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OPINION

Six Major Findings About Tinubu From The CSU Documents

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 By Farooq Kperogi

Both pro- and anti-Tinubu news outlets and blogs are selectively reporting the documents that Chicago State University handed over to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday.

Here are six non-partisan tidbits I discovered from poring over them:

1.

Chicago State University’s Office of the Registrar affirmed that Bola A.
Tinubu indeed attended the university “from August 1977 through June 1979” and was “awarded a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Honors on June 22, 1979.

The registrar also swore to this under oath. The penalty for lying under oath in America can be steep.

It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

This information is consistent with my September 2, 2023, column titled, “Tinubu Definitely Graduated from Chicago State University.”

2. The certificate (we call it “diploma” in the US) that Tinubu submitted to INEC is inconsistent with the certificates CSU issued in 1979 and subsequently, indicating that Tinubu forged his. (In the US, diplomas are mere ceremonial documents that most employers don’t ask for. Transcripts directly from universities are the usual ways to verify attendance and graduation.)

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That strikes me as mysterious self-harm. It costs only $26 to get a replacement diploma from CSU. But it takes between eight and 10 weeks to receive it after filling out the Diploma Replacement Order Form.

My guess is that, in the typical last-minute, fire-brigade approach to things among Nigerian elites, Tinubu didn’t plan ahead and didn’t have enough time to apply for his replacement diploma from CSU to meet INEC’s deadline and decided to visit Lagos’ infamous “Oluwole” for a counterfeit replacement.

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This reality, though, seems to validate uncorroborated but long-standing whispers from the grapevine that Tinubu, who was allegedly born Lamidi Amoda [Yoruba Muslim domestication of Abdulhamid Ahmed] Sangodele in Osun State’s Iragbiji, stole the identity of a female Bola Adekunle Tinubu to go to America.

4. Nonetheless, this whisper may be difficult to sustain in light of the fact that Tinubu’s Chicago State University admission letter dated August 23, 1977, was addressed to “Mr. Tinubu,” not Ms. or Miss Tinubu.

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Well, we saw from the documents released to Atiku that after accepting his transfer credits from Southwest College (which later became Daley College), CSU required Tinubu to take qualifying exams in English, math, and reading, which he passed. Why did CSU allow a man who presented a transcript that belonged to a woman to take qualifying exams as a man?

Tinubu obviously identified as a man throughout the two years he studied at the school. A Nigerian CSU graduate and classmate of Tinubu’s swore under oath that Tinubu ran for and won election as president of CSU’s accounting students’ association. His yearbook photo from 1979 also clearly showed a younger version of Tinubu.

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Finally, if he used a woman’s associate degree from Southwest College to gain admission to CSU without having any background in accounting or business administration, his performance at CSU was perplexing. Of the more than 30 courses he took there, he got C’s in only three courses. The rest were A’s and B’s, which earned him honors.

5. The Bola A. Tinubu who applied to Southwest College for an associate degree in 1975 claimed to have attended Government College, Lagos, and presented a 1970 GCE A-level result with grades E in Chemistry and Biology and an F in Physics. The problem is that Government College, Lagos, was established in 1974. So, there’s a chronological conundrum there, which signposts forgery.

The GCE A-level result also shows that “Bola A. Tinubu” took the exam as an HSC student, which used to be a two-year study after 5 years of secondary school education. In other words, the owner of the certificate must have graduated from secondary school at least in 1968.

It’s not clear at the moment if the GCE A-level result is fake or authentic—or if it belongs to the man we know today as President Bola A. Tinubu. My hunch is that it doesn’t belong to him. But this will become clear in the coming days.

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If he was born in 1954, it means he was 14 years old when he graduated from high school.

Bonus: Tinubu’s last name was misspelled in a few of the CSU documents. I thought the “THUBV” misspelling in his final graduation record was bad enough until I saw “Tinububu” in one of the documents.🤣 Bubu, remember, is Buhari’s nickname among a vast swath of Nigerians. Make of that what you will.

We should all thank VP Atiku Abubakar for his doggedness, which has helped us to get this much clarity about Tinubu’s past.

OPINION

Herbert Wigwe: The Things Yet Unsaid

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By Dakuku Peterside

Clean-shaven, suave, upwardly mobile, and incurably optimistic, Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe (HOW) was one of the most recognisable figures in the banking space and corporate Nigeria. His official biography could only be written by him. But I hope his example can inspire and influence us.

Accurately describing Herbert in one word can be compared to explaining the mystery of centuries in a few words or a wild goose chase.
It is a nuanced and complex process.

He was an extraordinary businessman who died alongside his wife and son in the United States of America under exceptional circumstances.

His tragic and sudden departure reverberated beyond our shores.
But who was Herbert Wigwe? I can only answer this question from the narrow prism of my friendship and many encounters with him.

Herbert and I were members of the same local church assembly, and I witnessed his dedication to spirituality, good works, and commitment to church growth. It is easy to explain this because of his solid Christian foundation. Herbert’s father, Elder Shyngle Wigwe, is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Herbert was a man of prayers, which he complemented with a ruthless work ethic. He attributed all his successes to God’s blessings.

Both of us are from Rivers State, and we had many sessions on how best to fix the politics of Rivers and, by extension, improve the State’s development trajectory. Herbert was utterly detached from politics but had deep insight into political manoeuvrings. We debated the affairs of Rivers State and the country, and he baffled me with the precision with which he predicted the outcome of political contests. He would quickly tell you that his political party is Nigeria and no other.

His passion for Nigeria was simply unwavering. Only a few persons can match his faith in Nigeria. He firmly believed that he would impact society by using businesses to provide solutions to society’s needs and create wealth that would touch the lives of many. He was unapologetically capitalist, in the proper sense of it, and he lived his life using capital to solve many of societies’ needs, such as creating employment, paying taxes, providing lots of charity, and investing heavily in world-class university education. He used capital as an instrument for socio-cultural upliftment across Africa.

Herbert was a man of bold dreams and obsessed with excellence, while making room for unavoidable mistakes. Herbert never gave up on any bold dream, no matter the odds. He rode the waves of challenges and was filled with the spirit of hard work, dedication, and strokes of ingenuity. He had bold dreams in all ramifications, and this was self-evident.

First, as a young banker, he teamed up with his friend and partner to acquire “a distressed bank”, rated number 89 then, and turn it around in two decades to become one of the top five banks, with an assets base of over N20.9 trillion. This is phenomenal. Herbert, as CEO, set out to build an Access Bank with the vision of becoming the gateway to Africa, and the world’s most respected African bank. With presence in more than 13 African countries, plus footprints in other continents, Access Bank was working towards realising this vision. Second, Wigwe University, which Herbert personally referred to as the “Future Harvard University of Africa,” was another extraordinary, bold dream. He set out to build the best University in Africa, investing $500 million in the initial set-up. You do not need further testament that he was a man of bold dreams.

An entrepreneur extraordinaire, his mystique was his ability to sniff out opportunities where others saw none, multiplied by the fact that he was one of the most persistent persons I know when going after opportunities. He mentored many budding entrepreneurs, top managers, and top academics in entrepreneurship. Apart from his well-known flagship institution, Access Bank, he was active in other financial services concerns, construction, oil and gas, aviation, film, and music, and, most recently, the education sector. He made a star success of all his multiple business pursuits.

Herbert’s hidden strength was his ability to connect with people of all classes and cadres, accompanied by a related instinct to simplify complex things in the most basic way. His mastery of Rivers’ version of Pidgin English could only equal his fluency in Queens’ English. He was among the few successful people referred to as the “original old Port Harcourt boy.” Another strength of his was his courageous, daring, patient, and persistent nature, which added to his relentless ambition to accomplish exceptional things. This attracted to him friends and foes in equal measure.

His philanthropic work in the Herbert Wigwe Foundation, which he founded in 2016, focused on youth empowerment, health, arts, and education. This focus on youth development was central to his mentoring, given his strong belief in the importance of the youth in the development of Nigeria and Africa. He was an art enthusiast and contributed to the development of art in the country. As the art connoisseur he was, his collection reflected his passion for excellence, diversity, and social purpose. The HOW foundation extensively supported many healthcare projects for the downtrodden among us. His charity works were unique because he loathed publicity about it.

Herbert’s enduring legacy is the power of vision, bold dreams, courage, and determination to pursue it and rally people to accomplish the objective. This is what we need to improve in our public space. History has shown that bold dreams have the power to transform societies. He was exceptionally enterprising and entrepreneurial.

Listening to Herbert talk about his vision was to find yourself in the oasis of inspiration. He genuinely believed that there was nothing you fixed your mind on that you could not accomplish. He had bold dreams for the banking sector, tertiary education, the oil and gas industry and most importantly, society.

What lessons can we learn from him? Herbert epitomised a life of passion, dedication, resilience, and boldness in achieving grand personal and societal visions. He was bold in setting out great goals and pursuing them relentlessly until he reached them. He proves that an unexamined life is not worth living. To achieve greatness and impact on society maximally, one must be purposeful, bold, and patient. Herbert’s hidden strengths prepared him for an eventful life – one he lived on his terms. His ability to connect with people, courage, daring attitude, ambition, and excellent work ethic were the ingredients of his success and they must be emulated. Peter Drucker posits, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Herbert created his future and lived it to the full of those he loved.

For our budding entrepreneurs, Herbert left a legacy. He proved the axiomatic expression true: “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” He made the needed sacrifices at the start of his entrepreneurship and built capital enough to be reckoned among his contemporaries. Steve Jobs posits that “your work will fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.”

Herbert did outstanding work; the only way to do great work is to love what you do. Success is not just a product of luck. Hard work, knowledge, skills, and integrity underpin it. Thomas Jefferson argued, “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Herbert worked hard enough to be lucky. He had an eye for greatness. It is little wonder he set great goals for himself.

John Rockefeller advised that one should not be “afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” Both in banking and establishing a University, Herbert went for greatness and achieved it. We should do the same. As a business and community leader, Herbert understood that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. He created leaders of industries and global advocates of responsible capitalism in the 21st century.

My friend and brother Herbert lived like a candle in the wind. His star burned so brightly but ended so shortly. Greatness in life is not measured in how long one lives but in the impact of one’s life on society. Herbert lived, and he conquered. Adieu, my great visioner!Peterside is a policy and leadership expert.

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OPINION

Tinubu should Come Clean

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By Nick Dazang

Unless drastic, coherent and proactive measures are taken, the chickens may soon be coming home to roost for the fledgling Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration. I state this with the highest sense of responsibility and advised by recent tragic events and ominous auguries.

For the first time, and on his watch, we have thus far had a rash of peaceful demonstrations against hardship.

Nigerians, in their numbers, protested in Kano, Minna, Suleija, Osogbo and Lagos.
It is noteworthy that even before he departed Lagos for Abuja, after the Christmas and New Year breaks, Lagosians shouted at his convoy that Nigerians were having a hard time.

The Naira plunged to its lowest point some two weeks ago, exchanging at not less than N1,500 to an American dollar.

This precipitous nose dive further increased the prices of products – from foodstuffs to building materials. Little wonder, the protests we saw in Minna and Suleija came hot on the heels of the further collapse of the Naira, which resulted in spiralling inflation and worsening living conditions.

On the security front, we witnessed an uptick. Insecurity not only heightened, it escalated to an all-time high. It was hallmarked by the killing of three monarchs in Ekiti and Kwara states, many acts of terror, kidnappings and criminality.

Even as the country was literally on fire, the President jetted out of the country, claiming he was paying a private visit to France. The visit which lasted thirteen days, and which is alien to our laws, smacked of insensitivity and abdication of responsibility. It is tantamount to a head of family who deserts his home as it is ablaze and relocates to the coziness of a placid abode in another district, leaving his family to its devices. Worse, and grating to the sensibility of Nigerians, was that political jobbers visited the President in France and had photo opportunities with him. As if that were not enough, they proceeded to regale us with how our president cared for us.

It is horrendous that in the midst of these incidents and in spite of the cacophony of laments recently issued by bigwigs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their sympathizers, the economy was in a terrible place, the government did not deem it wise to come clean and tell Nigerians, in crystal clear terms, how bad it was.

This writer had argued that such an accounting was in consonance with democratic ethos which put premium on transparency. He also argued that such openness would elicit the support and understanding of Nigerians who are being daily exhorted to make sacrifices.

It is heartwarming that one’s clarion cry is not a lone one in the wilderness. Acclaimed economic pundits, such as Bismarck Rewane, have joined the bandwagon of the clamour for full disclosure regarding the parlous state of the economy. Mr Rewane has also underscored what all right-thinking Nigerians had previously observed: that President Tinubu’s economic team is not stellar enough and that his Central Bank Governor may not be well credentialed and savvy for the task at hand.

This assessment may appear unflattering and disapproving. But it is adjudged by the reflexiveness of government policies, the government’s lack of coherence and constancy, the continued exodus of multinational corporations and the government’s frequent resort to summoning the fire brigade to put out fires. Given the headwinds which confront us on the economic front, what we require is a solid economic team at par with, if not surpassing, the one which former President Olusegun Obasanjo constituted during his civilian tenure.

Apart from coming clean on the economy, President Tinubu must be forthcoming on his frequent visits to France. It appears quixotic that a man whose ambition is to transform our economy into a trillion-dollar one can leave the country and his exalted office to pay a private visit to another country. This writer is yet to hear or learn, in the modern age or era, of a President of the type of country Tinubu aspires Nigeria to attend, who has paid a private visit to some other country and for 13 days without just cause or compelling reason(s).

American Presidents and British Prime Ministers travel abroad. But they do so either in the line of duty or official vacation. An extreme case was Bill Clinton who travelled to far-flung Australia and Africa to play golf and to go on a safari. But he did those when he was on official vacation and America was at peace. And to say that President Tinubu’s visit to France came shortly after a vacation in Lagos, and at a time of heightened insecurity, smacks of insensitivity of the highest order.

It is true that during the campaigns, the media were awash with lurid speculations about the President’s health. But these speculations, which animated the media space, were thought merely to be the handiwork of his political opponents.

Assuming that these speculations were valid after all. And assuming that the President were suffering from one ailment or the other,  and he needs medical treatment abroad, what stops him from opening up and telling Nigerians rather than using private visits as veneers or covers? The President, after all, is human. And as humans, we have frailties and we can fall ill. In fact, few persons, who are above sixty years, can be said to be free or immune from one health challenge or the other. It will, therefore, not be surprising, if at his age, the President is suffering from an ailment. If that is the case, what is wrong in leveling with Nigerians?

Besides, democracy as we have often stated, thrives on transparency. The more leaders are open, especially about their health, the more they get the respect and empathy of their citizens. Openness also demystifies these ailments and encourages fellow sufferers or those with similar health challenges to come forward and obtain help. Their first thoughts will be: if the President is getting help, why not us, ordinary citizens?

It is ennobling that even monarchs, who ordinarily have no obligation to disclose their health statuses, because they are not elected, are coming clean with their subjects. A notable and most recent one is King Charles III. In respect of coming clean on his health, King Charles has carried himself splendidly and to the admiration of the world. He first announced he was going to the clinic to treat a benign prostrate. When, however, his diagnosis revealed cancer, he, rather than allow some nosey reporter to out him, was forthcoming. He announced to the world, via an official statement issued by Buckingham Palace, that he had cancer and that he was proceeding, with alacrity, to treat it. His prompt announcement accomplished three salient things: it endeared him to Britons, it earned him the empathy of leaders and ordinary folks around the world and it strengthened and comforted more than three million Britons who live with cancer. They now know they are not alone in their travails.

President Tinubu must be forthcoming, both with the economy and his visits to France. It is by so doing that he will show respect for Nigerians, put our democracy on a transparent pedestal, invest the presidency with dignity and get the sympathy of Nigerians.

Dazang is a former Director at the Independent National Electoral Commission.

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OPINION

The Impending Threats of AI to 2027 Nigeria’s Democratic Process

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By Haruna Chiroma

The 2023 general elections in Nigeria were concluded a year ago, paving the way for the upcoming 2027 general elections, set to unfold in an era marked by a profound surge in artificial intelligence (AI) tools—a phenomenon unprecedented in the annals of technological progress.

Unlike the prelude to the 2023 elections, when AI tools were relatively obscure in cyberspace, the current landscape is witnessing a notable proliferation of these technologies.

In the lead-up to the 2023 general elections, the utilization of AI tools was limited, with only a few instances of negatively employed deep-fake videos and images on a small scale.

However, the present scenario is markedly different, with the explosion of AI tools fueled by advancements in generative AI posing a significant threat to the Nigeria 2027 general elections.

Videos, known for their high viewership and rapid dissemination, become potent tools for misinformation when coupled with AI-powered text-to-video converters. Unscrupulous political actors in Nigeria can exploit these tools in 2027 to fabricate and incite events that never transpired.

The process can involve using the AI tool to convert written narratives into videos and subsequently employing its editing features to manipulate visuals and audio, creating a semblance of reality. By orchestrating the video environment to resemble specific locations, these deceptive videos can aim to convince viewers that the events depicted are genuine occurrences in familiar places. This calculated deception can be orchestrated to mislead the general public, potentially inciting violence.

The fabricated videos, once created, can be disseminated strategically across various social media platforms, aiming to deceive the public and evoke negative reactions based on the false information embedded in the content. The ultimate consequence is the potential escalation of social and political turmoil, as unsuspecting audiences react to events that exist solely within the fabricated narratives circulated online.

Advanced AI technology can empower cyber attackers to create autonomous attack systems capable of targeting electoral systems independently, without human intervention. These autonomous attack tools can possess the capability to persistently assault a target system until successful penetration is achieved. Their formidable feature lies in the capacity for massive, simultaneous attacks numbering in the hundreds of thousands, posing a significant challenge for cybersecurity systems to withstand.

The perilous aspect of these autonomous attack tools lies in the anonymity they afford. With no physical attacker present at a remote location orchestrating the assaults, apprehending the culprits becomes an elusive task. This lack of a tangible adversary complicates the attribution of responsibility and makes it exceedingly difficult for Nigerian law enforcement and cybersecurity experts to trace and hold accountable those behind the attacks.

The absence of a human perpetrator in the immediate vicinity further underscores the clandestine and surreptitious nature of these autonomous attacks, exacerbating the challenges in defending against and responding to such cyber threats.

Unpatriotic individuals in Nigeria can exploit AI video translation tools to manipulate content in a manner that accentuates or exaggerates divisions based on ethnicity, religion, or region. It is well-known that these factors are particularly sensitive in the Nigerian context, especially during the lead-up to general elections when emotions run high, and various forms of propaganda are prevalent.

Deliberately framing content in this manner has the potential to inflame existing prejudices, contributing to the escalation of conflicts and creating an environment conducive to civil unrest, all with the aim of disrupting the electoral process. These orchestrated threats are often orchestrated by the “foot soldiers” of politicians.

Looking ahead to the 2027 democratic process, there is a foreseeable shift from traditional political thugs to what I call cyber thugs, reflecting the evolving landscape where technology plays a central role in influencing public sentiment and potentially destabilising the electoral process.

The evolution of Deepfake technology has undergone significant improvement with the progression of technology, it will make it easily accessible at one’s fingertips in 2027, a notable advancement compared to the landscape in 2023. Deepfake videos and images have reached a level of sophistication that enables them to elude detection tools designed to identify such manipulations. The emergence of highly sophisticated Deepfake technology can introduce a new dimension to the potential for election interference in Nigeria.

These advanced Deepfakes, capable of convincingly manipulating media content, pose a heightened risk of spreading false information, damaging reputations, and fabricating events. The looming possible threat of malicious actors exploiting these high-calibre Deepfakes during the 2027 general elections raises serious concerns for the Nigerian democratic process.

Recently, a purported “leaked audio” featuring the voice of former Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashi, shared on X and Facebook, has been determined by BBC investigators to be a deepfake with a cloned voice.

A text-to-video AI tool equipped with advanced capabilities for synchronising text, audio, and video elements, along with the capability to incorporate a fabricated image of any individual, poses a concerning threat. Cyber thugs in the build-up to the 2027 election can draft an inflammatory speech, upload it into the tool, and seamlessly generate a video wherein an impersonated figure, such as the head of the electoral body, delivers the prepared speech. This malicious tactic can be designed to instigate chaos, sow uncertainties, and create confusion among the electorate.

The potential for such manipulated videos to mislead and manipulate public perception adds a disruptive dimension to the electoral process, warranting heightened awareness and preventive measures to safeguard the integrity of democratic proceedings.

Another difficulty arises from the widespread use of large language models, posing a challenge for chatbot developers to effectively control them. A recent incident involved a user creating a GPT instance impersonating a presidential candidate, actively seeking votes for an upcoming election in the USA, a clear violation of ChatGPT’s policies.

This misuse raises concerns about the potential for unpatriotic actors to use it during the lead-up to the 2027 general elections. Large language models can be exploited by political opponents to impersonate influential public figures or front-runners in political the races, disseminating incendiary information, falsely claiming withdrawal from the race, or spreading other misleading information that could pose a threat to the smooth conduct of the election process.

As AI weaves its way into the democratic process, the negative threats it can bring demand careful consideration and proactive measures to safeguard Nigeria’s democracy.

Chiroma wrote from University of Hafr Batin, Saudi Arabia – freedonchi@yahoo.com

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