"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Complicity of Nigerian Media in Intellectual 419 of Academics

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The sensational but entirely false story about one Dr. Nura Yakubu (or is it Yakubu Nura) of the University of Maiduguri winning “the World Physics Competition by defeating about 5720 contenders from 97 countries,” which reputedly earned him the distinction of becoming “the father of modern Einstein's planetary equation studies in Physics,” is another sad example of how the Nigerian news media help to give publicity to patent intellectual fraud by Nigerian academics.

I can forgive the Nigerian media’s failure to detect Philip Emeagwali’s intellectual 419. It was a sophisticated, well-layered intellectual con game that suckered even well-established media outfits like CNN and otherwise perceptive politicians like former US president Bill Clinton.

Emeagwali’s deception was believable because he actually did win a real award. It was just that he exaggerated the worth of the award and used it as a launching pad to orchestrate one of the most labyrinthine intellectual swindles I’ve ever come across in all my years of systematic study of the rhetorical strategies of fraudsters.

Although several well-researched reports have blown the lid off Emeagwali’s unfounded claims, Yemi Osinbajo recently repeated the discredited falsehoods Emeagwali had peddled for years. During an Independence Day speech on October 1, 2018, Osinbajo said, “the world’s fastest supercomputer was designed by a world-renowned inventor, Philip Emeagwali, a full-blown Nigerian.”

Premium Times was compelled to fact-check Osinbajo in an October 20, 2018 report titled “FACT-CHECK:Did VP Osinbajo goof in his Independence Day speech?” “There is no evidence that Mr. Emeagwali, 64, has ever invented anything, not to talk of the ‘world’s fastest supercomputer’,” the paper wrote. “A detailed investigation by the rested NEXT newspaper in 2010 indicated that Mr. Emeagwali’s biggest achievement at the time was his winning of the $1,000 Gordon Bell Prize in 1989.”

I wasn’t surprised that Osinbajo said this. His media aide, Laolu Akande, was one of the biggest enablers of the false and exaggerated claims of Nigerian academics when he was a reporter for the Guardian in New York.

As I wrote in my November 6, 2010 column titled “Intellectual 419: Philip Emeagwali and Gabriel Oyibo Compared,” “The Guardian's U.S. correspondent, a certain Laolu Akande, is the biggest accomplice in Oyibo's fraud. Until the last few years, the Guardian often reported that Oyibo was among the top three candidates being considered for the Nobel Prize in Physics. This intentionally deceitful newspaper speculation was/is the basis for his unearned popularity in Nigerian elite circles.”

You would think after Emeagwali and Oyibo, the Nigerian media would be wary of future unverified claims by Nigerian academics. On the contrary, however, they seem to be falling for even less sophisticated, easily detectable scams.

For instance, on July 28, 2011, the Guardian publicized the false claims of a Benue State University lecturer by the name of Michael Atovigba who claimed to have solved a 262-year-old mathematical puzzle (for which he said he would win $1 million from the US-based Clay Mathematics Institute) based on an article he published in a predatory, pay-to-play Pakistani journal (with more than half of his references from Wikipedia!) The Guardian caused Nigerians to celebrate him wildly until I—and others— burst his bubble.

Four years later, the Vanguard of November 15, 2015 publicized the false claims of a Dr. Enoch Opeyemi of the Federal University in Oye-Ekiti who claimed to have solved the same centuries-old mathematical puzzle that Atovigba had claimed to have solved! As I pointed out in my November 21, 2015 column titled “‘Mathematical’Enoch Opeyemi and the Making of Another Nigerian Intellectual 419er,” Opeyemi’s only evidence for claiming to have solved the Riemann Hypothesis was that he presented a paper on the puzzle at the “International Conference on Mathematics and Computer Science” in Vienna, Austria.

It later emerged that the “conference” itself was a scam operation. An August 20, 2011 blog post titled “Fake Paper Accepted by Nina Ringo's Vienna Conference” revealed that a scientist by the name of Mohammad Homayoun who was suspicious of the genuineness of the “International Conference on Mathematics and Computer Science (ICMC)” decided to test his suspicion by submitting a fake, worthless, nonsensical paper to the conference to see if it would be accepted or rejected.

The researcher’s hunch was accurate: the ICMC in Vienna was an elaborate, money-making scholarly scam. His paper was accepted even though it was intentionally nonsensical.

Opeyemi also said he would be paid $1 million by the Clay Mathematics Institute in two years for his “feat,” and the media believed him. On November 25, 2017, I did a follow-up column titled “Remember Enoch Opeyemi Who Claimed to have Solved the Riemann Hypothesis?” where I pointed out that two years later, the puzzle Opeyemi claimed to have solved was still listed as “unsolved” on the Clay Mathematics Institute’s website. It’s still unsolved as I write this.

In spite of my pointing this out, many Nigerians continued to celebrate Opeyemi’s delusional claims to nonpareil intellectual accomplishment—until Dr. Nura Yakubu came and displaced him.

As I pointed out on social media, the truth is that Dr. Nura is the willing victim of a scam, a kind of scam I call scams of ego, which prey on the status anxieties and low self-esteem of insecure, fraud-prone people. World Championship, the "organization" that conferred the “award” on Dr. Nura, is a well-known scam operation that does not, for strategically fraudulent reasons, have a site with its own domain name. It uses a free sites.google.com account to perpetrate its swindles.

Anyone who pays a fee can get any—I mean ANY—award from the site. Check the site to see the list of “award winners” it features in every imaginable field. You will find many Nigerians there. Some past Nigerian “winners” even managed to defraud the ever credulous Nigerian news media into publicizing their “feat.”

For instance, one Dr. Kaywood Leizou of the Niger Delta University (NDU) got the Guardian to write a story about his “award” from this same fraudulent site on October 19, 2018. Titled “Bayelsa don wins global chemical sciences contest,” the report said, “The Bayelsa-born don beat 5,845 others from 89 countries whose nominations were screened for this year’s edition. Consequently, the International Agency for Standards and Ratings (IASR) has recognised Leizou as one the world’s 500 most influential experts on earth in chemical sciences for the year.”

In 2018, the same website “conferred” one “Dr.” Shuaib Idris Mohammed of Edo State (who hasn’t even completed his PhD) with the “World Champion in Agricultural Extension (Credit Facilities)” award “out of 91 countries.” The site added: “Dr. Shuaib Idris Mohammed is now recognized as Father of modern Credit Facilities in Agricultural Extension. The purpose of the award is to identify brilliant scientists and academicians around the world through World Championship. The World Championship is organized by International Agency for Standards and Ratings at international level.”

Sounds familiar? That’s the exact language used for Dr. Nura. It’s the same suspiciously atrocious grammar. The “contenders” for the “awards” are always in the thousands—and from more than 80 countries in the world.

But nothing in Nura’s scholarly record—and those of others who have been made “fathers” of whole disciplinary specialties by the fraudulent site—suggests that he is anywhere close to the pinnacle of his career. In fact, most of his articles are published in dodgy, predatory journals that publish ANYTHING submitted to them for a fee.

The scariest thing in all this is that Dr. Nura Yakubu was going to be hosted in the Presidential Villa and honored by Muhammadu Buhari. A friend of mine who is a close confidant of Buhari’s called to tell me this and to ask that I help verify the authenticity of Nura’s “award.” My findings and subsequent status update saved Buhari from a potentially momentous embarrassment.

