobel Prize Of Computing?

Emeagwali’s other claim is that of winning the “Nobel Prize of Computing.” He is, of course, referring to the Gordon Bell Prize, which he won in 1989. Many uninformed observers have since picked up this fraudulent reference, which emanated from Emeagwali.com, and given it wings. The truth is that the Gordon Bell Prize does not come close to the Nobel in status, recognition or prize money and to compare the two prizes is to insult the prestige of the Nobel and grossly exaggerate the Gordon Bell’s importance. The Gordon Bell Prize is, properly speaking, an annual competition that young, driven, engineering upstarts — mostly graduate students — enter. Winners are usually those whose research are innovative and on the cutting edge of new processes in the field. So, on that score, winning the Gordon Bell Prize is a reward for doing research work that is important and solves an application problem at the time that the award is given.  But let us put the award in perspective and recognize that it is actually a very minor award in the narrow field of supercomputing and in the larger computing and scientific community. Here is why the Gordon Bell Prize, Emeagwali’s only legitimate achievement, is much less than what he has portrayed it as:

•    The cash award for the prize is a mere $1000.  Often, the amount of an award is a good guide to its prestige and significance in the field.
•    Consider the fact that the most prestigious prize in the field of computing (and yet it cannot even be called the Nobel of Computing without insulting the real Nobel) is the Turing Prize, which carries a cash prize of $100,000. •    The Gordon Bell is awarded in the narrow subfield of supercomputing, thereby further thinning the applicant pool and reducing the intensity of the competition. •    The prize is further subdivided into several categories. Emeagwali won in one of those categories, the price/performance category. The more prestigious overall Peak Performance category was won by the entry submitted by a team from Mobil and TMC. •    It is interesting that apart from Emeagwali no other winner(s) of the Gordon Bell annual prize makes noise about winning it or claims to have won “the Nobel Prize of Computing.” They usually go on to do bigger and better research in the field, the Gordon Bell being just a launch pad for future significant work. The public does not even know the other winners because it is a minor prize even in the field of computing. •    Finally, and most importantly, Philip Emeagwali only won the prize in the price/performance category by default. His calculation of 3.1 Gflops was the second fastest speed. The fastest speed belonged to the Mobil/TMC team’s entry, whose calculation, according to the official record of the IEEE, which administers the prize (IEEE Software, May 1990, p. 101), bested Emeagwali’s speed. The speed of the Mobil/TMC Team’s solution to the seismic data processing problem was almost twice that of Emeagwali’s at almost 6Gflops. Similarly, and of more relevance for our purpose here, the Mobil/TMC team’s entry achieved the best speed/cost ratio (price-performance) at 500 Mflops per $1 Million, beating out Emeagwali’s entry, whose speed/cost ration was less than 400 Mflops per $1 Million. In fact the prize in the price/performance category was actually awarded to the Mobil/TMC initially. However, because the Mobil TMC team won also won in the overall Peak Performance category and the IEEE’s prize rule does not allow more than one prize per entry, the Mobil/TMC team forfeited their prize in the price/performance category, sticking with the prize for overall Peak Performance, a more significant category. As a result, Emeagwali’s entry, the second placed entry with the second highest speed/cost ratio, was automatically bumped to first place.

For all these reasons, it is the height of self-promotion and delusional exaggeration for Mr. Emeagwali to claim that he won the Nobel Prize of Computing or that the Gordon Bell is regarded as the Nobel of Computing. Nobody except Mr. Emeagwali regards the prize as such.

It is noteworthy that both Emeagwali and the Mobile/TMC Team relied on the CM-2 Machine (the Connection Machine) for their calculations, the same machine that Emeagwali falsely claims to have invented!

A final point to note here is that the research for which he won the Gordon Bell Prize (by default) has application and relevance only in the narrow area of oil flow reservoir modeling and oil prospecting. His entry for the competition utilized and optimized the capacity of parallel computing, that is, relied on an already existing Internet. Emeagwali’s own website states that he “accessed the supercomputers over the Internet from local workstations.” Neither the research nor the prize had anything to do with the Internet. The Internet was already invented and fairly perfected by then; otherwise he would not be, in his own words, “accessing the supercomputers over the Internet.” This clarification is necessary and important because some of Emeagwali’s supporters and victims tend to assume wrongly that his purported fatherhood of the internet derives from the research for which he won the Gordon Bell Prize. All these facts can be easily accessed here: http://www33.brinkster.com/iiiii/inventions/emeag.html “Dr.” Emeagwali Or Doctored Emeagwali?

Emeagwali’s final fraudulent claim is that of being a “doctor” and “professor.” Several years ago, before eagle-eyed Nigerians and Africans decided to scrutinize his eye-popping claims, his website audaciously referred to him as “doctor” and “Professor.” Because of recent exposures of his scam, he no longer refers to himself on his website as “Dr. Emeagwali” or “Professor Emeagwali.” However, in what is typical of the Emeagwali scam, his website is still littered with many media references to “Dr Emeagwali” and “Professor Emeagwali.” These stealthily promoted references then get picked up by unsuspecting black media people who are eager to promote black achievement and excellence. Sometimes, he approaches black websites and organizations, asking them to link to or publish his false claims. In the course of the discussion on the USAfricadialogue forum, Ms. Funmi Okelola , the owner and webmaster of cafeafricana.com, revealed that Mr. Emeagwali approached her a few years ago, asking her to help propagate the lie that he is “a father of the internet.” Ms. Okelola, herself an Adjunct Professor of IT, flatly turned down his request, refusing to participate vicariously in his fraud. For good measure, she advised him to seek help for his delusions of grandeur.

But many proprietors of black websites and publications have not been as alert to Emeagwali’s antics as Ms. Okelola and have been falling for his scam. In their eagerness to embrace what they believe to be the proud achievements of a “brother,” they have inadvertently donated space and platform to Emeagwali to consolidate and spread his false claims. Because of the virility of the internet, even some non-black websites have picked up these ubiquitous references that are patently false. Here, on this website http://www.answers.com/topic/philip-emeagwali for instance you will find a clear reference not only to “Dr Emeagwali” but also the following reference in their documentation of his education: “Ph.D., Scientific Computing, University of Michigan, 1993.”

He will not correct what is clearly a false reference, preferring to take cover in the deniability of being able to say that it is others, not him, who use these false, unearned titles to refer to him. The reason he will not correct this falsehood is that it emanated from him in the first place; most of the references were picked up from his website in the days before scrutiny spooked him into avoiding such direct self-referencing. The clearest evidence yet of his complicity and culpability in this misrepresentation is that he sits through interviews where the clueless, awed interviewers refer to him as “Doctor Emeagwali” and “Professor Emeagwali” and he does not correct them. There is a particularly revolting video on youtube <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMFy9sBLFQQ&feature=related>(http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8244498418903739405#) in which the female interview repeatedly calls him Dr. Emeagwali, obviously assuming and/or reading from her script that he has a PhD. He sits there and nods and smiles through those references without correcting her. Having planted the false biographical information about himself in the first instance, he understandably makes no effort to discourage people from using it or to correct them.

The false references to him as “doctor” and “professor” are not the only falsehoods that Emeagwali coyly and deftly promotes; he routinely lets interlocutors repeat the many false claims that are based on his own prolific misrepresentations. On this website http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa111097a.htm, for instance, the misinformed interviewer, a black woman who is proudly interviewing “a black inventor” for a book she was writing on black inventors, asks him the following question: “You have submitted 41 inventions to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office concerning seven technologies. Can you give us expanded details?” Clearly, the interviewer was repeatedly the false claim on Emeagwali’s website and in his self-written biographical profiles, without realizing that, as we showed at the beginning of this essay, he has no patent for any technology or invention.

Here is Mr. Emeagwali’s response to her question: “Inventors are reluctant to provide expanded details of their inventions until they receive full patent protection. The reason is that the Patent and Trademark Office can deny patents to inventors that publicly provide details of their invention.” But the truth is that he has neither registered patents for his non-existent inventions nor a patent-pending status. He has no inventions or technologies to patent! The response itself contains a lie. Contrary to Emeagwali’s insinuation that inventors cannot publicly discuss their work until they are patented or that doing so would jeopardize their patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), inventions and products with “Patent Pending” status are routinely discussed, advertized, and marketed on American television. In fact these public discussions of unpatented inventions always carry the disclaimer that patents are pending, meaning that applications have been made. If public discussion of inventions and technologies were detrimental to patent applications, none of these unpatented and “patent pending” technologies and inventions would be on the American market or be advertized on television. This was Emeagwali seeking to perpetuate the myth that he has several technological inventions that are patented or awaiting patents but avoiding having to mention or discussion the specific fictitious inventions for which he claims to have patents in order to have deniability when checks are made at the USPTO and he is confronted with the truth of his falsehood. Racism Or Laziness?

