Thursday 25 November 2010

The price of loyalty

Loyalties to pay for

In the broad scheme of things we tend to strive to keep certain loyalties and allow others to lapse. I used to gather all sorts of loyalty cards few of which really offered much benefit and one of which I had to pay for to enjoy the benefits.

I used to travel a lot and I tied myself to the Accor brand which features the Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman, and a number of budget brands.

You got points that could be converted to credits apart from other benefits as bargain prices and late check-outs, then a couple of years ago the card was re-launched and we had to shell out twice what we used to pay for the cards without much different in benefits in my view.

I allowed that to lapse, by which time I was already using the loyalty card that gave me deals with Radisson, Park Inn and hotels in the group. I like the late checkout idea, though.

Free agent, firm agency

My supermarket downstairs sometimes throws deals at us but we can only benefit from these bargains if we have our bonus cards to hand. Interestingly, our cards are not personalised but it should not take long for them to link payment cards to loyalty cards and they will know if you have been loitering around the fruit counter or picking up the cheap hosiery.

As much as possible, I travel KLM or in general the SkyTeam Alliance because if I do 25,000 miles of travel or take 15 flights a year, I become an Elite Flying Blue card holder; I can check-in at the business class counters even if I am travelling cattle class, I can jump queues to board the plane; quite convenient, I’ll say.

It was almost a 20 minute walk to the gate that I only met the air hostesses and I was immediately recognised by name – that brings concern.

As a battering ram

Loyalty in some ways begets better service, offers greater rewards and exposes you to good deals. I know I have used my Accor Favourite Guest Card status to demand amends be made to ensure I did not end up spending 4 nights in multiple hotels because they had overbooked the one I originally reserved.

Yes, you can suddenly become driven and then I noticed that when I bought Private Eye and minced pies, yes food at Amsterdam’s Waterstones bookshop, the loyalty points accrued could pay for what I bought but I did not spend points.

The amount of untapped value in cards for different schemes might well be another bubble being created but rarely do you hear that what you have has suddenly appreciated in value not even with an error in your favour.

The race to remain eligible for the perks remains a very serious one.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Nigeria: Our need to face the facts

The disgrace other Nigerians bring upon us

The Nigerian government is about to end up with egg on their faces a complete embarrassment for not conducting due diligence before taking actions of national importance.

As if we have not had enough disgrace from the iniquitous activities of our Nigerian FIFA Executive member who was recently suspended for having been recorded trying to sell his vote a greater smear is about to hit our sense of identity.

There are many high achievers of Nigerian heritage all around the world, most of whom have worked hard to reach the positions they occupy without having to exaggerate their achievements or puff up their standing falsely and they are well recognised by their peers and beyond.

Yes, he did great

However, one scientist stands to divide us between what he claims to be and what in reality he is. There is no doubt that he is intelligent and learned, his was recognised 21 years ago for some super-computing achievement which might well have been developed upon since then.

The unfortunate part of this story is no new thing has been offered beyond that achievement as would be expected of scientists but what we have is the equivalent in the popular music world of a one-hit wonder.

Again, one cannot begrudge him that accolade; he shone in that setting and he could have used his academic qualifications for gainful employment anywhere in the world and year after year produced something of considerable import.

Sadly, he failed to meet the standards necessary for awarding a doctorate degree in an American university twice and decided that it was not his pride or laziness that might have exacerbated those failures but the external malevolence of racism from the university faculty.

Nigerians do well everywhere

It would be absurd to suggest that Nigerians cannot excel and acquire doctorate degrees in American universities if they diligently do their work and offer excellent and impressive material. Nigerians have been earning doctorate degrees long before 1989 and I believe many are on doctorate programmes today with the confidence that at the end of their courses they will achieve the as it were coveted PhD.

This scientist had created a profile so large of himself that the precipitation of inference and suggestion has grown so thick it might well be impossible to get to the real truth about what exactly the man achieved and what else he has augmented beyond fallacy and fantasy.

It should not be a difficult thing to research if we take time to select each assertion he offers or every myth told about him and elicit the truth because, the truth is out there on the Internet, on professional sites, on academic sites and other verified organs besides news and self-promotion organs.

