Controversy has trailed the claim that a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Dr Yakubu Nuru, won the World Physics Competition.
Announcement of the award, which went viral on the social media a few days ago, had been celebrated by media professional, Kadara Ahmed, and Kaduna State politician, Senator Shehu Sani.
Sani, in particular, had called on northern governors and the President to celebrate Nuru’s feat.
But on Monday, a social commentator, Dr Farooq Kperogi, said the award was fraudulent.
Kperogi, an associate professor of journalism, on Twitter said aside from the fact that the organisers of the award did not have a website, the award was given at a fee.
“The truth is that Dr. Nura is the willing victim of a scam, a kind of scam I call scams of ego, which prey on the status anxieties and low self-esteem of insecure, fraud-prone people.
“World Championship, the ‘organisation’ that conferred the ‘award’ on Dr. Nura, is a well-known scam operation that does not, for strategically fraudulent reasons, have a site with its own domain name.
“Anyone who pays a fee can get any—I mean any—award from the site. Check the site https://t.co/XklKzkRvXV to see the list of ‘award winners’ it features in every imaginable field. You will find many Nigerians there,” he wrote.
Kperogi pointed out that some of the past Nigerian winners had also publicised their feats in the media to gain popularity.
“For instance, one Dr. Kaywood Leizou of the Niger Delta University (NDU) got the Guardian to write a story about his ‘award’ from this same fraudulent site on Oct 19, 2018. Titled ‘Bayelsa don wins global chemical sciences contest’.
“In 2018, the same website ‘conferred’ one Dr. Shuaib Idris Mohammed of Edo State with the ‘World Champion in Agricultural Extension (Credit Facilities)’ award ‘out of 91 countries.’
“The site added, ‘Dr. Shuaib Idris Mohammed is now recognised as Father of Modern Credit Facilities in Agricultural Extension. The purpose of the award is to identify brilliant scientists and academicians around the world through World Championship. The World Championship is organised by International Agency for Standards and Ratings at international level.”
“That’s the exact language used for Dr. Nura. The same suspiciously atrocious grammar. The ‘contenders’ for the ‘awards’ are always in the thousands—and from more than 90 countries in the world.
“But nothing in Nura’s scholarly record—and those of others who have been made ‘fathers’ of whole disciplinary specialties by the fraudulent site—suggests that he is anywhere close to the pinnacle of his career.
“The saddest thing about this fraud, for me, is that news organisations like the NTA, Voice of Nigeria, Sahara Reporters, and even well-known people like @ShehuSani and @KadariaAhmed fell for it. It’s an easily detectable scam, in my opinion. Nigerians have to be the world’s greatest suckers for cheap scams!” he wrote.
Also, a former Special Assistant to the President on Digital/New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, described the site as an award mill.
Ogunlesi pointed out that the International Agency for Standards and Ratings, the awarding organsiation, also gave out several awards and honorary degrees which people apply for through Google mail.
“I think there are some basic rules for when you hear news like this. Always ask questions. Always use Google. Does the award even exist? Who’s the awarding institution? Who are previous winners? What credible news media have carried the news?
“How does someone win such a supposedly prestigious award and there’s nothing to be found online – apart from the same recycled pieces on Nigerian blogs/papers. And I daresay this stuff happens very often,” he tweeted.