The case of Philip Emeagwali is a cautionary tale on the pitfalls of self-delusion, laziness, and a sense of entitlement. Mr. Emeagwali enrolled in a doctoral program in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan in 1987. His coursework over, he took the comprehensive examination that qualifies one for candidacy. He failed the exam twice and did not take it a third time. In the meantime, he conducted the research that would later win him the Gordon Bell Prize, a research he began as a class project for one of his graduate courses. In 1991, two years after winning the Gordon Bell by default, he petitioned the Dean of the School of Engineering to be allowed to submit a dissertation (despite not having passed his candidacy exam and therefore not being a doctoral candidate) in a different department — the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. His request was curiously granted in what was clearly a sidestepping of standard procedure. Emeagwali submitted the dissertation, basically a rework of his entry for the Gordon Bell competition, on July 24, 1992. A team of internal and external evaluators examined it and found it unworthy of a doctorate and turned it down.

Emeagwali then sued the University of Michigan for racial discrimination. The lawsuit was dismissed for lacking merit and also failed on appeal in 1999. The details of Emeagwali’s graduate school records and of the dueling contentions in the lawsuit are all documented here http://www.michbar.org/opinions/appeals/1999/102999/5473.html in the court record of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

A dispassionate analysis of the details, affidavits, and arguments submitted in the lawsuit and in the appeals process reveals the following:

•    Emeagwali was a fairly brilliant student but he was lazy and would not put in the work necessary to earn his degree.

•    He had a sense of entitlement, feeling that since he was black and had made it into the University of Michigan, he was entitled to a special treatment and academic favors.

•    This sense of entitlement escalated after he won the Gordon Bell Prize. He thought that he was entitled to a PhD on the strength of the Gordon Bell competition entry when in fact he was not even a doctoral candidate, having failed his comprehensive examination twice.

•    Emeagwali was more concerned with parlaying his newfound default Gordon Bell fame into profitable self-promotion than with the serious academic effort required to complete the PhD.

•    He petitioned to be allowed to submit a dissertation only after he realized that he would not be taken seriously as a researcher and may not be able to find a secure job in research or teaching if he did not possess a PhD.

This is a story of how a promising, modestly brilliant graduate student was destroyed by his own hubris, entitlement mentality, and laziness. What Emeagwali failed to earn through hard work and diligence, he has since appropriated to himself by calling himself and getting others to call him “doctor” and “professor.”

Emeagwali is not a doctor of whatever kind. He is not a professor. He has not held any research or teaching job in any educational or research institution since he failed to get a doctorate degree at Michigan. He has also not done any new research. Emeagwali has no single publication in any scientific journal. A search of the most comprehensive scientific publication database (which can be done online) yields only a reference to his Masters Degree dissertation.

Here we have a man who is unemployed, has no serious standing in the scientific, engineering, or computing communities. Yet he is widely referred to as “a father of the internet,” “an internet pioneer,” “the greatest black scientist that ever lived,” “Bill Gates of Africa,” among other over-the-top and unearned titles. The question to pose is: how did the world get so deceived and why did many reputable people and organizations buy into Emeagwali’s con job? Emeagwali is a very industrious, persistent, and successful scam artist; you have to give him that. Very few intellectual frauds have successfully mainstreamed their false claims as Emeagwali has done. Intellectual Fraud And Its Unwitting Validators

Even former president Bill Clinton was suckered by the fraud, famously referring to Emeagwali as “one of the great minds of the information age” in his speech to the Nigerian National Assembly in 2000. The Clinton reference has provided cover and alibi for Emeagwali to perfect and spread his false claims. Predictably, Emeagwali’s defenders point to the Clinton reference and to CNN’s and TIME Magazine’s references to him as “a father of the internet” and “the unsung hero” of the internet age respectively. These references are boldly displayed on Emeagali.com for the obvious purpose of convincing the uninformed that his claims have been vetted and endorsed by these entities. The problem is that these media organizations sadly endorsed the claims without vetting them. Part of it is sloppiness, but much of it is the result of what black intellectuals who live in the West understand and experience as white liberal pandering, which is itself borne out of white liberal guilt and the fear of the “r” word (racism).

Obviously Clinton was pandering to his Nigerian hosts who believed Emeagwali to be a scientific genius and national hero. Clinton, the savvy politician that he is, and a man who perfected white liberal outreach and pandering to black/African peoples, was relying on the image and descriptions of Emeagwali that was already in the black and mainstream press —descriptions that are traceable to Emeagwali’s own misrepresentations on his websites. What Emeagwali does is so clever as to ensnare even a skeptical and vigilant observer, especially one that is already inclined to believe or seek out claims of black scientific achievement for whatever reason. As indicated earlier, Emeagwali plants these autobiographical write-ups that are ridden with falsehoods and misrepresentations in unsuspecting black publications. He does this by aggressively pitching these claims to their editors as he tried to do unsuccessfully with Ms. Okelola. Then, fired by liberal guilt and a desire to seem welcoming to black achievement and excellence, the mainstream media like TIME and CNN, lazily pick up these references and descriptions. Emeagwali then links to, disseminates, and publicizes these mainstream press references and descriptions (which are actually based on his own descriptions of himself and his “achievements”), thus perfecting and furthering the fraud. This way, he creates deniability for himself. The deception comes full circle but the cycle continues to repeat itself, populating and repopulating the Internet with Emeagwali’s falsehoods.

The sophistication and complexity of the fraud notwithstanding, there is no excuse for reputable organizations like CNN and TIME not to have done a simple due diligence on the false claims of Emeagwali. It is true that at the time that TIME and CNN made the glowing references to Emeagwali, the now widely available refutations of his claims were probably not yet available on the internet. Even so, a basic inquiry from the appropriate quarters would have revealed the truth about the claims on which the references to Emeagwali were based. The two reputable organizations failed to carry out this basic fact checking, an elemental reportorial and investigative duty of journalists. Instead, they relied on Emeagwali’s widely disseminated falsehoods for their stories. The case of TIME is particularly scandalous. The story in which it extols Emeagwali is clearly directly based on Emeagwali’s own autobiographical claims on Emeagwali.com. In fact it is a faithful, almost verbatim reproduction of Emeagwali’s self-written profile. It is lazy, sloppy journalism at its worst.

There is similarly no excuse for President Clinton’s speech writers not to have done basic checks or asked some of the president’s own appointees and advisers who are engineers and scientists about the true value of Emeagwali’s work. Had they done this relatively simply investigation, they would have realized that being a default winner in one category of a minor supercomputing competition for work that has a specific, limited application in the narrow field of oil reservoir modeling does not qualify one to be called “one of the greatest minds of the information age.”

A Self-Replicating Fraud

When challenged, Emeagwali and his supporters can say he is merely repeating and linking to what others call him and say about him and that he does not call himself a father of the internet or a doctor or a professor. But the fraud is a self-replicating one, perpetuating and proliferating itself across both the print and virtual media worlds. Other publications that are searching for black scientific achievers do an internet search and then rely on the previous press descriptions of Emeagwali, which ultimately lead back to the man’s fraudulent biographical claims on his own website. The lazy journalists and Pan-African activists lift these published claims and references (which emanated from the man himself), concluding that they must be established facts if other media outlets had already published them. And on and on it goes. It is a very sophisticated fraud that is aided by the virility of the Internet. This is precisely how even the prestigious Law School Admission Test (LSAT) ended up including a passage about Emeagwali in their test, a passage that is exactly the same as what Emeagwali published on Emeagwali.com about himself!! The examiners at the LSAT did not even bother to rewrite the passage. Nor did they bother to check the veracity of the claims therein.  It is clear that they were simply interested including a passage about a “black achiever” to fulfill the need for diversity of content and to deflect or avoid accusations from black test takers and other minority groups that the test does not represent or reflect the experiences of black people and is thus biased against them.

White liberal patronage of black people can be that shallow and sloppy — and insulting to the very people it purports to promote. It is political correctness and pandering marinated in a political agenda–that of ingratiating white liberal politicians and figures to blacks for political support and multicultural validation. The peak of this phenomenon is Black History Month in February when white liberal organizations and black institutions alike pull out all the stops to have self-promoting “black achievers” like Emeagwali speak to them. That’s when they get invited by white liberal and African American organizations to showcase black achievement and innovation! White liberal patronage is a big industry in America. It takes many forms; one of them is what Pius Adesanmi calls the Mercy Industrial Complex (MIC). But the MIC is not as offensive as the false flattery and the silly excuses and defenses that white liberals advance for cuddling black failures and frauds. Hero-seeking black organizations have not helped matters with their patronage of people like Emeagwali. Emeagwali’s deception succeeds so well because of a multiracial coalition of consumers and enablers.