We could be conned

We have to come to the realisation that we could be taken for a ride, conned and deceived, if people fail to do their research, they can be found in error and have to face the consequences for their folly.

Reputable news agencies can get it wrong, speech-writers for presidents can get it wrong and we ourselves for our laziness can get it wrong.

Where the Nigerian government got it wrong was to honour this scientist on the basis of the myths surrounding his celebrity by putting his face on a Nigerian stamp.

Get a grip on reality

All Nigerians and those of Nigerian heritage should for all that is good and wholesome pursue excellence and aspire to be celebrated by having their faces on Nigerian stamps but the basis of that honour should not be a house of cards, a castle in the air or two birds in the bush.

Aspirations are not achievements just as dreams are not reality, a myth is what it is, a myth and if we found anything on aspirations, dreams or myths we had better be pinching ourselves constantly to keep our keep firmly on the ground and have a firm grasp of what our reality is in the progress of improving ourselves.

It is beyond doubt that this man is not who he portrays he is and it is only right that Nigerians divorce themselves from sentiment, emotion and subjective commentary, we need to seek honest and reputable role models whose achievements are impeccable, unimpeachable and without dispute.

Honesty is still the best policy

This is not a matter of tribalism, racism, jealousy or calumny, the facts speak for themselves without putting an excessive gloss on all of the subjects, everything should be seen in their contexts, their settings and their importance.

Let us ascribe honour to those who are really deserving of honour and work to ensure that we are not creating a nation and identity of honour amongst thieves.

The need for honest achievers must not be supressed for the desire to ensure that we do not do dishonest people down.

Those who ignore the truth for the safe haven of decrying black people pulling down other black people should check their principles and the kind of image they want to portray of blacks including ourselves.

We have enough of an uphill task proving we are honest, able, competent, ready and diligent, this one man places too much of a strain on what many have done to open opportunities for others.

Accept the facts

Attacks ad hominem do not help in arriving at the honest truth, if a man has misrepresented himself, it is only in the interest of everything good and true that he be exposed else no accolade would be worth anything if people can falsify unverifiable profiles to profitable ends.

The Nigerian government got it wrong and it is only right for them to admit their mistake and consign the man who has been unworthily honoured to ignominy.

The basic fact is – Mr Philip Emegwali [1] is just not what the myth about him suggests he is – he did achieve something and that has been recognised but it is no way as great as it has been made out to be, that is just the fact of the matter and there should be nothing else to say to it.


[1] Nigeria: Giving Philip Emeagwali a perspective

NOV2110 Emeagwali defense |

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

The context of grand projects

The most recent grand project in Africa was the 2010 FIFA World Cup and that had its detractors. Many who thought the billions spent on hosting the jamboree could have been better spent on development and poverty alleviation projects.

In some ways, there is feeling that grand projects should be sited anywhere else but Africa until it develops to a certain standard of living before it gratifies itself with something big.

Apart from a major art commission in Senegal, the issue of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro [1] in Cote d’Ivoire was discussed, this was at one time in the Guinness World Records the world’s largest church.

In context, the Catholics of Cote d’Ivoire are quite proud of this church as theirs in Africa and it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

For the masses and for excellence

As we discussed this, it reminded me of Oprah Winfrey Lady’s Academy for Girls [2] (OWLAG) in South Africa where the American media mogul had sunk $40 million of her own money to create an institution of educational excellence.

Many thought it would have been better for her to create 40 $1m schools instead but I offered the argument that it the job of governments to build schools for the populace and if Ms Winfrey were to spread resources thin in this manner, she would who have to rely on already failing governments to manage and run those schools.

OWLAG as a beacon of educational excellence can serve as a standard of what is achievable just as grand projects that foster pockets of development and create aspirations to raising the standards of living and quality all around Africa.

The springboard of grand projects

Whilst sadly the Maison Tropicale prototypes did not get rolled out to the 10,000 units originally planned they could have provided an upward review of traditional architectural practices and the ease of dismantling the structures could have made for easier provision of housing.

Unfortunately, those were lessons we failed to learn but 33 years after the event in the Nigeria, the villages built [3] for the 2nd Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ‘77) represent one of the largest housing projects ever embarked upon in Africa.


