The Nigerian Guardian Editorial on Late Chike Obi

By The Nigerian Guardian, 27th March 2008.

Chike Obi (1921-2008).

 ON Thursday, March 13, 2008, Prof. Chike Obi, the first Nigerian to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree in Mathematics, passed on. He was aged 87. While he lived, he acquired international renown as a consummate mathematician, a maverick politician, an international scholar and a passionate patriot. He, along with Adegoke Olubunmo, the late first Professor of Mathematics and Professor James Ezeilo simplified and revolutionised Mathematics research in Nigeria. In particular, Chike Obi became a role model and an inspirational figure for younger persons who developed interest in the study of Mathematics.

Prof. Chike Obi was born in Zaria (now in Kaduna State) on Thursday, April 7, 1921. He attended St. Patrick’s Primary School, Zaria (1933) Christ the King College, Onitsha (1935-39); Yaba Higher College, Lagos (1940-42); University of London, as an external student (1941-46); University College, London (1947); Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, England (1947-50), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA (1950). His consuming interest in Mathematics, a subject that many a student considered difficult was simply legendary. He exhibited extraordinary versatility in all areas of Mathematics, including pure and applied Mathematics, although his area of special focus was Non-Linear Differential Equation of the Second Order.

It was in this seemingly unnavigable labyrinth of Mathematics that Chike Obi, who became a world-acclaimed mathematical virtuoso, gave scientific proof to a 361-year old mathematical puzzle known then as Fermat’s Last Theorem, named after the 17th century French mathematician, Pierre de Fermat: This theorem stated that “xn + yn = zn; where x, y, z and n are positive integers and has no solution if n is greater than two”. For over three centuries, Western mathematicians strained at this theorem until 1994, when they solved it, with the aid of modern technological gadgets, such as the computer.

Soon thereafter, however, Chike Obi, relying only on his fertile brain, presented in 1998 an elementary proof of the arcane Fermat’s Theorem which had been described as one of the most famous problems in Numbers Theory. A Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, the late Chike Obi won laurels, including the Ecklund Prize from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics for original works in Differential Equations and for pioneering works in Mathematics in Africa.

He started his career as a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, University of Ibadan, 1959-62. He became an Associate Professor, University of Lagos (UNILAG) in 1970, and a full Professor (of Mathematics) of the same university, a year later. From 1971-73, he was Dean of the School of Mathematics and Physical Sciences of UNILAG, and Chairman, Department of Mathematics, UNILAG, from 1971-77. From 1981-82, he was acting Dean, Faculty of Science of the University, and in 1985, he became Emeritus Professor of the University.

In 1986, this illustrious polymath won the University of Lagos Silver Jubilee Anniversary Gold Medal Award. At various times, he was visiting Professor to the Universities of Jos, Rhode Island and the Mathematics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Science. The late Prof. Chike Obi was a man of many parts. His incursion into the arena of politics was no less significant than his accomplishments as a teacher of Mathematics. In the days when it was almost a crime for an Easterner to belong to another political party other than the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), the late Chike Obi veered away from “custom” to found the defunct Dynamic Party, which simultaneously won seats both in the Federal House of Representatives and in the Eastern House of Assembly (1960). When, in 1961, he won election to the Eastern House of Assembly, he refused to vacate his seat in the Federal Legislature, whereupon the Speaker of the House ordered that he be physically carried out of the House. This order was obeyed, and he proceeded to the Eastern House of Assembly, where he served till 1966.

A maverick politician, the late Prof. Chike Obi was a man of great conviction. He was passionate about the politics of Nigeria, and the country’s development process. He was an adherent of Kemalism, an ideology based on the teachings and beliefs of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk (1880-1938), the putative father of modern Turkey. Ataturk sought to create a secular nation-state based on the principles of Republican democracy, social revolution, rule of law, and nationalism. Prof. Chike Obi shunned tribal politics and kept religious fanaticism at an arm’s length.