Emeagwali is a very clever, self-conscious scam artist. That is however no excuse for the black community to allow itself to be used to actively promote a fraud.

Testimonies To Fraud And Deception

A participant in the USAfricadialogue discussion, Professor Pablo Idahosa of York University, Toronto told of how, as the institution’s Director of African Studies, he summarily dismissed the request of black students in the institution who came to him seeking sponsorship for their proposal to bring Mr. Emeagwali to the campus to speak to them. Professor Idahosa told of how a cursory scrutiny of the biography that Emeagwali had supplied to the student group convinced him that the man was a fraud and his claims false. Subsequently, he declined to fund the proposed event, refusing to use the institutions name and funds to validate a deception.

Another member of the forum, Dr. Ola Kassim revealed how he had been taken by Emeagwali’s claims when he stumbled on them and how he, as the leader of a Nigerian group in Canada, had decided to invite the self-proclaimed “computer genius” to speak to the group.  In a demand that fleshes out the pecuniary motivations for Emeagwali’s persistence in perpetuating his fraud, he requested for an honorarium of $10,000, round the clock limousine service, a five-star hotel accommodation, and first class plane tickets for him and an assistant. Dr. Kassim promptly discontinued correspondence with Mr. Emeagwali, seeing his demands as grossly unreasonable. A few years later, he was glad that he did, as he became exposed to the mountain of evidence proving that Emeagwali is not what — and who — he claims to be. Other African organizations with deeper pockets have been paying up Emeagwali’s ridiculous and undeserved fees, believing that they are paying an African “internet pioneer” and “inventor” to inspire them. It is a classic case of obtaining financial gratification through misrepresentations and false pretenses, what is called 419 in Nigerian parlance. Some white liberal groups also pay Emeagwali to talk about his “achievements” as a way to satisfy their Afrophilic sensibilities and assuage their consciences. These gullible and not-so-gullible deep-pocketed groups keep Emeagwali in business, enabling the jobless Emeagwali to make a living off his deception. They have unwittingly helped him solidify his fraud as he routinely posts videos and audios from these events on his website to further cement his self-created legend. The irony of paying Emeagwali to inspire and motivate black (and white liberal) audiences is that, as one commentator remarked, in addition to being an intellectual fraud, Mr. Emeagwali has no personal charisma, lacks the oratorical skills of a motivational speaker, and, for a man who is fairly well educated with two Masters degrees, has terrible English speaking skills as evident in his online videos.

Yet another member of the forum, Wassa Fatti, a Gambian resident in London, narrated how he had been a fanatical believer in Emeagwali as an African scientific hero and thanked members for providing the overwhelming evidence that convinced him of Emeagwali’s monumental, sophisticated fraud. He was so enamored of Emeagwali’s legend that he, along with like-minded Africans, wanted to write a children’s inspiration book on the fraudulent self-promoter. In his own words, the project was abandoned when even those who were most vocal in touting Emeagwali’s claims and “achievements” could not find independent corroborations for any of the claims and after they realized that every single claim about his accomplishment, except the Gordon Bell Prize, led right back to Emeagwali.com. Fatti writes: “I abandoned [the] project….when others raised concerns that we need evidence to support Emeagwali’s claim. Those who were loudest among us to produce such a booklet were also the least to provide evidence beyond Philip Emeagwali’s verbal claim.”

Why Emeagwali Is Bad For Nigeria/Africa

Some people acknowledge Emeagwali’s deception but suggest that it should be understood in the context of America’s broader culture of self-promotion, deceptive enterprise, profit-motivated lies, and self-misrepresentation. It is true that this culture makes it easier for people like Emeagwali to thrive and inflict their fraud on society. But ultimately, Emeagwali, like everyone else, has to be held personally responsible for his transgressions.

Other Nigerians argue that Emeagwali’s scam has not hurt anyone personally, that it is a victimless fraud. By this logic, exposing Emeagwali’s fraud hurts the image of Nigerians and black people more than it helps it. There is some technical veracity in that argument. But the cost of non-exposure to Nigeria is much greater. There are now as many web postings and videos clearly exposing the intellectual con artistry of Mr. Emeagwali as there are websites and web postings celebrating him. Every time his scam is highlighted, his Nigerian nationality is mentioned to reinforce the stereotypical notion that Nigerians are shifty, lying frauds. His Africanness and blackness also become factors that are invoked to explain his fraudulent ways.  So, image-wise, every hard working, honest, achieving Nigerian (intellectual or otherwise, scientist or not) is sullied by Emeagwali’s scam. Every discussion of Emeagwali’s fraudulent self-promotion casts a dark shadow on Nigerians with hard-earned reputations; their genuine achievements are put on trial with every discussion of Emeagwali’s serial dishonesty. They are victims of Emeagwali’s fraudulent activities. His fraud taints Nigeria and Nigerians.

Emeagwali’s quest for a short cut to fame and recognition and his subsequent refusal to take responsibility for his misguided actions and inactions has hurt black people everywhere. Experts on racism believe that every false, frivolous racism allegation or lawsuit actually harms the struggle for racial equality and justice because it makes future, genuine allegations of racism less believable and less credible in the eyes of the dominant white power and judicial structure. This is the damage that Emeagwali’s frivolous recourse to the racism card in his Michigan travails has inflicted on the struggle of black people for equality in America and elsewhere.

Some people argue that Emeagwali should not be denigrated because of his failure to finish his PhD and that many of the giants of the information revolution do not have PhDs. This is true. Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Danny Hills, Vint Cerf, and the founders of Google all do not have PhDs. Yet they have gone on to do great things that have transformed the world, as we know it. But the difference between these people and Philip Emeagwali is like night and day. Unlike Emeagwali, these are actual pioneers of various technologies and protocols with documented patents to truly pioneering and innovative technologies. These people celebrate the fact that they do not have doctorate degrees, wearing it as a badge of honor, thereby intensifying the inspirational effect of their life stories and accomplishments. They don’t go around calling themselves “Dr.” and “Professor” like Mr. Emeagwali. In fact, the most well known of these information age pioneers, Bill Gates, proudly proclaims the fact that he dropped out of college to pursue his dream. Unlike Emeagwali, these people do not go around claiming to have patents that they do not have.

The fact is that one does not need a PhD to contribute to scientific knowledge or to invent technologies and techniques that improve human life. That is precisely why Emeagwali’s false claim of being a PhD holder and a professor is so galling. He has a Masters Degree in Engineering from a respected university and does not need a PhD to pursue his intellectual or scientific dreams. He could get a job with his qualification and earn a respectable, honest, decent living. Yet he felt the need to misrepresent himself as a “doctor” and “Professor.” This shows that his fraud is clearly not motivated by necessity, self-preservation, or survival, but by greed and a desire to secure unearned gratifications.

Some people say: “why expose Emeagwali when he is inspiring our people to embrace computers?” The answer to that is that a fraudster should not be the one inspiring “our” people, especially impressionable young black people, who will eventually realize that Emeagwali is a fraud and be devastated. Others argue that Emeagwali is a harmless, self-promoting charlatan who poses much less threat to Nigeria than the thieving politicians in Abuja. There is some truth to that, but the intellectual, activist, progressive, and media constituencies of Nigeria have no moral right to rail against Salisu Buhari and Bola Tinubu’s certificate and biographical deceptions if they cannot hold one of their own to account for his multiple deceptions.

Ignoring Genuine Nigerian Scientific Achievers

The most important reason why celebrating the likes of Mr. Emeagwali is ultimately detrimental to Nigeria (and by extension Africa) is that it takes attention away from the genuine black/Nigerian achievers that deserve to be celebrated and projected as models of black/Nigerian ingenuity. It is an outrage that, as African intellectuals were discussing Mr. Emeagwali’s multi-layered fraud on the USAfricadialogue forum, the exploit of Professor John Dabiri, who recently won a McArthur Genius Award, received barely a blip in the Nigerian and black press. Professor Dabiri is a fluid dynamics expert at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and was among a select few who received the highly prestigious prize that carries a $500,000 cash award.

Another Nigerian, Dr. Joseph Igietseme, led a team of scientists at the prestigious, Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control (CDC) to win this year’s award for outstanding research. Yet another Nigerian, Professor Sam Adeloju beat out 14 finalists to win the James Dyson International Design Award with a device he calls Buoyancy Bazooka that can be shot to a drowning person to save their life at sea. This innovative Nigerian scientist and designer barely got any attention among Nigerians and black people.