Well, even Buhari himself fell for a fraudulent “MLK award.” So he and Dr. Nura Yakubu would have made good company in the Villa! Nigerians have to be the world’s greatest suckers for cheap scams!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lessons from George Orwell about Current Phase of Buhari’s Fascism

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

I have immersed myself in the study of the ontogenesis and manifestations of fascism since Buhari started to bare his ferociously fascist fangs. One of the world’s most insightful writers on fascist totalitarianism is George Orwell. As he himself pointed out in his 1946 essay titled “Why I Write,” “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism….”

His most famous works, Animal Farm (published in 1945) and 1984 (published in 1949), were not just devastatingly searing fictional critiques of totalitarianism, they also offer enduringly accurate insights into how absolutist fascism works.  The significance of Animal Farm to understanding Buhari’s monocratic excesses are already too obvious to deserve expounding.

Orwell’s 1984 is the most helpful in unpacking the unfolding phase of Buhari’s next-level fascism. In this phase, the regime wants to not just impose ironclad strangulation on basic liberties; it also wants to exercise absolute control over the limits of the meanings of everyday words and expressions. I call this intangible but nonetheless visible forms of symbolic fascist violence.

 Words and expressions such as “revolution,” “terrorism,” “terrorist,” “treason,” “soft target,” “defeat,” “technical,” “hate speech,” etc. no longer mean what they are universally understood to mean in the Anglophone world; they now only mean what Buhari and his fascist honchos want them to mean, as I will show shortly.

In Orwell’s 1984, we learn that the fictional totalitarian country of Oceania invented a new language called newspeak, which strips words of their habitual significations, constricts the semantic boundaries of existing words, narrows the range of vocabularies people can use, and privileges, indeed insists on, the meanings the state imposes on words and expressions.

All fascist regimes understand the power of language in birthing, nurturing, and naturalizing tyranny. Orwell recognized this fact in another famous, oft-cited 1946 essay titled “Politics and the English Language.” That is why the Buhari regime now wants to impose limits on what words can mean and not mean. Take, for instance, the increasingly variable and arbitrary meaning of the word “terrorism” in Buhari’s Nigeria. Every organized resistance against the government is now “terrorism.”

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose mode of campaign for separatism is demonstrably non-violent, was formally declared a “terrorist” organization and proscribed.

 Shiite Muslims, who have remained remarkably pacifist and restrained even in the face of the unjustified extra-judicial mass murders of their members and the continued incarceration of their leader in spite of several court judgments to release him, have been declared “terrorists” and their organization “proscribed.”

The regime labeled IPOB and Shiites “terrorists” only because of their sustained, constitutionally guaranteed civil protests against the government, which will go down in history as the most thin-skinned collection of boneheaded crybabies.

Omoyele Sowore’s nationwide #RevolutionNow protests, for which he is being illegally detained, were also declared “terrorism” and“treasonable felony.” Ironically, between 2013 and 2014, many of the founders of the APC vigorously lobbied the US government to not designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization. On June 10, 2013, Lai Mohammed said Goodluck Jonathan administration’s proscription of Boko Haram was overly broad and did not “pass the Constitutional test.” Buhari is also on record as saying that military action against Boko Haram was an attack on the “North.”

To this day, the Buhari regime has never officially declared Boko Haram a terrorist group let alone proscribe it. On the contrary, Boko Haram’s captured members are often washed up, deodorized as “repentant,” and even enlisted into the Nigerian Army, which explains why our soldiers are now sitting ducks for Boko Haram terrorists.

Murderous marauders known in the Nigerian news media as “killer Fulani herdsmen” or " armed bandits" have been called “the fourth deadliest known terrorist group” in the world by the Global Terrorism Index, but the Buhari regime has said absolutely nothing about this group much less designate it as a terrorist group. If anything, members of the group are being featherbedded and emboldened by the regime.

But harmless, unarmed, defenseless groups who resist the regime’s tyranny peacefully are quickly labeled “terrorists,” detained, harassed, and ultimately “proscribed.” This is particularly interesting because Buhari rode on the crest of the wave of civil disobedience to climb to power. In fact, in 2011, during a stump speech, he did actually commit what amounted to a terroristic incitement to violence when he unambiguously told his supporters to extra-judicially murder political opponents.

  Ku fita ku yi zabe. Ku kasa. Ku tsare. Ku raka. Ku tsaya. Duk wanda ya taba ku halaka shi!” he said in Hausa. Rough idiomatic translation: “Go out and participate in the election. Cast your vote. Protect it. Accompany it (to the collation center). Wait for it (to be counted). Whoever tempers with (the vote) kill him!”

And scores of people, including youth corps members, were extra-judicially murdered in several parts of the Muslim North as a direct consequence of his incitement. That was real terrorism for which he was never brought to justice. Terrorism is defined as "the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims."

Similarly, although Buhari, Bola Tinubu, and many APC henchmen had used the word “revolution” in the past to characterize their resistance to the reigning government, the word is now practically banned in Nigeria. It can now only mean what the government wants it to mean. By “revolution,” Sowore clearly meant prolonged mass protests that would so overwhelm the government that it would be compelled to accede to the demands of the protesters.

That was precisely the sort of “revolution” Buhari praised in Egypt and which he enjoined Nigerians to emulate. The Arab Spring was not a revolution through the ballot box, as his defenders are insisting; it was a series of unrelenting, organized mass protests that caused the deaths of many people. It was its aftermath that birthed the pretense to democracy that was quickly thwarted in the country.

Any intelligent person knows that Sowore’s isolated references to overthrowing the government weren't literal. In media law, it’s called rhetorical hyperbole, and it’s not actionable.  Calling someone a “criminal,” a “thief,” a “fraudster,” a “conman,” etc. is mere rhetorical hyperbole, but saying they stole “500 billion naira in 2018” is a specific, verifiable fact and may constitute grounds for libel.

 Sowore and his group have no capacity to overthrow the government. It’s the government’s own acute self-consciousness of its transparent illegitimacy that is causing it to see threats in even the most innocuous forms of resistance. English philosopher Bertrand Russel had hypersensitive, illegitimate regimes like Buhari’s in mind when he said, “Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.”

While any physical protest against the Buhari regime is now “terrorism,” the definitional boundaries of the term “hate speech” have also been squeezed to now only mean any strong criticism of the government’s trademark incompetence and fraud.

But hate speech is conventionally understood as speech that denigrates or incites violence against a people on the basis of their social, cultural, ethnic, religious, etc. characteristics. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation (= the fact of being gay, etc.):”

That means government or its officials can’t possibly be the target of hate speech for just being in government. But the point of controlling the meanings of the words we use is that the regime wants to invoke its invented meanings as linguistic justification for physical violence and the naturalization of fascism.

Nigerians must not only resist the Buhari regime’s repression, they must also fight its Orwellian newspeak, which excludes Nigerians from the power of naming. In his influential book titled Challenging Codes, Italian political sociologist Alberto Melucci, whose country birthed the original fascist ideology Buhari is enamored with, tells us that, “The real domination is… the exclusion from the power of naming.”