He, however, was such a “fanatical” believer in one Nigeria that he christened his two sons Balogun Chike Obi and Mustapha Chike Obi, thereby building nominal bridges to link the West, the North and the East. Father also to many great mathematicians, the late Prof. Chike Obi established the Nnana Institute for Scientific Studies, located in Onitsha, Anambra State, to encourage research efforts, among other things, into mathematical theorems and “to bring about a scientific technological revolution in Nigeria”.

In appreciation of his laudable services to humankind, particularly in the realms of Mathematics, for which he became world famous, and politics, in which his positive non-conformism was generally acknowledged, the late Prof. Chike Obi was honoured with garlands of national and international awards, including, Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), and the Sigvard Ecklund Prize of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (1986). In Onitsha, his native community, he was a highly regarded member of the Agbalanze society He was also a distinguished member of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria, and author of Our Struggle, sub-titled “A Political Analysis of the Problems of Peoples Struggling for True Freedom” Part I (1986) and Our Struggle, Part II (1962).

Additionally, he had numerous publications on Non-Linear Differential Equations in both national and international journals to his credit. Survived by a widow, Melinda, herself a Mathematician and midwife of note, and four children, the late Prof. Chike Obi was a martinet, a stern disciplinarian, and an optimist who insisted that all equations must be equal.  

Culled from the
Nigerian Guardian Newspaper

Nigeria, A Nation in Perpetual Custody

Adeola Aderounmu.

When I was still under 15 years of age, my father bought me a book written by Naiwu Osahon. The title of the book was: A nation in custody. Recently, I have been thinking about that book and I have also ransacked my memory in an attempt to remember what Osahon wrote about in it. I would like to lay my hands on that book again because there are many things from our past that are even more relevant today. Fela’s music, books written by Soyinka and Achebe and other relevant references from the past have more meanings today than they did yesterday.

On Black is beautiful a blog meticulously put together by Yeye Olade, I found a recent news linked to Naiwu Osahon . I was elated to know that Osahon continues to write about Nigeria and Africa in a very passionate way. I am going to do all I can to get more information about Naiwu Osahon and his writings. There must be a reason why my father gave me that book just about the time that it was published in the early 80s and I was just that little skinny boy. I will make it a task to find out more about Osahon.

Even if one doesn’t remember the content of Naiwu’s book, the cycle of idiocy that refuses to unwind in Nigeria in the last 50 years indicate that our country Nigeria is still a nation in custody. With the title of that book, Naiwu was right in 1982 and he is probably more right in 2008.

In Nigeria, the common people have been held in custody for as long as possible. I can remember some key figures and politicians in the days of Shagari and their names are stuck to my cerebral hemispheres. Way back in 1979/80, I remember that in our family, we associated some names with very bad things and others with very good intentions. I guess other people can populate the list and elaborate on what these names reverberate: Shitta-Bey, Ovie-Whiskey, Wayas, Akinloye, Uba Ahmed, Umaru Dikko, Awolowo, Jakande, Olunloyo, Ajasin and Akinjide. This must be an uneven lump, perhaps unfair too.

There were other names that became part of my cerebral collections after I entered secondary school in 1984. Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Aikhomu, Mudashiru, Bali, Ukiwe and the rest of the tropical gangs who served as military governors and Ministers were added to my danger list. Before then, I have been traumatized with names like Obasanjo, Muritala and Dimka. I have memories of some extremely worrying situations as a 4 year old. I imagine that my mother rescued me, held me by my wrist and virtually dragged me home from kindergarten lesson on a day that I now visualize as a bloody day in a February month. Thirty-two years later, our nation is still in custody.

Nigeria is still in the hands of an illegal administration enjoying the cuddle of a judiciary that I consider to be seriously compromised. In my view, the Nigerian judiciary is lukewarm and lacking in consistency. What kind of judicial system gives approval to one illegal administration and disapproval to another illegal administration under the same constitution?

It has become more obvious that in Nigeria, all humans are not equal. If all humans are equal then what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. The Nigerian judiciary represented by the Supreme Court ought to rise up in the days ahead to declare that the Electoral Commission should conduct fresh and credible presidential elections. Time and space do not take away illegality.