In literature, Professor Pius Adesanmi recently won the inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing, the latest in a long line of young Nigerian writers to win prestigious awards in the last 15 years. One does not even have to mention the Nobel-winning Wole Soyinka, or the multiple award winning Chinua Achebe, whose Things Fall Apart is the most translated work of fiction in Africa and perhaps the world. These two giants are not on Nigeria postage stamps, but intellectual frauds like Emeagwali and Gabriel Oyibo (of GAGUT infamy) are!

Inviting And Enabling Intellectual Fraud

The degree to which Nigeria and Nigeria celebrate people of fraudulent and inflated reputations lends credence to the contention of Professor Pablo Idahosa that Philip Emeagwali was created by “the embarrassing Pan-“Afrikan” infantile, therapeutic achievism that afflicts so many black people [the] world over — the need to find heroes that result in a cathartic sycophancy of anything achieved by black folks.” Professor Mobolaji Aluko, who teaches Chemical Engineering at Howard University, echoed a similar sentiment, describing the tragedy of Emeagwali as an indictment of black people’s gullibility and their unquestioning and naïve commitment to racial solidarity on whatever premise. His words ring compellingly true:

The tragedy is not just Emeagwali’s – who may truly believe what he peddles on his website and his world-wide motivational speeches within the Black circuit that clutches for heroes, particularly in the technical fields apart from sports and the humanities – but those spectators who insist of being conned, or else indicate that Emeagwali serves a harmless, motivational purpose. Racial therapy is a dangerous enterprise because it emotionalizes what should belong to the realm of reasoned skepticism and intense interrogation. It leads to the celebration of mediocre and phony members of a racial community. Consequently, real black scientific heroes and achievers are ignored. Conclusion

Mr. Philip Emeagwali is entrenched in his fraud. Being jobless, he earns a living off it. He will not come clean on his own, for that would be economic suicide. It is therefore the duty of everyone invested in black scientific achievement to educate himself on Mr. Emeagwali’s pyramid of intellectual fraud. Mr. Emeagwali knows that there will always be gullible black people and guilt-ridden white liberals to swindle with his false claims. We recognize that there will always be Nigerians and black people who will not get off the self-comforting bandwagon of Emeagwali’s fraud regardless of how much evidence one puts out. Some of it is ego. Some of it is a naïve, misplaced desire to find black heroism where none exists. This essay may not sway those people. But there are many Nigerians, Africans, and black people the world over who are honest, humble, and open-minded enough to recognize and accept that the man they have been led to adore and lionize is a compulsive liar, intellectual fraudster, and a shameless, self-promoting exaggerator. Those people deserve the truth about Mr. Philip Emeagwali.

 

Nigeria’s President Is ‘Confused and Incompetent’, Says Balarabe Musa

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former governor of Kaduna State, explains to JAMIU YISA and ISA ISAWADE why the country will remain one in spite of the current tensions

 To what do you ascribe the various problems of development plaguing the country?

It is not the leadership that is the problem because leadership itself is a product of something. That something is the social, economic and political system controlling development in the country. It is based on self interest as opposed to public interest. It is that system that says private enterprise should play the leading role in the economy instead of the state playing leading role in the economy. It is that system that produces the leadership, which appropriates it. It is, therefore, the system that is the problem and not the leadership. Leadership is only a product of the system.

For example, during the colonial era and the First Republic, despite the imperfections, the leading role was played by the state and by implication public interest. Self interest or private interest came second. Our problem since the Second Republic is that we reversed the role. Instead of the leading role of the state and public interest, we now have the leading role of private enterprise and self interest. Now, this has produced disheartening problems for the country. These include corruption, stealing, criminal waste of resources, unemployment, poverty and insecurity.

Don’t you think that the leadership we have is what we deserve?

No. Every nation is governed by social and economic systems. In every country and throughout history, since the emergence of the idea of private interest, there has always been a system controlling development in the country. That system always produces a political leadership appropriate to it. So, it is a misrepresentation of reality to say that every nation gets the leadership it deserves. It is the system that decides the leadership, not the other way round.

Do you agree with the view that Nigerians do not challenge their leaders enough?

Efforts have been made a few times to challenge the government. But all the same, the leadership is being challenged.

How do you think we got to this state in which corruption has become very pervasive? 

First of all, let me go back a little. This corruption, stealing and criminal waste of resources, which are part and parcel of the same thing, result from the system. This is a system of free for all. Therefore, it  inevitably results in this level of corruption and there is no way you can avoid this level of corruption as long as this system exists.

Do you agree with General Muhammadu Buhari that people found guilty of corruption should be shot?

I think you can’t say you disagree with him, but let us not adopt that blindly because we can make more serious mistakes. First of all, let us change the system. If we change the system, we will find out that corruption can even be eliminated and if it still persists, instead of changing the system from one based on self interest to one based on public interest, we can adopt a measure that can lead to the shooting or whatever it is of corrupt leaders.

This is what happens in other countries. But let us not adopt the system of other countries blindly. It is the system and the leadership produced by the system that brings about corruption. If you change the system and the leadership and corruption still persists, then you can have this extreme measure of shooting the thief. If you change the system and the leadership so that you eliminate this survival of the fittest, you are automatically removing corruption. And if you remove corruption, there will be no need for shooting the thief. But it has been said that it has reached such a level that even after changing the system and the leadership, we can still have this corruption. Then the question of shooting will arise.

For example, if you change the system from one based on self interest first to a system based on public interest, will you have this level of unemployment? Will you have this level of poverty? Today, we have between 15 to 20 million unemployed postgraduate students. How can you avoid stealing and corruption under this circumstance? The situation is so bad that it is even virtualy impossible to survive in Nigeria without corruption directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly. Even within the three of us here, how can you be sure that you can survive without some form of illegitimate income source?  So, that is the system.

The system has made it such that survival without some form of illegitimate source of income is virtualy impossible. Under this circumstance, how can you avoid corruption? But if you have a system based on the leading role of the state in the economy, based on public interest first, enlightened self interest second, will you continue to have this level of corruption, stealing and criminal waste? Will you have this level of poverty, unemployment and insecurity? 

I’ll give you two examples: post-First Republic is one, while the period between the end of the Second Republic till now is another. Did we have this level of poverty in spite of the limited resources available to us during the first period?  Did we have this level of hunger? Did we have this level of unemployment and insecurity? No, we didn’t. The problems grew bigger from the Second Republic, when we began to introduce the leading role of the private sector in the economy; when we began to have a system which puts private interest first. Were our leaders during the colonial era and the First Republic thieves? From the Second Republic till today, have we done anything to remove unemployment? No. From the colonial time to the First Republic, we had insecurity, but not of the threatening variety.

But since the Second Republic, insecurity has been a fixture in Nigeria simply because of the reversal of the role of government and public interest. In order words, since the emergence of the free-for-all system, the leaders have become thieves. Everyday, there are credible reports of theft of public funds. A few unlucky ones have been prosecuted successfully. The vast majority of the thieves have escaped. In fact, there is nothing like an anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria. What is happening is a political manoeuvre to destroy all credible evidence of corruption so that when the time comes for proper anti-corruption campaign, there will be no evidence to prosecute the thieves.

Look at what we have experienced with the Farouk Lawan committee. In order to allow the thieves exposed in that committee get away with it, first, the EFCC refused to do anything. They were waiting for the permission of the President through the Minister of Justice before doing anything. But should they wait?

Do you believe that Nigerians are capable of mustering the will to dislodge the PDP in 2015?

Yes. The PDP can be defeated and it should be defeated. I think the time has come to defeat the PDP, but we have to be realistic. The PDP can only be defeated  through free, fair and transparent elections. Now, these elections will be contested by registered political parties and there are 57 of them. Of these 56 minus PDP, the only political party that is truly in opposition and capable of defeating the PDP is ACN. We should not have any illusion. ACN controls at least six states. In any system of election, ACN is strong enough to be a credible opposition and an alternative government. Can you say the same of ANPP, APGA, Labour Party and CPC?

The best way to defeat the PDP is to rally behind the ACN. In other words, ACN should be given a role similar to one given to CPC in the last elections. We can’t give that role to CPC because it has destroyed itself so much that it is now in the sixth position. It is behind PDP, ACN, ANPP, APGA and Labour Party. Even Labour Party controls one state, a whole government. CPC has half a government because in the Nasarawa State legislature, CPC has only four members. PDP has 20. So if we really are prepared to defeat PDP, we have to identify the political party that is most capable and rally behind it.

