Sowore OmoyeleFriday, July 22, 2005
New York, USA



igeria is a funny country, so also are the citizens who now dot the various regions of the world. Generally speaking, it is always intriguing and inspiring to learn about giant strides by Nigerians in any part of the world in all fields of human endeavor. It feels like winter in hell, whenever news filters through the normal and so many times, informal channels, about the feats of Nigerians, especially when placed against the back drop of the steady streams of catastrophic and depressing news that daily emanates from the country.

Hence, soccer stars in Nigeria are celebrated as mini-gods; they are about the best heroes our people can find in the horizon of a land scorched by its most notorious citizens. Hence soccer games and perhaps religion remains the only “uniter” of this bitterly divided land of hapless and helpless peoples.

The downside to these uncontrolled enthusiasms is the legion of “heroes and champions” that have capitalized on the ‘hopefulness’ of Nigerians to push all kinds of agenda. For sometime now, this has manifested in a media frenzy regarding a Nigerian, Professor Gabriel Oyibo, an Igalla native who has long been a United States resident. He was supposedly nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize for Physics four times! The news was designed to raise the hope of all Nigerians and black people, that we all cursed under our breath when the Nobel Prize was announced without any mention of his name. Nigerians smelled conspiracy against black people’s most populated nation by the neo-colonialists; the pain was further exacerbated by the failure of the house of cardinals in Rome to elect another Nigerian, Cardinal Arinze, to the papacy earlier this year. Nigerians yelled blue murder!

But here, the difference is clear; Prof. Oyibo is no Cardinal Francis Arinze. He is a US-based Nigerian who wrote a 275 page book about a mathematical theorem called “GAGUT”-God Almighty Grand Unified Theorem. The book claims it has solved a mathematical equation that Albert Einstein could not solve before he died. Since it was reported in the news that Professor Oyibo was “nominated” for the Nobel Prize, a few Nigerian newspapers have written series of articles about his accomplishments. It has been claimed that the theorem could solve Nigeria’s myriad of problems, including HIV/AIDS, corruption, tribalism, etc. It is interesting that a nation as religious as Nigeria would ever accept that God could be captured in a simple mathematical equation, whether quadratic or linear.

Professor Oyibo traveled to Nigeria on a trip sponsored by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and visited with Universities as well as the President to talk about the Grand Unified Theorem (GAGUT).

Very recently, it was reported that a committee of African Americans had been formed to support his theory and authenticate it. They are mostly African American church leaders who might have been caught up in the civil rights dimensions of his claims of discrimination. None of the people named is involved in science research. It was even rumored that a popular American TV series “Law and Order” was considering Oyibo’s theory for one of its episodes. “Law and Order” is popular but it is also not a TV show that could verify Mathematical theories; even at that there was no one who could confirm the veracity of that report.

Some of the investigations were done by calling the University of Bridgeport where Prof. Oyibo claims he was a professor. The University refused to address him as a “Professor” and they claimed he doesn’t work with them anymore, preferring not to talk about him. The only other institution where Professor Oyibo had worked was the Brooklyn Polytechnic where he sued the institution and then left under controversial circumstances.

We tried reaching the Nobel Foundation to confirm if he was ever nominated. They said his name didn’t sound familiar but referred us to their website so as to acquaint ourselves with the nomination process. They said if he was ever nominated and short-listed he should be able to tell us who, where, and when. As a policy, the Nobel Prize Committee does not publish the names of nominees until after 50 years!

Also a television documentary made by an African American about the GAGUT theorem as well as Professor Oyibo's trip to Nigeria did not seem to provide any answers to the many nagging questions about the originality of Professor Oyibo’s work. For example he is not a tenured Professor in any of the over 3,000 colleges in the United States. He runs a school or institute named OFFAPIT Institute, which is not accredited to award degrees, yet he claims that it is a graduate college better than Harvard. When we confronted him about his numerous mention of the existence of his book in one of Harvard’s Libraries, to know if anyone is studying his work, he backed down about the facts but insisted that the library would not be carrying his book on it shelf if no one was studying it.

His supporters claim that the White establishment is not excited about his theorem because of his skin color, yet Professor Oyibo’s team uses the Nobel Prize nomination as its biggest source of publicity. The Nobel Foundation which administers the Nobel Prize is managed mostly by white people in Sweden!

Now the Professor turns to the awards given him by the traditional leader of the Igalla Kingdom, as his source of authenticity. The palace of that traditional ruler does not have a physicist or mathematician on staff the last time we checked.

Right now a group of Nigerian senators led by Prof. Iya Abubakar and Adihije (remember him from the 55 million naira bribery scandal?) are said to have sponsored a bill at the Senate to have a special award set aside for “African Scientist of the Year.” Prof. Oyibo has already been proposed as the first winner! Then the Ministry of Education is supposed to recommend his book for use in all Nigerian Universities. The sale price of the book is $105. If the book were mandated to be used in all Nigerian Universities Professor Oyibo would become an instant millionaire and therefore able to take care of his supporters-- Senators, journalists, and others who orchestrated this charade from the beginning. We contacted some folks in the science community in Nigeria; a National Merit Award winner who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity said they were shocked that Professor Oyibo was flown to Nigeria, first class by the NUC at tax payers' expense when no one could verify the authenticity of his work. He told our correspondent that at best, Prof. Oyibo sounds like a man with problems rather than a world-class scientist as is being peddled by some officials of the NUC.

An eyewitness account of the screening of his television documentary adds to the lack of credibility of the whole GAGUT claim. The screening was done in an apartment in Brooklyn with only 4 persons in attendance as opposed to the publicized venue of Boys and Girls High school in Brooklyn.

Conducting an interview with Professor Oyibo is a Herculean task, more complicated than any mathematical theory that I know. Twice he claimed two different identities. Initially he claimed to be Henry Gross and later, John Gross. Prof. Oyibo loves to talk and this betrayed him several times. I had to remind him that he was still “Henry Gross” many times over.

I am sitting back wondering if Prof. Oyibo’s popularity with the Nigerian Senate is a grand scam to defraud Nigeria huge sums of money through a bogus “African Scientist Award” which is expected to carry a monetary award that is bigger than the Nobel Prize. The problem with this award is that the winner is already determined. What are Nigerian senators and Prof. Oyibo really afraid of? Why the rush and why not let other African scientists compete for this award. What manner of African Scientist Award would not let other African Scientist compete? Why is Professor Oyibo campaigning to be given the Nobel Prize for a Mathematical theory that no serious institution has touched since 1996?

Regarding his nomination details for the Nobel Prize, each time we asked Prof. Oyibo he would say that he was nominated four times. When asked by whom? He first mentions the name of a woman he said was the assistant to Albert Einstein. She died two years ago. The lady in question only gave a recommendation letter to him and the letter was not addressed to the Nobel Committee. In the case of the category, Prof. Oyibo might qualify for, which is Physics, the Nobel Committee have to first nominate or empower certain scientists to nominate candidates. Prof. Oyibo would not give any names to us, insisting that he would like to keep to the “secrecy” of the nomination process and quickly returns to the Nigerian Senate Motion regarding his work!

So far, what has become most credible about Professor Oyibo’s work is a well-crafted science that promotes the illusions of grandeur and persecution.

Omoyele Sowore is Ex-President, University of Lagos Students Union (ULSU) 1992/1994