"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: October 2019

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Fulani and Origin of the Names “Yoruba” and “Yamuri”

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

Former Minister of Culture Femi Fani-Kayode started a healthy national conversation about the constructedness of collective identities in Nigeria when he repudiated his “Yoruba” identity because he said the name owes etymological debts to the Fulani and that it has pejorative denotations and connotations. This is, of course, both ahistorical and factually inaccurate.

As I pointed out in my preliminary intervention on his claims on social media, the name “Yariba” was first attested in a treatise by a 16th-century Songhai Islamic scholar by the name of Ahmad Baba to refer to the people of the ancient Oyo Empire, which included all of present-day Oyo State, most of Osun State—and parts of Kwara and some western Nigerian states.

Ahmad Baba’s 1613 essay, titled “Al-kashf wa-l-bayān li-aṣnāfmajlūb al-Sūdān” (translated into English as “The Exposition and Explanation Concerning the Varieties of Transported Black Africans”), mentioned “Yariba” among ethnic groups Muslims were justified to enslave.

In his 1806 treatise titled "Bayan Wujub Al-Hijra,Ala L-Ibad,” Sheikh Usmanu Dan Fodiyo referenced Ahmad Baba’s essay and contested some of its claims. Ahmad Baba had written that “the people of Kano, some of Zakzak [Zaria?], the people of Katsina, the people of Gobir, and all of the Songhay” were Muslims who could never be enslaved.

Since Dan Fodio didn’t think the Islam in Hausaland at the time was authentic, he needed to justify his jihad, so he responded to Ahmad Baba posthumously by asserting that what was true of Ahmadu Baba’s claims 200 years ago, “might not necessarily be true at all other times, since every scholar relates what he sees in his own days.”

Dan Fodio’s son, Muhammad Bello, wrote Infaq al-mansur in 1813 where he also responded to Ahmad Baba’s 1613 essay, and had cause to mention “Yariba.” In other words, the name “Yariba” had been used to refer to people of the ancient Oyo Empire at least 200 years before Dan Fodio and his son, Muhammad Bello, used it. That invalidates the claim that it was the “Fulani” who “gave” the name “Yariba” to people in today’s western Nigeria. In any case, “Yariba” doesn’t mean anything in Fulfulde.

As etymologists remind us, before a word is attested in writing, it must have existed several years in demotic speech. That means “Yariba” had been in use much earlier than 1613 when it first appeared in writing—which is hundreds of years before the Fulani encountered the Yoruba.

Now that we have established that it is chronologically impossible for the Fulani to have “given” the name “Yariba” to Oyo people, where did the name come from? It’s obvious that Songhai people (who are now found in Niger Republic, parts of Benin Republic, and parts of Mali as Zarma and Dendi) have called Oyo people some version of “Yariba” since at least the 1500s. But the name may not be original to them, either.

Dr. Hussaini Abdu, in his forthcoming book titled Partitioned Borgu: State, Society and Politics in a West African Border Region, makes the persuasive case that the name “Yoruba” owes lexical provenance to the Baatonu people of Borgu, Oyo’s immediate northern neighbors, whom contemporary Yoruba people call Bariba, Baruba or Ibariba. The Baatonu word for Oyo people is “Yoru” (singular), “Yorubu” (plural). The third person reference to the people is “Yoruba.”

“The name was probably sourced from Songhay contact with Borgu, later reinforced through interviews with Baatonu slaves in Sierra Leone and popularised by European travellers like Clapperton and missionary documentation, such as the works of Samuel Johnson in the nineteenth century,” he wrote.

This isn’t a far-fetched proposition because Songhai, Borgu, and Oyo had deep cultural and historical ties. For one, it was Songhai-speaking Mande people from ancient Mali who brought Islam to Borgu and to Yoruba land, which explains why Islam is called “imale” in the Yoruba language.

Two, the three polities share several common cultural vocabularies. For instance, recently, Professor Oyeronke Oyewumi of New York’s Stony Brook University and daughter of the current Soun of Ogbomoso, asked me if the term wundia, which means a young unmarried woman in Yoruba, had origins in the Baatonu language because, as she said, “it is clear to me that it’s not an original Yoruba word.”

Well, the Yoruba wundia occurs in the Baatonu language as “wondia,” but it turns out that the word is originally Songhai where it occurs as “wondia” in both Dendi and Zarma—with the same meaning. This is just one of several vocabularies shared by Yoruba, Songhai, and Borgu people. In fact, as I showed in my May 13, 2012 article titled “The Arabic Origins of Common Yoruba Words,” several Arabic words in Yoruba such as “alafia,” “alufa,” “borokini,”  “tobi,” “suuru,” “wahala,” “faari,” “anfani,” etc., which also occur in the Baatonu language in the same lexical forms, came to the language by way of the Songhai.

So it’s no surprise that there is a vast circulation of cultural and ethnonymic registers between these polities. Interestingly, the Baatonu people (more than 80 percent of whom are now in Benin Republic) don’t call other Yoruba groups “Yoruba.” For instance, they call the Yoruboid groups in Benin Republic Kawo (plural Kaabu or Kawobu). “Yorubu” is reserved only for Oyo Yoruba.
It’s obvious that Ahmad Baba wrote “Yoruba” as “Yariba” in his 1613 essay because Arabic, the language in which he wrote, does not have the vowel “o.” The three dominant vowels in Arabic are “a,” “I,” and “u.”

Obviously, both the Fulani and the Hausa copied the name “Yariba” from the Songhai who in turn copied it from the Baatonu people of Borgu. I speak the Baatonu language natively; if the name “Yoru” had a meaning in the language, that meaning is lost now. But there is not the faintest whiff of derogation in the name when the Baatonu people use it to refer to Oyo people. Nor does it mean anything even in Songhai, which my mother’s relatives speak natively.

What is significant, however, is that people of Western Nigeria aren’t called “Yoruba” today because the Borgu people called them so, or because they were identified by a version of that name by Songhai, Hausa, and Fulani people. They self-identify as “Yoruba” precisely because returnee slaves of Yoruba descent chose the name, popularized it, and encouraged people in the region to embrace it.

John Raban’s 1832 book titled The Vocabulary of the Eyo, or Aku, a Dialect of West Africa is perhaps the first to mention the name “Yoruba” in writing. Then in 1843, Samuel Ajayi Crowther published A Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language. Raban, like Crowther, was a reverend gentleman and returnee Yoruba slave in Sierra Leone.

 In 1859, Nigeria’s first modern newspaper, called Iwe Irohin fun awon Egba ati Yoruba (Yoruba for “newspaper for the Egba and Yoruba people”) hit the newsstands. The name of the paper suggests that when the newspaper was founded, the “Yoruba” (read: Oyo people) were regarded as different from the Egba and other Yoruba subgroups, although the language was considered similar enough to have one newspaper for all of them.

It was Samuel Ajayi Crowther who in the nineteenth century actively worked to encourage the amalgam of related linguistic groups in western Nigeria to adopt the name “Yoruba” as their endonym. So an exonym (name given to a people by others) was adopted as an endonym (name by which a group self-identifies) through the instrumentality of an outsider who made himself an insider. Of course, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group continued and strengthened Crowther’s initiative.

Professor Stephen Akintoye has also done a wonderful job of exploding Chief Fani-Kayode’s claims in his short article titled “About the Name ‘Yoruba’.” Nevertheless, he misstated a few facts. He said it is Arabs who call Yoruba people “Yarbawa” and that only Yoruba people call Arabs “Larubawa.”

"Larubawa" is actually a Hausa word. It's the plural form for Arabs in the Hausa language. The singular form is Balarabe. Yarbawa is also the plural form for Yoruba people in the Hausa language (the singular is Bayarbe, which some Yoruba people mispronounce as “Berebe”). It's not an Arabic word. Note that "awa" is the lexeme for the plural forms of ethnonyms in the Hausa language. That's why the plural for even the Hausa people themselves in their language is also Hausawa (singular: Bahause).

And “yamiri”? The Fulani didn’t “give” that name to the Igbo. The Hausa did, and it’s derived from an imitation of yem mmiri, Igbo for “give me water.”

Related Articles:
Fulani Did NOT Invent "Yoruba" and "Yamuri"
"Yariba," "Nyamiri," and "Sons and Daughters of Oduduwa"
The Arabic Origins of Common Yoruba Words
Top 10 Yoruba Names You Never Guessed Were Arabic Names
Of Yoruba, Arabic, and Origin of Nigerian Names
Language Families in Nigeria
Mesu Jamba, a Slur Against Ilorin People, is a Linguistic Fraud
Ooni of Ife's Strange Theory of the Yoruba Origins of English
"Mesu Jamba," the Question of Etymological Fallacy, and Other Reactions
Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu's Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism (I)
Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu's Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism (II)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fulani Did NOT Invent “Yoruba” and “Yamuri”

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

This was first published on Facebook and Twitter on October 22, 2019.
Femi Fani-Kayode was reported to have said that he isn't “Yoruba” because “The name ‘Yoruba’ derives from ‘Yariba’ and it means ‘shady and unreliable’” in the Fulani language. That’s not true.

The name “Yoruba” was first attested in a treatise by a 16th-century Songhai scholar by the name of Ahmad Baba al-Massufi al-Timbukti to refer to the people of the ancient Oyo Empire, which included present-day Oyo and Osun states—and parts of Kwara and Lagos states.

The name was adopted and adapted by Muhammad Bello (who later became the Sultan of Sokoto). He referred to Oyo people as “Yariba” in his article on the Oyo Empire. In time, Yariba became the word by which Hausa people called the people of Oyo. The people didn’t have a common collective name for themselves; they self-identified by such names as “Oyo,” Ogbomosho,” “Ife,” “Ijesa,” "Igbomina," etc.
It was Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a returnee slave who claimed to be descended from Yoruba people, who in the nineteenth century actively worked to encourage the amalgam of related linguistic groups in western Nigeria to adopt the name “Yoruba” as their endonym. So an exonym (name given to a people by others) was adopted as an endonym (name by which a group self-identifies) through the instrumentality of an outsider who made himself an insider.
“Yariba” is not a word— and doesn’t mean anything— in either the Fulani language (also called Fulfulde) or the Hausa language. Nor does it mean anything even in Songhai, as I’ll show in my Saturday column. By the way, the Fulani don’t refer to themselves by that name, either. That’s the Hausa exonym for them. They call themselves by some version of "Fulbe." “Hausa” itself, interestingly, is not native to the Hausa! It's the Songhai word for "southerner."
And “yamiri”? It’s also not a Fulani word. It’s a relatively recent Hausa word for the Igbo, and it’s derived from an imitation of mmiri, the Igbo word for water. During the Civil War, Hausa soldiers reported Biafrans as universally asking for “mmiri,” which sounded to their ears as “yamiri.” In time, it became the name for the people. I’ll say more on this in my column next Saturday.

Postscript:
Several people pointed out that the name "yamiri" predated the Nigerian Civil War.

"Yariba," "Nyamuri," and "Sons and Daughters of Oduduwa"

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
I've been deluged with so much work these past few days that I've not had the time to come on social media. I just became aware of Femi Fani-Kayode's response to my preliminary response to his claims about how the names "Yoruba" and "Yamuri" came about.

My Saturday column in the Nigerian Tribune will respond, with facts, not emotions, to his totally ahistorical claim that the Fulani "gave" the names "Yariba" and "Nyamiri" to Yoruba and Igbo people. They did NOT!
Nonetheless, I'm glad we're having this conversation. When I wrote in 2005 that most contemporary collective identities in Nigeria, including the "Yoruba" identity, are as constructed and as relatively recent as Nigeria itself, I got a lot of predictable pushback from some of the same people who're now recognizing this fact. That's progress.
Fani-Kayode talks of the "sons and daughters of Oduduwa" as if this were an unproblematized identity category. It's not. As my friend Professor Moses Ochonu showed in his work, even the Oduduwa myth of origin for Yoruba people—along with other popular myths of origin such as the Bayajidda myth for Hausa people, the Kisra myth for Borgu people, etc.—was a colonial project.
Colonialists commissioned folklorists, Ochonu pointed out, to record myths of origins of different Nigerian communities. They then isolated and privileged some myths and suppressed others. The Oduduwa myth of origin wasn't the only myth of origin in Western Nigeria and wasn't originally shared by everyone in the region. Nor was the Bayajidda myth by everyone in Hausaland.
This fact doesn't, of course, invalidate the utility of the myths. Every society needs its myths for internal cohesion and for the politics of group and inter-group identity.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Buhari's Reputation for Philandering

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
I honestly wouldn't have bothered with this issue but for the number of well-meaning people who seem genuinely incredulous that Buhari could have extramarital affairs (as if he were some unerring saint) and, worse, reward his mistresses with appointments. Buhari's womanizing is well-known to both his former military colleagues and people who have been politically associated with him since 2003.
It doesn't bother me, frankly, because we all have our weaknesses. I'm only concerned because he allowed his weakness to influence his politics and policies.

Someone who knows Buhari intimately shared this excerpt of page 10 of Dr. Dele Sobowale's book titled, LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM (IBRAHIM B. BABANGIDA 1985 – 1992) and added that it faithfully captured Buhari.

Sobowale wrote: “Buhari never drank nor smoked. His only known vice was women. He must have been some sort of a sexual athlete. One officer who served with him in two stations had this to say: ‘You can leave your money, bottle of hot drinks or packets of cigarettes with Buhari, go away for several months and return and find nothing would be missing. But leave your girlfriend or sister with him and you might return to find her pregnant.’ That might be an exaggeration but he had that reputation.”

Related Articles:
A Ministry for the Mistress
Buhari's House of Commotion and Mamman Daura's "Glass House"

Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Ministry for the Mistress!

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
I'm surprised that it hasn't quite sunk in for Nigerians that Muhammadu Buhari basically created an entire ministry--the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development-- which had never existed before, for his mistress, Sadiya Umar Farouq, who also brazenly stole and resold food donated to internally displaced people by the Saudi government during the month of Ramadan in 2017.


So even in the holy month of Ramadan when Islam enjoins us to be above board in morals, to care for the needy, to be our best, etc., a self-identified Muslim woman stole food donated to fellow Muslims who are needy and less fortunate than she is, and she's rewarded with a special ministerial appointment by a Muslim president who had affairs with her! Unbelievable!
Note that the ministry created for her has taken over the government agencies that Yemi Osinbajo used to supervise. Such a nice way to minister to a mistress! That's higher than a First Lady's position, in my opinion.

I've also heard from multiple credible sources that a current minister of state who was active in the CPC (Congress for Progressive Change) and also bedeviled by a questionable moral past was Buhari's mistress. Is there any parallel for this? I mean for a "president" to appoint his (former) thieving mistresses as ministers?
Was that what he meant when he said he'd only appoint people who were "personally" known to him? Of course, we know Abba Kyari sold the other ministerial slots to people who weren't "personally" known to Buhari.
Apart from appointing his blood relatives as close aides and illegally extending the service years of some of them (such as his nephew by the name of Abdulkarim Dauda who was due to retire this year), he has at least two former mistresses that we know of as ministers.

 Yet he embodies "integrity." The world's English dictionaries need to extend the semantic boundaries of this word to take account of how Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has resemanticized it.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Buhari’s House of Commotion and Mamman Daura’s “Glass House”

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

A few days before it became grist for Nigeria’s overactive social media rumor mills, a retired general and contemporary of Muhammadu Buhari’s told me, in the course of a 30-minute phone conversation, that Mamman Daura, Buhari’s nephew who is nonetheless older than him by three years, had made up his mind to “get at” Aisha Buhari by arranging a quiet marriage between Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq and Muhammadu Buhari.

He mentioned this as an aside and seemed to expect me to be curious enough about what he had told me to ask further questions. But I didn’t. That appeared to have shocked him, so he asked why I wasn’t piqued by what he had told me. I said it was because it frankly didn’t interest me what Buhari did in his private space.

I'm by no means claiming any moral high grounds here. I think it’s legitimate to be curious about the private lives of public officials whose decisions have consequences for millions of people, but that’s not my own inclination. I care about the private affairs of public officials only if their private affairs impinge on public policy.

That was why, in spite of pressures from friends and social media followers, I kept a studied silence on the social media frenzy over this issue. As I told the general, it means nothing to me that “Buhari has been dating Sadiya since CPC [Congress for Progressive Change] days”; that’s his private business, which, in my opinion, we should be decent enough to respect.

I'm more worried, I told him, by the fact that Sadiya Umar Farouq is minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development even when, according to a two-year-old Daily Nigerian investigation titled “INVESTIGATION: Unmasking the real #Dabinogate beneficiaries,” she allegedly diverted and misappropriated 200 tonnes of date palms (dabino) famously donated to internally displaced persons in the northeast by the Saudi Arabian government in 2017.

She was Federal Commissioner in charge of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons at the time. According to the Daily Nigerian, she “diverted [the 200 tonnes of date palms] to Zamfara State and kept [them] in a warehouse, while the rest was distributed to traditional rulers.”

To steal from humanitarian donations to poor, vulnerable internally displaced people is the vilest, most ignoble, least defensible form of villainy there can ever be. But Buhari has rewarded her eye-wateringly larcenous treachery with an appointment as minister of—of all ministries— Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development, a previously non-existent ministry!

 Why would anyone create a ministry of “humanitarian affairs” and “disaster management” for a person who has a history of insensate cruelty toward people who are victims of disasters and who desperately need but have lacked humanitarian assistance? It’s like appointing a wolf to keep guard over sheep.

Curiously, Nigerians are more interested in her history of alleged romantic entanglements with Buhari (which should be no one’s business) than the fact of her heading a ministry which her past eminently disqualifies her for.

Anyway, why have I chosen to comment on the embarrassing public fight by Buhari’s obviously dysfunctional family even when I initially had no interest in it? Well, it’s because the way Buhari manages— or, more appropriately, mismanages—his immediate family provides insightful clues to how he “ungoverns” Nigeria.

Buhari is a feeble, indecisive, infirm, emotionally dependent person for whom the idea of taking responsibility is alien. People who know him intimately have told me that his psychological and emotional makeup is unsuited for leadership. He is not only a loner; he always relies on others to take decisions for him.

People close to him have told me long before now that Buhari has an innately and enduringly infantile craving for a paternal dictatorship. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the fact that he lost his father at an early age and didn’t quite experience sustained paternal guidance. But Mamman Daura has been Buhari’s emotional and intellectual fortress and his father figure, although they are only about three years apart in age. Daura makes momentous decisions for Buhari and rules on his behalf through Abba Kyari, his protégé.

Mamman Daura is the first son of Buhari’s oldest half-brother from a different mother. That makes Buhari his uncle, and him Buhari’s nephew. Many people, particularly from the South, have a hard time wrapping their heads around this. Well, I have a similar situation. My late father married a younger woman and had his last child when he was 80, so my first daughter is older than my youngest half-brother. My daughter still struggles to call him her uncle.

This is important because Mamman Daura and his sidekick Abba Kyari are the power behind the throne. They constitute the nucleus of the ill-famed Aso Rock cabal that acts as Buhari’s puppeteers. In my October 22, 2016 column titled “Aisha Buhari and the Evil Aso Rock Cabal,” I pointed out that “Buhari is held hostage by an evil, sneaky, corrupt, vulturous, and conniving cabal that ensures that his wife doesn’t see him even in the ‘kitchen,’ the ‘living room,’ or ‘the other room.’

“The BBC interview was Aisha’s vigorous ventilation of pent-up anguish against a cold, calculating, and corrupt cabal that has made Buhari a stranger to his own wife.” It’s the fifth most widely read article of all time on my blog because although it was cryptic, many people, particularly in the North, knew what I was talking about. I was told that the cabal actually met to discuss who divulged this information to me.

It’s supremely emblematic that Mamman Daura (along with his entire family) lives in a wing of the Presidential Villa called the “Glass House,” according to his spoilt, entitled daughter by the name of Fatima Mamman Daura.  “Glass house” is a metaphoric expression that means a position or a situation that invites critical public scrutiny. Derived from the English proverb “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones,” it calls attention to hypocrisy.

And Mamman Daura is a dyed-in-the-wool hypocrite. Although he is a monogamist, he wanted to marry a second wife for his younger uncle until he was shamed into abandoning it. Similarly, in “Editing a Government Newspaper in Nigeria,” a chapter he contributed to a book titled Reporting Africa edited by Olav Stokke, he rhapsodized over editing the New Nigerian that was “owned and subsidized by the Government yet we criticize their action.” He characterized this as an “anomaly neither properly understood by the people generally nor particularly liked by some government officials.” Yet, he is now the intellectual driver of a government that supervises one of the most brutal strangulation of the news media and of freedom of speech itself.

I'm glad that Mamman Daura, Nigeria’s de facto president, is now coming out of the shadows. You can’t live in the Glass House, throw stones at Nigerians, and continue to live in the shadows.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Aisha Buhari herself isn’t the victim— and hero of democracy— she’s positioning herself to be. Her fight against Mamman Daura (and Abba Kyari) is mostly over access to the spoils of governance.

She has been given several concessions by the cabal, but she always wants more. For instance, her older brother by the name of Ahmed Halilu was recently quietly appointed as one of only two executive directors at the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting PLC, among several concessions she has been given. So don’t cry for her. Cry for Nigeria.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Epidemic of Plagiarism in Nigerian Traditional and Social Media

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

It used to be that intellectual thieves simply stole people's creative labor and passed them off as theirs. Well, that still happens. But in the frenetic, exhibitionistic world of social media, plagiarism is taking newer, more insidious, and less explicable forms.

Now, scores of Nigerians habitually pirate other people’s original thoughts, strip the thoughts of the names of their original authors, post them on their social media timelines (or share them on WhatsApp groups and other closed online forums), and pretend to be ethical by prefacing the word “#Copied” to their intellectual robberies.

But “Copied” doesn’t deodorize their ethical rottenness. It doesn’t minimize their dishonesty in not acknowledging the authors of the thoughts they share. It doesn’t vitiate their intellectual corruption. On the contrary, it aggrandizes their moral turpitude, their cognitive laziness, and their rank spinelessness. If your mind is too barren to conceive original, share-worthy thoughts, why deny credit to people who have taken the trouble to exert their minds and share their thoughts publicly?

An emerging, more sinister iteration of the social media virus of prefacing “copied” to stolen thoughts is the practice of falsely attributing authorship of the expression of people’s ideas to well-known people who didn’t author them. It’s a spinoff of the “Copied” intellectual roguery. People see a post that they like, which is mysteriously authored by a nameless, invisible author called “Copied.” Since “copied” isn’t the name of any human being, and they desire to associate a name to the post or article, they invent the name of any well-known personage that catches their sterile fancies and falsely give credit for the article to him or her.

I’ve been a victim of both forms of social media plagiarism. For instance, my name has been stripped from my July 27, 2019 column in the Nigerian Tribune titled “How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it,” where I shared psychological research on the relationship between power and brain damage. It was initially prefaced with “Copied” and is now misattributed to Pat Utomi without his consent! I hope Utomi is aware of this social media misattributed authorship fraud committed in his name and speaks up to dissociate himself from it.

 Although the very first sentence of the column says, “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,” which indicates that the author lives in the US state of Georgia, the vulgar, low-IQ social media herd who share the article on their timelines (and WhatsApp groups) nonetheless attribute it to Pat Utomi who lives in Lagos, Nigeria!

Before me, a young human rights activist by the name of Inibehe Effiong wrote a clever, punchy post about how one’s education is a waste if one can’t transcend narrow ethnic, religious, political, and regional loyalties. “If you are emotionally attached to your tribe [sic], religion or political leaning to the point that truth and justice become secondary considerations, your education is useless.  Your exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability to mankind,” he wrote on Facebook.

After initially misattributing the Facebook post to the ubiquitous “Copied,” people now misattribute it to either Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman or Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. Effiong’s protests that the quote is original to him were drowned out by the wild cacophony of misattributed social media shares.

It’s now customary for Nigerians who want to start this odious practice to seek people’s permission on Facebook to share their public posts. I’d always wondered why people would write to seek permission to share a post that is public, and that people have already shared through Facebook’s “share” button. It later dawned on me that they’re actually seeking permission to copy people’s posts, deny them authorship, and preface “Copied” to the posts. What sort of cognitive sickness makes people do that?

But what is even more disquieting is the involvement of Nigeria’s institutional news media in this practice. For instance, on Wednesday, I exclusively exposed a secret memo that Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Nigeria Police instructing it to illegally extend the years of service of his nephew by the name of Abdulkarim Dauda (who is also his Personal Chief Security Officer) who was due to retire this year after 35 years in the police.

My exposé, which I shared on Facebook and Twitter, went viral within hours. But Sahara Reporters and the Punch, two of Nigeria’s most widely read news outlets, repurposed my story without giving credit to me. To its credit, though, after I called it out on Twitter, Sahara Reporters’ editor sent me a private email to apologize for his indiscretion. He later edited the story to give me credit.

But, as of the time of writing this column on Friday, the Punch, which attributed the source of the memo to "social media," has not acknowledged its ethical infraction, much less apologize for it. As I pointed out on Twitter, it’s a good thing that the mainstream media have picked up the story and given it wings, but you can’t fight fraud with fraud. It takes nothing away from a media organization’s institutional power and professional authority if it acknowledges the source of its news. In fact, it bolsters it.

The International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), which I’ve had cause to severely censure on this page, was the most professional in reporting the Buhari nepotism scandal that I broke. It acknowledged me as the source of the memo, even linked to my blog post on its site, and went beyond what I put out to independently verify the authenticity of the memo. That’s admirable, ethical journalism.

In journalism studies, we call the phenomenon of traditional media deploying social media feeds for their news “backdraft.” It’s entirely legitimate. What isn’t legitimate, though, is intentionally concealing the source of the social media news feeds that informed their stories or being too lazy to verify the accuracy of the information on social media before publication. Those are cardinal journalistic sins that any news organization worth its name shouldn’t be caught committing.

BBC’s SexForGrades Vs Ganjude’s Bribe Videos

BBC's #SexForGrades documentary is trending and inspiring an honest national conversation about the sexual exploitation of female undergraduates in Nigerian universities for only two reasons: BBC's institutional prestige and Nigerians' instinctive, inferiority-complex-driven reverence for the foreign, which I have characterized as xenophilia in past articles.

Had the investigation been done by a Nigerian news outlet, it won't only have been a damp squib; its very authenticity and facticity would have been questioned. (Several newspapers, by the way, had done even more thorough investigative reporting of this troubling moral scourge in the past with little or no resonance with the national public sphere).

When Daily Nigerian's Jaafar Jaafar painstakingly investigated Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje for two years and captured him in 15 video scenes (nine of which clearly showed his face) collecting kickbacks from contractors, APC minions questioned the authenticity of the videos. Someone even wrote about "deepfake" technology to muddy the waters, and Buhari picked up on this to wonder "what tekenulaji was used" to show Ganduje collecting kickbacks from contractors.

Like Buhari, the man rigged himself back to power in spite of this scandal, and there's deafening silence everywhere. Had the investigation been done by the BBC, CNN, or any Western media outlet with enormous symbolic resources, and not the Daily Nigerian, I can bet my bottom dollar that there would have been no talk of "deepfake," Buhari would never have asked what "tekenulaji was used" to make the videos, and Ganduje would probably not be governor today. We're our own worst enemies.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Buhari's Nepotism on Steroids!

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
The Personal Chief Security Officer (PCSO) to Buhari by the name of Abdulkarim Dauda was supposed to retire this year, but his service has been illegally extended till 2023, as this secret memo shows. The memo suggests that he was supposed to have retired by reason of having worked for up to 35 years in the Nigeria Police even if he's not yet 60 years old. But the rules are being circumvented.

Note that Abdulkarim Dauda is Buhari's biological relative. He is Mamman Daura's biological brother. In other words, he is Buhari's nephew. Recall that Mamman Daura's father, called Dauda Daura, is Buhari's half-brother from the same father. (Mamman Daura, in case you didn't know, is Nigeria's de facto president for whom Abba Kyari acts.)
Abdulkarim Dauda has had one of the fastest promotions in the history of the Nigeria Police. In 2015 when Buhari came to power, he was only a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), but he rapidly rose to the rank of Commissioner of Police in 4 years.
That means he went from Chief Superintendent of Police to Assistant Police Commissioner, to Deputy Police Commissioner, and to Police Commissioner in the space of just 4 years! That's some extraterrestrial supersonic speed!

Update:

My friends from Daura called to say that Abdulkarim Dauda is actually Mamman Daura's blood brother and Buhari's nephew. That means, like Mamman Daura, Buhari is his uncle. "Ive updated the post to reflect this.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Comparing BBC's #SexForGrade Documentary and Jaafar's Ganduje Bribe-Taking Videos

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
BBC's #SexforGrade documentary is trending and inspiring an honest national conversation for only two reasons: BBC's institutional prestige and Nigerians' instinctive, inferiority-complex-driven reverence for the foreign, which I have characterized as xenophilia in past articles. Had the investigation been done by a Nigerian news outlet, it won't only have been a damp squib; its very authenticity and facticity would have been questioned.

When Daily Nigerian's Jaafar Jaafar painstakingly investigated Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje for two years and captured him in 15 video scenes (nine of which clearly showed his face) collecting kickbacks from contractors, APC minions questioned the authenticity of the videos. 
Someone even wrote about "deepfake" technology to muddy the waters, and Buhari picked up on this to wonder "what tekenulaji was used" to show Ganduje collecting kickbacks from contractors.
Like Buhari, the man rigged himself back to power in spite of this scandal, and there's deafening silence everywhere. 


Had the investigation been done by the BBC, CNN, or any Western media outlet with enormous symbolic resources, and not the Daily Nigerian, I can bet my bottom dollar that there would have been no talk of "deepfake," Buhari would never have asked what "tekenulaji was used" to make the videos, and he would probably never be governor today. We're our own worst enemies.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Nigeria Still a Toddler at 59

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

I have remarked several times in the past that Nigeria has had the misfortune of being stuck in an unnaturally prolonged infancy. Our country is like a baby trapped in an adult’s body. It hasn’t even been able to change its colonially inherited national flag, much less its ill-fitting, colonially given name.

It is like an adult that hasn’t learned to dress himself up, who can’t clean up his nasal discharges, who lacks the restraint and discretion that come with adulthood but who nonetheless attempts to do the things that everyday adults do.

Take Nigeria’s colonial national flag, for example. As I pointed out in an October 27, 2012 column, Nigeria has one of the world’s worst designed flags. It is unimaginative, aesthetically unpleasant, and sterile in imagery and symbolism. It is one of only few national flags I know that repeat one bland color twice and that does not faithfully depict the culture, peculiarities, and history of the people it purports to typify.

Some people think this is a trivial issue. They say Nigeria is troubled by far graver existential concerns than the design of its national flag. But that’s like saying it’s trivial to obsess over whether an adult is clothed so long as he is struggling to act like other adults. If you don’t get the trivial but symbolically consequential things right, you miss the important stuff. It’s like building a structure without a foundation.

I have never been able to wrap my head around the justification for the repetition of green in our national colors. You would think the color was in danger of going out of circulation and needed to be captured and curated on a flag—or that the scores of color types that could be worthy symbols of Nigeria’s everyday realities suddenly developed wings and took a flight from the earth.

Are colors the only symbolic representations that can be invoked to depict Nigeria’s culture, peculiarities, and history? What about the awe-inspiring, time-honored rivers that course through the length and breadth of Nigeria’s landscape; the rich, labyrinthine tapestry of the country’s history; its uniquely sumptuous culinary treats; its valiant pre-colonial empires and their extravagantly elegant royalty; its creative orthographic inventions such as Ajami in northern Nigeria and Nsibidi in southeastern Nigeria?

What about Nigeria’s rich ethnic and linguistic diversity? What about the creative genius of its art and craft and the fascinating meteorological diversities of its regions? And so on and so forth. Why is none of these captured representationally on the national flag?

It takes little or no imagination to design a flag with two mind-numbingly commonsensical colors. In fact, it takes a spectacular lack of imagination to design the kind of uninspired and uninspiring flag that Nigeria hoists. It fills me with enormous shame that we call that irredeemably nondescript aesthetic embarrassment our national flag.

To be fair to the man who designed it, his original entry, according to the Wikipedia entry on the Flag of Nigeria, “had a red sun with streaming rays placed at the top of the white stripe.” But the British colonial judges, who chose his design as the best out of thousands of entries, removed the red sun. Any wonder we’ve been enveloped by metaphorical and literal darkness since independence? What could be the judges’ motivation for foisting a bland, colorless (never mind that it has two colors!), and uninspiring flag on Nigeria?

But we have been “independent” from British colonial rule for 59 years now. Isn’t it about time we rethought the colors and design of our national flag? For one, it is a holdover from colonialism; it wasn’t a product of a post-independence effort. Since we managed to change our colonially inherited national anthem (which, sadly, is worse than its predecessor in content, cadence, and creativity) we can also change our national flag. It isn’t a sacred symbol, after all.

 In any case, it’s customary for countries to redesign their national flags—if they have a reason to. Britain’s national flag, for instance, has been changed many times since 1603 when it was first designed.

And we have many good reasons to change ours. Nigeria is no longer the agricultural country it was when the flag was conceived and designed. The groundnut pyramids of the pre-independence and post-independence eras in northern Nigeria have evaporated into thin air. The cocoa farms in southwest Nigeria have been lost irretrievably. All over Nigeria, we have condemned ourselves to subsistence farming.

So agriculture—or whatever the green in our national flag represents—isn’t a faithful representation of who we are now. It’s doubly shameful that we have repeated that representation twice in our flag. If anything needs representing on our flag, it is a color that signifies our dependence on oil. Of course, that, too, would be shortsighted since oil is a fleeting natural endowment.

And peace? Oh, please! Given the mindless, ever-present, fratricidal bloodshed that has been our lot since independence—and that seems to be deepening with every passing day—we should spare the world the horror of calling ourselves a peaceful nation.

I have also several articles on the need to change Nigeria’s name. But I know that’s not going to happen in my lifetime—if it will ever happen.

Contest of Idiocy Between Buharists and Tinubuists

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
First shared on Facebook and Twitter on October 5, 2018.
I have come to realize that in today’s Nigeria, the only people more hopelessly idiotic than Buharists are Tinubuists. They have no mind or brain of their own. They unquestioningly gravitate to wherever Tinubu’s notoriously mercurial political pendulum swings. They support Buhari today ONLY because Tinubu tells them to do so. If Tinubu switches his loyalty from Buhari to Satan right at this moment, they would instantly become Satanists like pre-programmed robots. This is no vituperative hyperbole. These people are brainless automatons.

Have you had a chance to listen to Sanwo-Olu, the latest Tinubu stooge imposed on Lagos? Well, I have. The guy is a semi-literate, inarticulate, rattlebrained, brainsick buffoon. Yet he is the apple of the eyes of Tinubuists.
It’s no surprise that Buharists and Tinubuists are in a coalition of buffoonery to reelect a lifeless Buhari in 2019. When pigheaded Buhari fanaticism collides with sheepish Tinubu loyalty, it sparks the sort of combustible admixture of idiocy we’re seeing today, which disposes otherwise normal people to lend unthinking support to transparently incompetent people for political office. Thankfully, the rank of the Tinubuists is dwindling dramatically.

Buharists and Tinubuists certainly share the same slavish, uncritical, freakish mentality, but wait to see what will happen in 2023 (if Buhari wins a second term) when Buhari disappoints Tinubu by not "handing over" power to him--as he expects Buhari would. You'd be entertained by the fight that would break out between the two idiotic camps that are friends today. Save this somewhere.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Osinbajo Is Sucking Up to Buhari to Save His Job

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
In my Sept. 28, 2019 article, I described Yemi Osinbajo as “a groveling, cowardly toady” who, “[i]nstead of confronting the real demons that are tormenting him, … has chosen to transfer his aggression elsewhere by intimidating and overawing soft, weak targets.” That was not intended as an insult; it was merely a faithful description of his person.

His cringe-worthy, Independence Day sycophantic drooling to Buhari, Aisha Buhari, and Bola Tinubu— clearly designed to stave off his impending impeachment and removal—is a testament to what I said about him. “Let me first congratulate my boss, President, [sic] Muhammadu Buhari; His Excellency and our national leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu; First Lady and mother of the nation, Dr. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari,” he wrote in absurdly syrupy, uneducated English.
He continued even more fawningly: “Fellow Nigerians, be rest assured [sic] that President Muhammadu Buhari is totally committed to his promises and the Next Level Agenda [sic]. He is the best boss and I find it thrilling to serve Nigeria under him. It is only responsible of me to give my unwavering loyalty to President Buhari…” (The grammatically correct expression, by the way, is “rest assured.”)
When was the last time you read such embarrassingly obsequious wheedling from a vice president? The CAN religious intimidation card he pulled against the cabal obviously hasn’t worked, so he is trying mawkishly saccharine flattery.
The truth is that all the leaks about Osinbajo’s eye-watering corruption were sponsored by members of the cabal in the Presidential Villa— with the active consent of Buhari himself. I’ve known about the allegations from friends close to the cabal since February, but I refused to publicize them because Osinbajo’s accusers aren’t morally superior to or distinguishable from him. They are all stained with the same inerasable ethical dirt.
Osinbajo is toadying to the very people he knows are behind the reputationally injurious leaks against him for which he is on a wildly frivolous litigious frenzy against weak, inconsequential targets.
He called Buhari his “boss” for whom he pledged “unwavering loyalty” (as if he has any other option), and sweetened his exaggerated fawning even further by calling his wife “Dr.,” even though, like him, she doesn’t have a doctoral degree, and the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities in its October 3, 2012 “Keffi Declaration” said recipients of honorary doctorates can’t prefix “Dr.” to their names.
He called Tinubu “His Excellency” even when Tinubu holds no official position that justifies that title. He is appeasing Tinubu with cloying titular flattery because Tinubu has endorsed his humiliation and imminent removal on account of suspicion that he’s stacking up resources for a presidential run in 2023.
Osinbajo is now sufficiently chastened and may be spared the humiliation of being impeached and removed, but he’ll certainly go down in the records as Nigeria’s VP with the least sense of self-worth.

Related Article:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The First Article that Proposed the Name "Nigeria"

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D
To mark Nigeria's 59th Independence Day today, I bring you the original article Flora Shaw, Frederick Lugard's girlfriend (and later wife), wrote titled "Nigeria" in The Times (of London) on January 8, 1897 on p. 6 where she first proposed the name we are still known by. I requested my friend Professor Moses Ochonu to help me get a copy of the article when he went to the National Archives in London in May this year.

You can download the printable and enlargeable PDF version of the article by following this link. As you can see, Flora Shaw didn't intend for the name "Nigeria" to refer to all of what is now Nigeria. She proposed the name for only the area that is today known as Northern Nigeria, which makes sense since that was the only area her boyfriend administered at the time. It wasn't until 1914 that the Lagos Colony, the Southern Protectorate and the Northern Protectorate were administered as one country.
This article clearly gives the lie to the conspiracy theory popularized by one Natasha Akpoti that the name "Nigeria" is derived from "Nigger-Area." As I pointed out in two previous columns debunking this unfounded conspiracy, "nigger" was not a racial slur in 1890s England, so Flora Shaw couldn't possibly use it to intentionally insult us, although her article contains racist put-downs of the peoples of Northern Nigeria.
In 1890s England, "nigger" simply meant a black person, as it did at some point even in the US. A proof of this exists in the fact that in the same year that Flora Shaw's article was published in The Times, famous Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad wrote a novella titled The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'. Because "nigger" was already a racial slur in America at the time (and it wasn't in England), his publisher changed the title of the American edition of the book to The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle.
But Flora Shaw clearly showed in this article that the River Niger was the inspiration for her choice of the name Nigeria (Niger-area). She didn't invent the name Niger, either. As I showed in my columns, the name has existed in the travel notes of European explorers since at least the 1550s. In fact, Leo Africanus, whose real name was al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi, was the first person on record to use "Niger" to refer to the river in his book published in 1550.