I know they have problems, but we have more problems in PDP. If we can get PDP out of the way, even if our problems are greater as a result than they are now, we will be able to deal with them when the PDP is out of the way. But if we allow PDP to consolidate its power even more, then it means we will never be able to defeat PDP without a social revolution or a military coup before a social revolution. But let us not rely on military coup because the military has always disappointed. Despite all the struggle of the Egyptians to replace the civilian government of Mubarak with the help of the military, now they are in trouble with the military. They are now attacking the military, but all the same, they got rid of Mubarak’s government and the problem is now easier for them.

But do you see the opposition parties coming together for the purpose of ousting the PDP?

Well, they have to because they can’t continue to suffer. It depends on how the ACN plays its role. If ACN makes the same mistake that the CPC made, it will be bad. This time, it is the leadership of CPC that destroyed Buhari’s chances and the evidence is clear. Now we have to look for another alternative platform to rally behind and I think the only alternative, if we don’t want to deceive ourselves, is to rally behind ACN and hope that ACN will not make the mistake that CPC made. It is clear and simple.

How do you evaluate President Jonathan’s leadership style?

There is no style. This man is confused and he’s not capable. He lacks popularity and legitimacy. Look at how he contested the presidency. His party had a provision of zoning. Whatever we feel about zoning, the thing is that it was the policy of his party. You can’t violate the policy of your party on fundamental issues and escape with it. This zoning, power shift or whatever you call it has existed since the beginning of Nigeria, particularly from 1959, and it has worked to keep Nigeria united and to give every section some sense of belonging. It has gone to the extent that it has even become part of our life.

Even in your family you have to take care of how you treat problems among the  members of your family, so that no one is aggrieved.  Now, with the level of political immaturity, with the level of different contending interests in Nigeria, you can’t impose merit alone. Whether you like it or not, merit has to be tempered. He ignored it, he used incumbency. Incumbency is a big thing in Nigeria and it’s just as bad as corruption. He used incumbency to force his own party to nominate him as a candidate despite the zoning policy. How can you be sure that every member of his party will forgive him for that?

Secondly, he didn’t win a free, fair and transparent election. Everybody knows the amount of rigging that took place. So, he lacks moral base and legitimacy. It is not possible under this system that if you become the leader, then, you become the standard. In other countries, when there is standard, it doesn’t really matter who becomes the president. The standard is there. In Britain, America, Germany and other western countries, competence and experience are important. But the most important thing is that there is a standard that nobody can go below.

In Nigeria, there is no such standard. You become the president, governor or local government chairman and you automatically become the standard. So in such a situation, you need somebody who is clearly competent, who has a record in addition to moral base and legitimacy to succeed.

Do you think that dialogue with Boko Haram will end the cycle of violence we are witnessing?

Who are Boko Haram? Is Boko Haram a legitimate Islamic movement? Is it an agent established for political purpose? Any government that is failing looks for scapegoat. Any government that is failing attempts to take away attention of the people from its failure. It is not impossible that this  government is responsible for creating Boko Haram to deal with the opposition or to divert attention from its failure. We saw this with Maitatsine. Maitatsine was created by the Shagari government to deal with opposition in the North, particularly PRP and GNPP.

Maitatsine was doing exactly what Boko Haram is doing now in virtualy the same areas because Maitasine operated in Kano, Kaduna and the North-east. Eventually, its members were arrested and Maitatsine himself was murdered just the way the leader of Boko Haram was murdered. Its members were arrested. Did you hear that they were prosecuted or punished in any court? No. In fact, what we learnt, through the media, was that they were pardoned and released. Some of them were even given pocket money to go home with and they were just as murderous as Boko Haram is. In any case, hasn’t the President himself said Boko Haram exists in his government? If the President, with so much powers, with so much vote for security, knows Boko Haram exists in his government and fails to do anything about it, what inference can you draw from that?.

Nigerians are sharply divided along religious and ethnic lines, most especially with recent bombing of churches in the North. Do you see Nigeria remaining as family?

We have heard this before. Since the beginning of the Second Republic, because of the failure of government, we have been having insecurity arising from ethnicity and religion. The only difference with Boko Haram is that it is more murderous than what we have experienced before except in the case of Maitatsine.

Do you think the country can remain together despite these wide fault lines?

Yes. We have integrated to a very high level. We don’t seem to realise that because of these problems. We have reached a high level of integration economically and politically and we are making progress in social integration as well.

Interview is reproduced from the 16 July 2012 edition of the TheNEWs magazine

GAMBLING IN NAIJA: LOTTERY OR ROBBERY?

In ESSAY on May 16, 2012 at 11:36 am

The Wretched Game

As a habit and an escape from poverty, a large numbers of Nigerian youths have sought solace in gambling and mother luck  

TAYO OLANIPEKUN

The taxi driver almost caused an upset as the passenger alighted from the cab just at his destination. Wale, the driver was lost in thoughts and of course, so hard on himself because of an omission the day before. He had failed to stake at least N200 on a ‘2-sure’ lotto game he played a day before. And thus, the hope of treating his entire family to a feast during the 2012 New Year celebration from the N48000 largesse he would have won was dashed.

A few weeks later in Lagos, were he to be there, the unlucky cab operator would definitely envy a posse of gamblers in Lagos who were in a frenzy mood, throwing fire crackers after cashing millions of naira from Baba’Jebu, the way he did of his friends in the ancient city of Ibadan after that grave miss. That December in Ibadan, over N200 million was paid in winning with some defaulting agents allegedly on the run, for either having failed to remit players’ entries, thinking the winning numbers wouldn’t come out or considering the enormity of their indebtedness.

In February of this year alone, players around Mushin are said to have won billions of Naira in the National Lotto, a lottery firm  based in Ghana as well as Premier Lotto, with Adebutu Kessington, popularly known as Baba’jebu as its Nigerian founder. Hailed from Iperu, a rural town in Ijebu dialect speaking part of Ogun State, Adebutu’s appellation, Baba’Jebu is now emblematic of everything gambling in the country.

However, the calibre of people playing the games transcends all social strata. Apart from the market women and those in pariah who also stake as little as N50 on the game from time to time, there are also those who play by proxy, trying to save their faces and conceal their source of fortune. Interestingly too, personalities like Oba of Mushin, the Oloto and the DPO of Daleko police station were said to have won several millions of naira in the much talked about Mushin boom. It is this name-dropping, appeal and fantasy of winning that make millions of Nigerians spend significant percentage of their earnings on lotto with majority nevertheless, going home with their tails between their legs after every draw. But the enticement is so powerful that even secondary school pupils have also joined the fray of players with money meant for their schooling.

The Game Plan

The practice that had its origin in Malta in 1923 has metamorphosed over the years and the Nigerian variant has a lot of aspects to it. To win in any of the lotto games ubiquitous in the country, a player has to predict correctly a set of numbers that will pop up from the gambling machines of the operator during the draws held after each game, -as quickly as two hours in some games. The winning numbers comprising the first few digits on the machine, grouped into five, each made up of one or two numbers. The remaining five groups are known as machine numbers -waste products. The player has the choice of a “2-sure” play in which four numbers paired in twos are predicted, e.g. 83, 45. In this case, if he plays with N1, 000, he earns a whooping N240, 000 if he wins (i.e. select 2 numbers drawn) N1000 X 240. A player can opt for a “three” direct game, a rare occurrence whereby a measly sum of N500 turns to N1.05million in winning (i.e. select 3 numbers drawn) N500 X 2100.

It increases geometrically depending on the amount of money betted with. A caveat to this is that, considering its potential of running the lotto company aground, a player has to break his stakes into smaller sums played from various agents otherwise, a single agent will decline such huge payment on one voucher upon winning and he is so empowered by some internal regulations. A game can be perming too – that is, disintegration of numbers into one digit from 1-99 with a two digit, for example, 16, used as the anchor. This anchor must come out in order to win. The chances of winning are high here but the amount that could be won is pocket-sized.

And for an experience, National Standard also played two “two-sure” games of N50 each and a perming of N60.It all returned non-winning though—more appropriately, the magazine lost.

Choosing a number to stake is a bit of rocket science too. Antecedents are the rule. Lotto chat, a weekly publication of all the past winning entries with dates, serves same way as do past questions for exams. Taking into cognizance the nine digits of numbers on each of the columns of the machine and how they tend to behave over a specific time, a player will permutate when 23 will turn to 32 and 78 to 87 at the same time, to win a 2-sure game as it did in December of 2011 around Alagbado, a suburb of Lagos. Players won over N20 million with numbers 32, 87. These same numbers were set as 23, 78 some months back as the winning. Also, lunatics are a good source of gambling numbers as they are thought to have a link to the extra-terrestrial realm. If the number volunteered by a madcap wins, he may be given a stipend to help himself. But if it doesn’t-as is often the case-he may get the beating of his life as if it’s not a mishap enough for him to be mentally deranged.