[1] Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls []

[3] Festac Town - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Corrupt enterprise

The audience might have worn a wry smile when the camera focused on an interview with one of the top government officials in Congo Brazzaville.

He completely denied knowledge of the removal of the Maison Tropicale prototypes and offered that he only really learnt of their disappearance and the circumstance around the situation at the interview.

It was not convincing, silver had definitely crossed palms for the removal of that structure beyond the payment that was made to the landlady who used the paltry sum she made compared to current market value of the prototype to become a powerful slum landlord developing all the land surrounding the original prototype foundations.

In Niamey, the people seemed to have a lesser claim to the prototype and simply felt powerless in preventing their monument from being dismantled and carried away.

Powerless people

In the words of that neighbor, she said, “Poor people have no power”. This again represents the helplessness of the ordinary African in exacting their rights and getting justice.

In age-old colonial-speak, they gave us the Bible and took our land; in this case, they offered a few bronze coins for the prototypes and sold them for truckloads of gold.

The money they paid would have smoothed the bureaucratic hurdles that would have impeded the opportunities to take the prototypes out of the countries with the blessing of government officials who were supposed to hold African treasures in trust for the people and ensure they are not pilfered for personal profit of as it were art thieves.

The need for reeducation

However, without a strong sense of ownership and an appreciation of heritage very little can be done to generate the activism that would militate against African treasures being stolen out of African for the business enterprise of thieves.

There is a reeducation context to this which should include embracing our colonialist past and what came with it with the greater prospects of proud African history open to tourism and the recognition of our culture in situ.

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

A lack of appreciation

Moving on from the ownership context of Maison Tropicale, when these prototypes were somewhat rediscovered for the world that would better appreciate them, they were literally derelict.

The building in Congo Brazzaville was like a castle with a moat of overgrown weeds and shrubs, occupied by a lady who returned home after the death of her father to an inheritance that had been usurped by his relations leaving her this structure that no one thought had value.

In Niamey, the building was not occupied but one of the neighbours reminisced saying the building was like a big sister and very good shelter from the rain. This was what she missed the most about the prototype.

What is heritage?

The appreciation of heritage grows from a sense of ownership and it was a revelation when one of the important interviewees said that heritage was an un-African thing bordering on taboo.

One can almost agree entirely with this assertion, there are many historical places in Africa that have failed to realise the level of conservation that exudes national pride at first before leading to tourist interest apart from the Egyptian world treasures.

If much care and attention had been paid to these structures in Africa, it would have been impossible or quite difficult to remove them from their locations in Africa to Europe and other parts of the world.

It is arguable that if the Egyptian pyramids could be transported they might well have found homes elsewhere, the Maison Tropicale prototypes were modular and easy to dismantle [1]; it just needed someone with the means and wherewithal to cart them away.

The pillage continues

Africa has consistently suffered the pillage of her treasures and the removal of these very large structures in broad daylight as late as the year 2000 is more an indictment of our sense of ownership and heritage than of the corrupt enterprise that allowed the action to take place.

It was interesting to see the activism that seemed to follow the removal of the buildings depicted in the film but given the appreciation and value these prototypes have now gained in Paris and New York, I doubt if those prototypes would ever return to Africa

We are left to view the foundations of the prototypes where domesticated livestock graze with the regret of what could have been.


[1] YouTube - Jean Prouvé – 3D Animation construction of La Maison Tropicale

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

Maison Tropicale - Ownership


Just over three weeks ago, I attending an event organised by Prince Claus Funds and African Architecture matters that featured the work of Professor Manthia Diawara which included the launching of a book on African film and Maison Tropicale; a film he directed on modernist architecture as a documentary feature by Ângela Ferreira [1].

I have wanted to explore a few themes after watching the film but on now had the time to compile the views into a series of topical blogs.

After the screening of the film Maison Tropicale [2], the director, Manthia Diawara [3] was joined on stage by the architect, Joe Osae Addo [4] to discuss the issues raised in the film.

After a few exchanges between the panellists and number of architects, I got the opportunity to ask the first question from the audience.

The matter of ownership

The matter of ownership in relation to the Maison Tropicale prototypes and the neglect they suffered over the years along with the ease with which they were dismantled and returned to Europe had me concerned about the fact that none of the materials that constituted the prototypes were of African progeny and that might speak to the inability for Africans to associate with these colonial fixtures.