We have identified other areas of our lives where we remained entrapped, in perpetual custody. How long shall we recount them? However, the biggest challenge probably lies in the emergence of credible leadership that would remove us from custody and start our sojourn back into our original promise land. This is why a credible presidential election with a leader emanating from the votes of the populace remains imperative.

In the three musketeers I have pointed out that the key candidates dragging for the position of the president in Nigeria are evil and corrupt. It is a dilemma on its own that the people have to choose among the evil people who have placed everyone in custody in the first place.

The Nigerian political sphere is in dire need of new names, fresh ideas and progressive concepts. We have hoped for too long that the politicians and military gangsters who ruined our lives would go away but unfortunately many of them persist in their old age or they are now represented by their children, family members and godchildren. We need drastic measures that will shift this power play or arrangement to a neutral zone. The recent PDP convention presented a micro-representation of our democraZy status but it was traditionally reduced to a mere carnival and selection games. Election was summarily erased from the convention. This forcefully ruling monstrous party symbolizes a great pain in our hearts. What a shame!

It is about time we got out of this custody. We have stayed in it for too long, suffering and smiling. Our expressions of optimism are not enough. We must act as well. As a matter of urgency, Nigerians should bring forth men and women of honour and integrity who can save us from those who stole our future. Many of us are living the lives we didn’t choose. We have staked our hopes on the same set of people for over half of a century. We must stop this in the most radical way we can.
It is so sad though that the true colour of a Nigerian Politician appears when he/she gets into a position of authority. Those who are rejoicing with Edo state today may be disappointed in a few months from now. Nevertheless, we should present new, credible faces and fresh hands if we have to conduct new presidential elections in the nearest future. All these Obasanjos, Yar‘ Aduas, Babangidas, Buharis and the Atikus are the creators of our problems, let us do away with them. They belong to the trash bins! We need help and we must help ourselves. Where do we start from? Who will save Nigeria?

Yomi Bamgbose’s Article on Driver’s License in Nigeria..

Culled from the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper. 18/3/2008.

This is an article from the Guardian Newspaper written by Yomi Bamgbose.

FRSC and driver’s licence

Also pasted here:

THIS is in response to a statement made recently by the Chief Executive and Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) which was published in The Guardian of January 9, 2008, page 3 wherein he said “The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has concluded plans so prosecute over “100” of its staff for allegedly defrauding various state governments through the printing of fake Drivers’ Licences across the country…”

There has been a raging controversy for some time now on which agency of government is responsible for the issuance of Driver’s Licence in this country, Nigeria. The controversy has, however, reached a point where Nigerians have to be told what they probably do not know about this issue.

Driver’s Licence falls under “Motor Vehicle Administration as a Residual issue under The 1999 Nigerian Constitution”. A relevant definitional point that ought to be addressed first in this context is – what Motor Vehicle Administration is.

Motor Vehicle Administration is a composite process and revolves around the management and the control of Motor Licensing operations including driving and other related licences which include the following matters:-

1. Issuance and Renewal of:

Motor Vehicle Licences

Local Driving Licence

Learner’s Permit

Certificate of Roadworthiness
2. Registration of Vehicle

3. Preparation and Keeping of Statutory Registers of all licences issued.

4. Collection of fees emanating from its operations and payment of same into the appropriate sub-head of the state governments’ accounts.

To the main issue of Fake Driver’s Licence: The FRSC has failed to educate Nigerians on how prospective applicant drivers can obtain a “Genuine Driver’s Licence”. All what they are saying is that once you obtain your forms from the Board Of Internal Revenue of the State concerned, the forms will be forwarded to the FRSC for the printing of the Driver’s Licence, just like that.

The question arises here: Why is it that the VIOs in the State Ministry of Works/Transport nationwide that are charged with the responsibility of testing of prospective drivers and the Issuance of Certificate of Competence are deliberately not mentioned by the FRSC?

Today in Nigeria, three agencies are involved in the processing of Driver’s Licences – namely
(I) The State Board of Internal Revenue (ii) FCT/State VIOs and (iii) The FRSC.

Their statutory responsibility under the law is as follows:: –

The Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) collects monies and issues Learner’s Permit; RS Form NDL – 18 N and receipts to candidates who wish to obtain a Driver’s Licence.

The VIO in the State Ministry of Works/Transport including FCT conducts oral test on Highway Code and Practical Driving Test for prospective drivers. Thereafter, the VIO endorses the Learner’s Permit and the RS Form NDL – 18 N. He also takes the personal data, passport photograph and the “finger print” of the would-be driver. The VIO finally issues a Driving Test Report and Certificate of Competence to the successful candidate. He recommends the “Class/Group” of Driver’s Licence for the category of vehicle to be handled by the driver.

The FRSC which is in possession of the Printing Machine in which the signature of the Director/Chief VIO is being stored, then prints the Driver’s Licence for those candidates that approach the FRSC.
But here are my own observations:

FRSC officials capitalise on their access to the signature of the director/chief VIOs which had already been stored in their “System” and consequently print out Drivers’ Licences indiscriminately to untested and unqualified drivers, hence the high rate of accidents on our highways.

The FRSC has never told nor educated Nigerians that the would-be driver will have to undergo a Driving Test with the VIOs in their various areas in the States/FCT before they can obtain a genuine Driver’s Licence. The moment the FRSC allows Nigerians to know that the would-be driver must go for a Driving Test, the issue of fake Drivers’ Licences will reduce drastically in the country.

The Federal Road Safety Commission should without delay hand over all Information Processing Centres (IPC) nationwide to each state of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory as they have failed Nigerians in the Printing of Driver’s Licence moreso that The Laws of the Federation of Nigeria which came into force on December 31, 2002 and The Revised Edition (Laws of The Federation of Nigeria, Act 2004, Chapter F19 Section 11) clearly states the functions of Federal Road Safety Commission as regards the Printing of Driver’s Licence in Nigeria.

The National Road Traffic Regulation 2006 was a making of the FRSC to create the impression that they have the power to print Driver’s Licences, forgetting that the issue of Motor Vehicle Administration is a Residual Matter Under the 1999 Nigeria Constitution – and this supercedes any regulation.

Bamgbose lives in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

A Baby’s alibi and a useless eye-witness at Barkaby

Adeola Aderounmu.   

Barkaby is one of the local areas in Stockholm. Usually, I try to refrain from writing about very personal things on my BLOG but this one really struck me. I finished working and I’d gone to the day care center to take my daughter.  I parked my car and went to the nearby train station to pick up a copy of the day’s Metro Newspaper.

Then I went into the center to get my daughter. On my way out, I noticed a police car parked at the entrance of the center (Dagis as it is called in Sweden). I’d thought to myself: what the f*** had happened here in 10minutes that I’d been inside the Dagis?   

Anyway, the police walked up to me and I thought it would be a routine question on whatever had happened. I was wrong! The police were out there waiting for me. I was their suspect!!! 

One useless idiot had called the police to tell them that he had seen one of the 3 guys who broke into an apartment (or a house somewhere in the neighbourhood) earlier. He told the police that he was 100% sure that I was among the burglars. 

It is one thing to call the police and give them info, it is quite another thing entirely to tell them that you are 100% sure that you have seen a suspect.  

Imagine if I’d gone to that area on a normal day like this and not having to pick up my daughter. Imagine also that I was on free foot and not having to drive my own car.  

Eyewitnesses’ accounts are taken seriously everywhere but I was able to end all the expectations of that useless caller and the police most likely because of my daughter and the fact that I drove straight from work to this Dagis. I am always careful about my dress and today was not an exception. I am very sure that in the eyes of the police, that caller is a BIG NUISANCE.  

Apparently, the idiot caller didn’t know that I drove a car to the Dagis. I’m sure he only saw me after I’d gone to pick up the Metro newspaper and thought I’d approach from the train station.  

The Swedish Police were very careful to approach me anyway because they don’t like to make mistakes or make a fool of themselves. They would have thought of the several questions that also popped up in my mind. The answers to those questions simply did not give them the room to interrogate me except to check my driver’s license. 

My daughter’s alibi was definitely greater than the nonsense 100% certainty of a very stupid and useless informant. I wish the Police good luck with their investigation.