Just about any numerical inscriptions can pass for a Baba’Jebu betting number- foreign phone numbers on Tokunboh automobiles, house addresses, among many. In fact, a conductor retrieved a N100 note balance he gave a passenger few minutes earlier and replaced with another because he suddenly remembered the note had a set of numbers scribbled on it, suitable for his gambling trade.

 

Intrigues and Tricks

All sorts of means are devised by the lotto companies with their numerous agents to outwit the players. On the parts of the operators, they sometimes rely on their principal agents who serve as informants, advising them on the particular numbers majority of betters have played by collaboration among themselves. The operators, especially those outside the country, during their draws will be wary not to announce such numbers so as not to be drained out with the resultant multiple winnings.

On the part of the agents, they resort to Banker to Banker, a process in which a person’s entry is yanked out from the terminal, thus not reflecting in the office data base. As a result the person will not be able to claim any money in the event of winning. In addition, this ploy involves writing misleading winning numbers on the notice board, making players–mostly illiterates–conclude that their numbers did not come out, and will be encouraged to shred their vouchers thereby foreclosing any outburst of anger. This no doubt is possible because of agents’ defiance of section 13 of the commission’s code of conduct which says that names off all the winners should be documented i.e. published in at least one newspaper of wide circulation.

These methods are employed when the agent has not remitted the money to the office with the hope that the numbers will not set. This has always been greeted with violence anytime the stakers find out they have been short-changed, resulting in knocking down of the agent’s kiosk and beating him black and blue if he is ever found.

The head office also has a measure of its own under-handed dealings. When forecast has come to a point that the numbers cannot but set on the screen during the next draw, it sometimes comes under anxieties. Sources claim the same machine, that has been used for the draws over time, remaining to drop the numbers that forecast gurus have predicted and would have distributed among players for a fee, will not be used this time around, even though the draws will be held in the full glare of everybody, in compliance with section 11 of the Code of Conduct of National Lottery Commission. The trick is that the sticker bearing the name of the game awaited would have been fix on a different machine and in the end players will be led to conclude that their numbers are not out again.

Conspiracy and Fetish Means

The lotto game has another stratagem to it. There are forecasters who have a way of predicting numbers and selling them to a wide array of players. A notable example is a young man simply identified as Ibukun in Mushin. He was the brain behind the much talked about Mushin winning spree. His name is now an advert buzzword on notice boards describing him as Water Boy, Wonder Boy etc. He sold out to players, the forecast numbers he was sure of, and he is said to have gone into hiding because he is now wanted for “questioning” by Adebutu Kessington. Desperate lotto players have also employed the services of juju priests to boost their winning chances, even so, as they are always warned that no efficacious voodoo can outwit that of Baba’Jebu’s and according to a source, their efforts are usually to no avail.

For those who win, they hardly stay a few months before going broke again. Apart from a habit that is hard to break which makes them plow back-hence the catch phrase: Da pada, Owo Baba’Jebu (meaning: return to the source, it’s Baba’Jebu’s money), reckless spending and lack of good investment are their lots. Even when they invest, you don’t call Jack before it starts to ebb. No thanks to the allegedly cursed baskets with which the claims are paid. The same quandary can befall a sub-agent; despite his regular commission of 25%. Many a sub-agent is given to excessive gambling and extravagant lifestyle. Hakeem who lives around Mushin that was able to set up a daily-needs shop for his wife from Baba’Jebu swag has also succeeded in draining the store, supporting his gambling lifestyle. Motorcycle, commercial buses, electronics and many other articles have been acquired from gambling proceeds but ironically, they are usually sold to play lotto in an unending cycle.

Thus, money has been made and it has also been lost. Only time will tell if the players in this current fad will ever realize how much of their money is given to Baba’jebu, to receive little or nothing in turn. And of course, it’s uncertain if we will ever have a generation of moneybags with Lotto as the source of their wealth.

SEX AND POLITICS: Oiling the Promiscuity Industry

In ESSAY on May 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

Politicians and promiscuity

Iain Dale thinks politicians tend to be more promiscuous than most individuals but he’s not sure why. He should read (or re-read) Matthew Parris.

In Chance Witness, his autobiography, Parris claims that MPs have a higher than average chance of being philanderers – and he has two explanations.

First, he thinks that the people who end up getting into parliament are people with a higher-than-average appetite for risk.

Nobody without a gambling streak, a taste for uncertainty and a belief in his own luck would embark on a Commons career. Statistically most must ‘fail’ within their own terms, which are (usually these days) the achievement of high ministerial office.

The hours and conditions are arduous and the salary no more than what the majority of politicians could have hoped to attract in a career outside. For many it is less …. However regular a guy a candidate may present himself to his electors as being, no unadventurous family man in search of security is likely to want a career in politics.

Second, he thinks that once people become MPs then the sheer powerlessness that most of them experience encourages them to do something reckless, out of frustration.

You know you are there only because your party association chose you and few have ever voted for you as an individual, or ever will. You know, too, that your power at Westminster is almost zero, the whips humiliate you privately and your influence in the constituency derives not from your skill or the real respect you command, but from the portcullis on your notepaper …. It is not surprising that [MPs] sometimes try to escape this, sometimes in a manner that to the rest of us looks desperate.

When I first read this a few years ago, I thought Parris was spot on. Reading it again, I think he’s definitely on to something, although I don’t think his theory is complete.

Regarding Parris’s first explanation, it may be true that the people who become MPs have a higher-than-average appetite for risk. But if they are willing to spend 10 years or more hunting for a seat and struggling to get elected they also have higher-than-average willingness to tolerate rejection.

Is there a link here with promiscuity? If a man makes a pass at one woman, she’ll probably say no. But if he makes a pass at 20, someone’s likely to say yes. What MPs and philanderers may have in common is the capacity to cope with rejection.

And regarding Parris’s second explanation, I’m just not convinced. For every MP driven to promiscuity by the pointlessness of their job, there may be just as many who are cowed into good behaviour by the fear of exposure.

A more obvious explanation, if Dale and Parris are right about politicians and promiscuity, may just be the old one about the aphrodisiac effect of power. Alan Clark, I seem to remember, referred to the central lobby of the House of Commons as the best pick-up spot in England and I think that’s why.

Incidentally, if you haven’t read the Parris book, you should. He never held high political office, but he writes brilliantly about political psychology, and particularly what it’s like to “fail” as an MP.

BUSINESS AS USUAL IN NIGERIA?

In ANYTHING on April 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

BUSINESS FORUM

Dangote Cement’s Ibese Plant Kicks Off

“We are marking the closing ceremony of cement import in Nigeria with the coming on stream of our Ibese cement plant, which will be producing a combined six-million tons per annum from its initial two lines while additional two line will be added immediately to increase its production to 12 million tons per annum”.

Anthony Chiejina, Group Head, Corporate Communications of Dangote, also noted: “Considering that Nigeria’s cement need is between 17 to 19 million tons per year, by implication, with the coming on stream of Ibese, what Dangote Group alone will be producing will be far more than the country’s demand. That will set the pace for exportation of our products, which will lead to increased products, more revenue for the company and better returns for the shareholders.”

Flour Mills Invests 7 billion in Edible Oils

Flour Mills Nigeria Plc has concluded arrangements for the establishment of an edible oil manufacturing plant in Ibadan, Oyo state.

The plant will have a daily capacity of 500 tonnes of edible oil and will serve as raw materials input for the company’s Animal Feed Mill operations.

Paul Gbededo, Head of Flour Mills Agro-Industrial Division, stated that this investment is a phase in a larger N 20 billion investment campaign focused on the cultivation and extraction of edible oil from soybean and palm.

Phase 1 consisted of the expansion of soybean cultivation capabilities in Kaboji, Niger state and the acquisition of an existing oil extraction and refining company in Ibadan.

The new plant, to be commissioned in this second stage, will more than double the extraction capacity to 500 metric tons per day of Soy and 300 metric tons per day of palm kernel. The extracted crude oils will be refined in 400 metric tons per day state-of-the-art multi-oil refinery to be established on a new site purchased for this purpose.  100 metric tons per day fractionation plant will split 100 metric tons per day of the refined palm oil into Olein, which will be bottled for retail consumption, and Stearines for industrial use.

The third stage of the company’s investment in edible oils will be the establishment of palm plantations to augment local raw material supplies, and the establishment of an additional 750 metric tons per day multi oil refinery and margarine packaging plant at Agbara Industrial Estate, Lagos State.

