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 |


Yinka Olajubu said...

Thanks Mr Akin for this piece,
This is an example of d incompetence that has now eaten deep into d bone of our so-called professionals and experienced career officers in Nigeria.
Its d duty of Nigeria Postal Agency to produce stamps, & they now put faces on Nigerian stamps without proper investigation to ascertain d truth, then there is trouble

Anonymous said...

Sadly, as you mention, it is becoming well nigh impossible to identify what is the truth about his alleged successes. I posted a link to your earlier post on Facebook in response to a thread lauding his 'achievements' and I was accused of having 'Pull him down' syndrome.. Sigh..

CodLiverOil said...

1) Yes, the Nigerian government rarely exercises due diligence in anything, so we should not be surprised about that.

2) Mr P Emeagwali, made ripples in a field that few blacks exist (at a time when their numbers were even less). I really don’t know why he didn’t continue his research. What I am aware of is that his non-black colleagues elsewhere around the world, continue their research because it is advantageous for them to do so. They are paid well to research and can be offered lucrative contracts to work for industry (and still maintain their research) also not to mention having a hand in the patents.

If these enticements were not forthcoming, or were not as generous as he expected, one can’t blame him for not pursuing his research.

The claims people have made against his self-publicised achievements, should they be proved true. Should merely mean that his name is dropped from the list of shining stars in the technical field. There is no need for a witch-hunt. He has to live with himself and it is for him to reflect on his conduct and hopefully learn some lessons. Did he defraud the Nigerian state?

3) You raised an interesting point, the honest achievers should be promoted, and again be subjected to thorough research by the Nigerian government if it is to use them to inspire others. But this is not the “Nigerian way” (of today). It is for the dishonest, the powerful, the immodest and thugs to award themselves accolades and receive the "stamp" of approval. Things in Nigeria have reached such a stage, that unless you have foreign recognition (accreditation) in your field, the local awards are meaningless, as the institutions that awarded them are corrupt and lack credibility.

Then again, before the government can do that, they should start with themselves. If that were the case, nearly all those occupying positions of power would be forced to resign. As they are largely, bankrupt and corrupt.

4) We need more people from the technical fields, how many Nobel Laureates in Science are from Nigeria? We have plenty of authors and entertainers, who can write interesting stories, or entertain (running, singing, what have you). But Nigerians (black) people are not one-dimensional. How many scientists of international repute are from Nigeria? Probably, not many, how many Nigerian scientists of world class standard are based in Nigeria, probably even less. Why doesn’t the government seriously pursue establishing centres of excellence, like the Indian government has done in IT and pharmaceuticals?

Akin Akintayo said...


The need for meticulous attention to detail, exactness and correctness should not be a chore just as we should espouse the honest truth about situations before acting.

@el dhjax,

That is one part of the discourse that saddens me. If someone has misrepresented himself and through that gained honour, prestige and accolades, it is fraudulent.

There is no reason for attacking his position if the reality and his story square up.

@Cod Liver Oil,

I am not convinced this is a witch-hunt at all.

Imagine I was applying for a mortgage and suggested to the bank I earn much more than I earn to gain a higher mortgage approval; that is fraudulent.

Again, he might have his excuses for not becoming a more relevant scientist but none of the ones you proffer justify misrepresenting or the puffing up his achievements to live off the rewards of people inadvertently recognising the created myths.

His profile detracts from genuine recognition of others doing more relevant things and not exaggerating their achievements.

Thanks for all your comments.


el dhjax said...

Sadly, as you mention, it is becoming well nigh impossible to identify what is the truth about his alleged successes. I posted a link to your earlier post on Facebook in response to a thread lauding his 'achievements' and I was accused of having 'Pull him down' syndrome.. Sigh..

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