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Saturday, August 3, 2019

Soldiers on Government Sanctioned Mass Suicide Mission

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The Wall Street Journal’s disturbing July 31 report of the secret mass burial of at least a thousand Nigerian soldiers who were murdered by Boko Haram terrorists has, once again, brought to the fore the conscienceless villainy and duplicity  of the Buhari regime and its illegal service chiefs who have overstayed their statutorily mandated length of service by  several months.

The regime never stops to claim that it has “defeated” Boko Haram even when indisputable evidence to the contrary stares it in the face. In late last year, for instance, it was reported that Boko Haram had murdered hundreds of Nigerian soldiers. Yet the federal government did not consider it fitting to acknowledge the tragedy, much less condole with the families of the deceased soldiers.

In fact, on the day the fallen soldiers were given an undignified mass burial, Buhari met with APC senators who’d threatened to defect to other parties. Several reports have also surfaced to show that soldiers fighting on the frontlines are owed several months’ worth of allowances and that many of them are now practically beggars.

TheCable’s September 21, 2018 investigations show that the military men fighting Boko Haram are practically being forced to commit suicide because they are severely ill equipped. I also shared videos on Facebook and Twitter yesterday of Nigerian soldiers battling what seem like Boko Haram terrorists with obsolete, barely functional guns. That’s why they are sitting ducks for Boko Haram. They are on a government-sanctioned mass suicide mission.

In other words, there is no difference between President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari in the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram. Well, the only difference is that the Buhari regime has been more effective in muzzling the press, in intimidating private individuals in the northeast into not disclosing the true situation of the Boko Haram insurgency in the region, and in enlisting well-heeled individuals in its propaganda efforts.

What is now coming to light in spite of government’s studious efforts to suppress it supports my column of February 24, 2018 titled “Bursting the Myth of Buhari’s Boko Haram ‘Success’.” Almost everything I said in that column is bubbling to the surface now. The sanguinary in-fighting among Boko Haram members, which I said was the biggest reason for the lull in its attacks between 2016 and early 2018, has now subsided considerably.

I have taken the liberty to reproduce portions of my previous article, which seemed incredulous to many people when it was first published:

A false narrative that several people cherish about the Buhari government is the notion that its singular greatest achievement is its success in containing, downgrading, or defeating Boko Haram. It’s like a consolation prize to compensate for the government’s abject failure in every index of governance. I recognize that taking away the consolation prize of Buhari’s Boko Haram success narrative would cause psychic and cognitive dislocation in many people…

But the question I always ask people who talk of the Buhari administration’s “success” in “downgrading” or “technically defeating” Boko Haram (whatever in the world that means) is: what exactly has Buhari done that hasn’t been done by his predecessor to bring about his so-called success? The only intelligent answer I’ve received is that he ordered the relocation of the command center for Nigeria's military operation against Boko Haram to Maiduguri. Well, that’s commendable, but it conceals the unchanged, sordid underbelly of military authorities.

For instance, the military is still severely underfunded and ill-equipped. Soldiers on the front lines are still owed backlogs of allowances; several of them still starve and survive on the goodwill of do-gooders. Two videos of the heartrending conditions of our military men fighting Haram went viral sometime ago, and military authorities were both embarrassed and caught flatfooted. I periodically speak with my relatives and friends in the military fighting Boko Haram, and they say little or nothing has changed, except that propaganda and media management have become more effective. The fat cats in the military still exploit and feed fat on the misery of the foot soldiers.

Even on the symbolic plane, which is the easiest to navigate, Buhari hasn’t been better than his predecessor. He did not visit our foot soldiers in Borno to boost their morale nor did he visit IDPs whose misery has become one of the most horrendous humanitarian disasters in the world. He only visited Borno on October 1, 2017—more than 2 years after being in power—to celebrate Independence Day with the military after so much pressure was brought to bear on him by critics. There are three major reasons why the intensity of the Boko Haram scourge has subsided, none of which has anything to do with Buhari’s policies on Boko Haram.

One, our foot soldiers, like always, have never wavered in their bravery and persistence in spite of their prevailing untoward conditions. This isn’t because of the president; it is in spite of the president.
Two, Boko Haram has been weakened by an enervatingly bitter and sanguinary internal schism. Since at least September 2016, the Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab al-Barnawi factions of Boko Haram have killed each other more than the military has killed them.

Three, and most important, the conspiracy theories and tacit, if unwitting, support that emboldened Boko Haram in the north because a southern Christian was president have all but disappeared, making it easy for the military to get more cooperation from the local population. Remember Buhari said, in June 2013 in a Liberty Radio interview in Kaduna, that the military’s onslaught against Boko Haram amounted to “injustice” against the “north.”

Babachir David Lawal, then a CPC politician, infamously said Boko Haram was a PDP plot to “depopulate” the northeast because the region doesn’t vote PDP. As my friend from the northeast noted on my Facebook page, “Borno elder Shettima Ali Monguno used to call BH ‘our children’ and he only stopped after he was kidnapped for ransom by the group.”

The Northern Elders Forum in 2013 said Boko Haram members should be given amnesty, not killed. Even then PDP chairman Bamanga Tukur said in 2011 that “Boko Haram is fighting for justice. Boko Haram is another name for justice.” Several Borno elders and everyday citizens protected Boko Haram members and frustrated the military.

In fact, in June 2012, Borno elders told the government of the day to withdraw soldiers fighting Boko Haram terrorists from the state. (But when the military dropped a bomb and killed scores of IDPs, these Borno elders didn't even as much as say a word of condemnation.)

I published letters in 2014 from Borno readers of my column that said the people would rather live with Boko Haram than cooperate with the military because they believed the military was part of a grand plot to annihilate them. The military was so frustrated that it almost wiped out the entire village of Baga in April 2013 when residents provided cover for Boko Haram insurgents who escaped into the area. I wrote to condemn the military at the time.

All this changed because the president is no longer a Christian from the south. Buhari isn’t just a northern Muslim; his mother is half Kanuri, and that’s why most (certainly not all) people from the region intentionally exaggerate the extent of safety and security in the region even when the facts give the lie to their claims. It's all ethnic solidarity.

Because someone with some Kanuri blood in him is president, Boko Haram is no longer a plot to depopulate the northeast. No northern elder is pleading amnesty on the group’s behalf. The group is no longer fighting “for justice.” Killing them is no longer “injustice” to the “north.” And everything is now hunky-dory. Ethno-regional bigotry will be the death of Nigeria.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

I was one of seven professors who facilitated a leadership training in my university here in Georgia for local government chairmen from a major Nigerian southwestern state. In the course of the training, I adverted to a January 13, 2018 column I wrote about how power literally damages the brains of people who wield it and causes them to be dissociated from reality.

A few of the chairmen at the training initially said they “rejected” what I said “in Jesus’ name.” But the more I expounded the research on the psychology of power, the less resistant they became. In the light of the interest it excited among these local power wielders, I thought I’d share a revised version of the column for the benefit of other people in power.
 

On Nov. 20, 2014, Buhari, Amaechi, Oyegun and other APC honchos protested in Abuja against the increased insecurity and killings in the country. Insecurity and killings are worse on their watch than at any time in peacetime Nigeria.

Almost everyone I know wonders why people in power change radically; why they become so utterly disconnected from reality that they suddenly become completely unrecognizable to people who knew them before they got to power; why they get puffed-up, susceptible to flattery, and intolerant of even the mildest, best-intentioned censure; why they appear possessed by inexplicably malignant forces; and why they are notoriously insensitive and self-absorbed.

Everyone who has ever had a friend in a position of power, especially political power, can attest to the accuracy of the age-old truism that a friend in power is a lost friend. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is precisely the fact of the existence of exceptions that makes this reality poignant. As the saying goes, “the exception proves the rule.”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Look at all the power brokers in Nigeria—from the president to your ward councilor—and you’ll discover that there is a vast disconnect between who they were before they got to power and who they are now.

Also look at previously arrogant, narcissistic, power-drunk prigs who have been kicked out of the orbit of power for any number of reasons. You’ll discover that they are suddenly normal again. They share our pains, make pious noises, condemn abuse of power, and identify with popular causes. The legendary amnesia of Nigerians causes the past misdeeds of these previous monsters of power to be explained away, lessened, forgiven, and ultimately forgotten. But when they get back to power again, they become the same insensitive beasts of power that they once were.

So what is it about power that makes people such obtuse, self-centered snobs? It turns out that psychologists have been grappling with this puzzle for years and have a clue. Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley, extensively studied the brains of people in power and found that people under the influence of power are neurologically similar to people who suffer traumatic brain injury.

According to the July/August 2017 issue of the Atlantic magazine, people who are victims of traumatic brain injury are “more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.” In other words, like victims of traumatic brain injury, power causes people to lose their capacity for empathy. This is a surprising scientific corroboration of American historian Henry Adams’ popular wisecrack about how power is “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.”

The findings of Sukhvinder Obhi, a professor of neuroscience at McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada, are even more revealing. Obhi also studies the workings of the human brain. “And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, ‘mirroring,’ that may be a cornerstone of empathy,” the Atlantic reports. “Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the ‘power paradox’: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.”

Take Buhari, for example. Before 2015, he was—or at least appeared to be—empathetic. He supported subsidies for the poor, railed against waste, thought Nigerians deserved to buy petrol at a low price because Nigerian oil was “developed with Nigerian capital,” and so on. He even said foreign medical treatment for elected government officials was immoral and indefensible, and wondered why a Nigerian president would need a fleet of aircraft when even the British Prime Minister didn’t have any.

Nothing but power-induced brain damage, which activates narcissism and loss of empathy, can explain Buhari’s dramatic volte-face now that he’s in power. This fact, psychological researchers say, is worsened by the fact that subordinates tend to flatter people in power, mimic their ways in order to ingratiate themselves with them, and shield them from realities that might cause them psychic discomfort.

“But more important, Keltner says, is the fact that the powerful stop mimicking others,” the Atlantic reports. “Laughing when others laugh or tensing when others tense does more than ingratiate. It helps trigger the same feelings those others are experiencing and provides a window into where they are coming from. Powerful people ‘stop simulating the experience of others,’ Keltner says, which leads to what he calls an ‘empathy deficit.’”

Researchers also found out that excessive praise from subordinates, sycophantic drooling from people seeking favors, control over vast resources they once didn’t have, and all of the staid rituals and performances of power conspire to cause “functional” changes to the brains of people in power. On a social level, it also creates what Lord David Owen, a British neurologist-turned-politician, called the “hubris syndrome” in his 2008 book titled In Sickness and in Power.

Some features of hubris syndrome, Owen points out, are, “manifest contempt for others, loss of contact with reality, restless or reckless actions, and displays of incompetence.” Sounds familiar? You can’t observe Buhari’s governance—or, more correctly, ungovernance—in the last four years and fail to see these features in him.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Powerful people can, and indeed do, extricate themselves from the psychological snares of power if they so desire. Professor Keltner said one of the most effective psychological strategies for people in power to reconnect with reality and reverse the brain damage of power is to periodically remember moments of powerlessness in their lives—such as when they were victims natural disasters, accidents, poverty, etc.

They should also have what American journalist Louis McHenry Howe once called a “toe holder,” that is, someone who doesn’t fear them, expects no favors from them, and can tell them uncomfortable truths without fear of consequences.

Winston Churchill’s toe holder was his wife, who once wrote a letter to him that read, in part, “I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; & you are not as kind as you used to be.” Was Aisha Buhari performing the role of a toe holder when she publicly upbraided her husband in the past? I doubt it.

Her disagreements with her husband are often opportunistic and self-serving. They are triggered only when her husband’s puppeteers in Aso Rock limit her powers to nominate her cronies for political positions and to dispense favors to friends and family.

Another potent way to reverse power-induced brain damage is to periodically get out of the protected silos of power and solitarily observe the quotidian interactions of everyday folks—their humor, laughter, fights, etc. — without the familiar add-ons of power, such as aides, cameras, security, etc. This helps to stimulate the experiences of others and restore empathy.

This is particularly important in Nigeria because power, at all levels, is almost absolute and unaccountable.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A “Technically” Incompetent Chief Justice of Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

A trending video clip of the senate confirmation hearing of Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, which shows him betraying mortifying ignorance of the meaning of the term “technicality,” aggrandizes the point I made in my April 20, 2019 column titled “Atiku’s Citizenship and Buhari’s Illiterate Lawyers” about Buhari’s love affair with incompetence and mediocrity.

I noted that, “The law of attraction says like attracts like, which explains why Muhammadu Buhari is a magnet for mediocrities. Almost all his appointees are, like him, underwhelming, intellectually incurious rubes.” Justice Tanko is the latest instantiation of Buhari’s passion for attracting and elevating people who mirror his own well-known incompetence and witlessness.

First, here is a brief background for people who are not clued in on the exchange that exposed the soft underbelly of the awkward, cringe-worthy ignorance of Nigeria’s Chief Justice. Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe asked Tanko if he thought it made legal and moral sense to pervert the merit of cases before the Supreme Court on the basis of “mere technicality.”

Abaribe reminded Tanko that, “In the 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, the Supreme Court said, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice.’…It is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality.”

Nevertheless, in spite of the legal precedent the Supreme Court has set regarding the primacy of legal merit of cases over their technicalities in the dispensation of justice, Abaribe pointed out, the Supreme Court this year ruled against PDP’s Ademola Adeleke of Osun State not because his case lacked merit but on the basis of a frivolous technicality.

All this passed over Tanko’s head. He had not the haziest idea what “technicality” meant and went off on a puzzling tangent. “Permit me, distinguished senators, to ask what a technicality is,” he said. “It is something which is technical. By definition, it is something that is not usual and may sometimes defy all the norms known to a normal thing. Now, we have technicalities in our laws and this is because these laws we have inherited were from the British.”

Ha! You can’t make this stuff up! He continued: “Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field.

“Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know. Ask me to drive [sic] an aeroplane, I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven [sic] by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality and if I have any technicality, my technicality will only be limited to law.”

If I didn’t watch the video myself, I would have dismissed the response attributed to Tanko as an ill-willed spoof intentionally designed to diminish his estimation. Although I know that spectacular ignorance and vulgar loyalty are the most crucial criteria to be considered worthy of consideration for appointment in Buhari’s regime, I am still distressed both by the disconcerting know-nothingness Tanko evinced in his response to Abaribe and by the fact that he is head of Nigeria’s judiciary.

Tanko isn’t just any judge; he is the Chief Justice of Nigeria. He didn’t just study law; he has a Ph.D. in law from one of Nigeria’s finest universities— at a time when Nigeria’s education supposedly still had integrity. And facility for and proficiency in language (in Nigeria’s case the English language) and logical disputation are as central to the job of lawyers and judges as farming instruments are to the job of being a farmer.

If Tanko doesn’t know what a “technicality” is, what does he really know? Every averagely educated person knows that in conversational English, a “technicality” is an unimportant detail, a triviality. In law, it means a procedural trifle. This legal sense of the term is now so commonplace that it has diffused to everyday discourse. Why would a judge of nearly 40 years’ standing, a PhD in law, and the head of the nation’s judicial branch of government not know what a technicality is?

But what is even more disquieting is that Tanko inadvertently revealed ignorance of the precedent established by the Supreme Court in which he has served for more than 12 years. Had he read the Supreme Court judgement Abaribe referenced, he would have at least encountered the word “technicality.” He apparently wasn’t, probably still isn’t, aware that the Supreme Court had even laid a precedent that says the Court should not use procedural inanities to subvert the legal merit of cases.

It must be precisely this ignorance that led the Supreme Court to dismiss Ademola Adeleke’s bid to retrieve his stolen mandate from the current governor of Osun State. The Supreme Court didn’t even evaluate Adeleke’s weighty, water-tight case against Oyetola; it ruled against Adeleke just because one of the panelists on the election tribunal that had restored Adeleke’s stolen mandate was absent for one day out of the 180 days the election tribunal tried the petition. 

That was a bewildering reversal of the Supreme Court’s own precedent. All over the world, courts rely on precedents to adjudicate current cases. Precedents may be modified, but they are rarely overturned without a compelling reason, certainly not within a few years after they were established. That is what legal scholars call stare decisis, that is, the doctrine that courts should follow precedent. A Chief Justice that is ignorant about something as basic as “technicality” is unlikely to know what “precedent” means, much less something as rarefied as the doctrine of stare decisis.

After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oyetola, I wrote on social media that the ruling was judgment, not justice. In spite of suppositions to the contrary, “judgment” and “justice” are not synonymous. Some judgements pervert justice. The Adeleke vs Oyetola case is a classic example of that. Sadly, the distinction between judgement and justice will become starker, bolder, and more invidious now that we have an unbelievably ignorant and incompetent Chief Justice who heads a Supreme Court that's now an unabashedly "remote controllable" extension of Aso Rock.

 Even feeble pretenses to democracy and decency are now dead in Buhari’s Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar’s petition against Buhari’s unexampled electoral fraud has no chance of success in a Supreme Court that overturns its less than one-year-old precedent, that is headed by a nescient and inept chief justice who doesn’t know the meaning of basic terms that are crucial to the administration of justice, and who owes debt to an audacious electoral mandate snatcher for his position.

What is perhaps even more regrettable for me as a northerner is that Tanko has helped to feed the stereotype of the northern know-nothing who owes his rise in society to incestuous northern nepotistic patronage networks. Of course, it’s unfair to hold up Tanko’s obvious cognitive inferiority as representative of all northerners. There are way smarter, more educated northern lawyers than Tanko who nonetheless vegetate on the fringes.

 Our problem in the north has always been that we don’t put forward our best eleven, to use the common soccer analogy. We are often led by our worst. And we are all judged by the crass ignorance and indiscretions of our worst who nevertheless become our public face. Buhari is taking the elevation of wretched ignoramuses to important positions to the next level. How utterly sad.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Senator Abbo, APC, and Politics of Toxic Partisanship

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The well-justified national outrage that was sparked by a video of first-term Adamawa Senator Ishaku Elisha Abbo assaulting a nursing mother has also highlighted the depth and toxicity of political partisanship in Nigeria. It shows that many Nigerians’ morality is mediated by political loyalties and primordial solidarity.  

My first, admittedly visceral, social media reaction to the video, which was shared widely, was to call Senator Abbo a “senatorial beast” and a “medieval idiot” who should be suspended from the senate as a first resort and recalled by his constituents as a final action. While the update was generally well-received a band of self-identified northern Christians launched vicious personal attacks on me on Twitter and attributed my condemnation of Senator Abbo to the fact of my being a northern Muslim.

Nonetheless, at the time I shared my update, I frankly had no awareness what Abbo’s religious identity was. I know enough about Adamawa to know that outside of Yola and Jimeta, religious identification merely from the sound of names is always tricky. Until he declared himself the “ambassador of Christ,” which was a day after my social media update, I had no idea that he was a Christian. Nor should it matter.

In any case, in spite of being a northern Muslim who has personally related with Buhari many times in the past and who has personal familiarity with several of his ministers and close aides, I am one of his severest critics. If I were a person who is animated by passions of religious and regional solidarity, I wouldn’t have stuck out my neck to become one of the most visible critics of this maladministration.

As I’ve mentioned here before, since 2016, at least three northern governors have reached out to me to arrange a “reconciliation” with Buhari. I froze off their overtures, not because I derive any joy in criticizing the Buhari regime for the hell of it but because it would be a betrayal both of Islam and of the ideals my father brought me up to internalize and cherish if I look the other way while Buhari smolders the foundations of Nigeria with his loathsome, unheard-of incompetence. Certainly not when I was also critical of past southern Christian presidents.

It’s also broadly true that the primary reason Senator Abbo’s barbarous brutality toward the innocent nursing mother is attracting official consequence is that he is not a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Had he been an APC member, the authenticity of the video would have been called into question, the same way Buhari wondered “what technology was used” to show Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano collecting kickbacks from contractors in several video clips.

The APC propaganda machine even hired an IT professional to write a column about “deepfake technology” just to muddle the waters and cast doubts on the authenticity of the obviously credible videos of the governor accepting bribes.

As I pointed out in a recent social media update, when I see Senator Abbo, I see a violent thug who should be in jail, who has no business being a senator, but APC minions see a PDP man who must be punished for not being an APC man. When I see Governor Ganduje, I also see a malefactor who should be in jail, but APC minions see a party man who must be defended and protected.

For instance, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, didn’t see an aggressive and violent assaulter when he looked at Abbo; she saw a PDP man. In a July 2, 2019 tweet, she wrote: “To think that this PDP guy was said to have ‘defeated’ one of our most respected female parliamentarians, Senator Binta Masi Garba. The Senate must not protect him. He should be charged. The footage is enough evidence. He deserves to be in Prison.”

It’s obvious that had Abbo been an APC man, which he was before he switched parties like all Nigerian politicians do, he would have been defended and protected by the APC propaganda machine. Being in APC cleanses sinners of their iniquities. APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole actually literally said that on January 17, 2019 in Benin City during a political rally. "Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven,” he said.

 If Abbo rejoins APC today, the Senate would no longer investigate him, the police would let him off the hook, and his court case would be withdrawn. And this isn’t hyperbole. Danjuma Goje, a former two-term PDP governor of Gombe who is now an APC senator, has had his years-long N25 billion naira fraud trial by the EFCC summarily dismissed on July 4 after the president intervened.

About a month before a court in Jos dismissed the case, Goje had met with Buhari, withdrew his candidacy for the presidency of the senate, and pledged support for Ahmed Lawan, the presidency’s preferred candidate. Presidential protection from the consequences of his corruption was his recompense for his support for the executive takeover of the legislature.

Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of State for Defence in Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government, also had his corruption trial dismissed after he defected to APC So was Godswill Akpabio, a former two-term PDP governor and Senate Minority Leader who defected to APC. That was precisely what Oshiomhole meant when he said, "Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.”

This moral double standard isn’t exclusive to APC, to be sure. When PDP held sway, it also deployed law enforcement agencies to fight political battles and to reward loyalty. The EFCC was always an unthinking police dog doing the bidding of its master even during Obasanjo’s time. However, PDP wasn’t this brazen-faced in its assault on morality and basic decency.

 It had sense enough to deceive Nigerians with token, inconsequential convictions of its own people to justify going after its opponents. For instance, former Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun was tried and found guilty of corruption. Former Minister of Internal Affairs Sunday Afolabi was tried over a $2 million contract scam.

Former Minister of Education Fabian Osuji was dismissed from Obasanjo’s cabinet and prosecuted over an alleged N55 million bribe. Bode George, a close political associate of Obasanjo’s and former PDP Deputy National Chairman, was tried, convicted, and jailed over an N84 billion fraud while he was chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa and Ayo Fayose of Ekiti were PDP governors who were impeached and removed from office for alleged corruption under a PDP government.

In Buhari’s regime, unfortunately, intelligence and common sense are so scarce that no one in the highest reaches of the power structure can even suggest, much less attempt, the replication of the sort of anti-corruption showmanship we saw under Obasanjo. No one can come up with the idea of trying and convicting a few corrupt party men to justify going after bigger political enemies.

In Buhari’s Nigeria, political loyalty is the currency with which to buy immunity from the consequences of corruption and other forms of moral turpitude. Abbo hasn’t learned that yet.

Buhari’s Incoming Ministers
Muhammadu Buhari said this week that he would only appoint people "I personally know" as ministers, which is another telltale signal of impending in-your-face nepotism and subnationalism. Given that he is a reclusive, inward-looking bigot who feels like fish out of water outside his primordial comfort zone, it’s easy to guess the type of people he "personally" knows.

Nonetheless, if personal familiarity with him is the sole criterion for appointing ministers, what's taking him so long? What's difficult about appointing his relatives, friends, and acquaintances as ministers? This man represents the worst of Nigeria, the personification of the vilest form of incompetence we ever witnessed as a country.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Buhari is the Single Greatest Danger to the Fulani

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

On the surface, it sounds counterintuitive, even ridiculously counterfactual, to suggest that an unreflective Fulani supremacist like Muhammadu Buhari is the single greatest threat to members of his ethnic group. But it’s true. Here is why.

Although I had always been aware of this fact, it was actually a Fulani person who caused me to develop a heightened consciousness of it. In a lengthy phone conversation last weekend, a cosmopolitan Nigerian of Fulani ethnicity shared with me his deep worries about the deepening animus toward the Fulani all over Nigeria.

In his 1983 pamphlet titled The Trouble with Nigeria, Chinua Achebe talked of “the national resentment of the Igbo.” If Achebe were alive, he would probably agree that the Fulani have displaced the Igbo from this position. In most parts of Nigeria today, the Fulani are feared, resented, reviled, and avoided like never before.

To be sure, inter-ethnic relations have always been intensely conflictual right from Nigeria’s founding, and fear of “Fulani domination” is an enduring anxiety in both the South and in the Christian North. But the sort of mass resentment of the Fulani that has enveloped the country in the last few years since Buhari has been “president” has no precedent.

My Fulani interlocutor attributed this to Buhari’s unprecedentedly explicit favoritism toward the Fulani even when, as he said, “the favoritism does nothing to advance the living conditions of the average Fulani person.” Bloody farmer/herder clashes aren’t new, but they took a different dimension when Buhari appointed himself as the chief defender of and spokesperson for Fulani herders where studied neutrality from him would have been helpful.

He initially said the Fulani don’t have guns, only carry sticks, and therefore couldn’t be responsible for the bloodstained violence attributed to them. When the facts later incontrovertibly contradicted his claim, he changed tack and said the Fulani who murdered farmers with guns weren’t Nigerian Fulani. He said they were foreign Fulani.

“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya,” he said. “When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.”

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of a particularly horrendous mass slaughter in Benue, which provoked mass outrage in the country, Buhari told Benue elders who came to plead for his intervention, “I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen.” The murderers can’t simultaneously be foreign Fulanis “trained and armed by Gaddadafi of Libya” and be the “countrymen” of their victims in Benue.

Everyone in the Buhari regime took a cue from the “president”: whatever you may do and say, never blame the Fulani for anything. That was why presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, in defense of “cattle colonies,” once told Nigerians to choose between their land and their lives. The defense minister also routinely blamed incessant bloodletting in the land on the enactment of “anti-grazing laws” in some states of the federation. Never mind that violent upheavals between farmers and herders predated “anti-grazing” laws and that they episodically erupt even in states that have no such laws, including in far northern states.

A day after herders massacred more than 200 people in Plateau State in June 2018, the presidency issued the following statement: "According to information available to the Presidency, about 100 cattle had been rustled by a community in Plateau State, and some herdsmen were killed in the process." No official investigation had been conducted when the statement was issued. The statement therefore came across as a knee-jerk defense of the herders by the presidency, which only inflamed passions.

Now, there is no difference between the president’s media team and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association. The president’s media team now customarily issues press statements to defend herders and even justify or explain away mass murders committed by herders.

As I said earlier, there is no parallel for this sort of naked ethnic partisanship in Nigeria’s entire history. When the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) became a mass murdering machine of northerners in Yorubaland, Obasanjo never defended them even once, even though OPC was fiercely pro-Obasanjo at the time. He gave orders to shoot on sight any OPC thug who disturbed the peace. Even at that, we in the North weren’t impressed. We wanted him to do more.

Only former president Goodluck Jonathan is on record as having defended the terrorism of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). In the aftermath of a terrorist attack in 2010, which MEND owned up to, Jonathan said, “We know those behind the attack and the persons sponsoring them. They are terrorists, not MEND. The name of MEND that operates in Niger Delta was only used. I grew up in the Niger Delta so nobody can claim to know Niger Delta than [sic] myself, because I am from Niger Delta.”

In an October 16, 2010 column titled “A MENDacious President,” I called out Jonathan’s “unreasoning ethno-regional chauvinism” and pointed out that no past president had ever defended the transgressions committed by his people so brazenly like he did. So did many other columnists. What we thought was Jonathan’s unexampled defense of the terrorism of his kinfolk has now paled in comparison with Buhari’s.

As my friend pointed out, when a father of many children, through his words and deeds, habitually shows undisguised preference to one child, he unwittingly exposes that child to envy, hatred, and even gang-up among his siblings. It’s a natural human instinct.

The “Ruga” initiative, which had been unwisely called “cattle colonies,” provoked raw emotions because it was perceived as yet another intentional act of parental indulgence to a favored, pampered child to the exclusion of others.

Nevertheless, it helps to remember that the Fulani are just as human as anyone else, and there are several of them who are uncomfortable with the current state of affairs. But the current climate of unreasoning mass panic makes it seem like Fulanis are an undifferentiated collective of murderous villains. That’s both dangerous and inaccurate. Buhari shares the largest blame in this.

Misplaced Focus on Senator Abbo's Age
The average life expectancy for Nigerian men, according to the World Health Organization, is 54.7 years, yet many Nigerians call a 41-year-old senator a "youth" and attribute his thuggish idiocy to his age. Some even go so far as to say that his behavior represents a diminution of the arguments for the "Not Too Young To Run" initiative.

For starters, a 41-year-old person is NO "youth" by any definition of the term anywhere in the world. The UN defines youth as people between the ages of 15 and 24. In Nigeria, “youth” officially refers to people between the ages of 18 and 35. Second, Senator Abbo didn't need the "Not Too Young to Run” law be to be a senator. The original minimum age requirement to be a senator was 35. He is 41. That means he would have been qualified to run for the senate—and even for the presidency since the minimum age to be president was 40—even if the bill hadn't been passed into law.

Third, most past Nigerian military dictators ruled Nigeria in their 30s. Why are we making it seem like it's an undeserved favor to allow young people to rule? Abbo is a violent bully; his age is immaterial to this fact.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Mercenary “Investigative Journalism” in Service of Fraud

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

As a scholar and teacher of journalism, I am troubled by an emerging character of Nigeria’s diasporan and homeland digital-native news formation, which had functioned as alternative outlets for the sort of critical journalism that the homeland legacy news media have abandoned. 

They start by attracting attention to themselves through what seems like uncompromisingly adversarial journalism against venality in government. But just when they succeed in persuading people to invest faith in their journalistic integrity, they cash out and become indistinguishable from, and sometimes worse than, the compromised homeland legacy media they were thought to be an alternative to.

It started from Elendu Reports, the first successful diasporan citizen media outfit, which, after sensationally unmasking high-profile corruption in the high reaches of government in Nigeria in 2005, turned around to furtively serve as “media consultant” to the same politicians it exposed as venal. Most other online-only news outlets have followed this template, the latest being the dubiously named “International Centre for Investigative Journalism” (ICIR). (Neither its reportorial purview nor its workforce is “international,” but it ignorantly calls itself one nonetheless).

I became aware of ICIR after it routinely tagged me to its reports on Twitter about a year ago. It appeared to be committed to the sort of critical enterprise journalism that has gone out of fashion in Nigeria but that is crucial to sustaining democracy. So I subscribed to its news feed.

Although I liked what the site did, there was always something fundamentally defective about its reporting. It usually lacked depth, thematic coherence, and intellectual sophistication. The quality of English of its reports was and still is also bewilderingly dreadful. It appears like a crucial criterion to be hired as a reporter on the site is an ability to demonstrate capacity to write illiterate English, to show contempt for grammatical correctness and completeness, and to write mind-numbing clichés and solecisms.

But I chalked this up to the possibility that the owners of the site had the passion to uncover sleaze in government but lacked the education to do so. That was good enough for me. I thought they might improve in the coming years. Nevertheless, before they even gained traction in the Nigerian public sphere, they have chosen to cash out.

On June 24, the site published what it purported to be a “fact-check” of “social media influencers who shared fake news during the 2019 election.” I had been alerted several weeks in advance that some people had been “commissioned” by Bola Tinubu’s media team in Lagos to both launch an aggressive media onslaught on my person and to buy credibility for Buhari’s fraudulent “reelection,” which I have spent a great deal of energy exposing as the most barefacedly duplicitous election in Nigeria’s history.

I thought this would come in the form of the predictably sterile “attack” pieces in newspapers and on social media platforms, which I am already used to and for which I have developed a thick skin since Goodluck Jonathan’s days. But my informant said, “This would be different.”

Just when I got tired of waiting, a “Damilola” who said she was a reporter for “SaharaReporters” sent me a WhatsApp message weeks ago about videos of rigging that I shared on Twitter during the presidential election. She said she wanted to know the source of the videos or whether, in fact, I witnessed the events in the videos. No one who has even a day’s training in journalism would ask me those sorts of boneheaded questions.

First, the videos had gone viral before I shared them, so I couldn’t possibly be their original source. Second, the “reporter” obviously knows that I live in the United States and that I couldn’t have witnessed the rigging in the videos. If, for any reason, I did, I would have stated so—and would be the first to share them. Most importantly, though, no real journalist does a story about other journalists’ confidential sources of news, although I was, in fact, not the source for the videos she “fact-checked.”

The “fact-check,” which was published on ICIR’s website (and not Sahara Reporters) by two bylines, said I shared two “fake” videos during the 2019 election. The first so-called fake video was of INEC officials furiously thumb printing ballot papers on behalf of a political party. I wrote the following to accompany the video: “See shameless rigging by INEC officials: Thumb printing on an industrial scale.” I didn't mention the year this happened, and said nothing about what party was a beneficiary of the mass thumb printing because I couldn't tell that with any certainty, although other people who shared it before me said it was during the 2019 election.

The “reporters” said their “investigation” confirmed that the video indeed showed INEC officials thumb printing ballot papers except that they found it wasn't during the 2019 election. But I never said it was. Nevertheless, the “reporters” said I "implied" it was during the 2019 election. Was sort of “fact checking” is that?

You can’t fact-check what’s on my mind. That’s babalawo (or is it mamalawo) journalism! I am capable of saying it was during the 2019 election if I wanted to, but I didn’t. Others, however, did. The fact of INEC officials feverishly thumb printing ballot papers on a mass scale in support of a party, irrespective of when it happened, was worth sharing, particularly in light of similar things that went on at the time, which the second video confirmed, as I’ll show shortly. So the video wasn’t fake by any definition of the term. If anything, it’s the analysis of it by the venal, uneducated philistines masquerading as “reporters” that is fake.

The second so-called fake video they said I shared was real even by their own analysis. They confessed that they “set out to debunk many videos we believed to be old or not related to the elections. We were not prepared to deal with actual, blatant rigging, not with the PVCs and not with the improved vigilance that was supposed to be a key feature of the 2019 polls.” If you ignore the woolly, incoherent thought process of the sentence, you will see their bias seeping out like fetid pus. They were disappointed to find the video to be an authentic “recent case” case of rigging. All I said about the video was: “Why would anyone accept the outcome of an election like this? Democracy is supposed to be one person, one vote.”

They agreed that the video, which clearly showed INEC officials rigging on behalf of a party, was from the 2019 election. They only said they couldn’t “emphatically state that those stamping and thumb printing the ballot papers are INEC officials” and that they “could not distinctly make out the party being thumb-printed.” That’s blatant partisan claptrap. They could “fact-check” the thought-processes that resided in the inner recesses of my mind, which I didn’t verbalize, but they couldn’t fact-check an obvious fraud in a video. Nevertheless, neither the video nor what I said about it was inaccurate by any stretch of the imagination.

Can’t Tinubu’s media team get smarter mercenaries for their hit jobs than these pitifully lowbrow vulgar buffoons? Other dimwitted daggers for hire like a faceless, ignorant “Okanga Agila” have joined the fray to attack me.

But the truth remains that it was Buhari’s government that hired Israeli disinformation agents to spread fake news on social media against his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar. According to a May 17, 2019 Associated Press news story titled “Israeli Disinformation Campaign Targeted Nigerian Election,” “One of the pages that Facebook cancelled appeared filled with viral misinformation attacking Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria. The page’s banner image showed Abubakar as Darth Vader, the Star Wars villain, holding up a sign reading, ‘Make Nigeria Worse Again’.” The AP story added: “The report also featured a page that explicitly lionized and boosted Buhari, with amateur videos eulogizing the accomplishments of his presidency as though he were not locked in a tight battle for re-election.”

Interestingly, the ICIR “investigative report” on fake news only briefly referred to this report but didn’t point to the fact that it was Buhari who hired an Israeli firm to spread fake news during the election. ICIR has killed itself before it’s even had a chance to live. That’s such a shame!

Related Articles:
ICIR's Sponsored Fake "Fact-Checking" about Fake News
Propagandocracy and the Buhari Media Centre
Nigerian Media as Comforters of the Comfortable, Afflicters of the Afflicted

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

ICIR’s Sponsored Fake “Fact-Checking” About Fake News

By Farooq A. Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Several weeks ago, someone from Lagos alerted me to what he said was a “hit piece” being hatched against me from Bola Tinubu’s media team in Lagos because of my consistently piercing scrutiny of the Buhari fascist monocracy and particularly because I’ve been in the forefront of efforts to call global attention to the unprecedented electoral fraud that birthed Buhari’s illegitimate “second term.” I told him I was already used to that. But he said, “This would be different.”


When, weeks later, a “Damilola” who said she was from “SaharaReporters” sent me a vacuous, grammatically challenged WhatsApp message about videos I shared on Twitter in February, I didn’t suspect anything. I should have. The questions weren’t just astonishingly illiterate, they were also curiously unprofessional. She wrote, “Sir, we would like to know how you got this information or maybe you even witnessed them.” Something told me the “reporter” was some two-bit mercenary scammer, so I sent a WhatsApp message to Sahara Reporters’ Omoyele Sowore to ask if he had any person by the name of “Damilola” in his reportorial corps.

I told him I was curious because Sahara Reporters built its fame on the strength of stories it wrote based on anonymous sources and on the protection of the confidentiality of its sources. Why would it have a reporter doing a story asking someone to reveal his sources? Sowore said he would find out who Damilola was and get back to me. He didn’t get round to doing that.

Weeks after this, a “Damilola Banjo,” along with a Shola Lawal, published a tendentious, poorly written, inaccurate screed on the “International Center for Investigative Reporting” (ICR) website that purports to be a “fact-check” of “social media influencers who shared fake news during the 2019 election.” All the pieces of the puzzles have now fallen into place. This is obviously the Tinubu media team hit piece that someone had alerted me to. By the way, how did a reporter for “SaharaReporters” end up on ICIR? Well, that’s irrelevant. Let’s look at the crying factual poverty and malicious ignorance in the “fact-check.”

So of the scores of videos I shared on Twitter during the 2019 election, the mercenary rube of a “reporter” that goes by the name “Damilola” found only two to be “fake.” The first so-called fake video I shared, which had already gone viral at the time I shared it, merely said INEC officials were mass thumb printing ballot papers. And that was precisely what happened in the video. I didn't mention the year this happened, and said nothing about what party was a beneficiary of the mass thumb printing because I couldn't tell that with any certainty, although other people who shared it before me said it was during the 2019 election.

The two “reporters’” needlessly tortuous analysis confirmed that the video indeed showed INEC officials thumb printing ballot papers except that they said it wasn't during the 2019 election. But I never said it was. I merely wrote: “See shameless rigging by INEC officials: Thumb printing on an industrial scale.” Nevertheless, the “reporters” said I "implied" it was during the 2019 election. Was sort of “fact checking” is that?

You can’t fact-check what’s on my mind. That’s babalawo (or is it mamalawo) journalism! I am capable of saying it was during the 2019 election, but I didn’t. Others did. The fact of INEC officials furiously thumb printing ballot papers on a mass scale in support of a party, irrespective of when it happened, is worth sharing, particularly in light of similar things that went on at the time, which the second video confirmed, as I’ll show shortly. So the video wasn’t fake by any definition of the term. If anything, it’s the analysis of it by the venal, uneducated philistines masquerading as “reporters” that is fake.

The second so-called fake video they said I shared was real even by their own analysis. They confessed that they “set out to debunk many videos we believed to be old or not related to the elections. We were not prepared to deal with actual, blatant rigging, not with the PVCs and not with the improved vigilance that was supposed to be a key feature of the 2019 polls.” If you ignore the atrocious grammar, you will see their bias seeping out like fetid pus. They were disappointed to find the video to be “a recent case.” All I said about the video was: “Why would anyone accept the outcome of an election like this? Democracy is supposed to be one person, one vote.”

They agreed that the video, which clearly showed rigging, was from the 2019 election. Although they claimed they were on a “fact-finding” mission, they conceded that they “cannot emphatically state that those stamping and thumb printing the ballot papers are INEC officials” and that they “could not distinctly make out the party being thumb-printed.” What sort of idiotic “fact-checking” is that? That’s blatant partisan claptrap. They could “fact-check” the thought-processes that resided in the inner recesses of my mind, which I didn’t verbalize, but they couldn’t fact-check an obvious fraud in a video. In any case, my tweet didn’t say INEC officials were thumb printing for APC, although that was what appeared to have happened in the video. So what was fake about my video and why was it the object of their “analysis”? Neither the video nor what I said about it was inaccurate by any stretch of the imagination.

So, although they agreed that the second video is authentic, they went ahead nonetheless to throw juvenile insults at me, such as calling me a “professor of falsehood” and then this: “High profile Twitter account holders such as Mr. Kperogi and Senator Melaye are still active on social media and it is conceivable they will share more fake news in the future. That makes us worry. What will they post next?” What the heck is that? Can’t Tinubu’s media team get smarter mercenaries for their hit jobs than these pitifully lowbrow vulgar buffoons?

They also claimed I shared the videos with my 30,000 plus followers, even though at the time I shared the videos, I didn't have that number of followers on Twitter. I had only a little over 20,000 then. You would think "fact-checkers" would know that😂. They also said I have 70,000 plus followers on social media. That's inaccurate as well. If you add my Facebook fan page and my Facebook “like” page, I have a little over 100,000 followers, but thousands of people have way more social media following than that. In any case, I shared the videos only on Twitter, which were first shared by thousands of other Twitter users before I did. So it's unclear why they chose to make reference to my social media following.

These nescient, mercenary ICIR “reporters” need an education more than anything else. Their sponsored hit piece purports to be a "fact-check," but it is gratuitously abusive and opinionated, and is unmoored to even the most basic requirements of journalistic integrity. It imputed motives to me and divined motivations for my action. Fact-checks are usually, well, factual. They present information in a neutral, unemotional tone.

The “reporters” were not even smart enough to conceal their pro-regime biases. The only "fake" videos and photos from the 2019 election they found worthy of "fact-checking" are those that disfavor the Buhari regime. There were no pro-Buhari "fake" videos and photos, apparently. These disreputably illiterate hustlers obviously set out to not just discredit me in hopes of blunting my critical searchlight on the honchos of the fascist regime that hired them, they also want to legitimize Buhari’s universally discredited electoral robbery. In the process, they’re polluting journalism. Such a shame!