VACANCY: FINANCIAL REPORTER – LAGOS

In LATEST JOBS IN NIGERIA TODAY/ CAREER OPPORTUNITIES & DEVELOPMENTS on February 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

Financial Reporter- Lagos, Nigeria

Mergermarket – Nigeria

Job Description

Mergermarket, the world’s leading M&A news service, is looking to appoint an experienced and hardworking freelance reporter based in Lagos, Nigeria. The post involves writing exclusive news stories on mergers and acquisitions across all sectors, interviewing senior executives and attending conferences and meetings in the country.

The ideal candidate should have experience in financial/business reporting and have excellent spoken and written English skills. Candidates must have previous work experience in financial journalism in order to apply. Candidates should be willing to travel within the country at times and must comply with mergermarket’s strict ethical guidelines.

The post will suit reporters who are able to regularly deliver quality copy while working independently and with reporters and editors abroad. Part-time freelancers will be accepted as long as there is no conflict of interest between their other jobs and our product.

 

Please contact our senior reporter in West and Central Africa, Kimberly Johnson, kimberly.johnson@mergermarket.com if you are interested, or can recommend someone who is. A professional CV and at least three copies of published articles should be submitted with a proper cover letter to be considered for this position.

Desired Skills & Experience

Print reporting and writing skills

Business and economics journalism skills

THE TOP 100 AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES: NIGERIA’S RANKING

In ESSAY on February 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

The latest ranking of world universities has been released with South African universities dominating the African regional ranking. Egypt, Algeria and Morocco are other countries with strong ranking.

The best ranked West African university is Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology at number 18 while Nigeria’s University of Ilorin occupies the 20th position.  Egypt leads North Africa at number 11 with Algeria at number 19.

Below is a summary of the ranking of the top 100 universities in the African region.

Rank University Country
1 University of Cape Town South Africa
2 University of Pretoria South Africa
3 Stellenbosch University South Africa
4 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
5 Rhodes University South Africa
6 University of Kwazulu Natal South Africa
7 University of the Western Cape South Africa
8 University of South Africa South Africa
9 University of Johannesburg South Africa
10 Makerere University Uganda
11 Cairo University Egypt
12 American University in Cairo Egypt
13 Ain Shams University Egypt
14 Mansoura University Egypt
15 University of the Free State South Africa
16 North West University South Africa
17 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University South Africa
18 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology Ghana
19 Université Mentouri de Constantine Algeria
20 University of Ilorin Nigeria
21 Al Akhawayn University Ifrane Morocco
22 Polytechnic of Namibia Namibia
23 Durban University of Technology South Africa
24 University of Khartoum Sudan
25 Cape Peninsula University of Technology South Africa
26 University of Botswana Botswana
27 University of Nairobi Kenya
28 Assiut University Egypt
29 Faculté des Sciences Rabat Morocco
30 Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar Senegal
31 University of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
32 Tshwane University of Technology South Africa
33 Université Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen Algeria
34 University of Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
35 University of Mauritius Mauritius
36 Sudan University of Science & Technology Sudan
37 University of Namibia Namibia
38 Strathmore University Nairobi Kenya
39 Université Cadi Ayyad Morocco
40 University of Zululand South Africa
41 German University in Cairo Egypt
42 University of Jos Nigeria
43 Helwan University Egypt
44 National University of Rwanda Rwanda
45 Université des Sciences et de la Technologie Houari Boumediene Algeria
46 Zagazig University Egypt
47 École Mohammadia d’Ingénieurs Morocco
48 Addis Ababa University Ethiopia
49 University of Ghana Ghana
50 University of Garyounis Libya
51 Kenyatta University Kenya
52 British University in Egypt Egypt
53 Université Mohammed Premier Oujda Morocco
54 University of Nigeria Nsukka Nigeria
55 Université de Batna Algeria
56 Université Virtuelle de Tunis Tunisia
57 Universidade Eduardo Mondlane Mozambique
58 University of Lagos Nigeria
59 College of Medicine University of Malawi Malawi
60 South Valley University Egypt
61 Université Abdelmalek Essaadi Morocco
62 Fayoum University Egypt
63 Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria
64 Université de Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
65 Université d’Alger Algeria
66 Vaal University of Technology South Africa
67 Université M’Hamed Bougara de Boumerdes Algeria
68 University of Tanta Egypt
69 Ahmadu Bello University Nigeria
70 University of Zambia Zambia
71 Arab Academy for Science & Technology and Maritime Transport Egypt
72 Université Ferhat Abbas Setif Algeria
73 Université Djillali Liabes Algeria
74 Pharos University in Alexandria Egypt
75 Université Ibn Tofail Kenitra Morocco
76 École Supérieure des Communications de Tunis Tunisia
77 Université Mohammed V Souissi Morocco
78 United States International University Morocco
79 Alexandria University Egypt
80 Universidade Jean Piaget de Cabo Verde Cape Verde
81 Université Mohammed V Agdal Morocco
82 Université Saad Dahlab Blida Algeria
83 University of Fort Hare South Africa
84 Université d’Antananarivo Madagascar
85 Université Hassan II Faculté des Sciences Ain Chock Casablanca Morocco
86 National Open University of Nigeria Nigeria
87 Mauritius Institute of Education Mauritius
88 University of Technology Mauritius Mauritius
89 Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Kenya
90 Moi University Kenya
91 Mekelle University Ethiopia
92 Université Hassiba Ben Bouali Algeria
93 Jimma University Ethiopia
94 Université des Sciences et de la Technologie d’Oran Mohamed Boudiaf Algeria
95 University of Agriculture Abeokuta Nigeria
96 Minia University Egypt
97 Université Abdelhamid Ibn Badis Mostaganem Algeria
98 Central University of Technology South Africa
99 École National Supérieure de l’Informatique (ex-INI) Algeria
100 University of Malawi Malawi

Courtesy: Webometric Ranking of World Universities 2011.

GSM ROGUES: MTN, GLO, AIRTEL AND ETISALAT

In ESSAY on February 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

THE GREAT GAMBLERS

How telecom operators swindle unwary Nigerians of several billions of Naira via promo sham.

Bayo Akinloye

The incessant short messages (sms) sent to subscribers’ phones are too promising to ignore. The game-show prize-money is so stupendous to jettison. Thus, ubiquitous media glitz spun by various telecoms firms through wild sales promos, tempting game (gambling) shows, and misleading sms solicitations has continued to catch in its webs unwary and greedy subscribers.

As early as 4:00am almost every weekend, Saturday or Sunday, scores of youths and a mix of adults troop to Murhi International Plaza, in Ikeja, Lagos, to put down their names in a register, as audience-participants in a game-show. At about 7:30am, the about hundred early birds are given a tag each, by personnel Ultima Ventures – producers of the show -, as pass to enter the game auditorium. With keen eyes and palpitating hearts each one in the audience sits, hopeful of sitting on the ‘hot seat’. Welcome to the most popular TV quiz-show in Nigeria: MTN’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. To participate in the studio-play, a subscriber sends an SMS with his name and phone number to 132 and a question is sent to him. Then, the subscriber sends back an answer through SMS. SMS charges are: N 200. If the subscriber is successful he will be notified through a confirmatory message inviting him to participate in the studio programme. Usually, 120 subscribers are invited to the studio from which eight will be short-listed for the ‘hot seat’. The remaining 112 people will form the in-studio audience. The eight short-listed subscribers take turns on the hot seat. Questions are asked and as the participant gets the right answer to each question, he wins prize money. The biggest prize is N10million. The remaining 112 people invited to the studio are left to contest for the twenty N20, 000 slots.

The audience participation part of the show, called fastest fingers, illustrates this. The winner of this segment gets N20, 000. Well, almost. To get the N20, 000, however, National Standard investigations revealed that the winner must present an MTN SIM certificate (to prove he is a genuine subscriber), a photocopy of his identity card, passport photograph and his birth certificate. The winner is also required to buy recharge card up to the value of N1, 000. Two weeks after the show has been aired, and then the winner will be contacted on further steps to collect his cash prize. This magazine also found out that rather than MTN Nigeria, the bank form issued to its game-show beneficiaries has Ultima Ventures, producers of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, as account holder.

Little wonder it was a shocking and disappointing experience for 21-year-old Sola Emmanuel, a student, and one of the fastest fingers winners, when he went to the bank to withdraw his N20, 000 cash prize. “When I got to the bank to get my cash reward I was surprised when told that 5% withholding tax, 5% Lagos state gambling tax and other bank charges would be deducted from my N20, 000. This is baffling. If it is a game show or promo why would they be deducting 5% gambling tax? I felt cheated and used as a puppet in a gambling show,” Sola narrated. At the end of the day, Emmanuel left the bank with the sum of N17, 895 instead of the N20, 000 he won. But there is more to the show than meets the eye.