The panellists disagreed offering a few views to buttress their opinions, the first being that the prototypes had been in Africa for 50 years and essentially had become African in context, intent and relevance.

Adapting for usage

We need to own the European parts of our history and heritage just as must as we would what is naturally African. For example, cement is not essentially African; its derivation is associated with stone derived from quarries on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England.

Portland cement has been adapted and integrated fully into the building framework of African architecture such that its historical provenance has been lost to full ownership in the African setting.

Strong as these arguments might be, it is clear that the Maison Tropicale prototypes were neither adapted nor assimilated into contemporary African architecture, else imitations and copies of the prototypes would have been built to fulfil the 10,000 units planned for the colonial times or have been seen to be useful to building programmes that greeted post-colonial independence schemes for housing.


[1] Ângela Ferreira – MAISON TROPICALE / e-flux

[2] YouTube - La Maison Tropicale

[3] Manthia Diawara - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Joe Osae-Addo - Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

Thursday 18 November 2010

Nigeria: FIFA punishment more like a joke

Nothing to rejoice about

Before we welcome the news that FIFA appears to be putting its house in order with the suspensions [1] of two serving executive members and four former executive members we need to review the issues at play.

Months ago, I wrote that FIFA was seemingly unaccountable and had become a law unto itself, their truculent approach to government interference especially where that intrusion was justified left many thinking FIFA was a corrupt enterprise bent to shielding their own from scrutiny.

With mounting evidence or even inconvertible fact on recorded video of executives willing to sell their votes for favouring certain countries to host the World Cup over others but presenting themselves in public as objective and incorruptible making their decisions on merit, all the FIFA bigwigs could do was provisionally suspend the culprits.

A reluctant punishment

Now that the FIFA Ethics Committee has completed their findings, these people who were about to make millions of dollars on the premise of some sports development in their countries have just been slapped on the wrist with a paltry $10,000 fines at most and a few years suspension, the maximum being four.

In effect, these corrupt people might well be back in four years’ time being smarter and wiser against agent provocateurs to vote for the hosting of World Cups in 2026 and 2030.

It goes without saying that FIFA has hardly set the example for stamping corruption out of the bidding process and one can only wonder the kind of leverage Nigeria’s Amos Adamu has within the FIFA organization to shamelessly reject the findings against him and launch a full-fledged appeal with immediate effect.

Maybe he has the dirt on them

If he has much to implicate others, this is going to be very dirty or this only indicates an acceptance of such practices except in the situation where a careless executive makes the mistake of getting caught.

FIFA in my view owes an apology to countries that that tried to clean up football but have been dissuaded with threats and expulsions, Nigeria seeing that twice already whilst the Nigerian FIFA executive member was up to disreputable activities.

It is even more saddening that of the former executive members who have been fined three come from African countries; they were definitely corrupt but it is possible that they were quite stupid to get caught but it is a lesson and one I hope FIFA executives would learn to understand.

They have an uphill task to rebuild their reputation and global confidence in the bidding process; I am however far from convinced that the current FIFA leadership has the wherewithal to bring probity, transparency, respect, honesty and honour back to the game of football.


[1] Akin: Nigeria: Questioning the FIFA hegemony

Monday 15 November 2010

How the world is changing

China shopping

The Economist published two leaders this week that got me thinking about how the world has changed and how inexorably many have failed to adapt to the change or make the kind of adjustments necessary to embrace change and become more relevant in the future.

In the leader China buys up the world [1], one innocuous statistic showed up which was Chinese firms only own just 6% of global investment in international business. One thing we must not fail to realise is that it is growing and it belies a failing of the capitalist model in the West where somewhat Communist finance is propping up or buying up businesses that were once the mainstays of democracies.

The debate between big and small government that exercises the West is moot much as the idea of state controlled enterprises being inefficient, lethargic and unprofitable. The Chinese are doing something we could well learn and use.

A timeline of decline

Even more arresting is the decline of other economic powers; for in 1914 and 1967, both Britain and America held about 50% of global investment respectively and those years were their peak years.

1914 announced the start of the World War I and there is no telling the cost that was to Britain and consequently World War II just a quarter of a century after. By the 1970s, Britain was not working and seemingly in terminal decline, and though there have been recoveries we find ourselves in another trough exemplified by swingeing cuts which no one is sure would bring recovery talk less of ascendancy.

It would be simplistic to suggest that our governments and representation have helped this decline take root, but blame cannot be too far from their door in the economic mistakes and atrocious policies that have defined each ideological standpoint to the detriment of the lifeblood of the each country’s progress.

Well beyond the World Wars

In 1914 that great African country Nigeria was created and it stands as the most populous black African country by far as well as its second largest economy. With its oil resources first discovered in 1937 there has been promise and prospect but very little to show for what it has.

The second leader in the Economist was about reforming the United Nations with the title Thinking the UNthinkable [2]. There is a strong case for redefining the structure of the Security Council and managing the influence of the permanent members whose status derives from having won the Second World War.

I have my doubts about how France won but that would be stoking the embers of discord. What we have now is the defeated foe of 1945 that is now a strong ally, Germany with an economy much greater than that of France and Britain; one must not forget Japan is a contender too having gone shopping like China only two decades ago.

How times have changed

In effect, 2010 is no more 1945, the fulcrum of power has shifted with the emergence of big democracies, economies and other powers making India, Brazil, Japan, Germany, South Africa and even Nigeria viable permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The growing influence of Islam in global affairs puts both Turkey and Indonesia into consideration too, making the UN Security Council more representative of the shift in power and of the times.

With this change there is probably a case for Britain and France giving up their seats for a European representative but the politics of the UN might not allow for widening of the permanent membership of the Security Council with equal status for all members and the loss of veto power.

Nigeria’s disqualification

The case for Nigeria strong as it may seem on promise is weakened by the notion that it is too anarchic a country compared to South Africa.

This damning assessment is in no way unfair, it simply crystallises our representation, our politics, our economic prospects and sadly our future.

This kind of view can only change when those we elect to represent us lift they game and play it right, all eyes are on Nigeria for 2011 but because of our failings South Africa might well take the spoils.

[1] Chinese acquisitions: China buys up the world | The Economist

[2] United Nations: Thinking the UNthinkable | The Economist

Thursday 11 November 2010

Thought Picnic: Outsourced Hearing

Account locked

In performing a portal update last night I could not complete a particular action the result of which locked out my account and almost terminated all activity.

So, I sent an email to our support personnel and in the morning received a response to call a support line to have my account unlocked.

As usual, you call the number; I was given options for Dutch or English and then other options about what service I required. As a manic depressive, I pushed buttons jumping through menus like negotiating obstacles in a medieval quest for the damsel in distress.

Sounds unintelligible

Then, I heard a voice, an interactive voice, maybe human, probably not human because I did not catch anything the person said. I thought I heard another language, when the sound came again, the phonetics sounded like English but an audio tape running at triple speed.

He was asking for my first name and last name in English, he couldn’t be, but he was.

Now, English is my first language but this one threw me completely and every other sentence I heard left me almost flummoxed. It was nothing to do with the accent but I would suppose it had to do with the speed at which words are spoken in the speaker’s main language.

I found I could not ask for him to speak more slowly as I would have asked people to when trying to converse in Dutch or German, it left me feeling strange.

Something else in operation

I did get my account unlocked and when he asked if I needed anymore help, even if I did, I wanted this uncomfortable conversation to end and he him, it always ends quickly because of the speed at which his words are spoken.

For me, it was the first time I really felt the impact of having my hearing outsourced, because the social consequence of outsourcing is not so much that of cost but that a natural function is given to a foreign organ to manage, support and operate.

In this case, the management was fine, the support worked but in operation, I can only wonder how well others who have English as a second language would have fared on trying to unlock their accounts.

They might well have asked for the speech to slowed down to Morse code and even if he were to do that, it is unlikely we would have kept up.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Nigeria: Governors' forum donates to late governor's family

Help from the governors
It can be very easy to miss the underlying message in the news that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum had presented NGN 62 million [1], almost half a million dollars to a late governor’s family.
From a sentimental and probably compassionate perspective the survivors of a big breadwinner probably need some help emotionally, morally and financially at the demise of their patriarch. It is also quite heartening to see professional colleagues of a dead person gather together to chip in for the upkeep of his family providing support to cushion their irreparable loss.
However, there is need for an honest and objective critique of this situation because it goes to the core of what warps our democracy, the subject of responsibility and accountability in governance and what is to be expected of our leadership.
Mamman Ali was the governor of Yobe State in North Eastern Nigeria, he died in an American hospital in January 2009 apparently after a prolonged battle with leukaemia.
Nigerian health crisis
The last paragraph can easily become topical on its own, the first question being why the governor had to go to an American hospital to seek treatment for leukaemia. In February 2008, I wrote a blog [2] about the governor of the neighbouring state to the East, Borno State.
A hospital with modern facilities had been built at great cost to serve the people of the state, but the governor held up the use of the hospital for 18 months because he could not get the President of Nigeria to schedule a visit to cut the ribbon declaring the hospital open.
Some disaffected locals got fed up with the situation and razed the apparently white elephant to the ground and all the governor could say was that people were out to ruin his reputation – it just beggars belief.
It probably is the story about health and healthcare services in Nigeria, there are no hospitals, where hospitals are built they are not opened and where they are open they are poorly staffed with substandard drugs, it is a poor narrative but everyone who has the means gets on the first plane of out Nigeria for treatment – the people suffer in silence.
Diagnosis and treatment
Flip through any obituary in Nigerian newspapers and most of the reported deaths seem to be from a brief illness, rarely does one die from a protracted illness and to have that particular illness mentioned is a commendable feat – too many people I know have died from illnesses doctors have been unable to properly diagnose and hence adequately treat.
I find myself in the fortunate setting where when I fell very ill, my doctors had a good idea of what the problem was and painstakingly proved beyond doubt within 9 days what my ailment was and immediately started a course of treatment to deal with the situation.
And in whose name?
Back to the issues that inspired this blog, it is sad to read about the death of a governor and according to the news story, the governors immediately after the death of their colleague decided to offer support to the family, that was in January 2009 but they have only now been able to make good that promise 22 months after his death.
There are 36 states in Nigeria, all states but the late governor’s state agreed or were imposed upon to make a contribution of NGN 2 million ($13,493) each to the kitty. Remember, this is a country that the World Bank suggests has 70% of the population live on a dollar a day; so in context, this is a very large sum of money by Nigerian standards.
As at November 2010, 31 states had contributed their part adding up to NGN 62 million with 4 states yet to send in their contributions. One can only wonder why it took so long and why they have not offered up their pledges.
This contribution definitely did not come from the pockets of the governors; this was done by the Governor’s Forum in the name of the people of Nigeria, who I believe have not been consulted on this giveaway of our resources for the support of the late governor’s family.
Making adequate provision
Whilst the death of a state governor is a sad loss if the governor were able, competent and well liked, it should not be equated with a natural disaster. It also speaks volumes about arrangements people make for their survivors in the event of untimely death either in terms of life insurance or other means of sustainable investments that provide for the family after death.
Probably there should be a law in place that caters for the untimely death of a governor beyond succession to his office about payments or support to be given to the deceased’s immediate family.
When this contribution was made, it was made with ceremony which was unnecessary and then given to the dead governor’s brother to manage for his estate. I cannot say if the governor had a will and if it was the express wishes of the governor to have his brother as executor of his estate.
Who are family?
I am concerned that the wife or wives and children were not mentioned and with this large sum of money being doled out they might well be elbowed out of the way – just as the governors have shown no accountability to their constituents, it is very likely they have demanded no accountability of how the money would be spent on the upkeep of the family.
The major concerns of family upkeep in Nigeria are usually the provision of housing, food, funding for education of children and access to good health facilities to the immediate descendants. One can only speculate that there would be many snouts in the trough and the money may not go to the intended ends and this would be the last we would hear of the situation until someone receives an email claiming to have funds to dispose of pertaining to the estate of the late governor.
Despite my cynicism, the issues are clear, the lack of appropriate healthcare facilities, the absence of forward planning for untimely death, the inertia that governs the resolution to do something good, the insignificance of immediate family members when their father and husband dies and the lack of accountability of our leadership in the doling out of funds for questionable albeit compassionate causes.

Monday 8 November 2010

Nigeria: Giving Philip Emeagwali a perspective

The celebrity of Philip Emeagwali

I think I have had my fill of the emotions and sentiments that engender the celebrity of a Philip Emeagwali [1] whose profile makes the fantasies of Harry Potter look like a bedtime story told in 5 minutes.

I do not intend to go over any of the stuff about him that already appears on the Internet that his footprint is a mighty Sasquatch of inexactitudes that has taken advantage of lazy research and poor verification of facts and realities by supposedly reputable news organisations and political figures.

Unfortunately, everyone who has doffed their hat at the presence of the man or eulogised him to demigod status might just have to eat humble pie and accept that they of their own making have been wrong and that includes the mention President Bill Clinton made of him in one of his many speeches.

The Next story

I got involved in a commenting section on Facebook that highlighted a news article on the Nigerian Next online newspaper titled The Lies of Philip Emeagwali [2] where the writer appeared to have asked and gotten answers to a few pertinent questions.

Sahara Reporters [3] also had done a splendid job in getting at the basic truths which if any of the assertions were false would have constituted a hatchet job, but in all fairness, it was exposing someone who had effectively hoodwinked and blindsided so many that the fortress of suppositions built around him had almost precipitated into fact.

Now, Mr Philip Emeagwali is an intelligent man, he has at least a postgraduate degree in engineering, his work in winning the Gordon Bell Prize in 1989 is to be commended and acknowledged anything else beyond that smacks of embellishment bordering on the peddling of falsehoods and fraudulent representation.

My Facebook comments blogged up

My contribution as a Facebook comment was to clarify the matter of the history of the Internet, those who can lay claim to fathering the Internet and giving the Gordon Bell Prize its context.

If you want the history of the definite and indefinite article Internet [4] - there is no recollection of the history of the development of communications between systems that features this fraudster from either an academic or lazy researcher's perspective except in the cocoon of his publicity footprint [5].

The Internet pre-dates the work of Tim Berners-Lee [6] which was for the World Wide Web in March 1989, the Arpanet however derived from the work of Vint Cerf [7] amongst other which was done in the 1960s and 1970s, the protocols that define the Internet were implemented by 1982.

The commemorative plaque [8] on the Gates Computer Science Building in Stanford that identifies the clear building blocks that created the Internet and the people who put them together has dates that are long before 1989.

That Gordon Bell Prize

The much touted Gordon Bell Prize [9] was first awarded in 1987 and it is for assessing the progress of parallel computing. It has nothing to do with the Internet and there are more prestigious awards than this – “Nobel Prize” of computing, it definitely is NOT.

The documentation of the win in 1989 [10] was for Price/Performance at 400 Mflops/$1M going to Philip Emeagwali for oil reservoir modeling but the one for pure performance in the same year went to a group of 8 from Thinking Machines and Mobil Research at 500 Mflops/$1M for seismic data processing.

It is time to take sentiment and subjectivity out of this matter, if the work of Philip Emeagwali was so seminal to the creation of the Internet there is no way that information would have been lost in academic courses like the Introduction to Computer Science 101.

History cannot document the future

All the work creating the Internet pre-dates 1989 and if the World Wide Web requires the Internet, there is no way the work for which Philip Emeagwali won essentially a scond prize on performance could father a pre-existing concept.

It does not take away from Philip Emeagwali’s achievements but what he achieved in 1989 has long been surpassed, there does not seem to be any derivative work from that achievement as the bulwark of a failed scientist is to rest on his laurels and the publicity it generates rather than foster forward thinking ideas like the one that lead to the original recognition of his ability we have sadly seriously unrealised potential that was squandered on self-promotion.


[1] Philip Emeagwali - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] The lies of Philip Emeagwali:

[3] How Philip Emeagwali Lied His Way To Fame | Sahara Reporters

[4] History of the Internet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Philip Emeagwali - A Father of the Internet - Pioneer of the Supercomputer that is an Internet

[6] Tim Berners-Lee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[7] Vint Cerf - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[8] File:Birth of the Internet.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[9] Gordon Bell Prize - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[10] Gordon Bell Prize Winners 1987 - 1989