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Intellectual 419: Philip Emeagwali and Gabriel Oyibo Compared

By Farooq A. Kperogi Ask an average Nigerian to name the country’s most famous scientists. In all likelihood, they would mention “Dr....

By Farooq A. Kperogi

Ask an average Nigerian to name the country’s most famous scientists. In all likelihood, they would mention “Dr.” (or “Professor”) Philip Emeagwali and Dr. Gabriel Oyibo.  This, in a way, is excusable ignorance. 

After all, the great President Bill Clinton has been scammed into undeservedly calling Emeagwali “one of the great minds of the information age” and the “Bill Gates of Africa.” And such prestigious Western news organizations as TIME, CNN and BBC fell for Emeagwali’s smartly orchestrated intellectual fraud.

Philip Emeagwali
As for Dr. Gabriel Oyibo, he was for many years touted in the Nigerian media as the great successor to Albert Einstein, as a four-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Physics, and as the inventor of the "almighty" GAGUT (God Almighty Grand Unified Theorem), which he farcically calls “the theory of everything.” On the basis of his comically delusional intellectual fraud, Oyibo has been celebrated in Nigeria as one of the greatest scientists that ever lived.
Gabriel Oyibo
However, the elaborate intellectual fraud of Emeagwali and Oyibo are now unraveling rapidly. SaharaReporters, the enormously popular, muckraking diasporan citizen media site, has done a series of exposés on the intellectual fraud of Philip Emeagwali. At least two mainstream Nigerian newspaper columnists have done the same in the last few weeks. I'd had cause to call attention to the intellectual chicanery of these characters in my July 15, 2006 Weekly Trust column, then called “Notes from Louisiana,” which can be found on this blog.

Oyibo and Emeagwali are certainly different in many respects. But they are also similar in more ways than one. First, Oyibo started out as a productive scholar who actually published a number of peer-reviewed, scientific articles before he degenerated into his current patently psychoneurotic state (I will give evidence for my conclusion shortly); Emeagwali, on the other hand, never had a Ph.D., is/was never a professor by any understanding of the term, has never published in any peer-reviewed journal, nor owned any patent—all contrary to his claims. However, Emeagwali did win an actual award—the Gordon Bell Prize— whose significance he has exaggerated beyond the bounds of reason and decency.

Note, though, that Oyibo also claims to be a perennial nominee for the Nobel Prize in Physics. This is pretty much like Emeagwali's fraudulent claims to being "a" or "the" father of the Internet. 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. I don't know if this has changed, but when I was in Nigeria it was customary to identify Oyibo in Nigerian newspaper narratives as a "three-time Nobel Prize nominee in Physics." In the Afro-romantic digital black diaspora, in fact, it is usual to identify him as a four-time Nobel Prize nominee!

Now, the Nobel Committee does NOT disclose the identities of the nominees for any of its prizes until at least 50 years after the prize has been announced. How in the world did Oyibo and the Guardian's Laolu Akande know that Oyibo was a nominee for the Physics Prize? In fact, Omoyele Sowore, publisher of and former citizen reporter for the now tame and compromised ElenduReports.comunmasked this fraud years ago

He sent emails to the Nobel Committee asking to know if Oyibo had ever been a nominee for their Physics Prize. Of course, they flatly disclaimed it. They said it was impossible for anybody to know if he was a nominee for any Prize until several decades after the fact.

So, in more ways than one, Oyibo is guilty of the same intentionally fraudulent self-promotion that Emeagwali has a dubious honor for. Like Emeagwali, he currently feeds on this fraud since he, like Emeagwali, is effectively jobless now. Plus, Oyibo stakes his claims to unparalleled scientific genius on the basis of his ludicrously incoherent and insane GAGUT theory, which hasn't been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal or book, although he has a vanity, self-published book that he flaunts every time—much like Emeagwali's claims to having 41 patents, which have turned out to be patents in sophisticated, intricately multi-layered intellectual frauds. 

But anyone who has followed Oyibo's life closely will agree that the man needs help—seriously. The brother has lost it. He has no job as I write now. He left the university system as an untenured associate professor years ago. (Hmm.... Can you imagine a four-time Nobel Prize nominee in Physics who no U.S. university or research institution wants to touch with a barge pole?) If you need evidence of Oyibo’s undisguised psychic imbalance, read his deleted profile on Wikipedia, which he wrote of himself.

Here is a sample from the profile for your amusement: “Honors and Awards: Professor G. Oyibo has been recognized as being closer to GOD (intellectually and in other ways), than any other human being because of the GAGUT discovery. He has also been recognized by the Nigerian Federal Government as Mathematical Genius which was inscribed on a Nigerian Postage Stamp that was issued in 2005. Professor G. Oyibo has also been recognized as the Greatest Genius and the Most Intelligent Human Being ever created by GOD. He has also been recognized as the Greatest Mathematical Genius of all time. Professor G. Oyibo has been recognized by the Nigerian Senate, representing the entire population of Nigeria of over 200 million people, through a Senate Motion No. 151 page 320 presented in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Order Paper on Tuesday, 15th March, 2005."

If the above is not proof of a man who is truly in need of psychiatric help, I don't know what is. 
Emeagwali and Oyibo honored on Nigerian postage stamps by the Nigerian government in 2005
But the greater concern for me, however, is that our hunger for heroes has predisposed us to be easily susceptible to all kinds of cheap intellectual frauds. By officially celebrating Emeagwali and Oyibo, the Nigerian state has inadvertently become an accomplice in intellectual 419. And by engraving their images on our postage stamps, the Nigerian state has unwittingly and permanently stamped deceit and false pretenses (otherwise known as 419) on our national consciousness—and on our international image. That’s a shame.

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  1. Sir, kindly supply me with a list of peer-reviewed publications with your name either as lead author or just a free-loader. I am just curious here. Let me make clear that I am not taking sides in this Emeagwali issue as I dismissed him a long time ago as just another big talker.

  2. You need to be probed. Don't worry when i come down to GA, i need to tell a friend of mine to take a check on u.


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