Each week, MTN Nigeria rakes in N1.665 billion, N6.660 billion each month and N79.920 billion each year. This is based on the conservative estimate that at least a quarter (8,325,000) of MTN’s 33.3 million subscribers send an sms each (costing N200) to participate in the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. With the home-play version, using the same estimate, the firm makes N39.960 billion each year. With the combined figures (excluding proceeds from other promos), MTN Nigeria grosses at least N119, 880, 000, 000 in a year. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Adegoke, an elderly man, had a nasty experience with Globacom Bid2Win promo. Lured by lucre and the unrelenting text messages that bombarded his cell phone, he expended N420, 000 in the hopeless bid to become a millionaire. “I got frequent sms from GLO, encouraging me to continue playing. They said I was near to winning N1 million. So I continued playing till it dawned on me that it was all trick. I had already spent over N420, 000,” Adegoke said. As proof of his extensive elusive investment in Globacom Bid2Win, he made a public display of the many GLO recharge cards he had purchased to participate in the GSM company gambling game referred to as a promo. Zain and Etisalat are also involved in what has become sleazy, corporate gambling.

Then enters GLO. With a subscriber base hitting more 25 million as at June last year, Wale Adenuga’s telecom giant is also eating deep into the insufferable skin of its customers. Take for instance its text-to-win promo. In that promo alone, Globacom grosses N30, 000, 000, 000 on the approximation that only a quarter of its more than 25 million subscribers play in the gamble a la promo. Thus, every month, GLO pockets at least N2.5 billion. That is discounting the fact that the GSM firm has other gambling gimmicks from which more money are effortlessly raked in. Not to be over-looked also are one-off subscribers – who get on the network just to participate in any of the promos. If all these are factored in what will be revealed would be a staggering sum.

But, there is no letting up in the telecoms industry as all the firms hold sway in a field that appears devoid of a regulator. New-comer Etisalat, Nigeria’s fifth GSM operator is feeding on the promo fever too. Since its arrival, Etisalat has stormed the industry with mouth-watering offers such as, Exactly June 17 last year, the GSM firm claimed to have hit a subscriber base of 1 million. To qualify for the express ticket to the grand finale in the critically acclaimed 9jillions one million dollar game show, customers who had spent up to a thousand naira within the month just needed to text the state they live and their full name to the short code 5123. Multiple entries are allowed. With an estimated figure of 250, 000 subscribers participating each month, with at least double entries for six months, Etisalat would have netted N1.5 billion. You can go on and on multiplying that amount by number of greedy fingers the Nigerian population can proudly produce.

“Confidential information!” the text message from Zain Nigeria said. “Text WIN to 222 now and you fit win N2 million cash from Zain. Costs N100/sms,” the text pitched. Another came in a hurried, secretive fashion, begging: “Abeg, your name don come out to win N2 million. Make you no tell anybody. Just text WIN to 222.” Welcome to Zain Nigeria – the most erratic, in terms of management, GSM operator in the country. As many times it had changed name, it had also changed management. But, that is a story for another day. That is Zain’s Wake up To Be a Millionaire.  The above-quoted text messages are apparent testimony of the mad dash by Zain to defraud Nigerians of their hard-earned money, by hook or by crook. Not satisfied with its six-week Zain Naira Rain promo, Zain in its current text-to-win N2 million is mind-boggling. Zain Nigeria executives will be smiling and patting their rotund bellies as at least N500 million naira is realised in a week based on the rough estimate that 5 million of its over 20 million subscribers forfeit N100 weekly.

Typically, though there has been talk of sanctions, there is no regulatory agency wielding the big stick on the telecoms companies defrauding their subscribers in the name of promos and game shows. But the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, was quick to absolve itself of any complicity in the defrauding promotions being done by the GSM firms. “Our business at NCC is to regulate service provision and not sales promotions but the NCC, CPC, Lottery Commission, will meet to look into who regulates what. Operators should have a code that can allow a consumer not to receive unsolicited SMS,” said Ernest Ndukwe, erstwhile executive secretary of NCC.

Unlike the lukewarm response of NCC to the raging issue of wanton gambling by the GSM operators, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, expressed certain degree of concern at the 55th edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, where subscribers have opportunity to air their complaints. “Our concern is that you do not tell customers that you are rewarding them when you are ripping them off by engaging them in a game of chance. You do not expect customers to load their phones to reward them. Operators should not tell customers they are rewarding them when they are doing sales. You do not have to tell a consumer to load certain amount of money with certain code to qualify for a particular scheme. What many service providers are doing is a game of chance. They lure customers through unsolicited text messages to enter into sales promotion. If any operator engages in lottery in the name of sales promotions, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission will get interested. We are more concerned when a reward scheme becomes lottery in the name of promo,” said Barrister Osa Uwadiae, the Assistant Director, Enforcement & Compliance of National Lottery Regulatory Commission. Great sound bite that was.

Section 7(c) of the National Lottery Act says, “[the commission shall] promote transparency, propriety and integrity in the operation of national lottery;” and (d) maintains that the commission shall “ensure the protection of interests of players, stakeholders and the public in the national lottery.” And section 17 adds, “…the operation of the business of a national lottery or any lottery, by whatever name called, shall be subject to a license granted by the president upon recommendation by the commission and compliance with the provisions of this Act or any regulations made pursuant thereto.” The questions are: did the presidency grant these GSM operators the licence to engage in lottery in the guise of promos? Is the National Lottery Regulatory Commission ensuring the protection of interests of subscribers? Is the commission promoting transparency, propriety and integrity by feigning ignorance of the ‘gambling in disguise promos’?

While it is instructive to note that the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, by its enabling Act (2005) is empowered to authorize and supervise promos, many subscribers have found it perplexing that it has not come to their aid. According to the telecoms industry observers, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission cannot feign ignorance that the ripping off of GSM subscribers has been going on for a long time before now. In 2009, the Consumer Advocacy Forum of Nigeria CAFON and the National Telecom Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) raised an alarm over frauds called promotions by Nigeria’s GSM firms. According to CAFON, “what many companies do is lottery not promo as they rip off Nigerians because they know that many Nigerians do not know their rights”. The Forum accused regulatory bodies of ‘having been bought over by the companies as they look the other way when subscribers complain’.

This is no doubt a matter of urgent public concern, as it is worrying that GSM companies, employing deceits and sometimes outright lies, are fast becoming gambling institutions treating their customers with impunity. Even more disquieting is the fact that the concerned authority has yet to call for refund to all swindled subscribers. Maybe, as always, the GSM consumers are being taken for a ride and the hand of the law is too short to protect and make restitutions for them.

VIOLENCE ERUPTS AGAIN IN NIGERIA

In ANYTHING on October 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

At least 15 persons, including pregnant women and children died and 60 houses burnt during a fracas that broke out between rival political parties in northern Benue state of Nigeria today. Supporters of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) clashed at Ugba community when the latter learnt of the killing of their two party leaders. Police spokesman, Ejike Alaribe confirmed the incident adding that the situation has been brought under control with investigation launched to find out the cause of the fight. The state has witness several politically motivated violence in recent times and was fingered by security agents as being targeted for further violence after the post-election attacks that saw more than 500 people killed in northern Nigeria. Riots broke out in the north after Jonathan, a Christian from the south was declared winner on in April after a landmark vote that exposed regional tensions and led to deadly rioting. Meanwhile, two men who were picked up by soldiers in Nigeria”s restive city of Jos during a raid that followed the killing of an officer were found dead with cuts on their body. The two men, a community leader, Ahmadu Ali Kazaure and Babangida Ibrahim Yusuf were traced to mortuary of the Jos University Teaching Hospital by relatives. An elder in the community, Shehu Masalla said the body of Kazaure, a retired soldier, had deep cuts on the head. Soldiers arrested people at random when their colleague, Sergeant Baba Wuya was hacked to death by an unknown assailant in Kazaure Ward in Jos. Military unit in the area has refused to comment on the incident but later issued a statement confirming the death of the soldier. Eyewitnesses said the men dumped at the mortuary died before they reached the military cantonment where they were being taken to due to injury they sustained during repeated beating by the army officers. Jos, the capital of Plateau state in central Nigeria has been bedevilled by internecine clashes causing the country”s government to send a Special Task Force (STF) to police the area. More than 2,000 have died in these clashes since since last year. Late January, a raid carried out by assailants suspected to be from Fulani ethnic on Bere village led to the death 18 persons including the alleged leader of the attackers.

%d bloggers like this: