FACT-CHECK: Did VP Osinbajo goof in his Independence Day speech?

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

As expected, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, was full of optimism when the country turned 58 about two weeks ago. In a speech he delivered during a dinner at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja on Monday, October 1, he poured encomiums on Nigeria and Nigerians all over the world.

“…But we are by far one of the smartest and, perhaps, the most talented people on earth,” he said. “In the U.S., Nigerians are the most educated ethnic group, not one of the most educated, but the most educated. Sixty per cent of Nigerians in the U.S., we are told, have college degrees. This is above the American average of 30 per cent. And Nigerians in U.S. are one of the highest income earners in the US…”

The vice-president then proceeded to tell his audience that “the world’s fastest supercomputer was designed by a world-renowned inventor, Philip Emeagwali, a full-blown Nigerian.”

“This means Nigeria has the patent for the world’s fastest computer,” Mr. Osinbajo added.

However,  what the Vice-President said of Mr Emeagwali and of Nigeria having a patent for the world’s fastest computer are incorrect, a joint fact-check by PREMIUM TIMES and DUBAWA,  has shown.

Also incorrect is the claim by Mr. Osinbajo that the wealthiest black woman in the world is a Nigerian.

We fact-check three of the vice-president’s claims below.

1) Did Philip Emeagwali invent world’s fastest supercomputer?

There is no evidence that Mr. Emeagwali, 64, has ever invented anything, not to talk of the ‘world’s fastest supercomputer’.

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. He was honoured for what scientists describe as running an application of the CM-2 parallel computers for oil reservoir modeling.

Following the feat, Mr. Emeagwali proceeded to claim, for several years, that he was a father of the Internet; that he invented the world’s fastest super computer; that he improved upon Isaac Newton’s laws of motion; that he owned the world’s first personal website; that American tech giant, Apple, used the microprocessor technology he pioneered in its Power Mac G4 model, among many other unsubstantiated claims.

For that investigation NEXT contacted the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the world’s largest organisation of computer experts, which debunked the scientist’s false claims and then proceeded to remove his profile from its website.

The newspaper also contacted leading American scientists knowledgeable about computer and Internet inventions and those Mr. Emeagwali claimed adopted his inventions. Their verdicts were unanimous: the Nigerian scientist’s claim were false and misleading.

Gordon Bell, a pioneer in high-performance and parallel computing for whom the prize won by Mr. Emeagwali is named, said the entry that earned the Nigerian scientist the award had nothing to do with the invention of computers or Internet.

“The work Mr. Emeagwali submitted for the Gordon Bell Prize did not set a world record,” Mr. Bell said at the time. “In fact, another team produced better performance and better price performance that same year and was awarded the Gordon Bell Prize for performance.
“There were other hypercube machines in use before the CM-2, and others had programmed them to solve important problems.”

Alan Karp, a principal scientist with Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, and one of the judges who selected the Nigerian scientist for the Gordon Bell prize in 1989, said Mr. Emeagwali’s claims were false and exaggerated.

Jack Dongarra, another respected American computer scientist, and a judge on the panel that awarded the Gordon Bell Prize in 1989, said most the claims attributed to Mr. Emeagwali were false. Mr. Dongarr is a professor at the Innovative Computing Laboratory at the University of Tennessee.

Since he won the Gordon Prize about 30 years ago, Mr. Emeagwali is not known for any breakthrough in computer science technology, neither is he known to have been published in any peer-reviewed journal.

Yet he has been travelling around the world marketing himself as one of the inventors of the Internet and one of the best scientists the world has ever seen.

NEXT wrote in that 2010 publication, “Since his (Emeagwali’s) claims had bounced around for long without any major challenge, many had believed them to be true. And from time to time, he adds new layers to what many scientists now believe to be a pack of lies.

“He was often listed among leading and globally respected icons such as Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and novelist, Chinua Achebe. Mr. Emeagwali was so well respected that he once got on the Nigerian stamp.”

CONCLUSION: The vice-president’s claim about Mr. Emeagwali’s invention of the world’s fastest supercomputer is false and misleading.

2) Does Nigeria hold any patent for the world’s fastest computer as a result of Mr. Emeagwali’s ‘invention’?

Mr Osinbajo said in the same Independence Day remark, “… Nigeria has the patent for the world’s fastest computer” as a result of Mr. Emeagwali’s so-called invention.

There is no evidence to back the vice president’s claim. Multiple searches at the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office  showed that Mr. Emeagwali has no patented invention of any kind assigned to him.

Patent is a form of intellectual property that gives owners the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of time. Under the United States laws, patents are granted for a term of 20 years from the date of application (14 years for design patents).

On the U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office, patents are searchable by frame number, serial number, registration number, assignor’s name, assignee’s name and other query menus. All our searches failed to throw up Mr. Emeagwali’s name.

Checks at the registry of trademarks, patents and designs of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade And Investment also indicated that no patent is registered in Mr. Emeagwali’s name.

CONCLUSION: Neither Mr. Emeagwali nor Nigeria holds a patent for the world’s fastest supercomputer. Mr. Osinbajo’s claim is therefore incorrect.

3: Is the wealthiest black woman in the world a Nigerian?

In that same Independence Day speech, Mr Osinbajo also claimed the wealthiest black woman in the world is a Nigerian.

“..The wealthiest black African, a Nigerian. Isn’t that a good thing? We are also told that the wealthiest black woman in the world is also a Nigerian. Who knows who the next wealthiest African would be here or the next wealthiest African?”

The vice president was correct in identifying the wealthiest Black African as a Nigerian. According to Forbes 2018 ranking of world’s billionaires, Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote, with a net worth of $14.1 billion, is the world’s richest black person.

But the world’s richest black woman is not a Nigerian. Talkshow host and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey, with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, according to Forbes 2018 ranking, is currently the world’s richest black woman.

Folorunso Alakija, Nigerian billionaire businesswoman is the third richest black woman in the world. Mrs. Alakija, according to Forbes 2018 ranking, has an estimated net worth of $1.5billion.

She is third behind Isabel dos Santos of Angola, who has a net-worth of $2.6billion, according to the 2018 ranking.

CONCLUSION: Again Mr. Osinbajo is wrong to claim that Nigeria has the richest black woman in the world.

READ BELOW THE FULL TEXT OF MR. OSINBAJO’S REMARK WHICH WE FACT-CHECKED ABOVE

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

NIGERIA IS GOING TO BE THE ENVY OF THE WORLD SOON, SAYS VP OSINBAJO ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

“The reason why we are so optimistic is because we know that we are the best, we know we are going to excel, it may seem like it’s taking a while, and there are many problems, but every one of the over 1,000 days that I have been Vice President for, I grow stronger in my complete confidence that we are going to be the envy of the whole world in a few short years. Well, you might say that that is optimistic, why not, I am a Nigerian” – VP Osinbajo

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE INDEPENDENCE DAY DINNER AND GALA NIGHT HELD AT THE STATE HOUSE BANQUET HALL, ABUJA, ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2018

PROTOCOLS

I am extremely pleased to be here to join you all at this special anniversary dinner. I also must thank you all very much for honouring our invitation to be here to celebrate our country, especially on this 58th anniversary of our Independence. I am 61 years old this year, and most of those six decades I have lived here in this country, here in Nigeria. So, I think I can say that I know Nigeria quite well.

A few years ago, a poll reported in The British Independent newspaper declared us the happiest people on earth. The same poll said that we were also amongst the most optimistic people on earth, despite everything that we’ve experienced as a nation. I agree with both assessments, in other words, that we are possibly one of the happiest in the world, but I must also add that we are by far the most humorous people on the face of the earth. Well, if you don’t agree with me, but I can tell you so many reasons why we are the most humourous.

A few months ago, an important Nigerian politician who was on his way to a trial in a court said he was abducted. And after he escaped from his abductors, he remained hiding on a tree for 11 hours. The most interesting part of that story is that many people online in particular, on the Internet, started to tell stories of different birds and how long those birds could remain perched on a tree. All these were the Nigerian contributions to that story.

Yet another very important politician insists, and still insists that the most important attribute for leadership is dancing, and boy could he dance! And for those who think that that is ridiculous at least 200,000 people voted for him in a particular election.

When I served as Adviser to the Attorney General of the Federation between 1987 and 1992, I had a driver who was always broke. But he was always so optimistic. He had 14 children, while I, his boss, had only one child at the time. And I asked him, “Why do you just keep having so many children?” Of course he had more than one wife. He said to me in Yoruba “I don’t know which of them can become President of Nigeria. So, the more I have, the better my chances.” How optimistic can you be? Only a Nigerian can be that optimistic.

Wherever we are from, from whatever part of this great country that we are from, whether we are from the North, the South-South, the South East, West, wherever, we have the same DNA. We love our country and this may not always be obvious, but you try insulting Nigeria if you are a foreigner and you will see our fierce and angry our reaction can be. A Nigerian can say the same thing, but if you’re a foreigner, don’t try it.

We love our food, we love our clothes, we love our merrymaking. We love to be successful and we love success. We are resilient, we are fair minded. Nigerians always fight for the underdog, we believe in justice and the rule of law, even though our system still can do much better. But we are by far one of the smartest and, perhaps, the most talented people on earth. And I don’t say that lightly.

In the US, Nigerians are the most educated ethnic group, not one of the most educated, but the most educated. Sixty per cent of Nigerians in the US, we are told, have college degrees. This is above the American average of 30%. And Nigerians in US are one of the highest income earners in the US, and I choose America as one example. Nigerians earn 25% more than the median US income.

The world’s fastest supercomputer was designed by a world-renowned inventor, Philip Emeagwali, a full-blown Nigerian. This means Nigeria has the patent for the world’s fastest computer. The wealthiest black African, a Nigerian. Isn’t that a good thing? We are also told that the wealthiest black woman in the world is also a Nigerian. Who knows who the next wealthiest African would be here or the next wealthiest African?

A Nigerian family, The Imafidons, who live in the UK, have been officially been declared the smartest family in the UK, a family of about six children who have excelled in their academics in incredible ways. The designer of that famous car, Chevrolet Volt, is a guy called Jelani Aliyu, he now works for the Nigerian government; super talented Nigerian from Sokoto State. And for those who think that we are only giants in technology and business, Anthony Joshua is the world’s best heavyweight boxer, for those who watch boxing.

Everybody is dancing to Nigerian music, and our traditional attires, especially our women attires and headgears have conquered Africa. Even our male attire, there’s just something about the Nigerian swag. Whether they like it or not, we Nigerians are just exceptional, we are just different. Anywhere you go, you know a Nigerian, don’t you recognize a Nigerian when you see one? You can just tell. If you see anyone reading a book on How to become self-confident, know that he is not a Nigerian, we are born self-confident.

The reason why we are so optimistic is because we know that we are the best, we know we are going to excel, it may seem like it’s taking a while, and there are many problems, but every one of the over 1,000 days that I have been Vice President for, I grow stronger in my complete confidence that we are going to be the envy of the whole world in a few short years. Well, you might say that that is optimistic, why not, I am a Nigerian.

Happy Independence Day. God bless you all.

Released by:
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
2nd October, 2018


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