On Saturday 11th of August, the news was making headlines that Dr. Yakubu Nura won the World Physics Competition. It was reported that Dr. Nura of the University of Maiduguri beat about 5720 other contenders from 97 countries to clinch the title. It was widely celebrated in Nigeria, every Dick and Harry were heaping praises on the Yobe state born Lecturer until Dr. Farooq Kperogi took a look, and his bubbles were busted.
It seems the celebrated distinction, “the father of modern Einstein’s planetary equation studies in physics” is a scam. And Dr. Yakubu Nura is a victim without knowing it, and so were so many others, from the newspapers to every person who was gullible enough to celebrate the fictitious achievement. The Guardian, Sahara Reporters, Senator Shehu Sani, and the famous Journalist, Kadaria Ahmed, all lend voices to the chorus of praise.
The organizer of the award, who goes by the name, International Agency for Standards and Ratings (IASR), has no official website with its name. It uses Google free domain to function. A closer look reveals that the site has been operational since 2013, and has been scamming people since 2014, under the guise of world championship for scientific feats.
Their application form is simple:
Name of program: Application for World Championship
Name of Applicant:
The Applicant is therefore expected to include his works and send them to the email address: email@example.com, which is open to receive applications on the 31st of every month, but the yearly review is done by July.
In 2018, there were 34 Nigerians out of 187 people in the list of winners in different categories of scientific feats, and some of them were highly celebrated just as Dr. Nura. A certain Dr. Kaywood Leizou of the Niger Delta University, who became the Nigerian champion in chemical science (Metal Speciation in Sediment), got the Guardian newspaper to publish an article about his award on October 19, 2018.
There are several other victims of this “scams of ego,” as Dr. Kperogi described it, from around the world. Professionals from 97 countries, mainly from Africa and Asia, whose desire for recognition and award blinded their sight so that they couldn’t pay attention to obvious details. For instance, the site and email (gmail) speak with voluminous evidence of sham. A credible organization with the capacity to award international medals for scientific feats should have a secure website with its name and a professional email that rhymes.
The world of science has over 100 recognized award giving organizations for scientific inventories, discoveries and breakthroughs. Physics isn’t left out that someone like Dr. Yakubu Nura who claimed to have broken Albert Einstein’s planetary equations record would not be recognized for his work.
There is Albert Einstein World Award of Science created to recognize and serve as an incentive to scientific and technological research and development. The award is made by the World Cultural Council (WCC), and the winner is elected by the interdisciplinary committee, which is composed of world renowned scientists, among them 25 Nobel laureates. The award consists of a Diploma, a commemorative medal, and $10, 000.
There is also Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics: It recognizes individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all Physicists – theoretical, mathematical and experimental. The prize can be shared among any number of scientists.
The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is awarded for outstanding achievement in advancing our knowledge of cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy, planetary science, solar physics, space science, astrobiology astronomical and astrophysical instrumentation, and particle astrophysics. This is exactly where Dr. Nura is supposed to be awarded or at least mentioned, but it didn’t happen.
There are so far, over 30 recipients of medals in 2019, in different categories of physics feats, and all of them are listed on the Isaac Newton Medal and Prize portal. For instance, Dr. Lisa Jardine-wright and Prof. Mark Warner receive the Lawrence Bragg Medal and Prize for jointly setting up and directing the Isaac Physics Programme which has revolutionized physics education for teachers and students in UK schools.
And there is also Prof. Chris Hancock who received the Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal and Prize for designing and patenting an electro-surgery platform enabling microwave and bipolar radio frequency energy to be delivered from a range of miniature endoscopic devices to treat lesions in the gastrointestinal tract.
The fact is, the traces are too bold to miss and the recipients are too good to overlook. It was in the wake of the bust that several other Nigerians opened up about sham online awards in many places. Most of them charging fees instead of giving prize money to the awardees.
A Twitter user, Jideofor Akpa lamented how he was exploited, by Arc of Europe Award in gold category for innovation and excellence in business, that would be held in Berlin. Another victim said he was contacted back in 2014, for an award for the most influential 100 Young Entrepreneurs in Shipping, Maritime and Stevedoring.
It seems the scammers would sit back and collect informative data from some online activities, or advertise it online waiting for the gullible. However, one thing is for sure, many have fallen to their baits, and many more are going to fall. The self-recognition thirst is rising to a dehydration degree, not only in Nigeria, but the world over, and scammers are capitalizing on it to push their fraudulent agenda.