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# Nigeria Peace, Love & Unity


20 most influential Nigerians

Why we love them

by Remmy Diagbare

Republished in full from: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2010/10/20-most-influential-nigerians/

Like Shakespeare wrote about greatness in one of his classic plays, Macbeth, “Some were born great, while others had greatness thrust upon them”. I am not sure where these twenty wonderful Nigerians we have featured in this piece belong to in the greatness chart; I leave you to figure that out. One thing remains unambiguous they belong to different but are great all the same. Yes, they are great people, great Nigerians.

We have selected them from different strata of society. Each one has contributed immensely to influencing Nigerians in various ways. Is it Oluwole Akinwande, the poet whose ———-, gets you dizzy? Or Asa, the one whose African lyrics hit high notes on the air waves of Champse de Elise in Paris? Or Pastor Enoch Adeboye, whose genteel manner is said to break down the fiercest of strongholds.

These are Nigerian men and women we admire. And, as we continue to celebrate Nigeria at 50, thinking despondent thoughts, these great achievers give us hope: that there is much more to us than what people in citadels of power spew at us. Celebrate these 20 influential Nigerians as part of the achievements of our dear country at age 50.

Asa was born in 1982 in Paris. She lived there for two years and after she went to Lagos in Nigeria. Her real name is Bukola Elemide and her nickname Asa means “little hawk” because when she was young she often ran away and changed directions like a hawk.

Her mother was a shopkeeper and her father shot video reports for weddings and that’s how she discovered music more particularly Bob Marley and Fela Kutti’s songs. She has got three brothers.

She is success full thanks to her lyrics which deal with Africa, everyday life things with lots of irony. She is the new singer of soul, pop and reggae music!!!! She is compared to Tracy Chapman.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born September 15, 1977) is a writer whose first two novels won literary awards. She is a native of Abba, in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra state. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States for college. After studying at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to live closer to her sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry (now in Mansfield, Connecticut). She continued studying communications and political science. She received a university degree from Eastern, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2001.

In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts in African studies at Yale University.[2] Chimamanda is a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.[3]

Adichie had her first novel published in 2003. It received excellent reviews and won a literary award for first books. Her second novel won the 2007 Orange Prize for fiction.

In 2008, Adichie was a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she participated in Wesleyan’s Distinguished Writers Series.

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was published in 2003 and won the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book.Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, named after the flag of the short-lived Biafran nation, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was published by Fourth Estate in the UK and by Knopf/Anchor in 2006. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Her third book, a collection of short stories titled The Thing Around Your Neck, was published in April 2009 by Fourth Estate in the UK and Knopf in the US

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (born November 21, 1960) is a former Nigerian government anti-corruption official. He was the pioneer Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the government commission tasked with countering corruption and fraud. In April 2009, he became a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. He lived in exile until 2010 when he returned to Nigeria and declared his intention to run for President of Nigeria under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Ribadu studied law at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State from 1980 until 1983, receiving a Bachelor of Laws degree. Following a year at the Nigerian Law School, he was called to Bar in 1984. He also earned a Master of Laws degree from the same university. He is a Ted Fellow and currently a Senior Fellow in St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, UK.

Deola Sagoe has given African fashion in the 21st century the most radical expression imaginable, from the deeply rooted African fabrics to perfectly matched accessories. Known for constantly fabulous design o a two-time international award winner creates designs that truly celebrate Africa and Nigeria. Described as the African fashion designer who is ‘’best placed to interpret our cultural diversity and artistry, our earthiness and mystery, our colors warmth and passion of the African woman in her simplicity and elegance,’’

Philip Emeagwali (born in 1954) is an Igbo Nigerian-born engineer and computer scientist/geologist who was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields.

Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria on 23 August 1954. He dropped out of school in 1967 because of the Nigerian-Biafran war. When he turned fourteen, he was conscripted into the Biafran army. After the war he completed a high-school equivalency through self-study and came to the United States to study under a scholarship after taking a correspondence course at the University of London.[citation needed] He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He was also working as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming during this period.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000.

Born Eleazar Chukwuemeka (Emeka) Anyaoku on 18 January 1933 in Obosi, Nigeria, he attended the Merchants of Light School in Oba and (as a College Scholar) the University College of Ibadan, at the time a college of the University of London and from which he obtained an honours degree in Classics. Chief Anyaoku later attended specialist courses in the United Kingdom and France.

In 1959, Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Following Nigeria’s independence, he was invited to join his country’s diplomatic service and, in 1963, was posted to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

In 1966, shortly after the establishment of the    Commonwealth Secretariat, he was seconded to the new organisation at the request of the first Secretary-General, Arnold Smith of Canada, as Assistant Director of International Affairs, later becoming Director and, in 1975, Assistant Secretary-General. In 1977, Commonwealth governments elected him Deputy Secretary-General with responsibility for international affairs and the Secretariat’s administration.

Nigeria’s civilian government of 1983 called on Chief Anyaoku to become the country’s Foreign Minister. On the overthrow of the Government by the military, he returned to his position as Deputy Secretary-General with the support of the new government in Nigeria and the endorsement of all Commonwealth governments.

At the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chief Anyaoku was elected the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. He was re-elected at the 1993 CHOGM in Limassol, Cyprus, for a second five-year term.

Under Chief Anyaoku’s guidance, the Secretariat also launched a variety of important initiatives in sustainable economic and social development, and through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), the operational arm of the Secretariat, reinforced the benefits of co-operation and mutual assistance among members.

Oluwole Akinwande was born in Ijebu Isara, Nigeria. He grew up in Abeokuta, where his father was a schoolteacher. He was educated at Abeokuta Grammar School and Government College, Ibadan. He studied at University College, Ibadan ( 1952 –4 ) and then at Leeds University ( 1954 –7 ), where he graduated with an honours degree in English. He has been at various times on the academic staff of the Universities of Lagos, Ibadan, and at Ife, where he was professor of comparative literature and dramatic arts. Between 1973 and 1974 he was overseas fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge, and visiting professor, department of English, University of Sheffield. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986 .

Soyinka’s influence and impact in Africa is evident in drama, poetry, fiction, and autobiography. In addition to his poetical works, he has published two novels, two volumes of autobiographical writing, critical essays, and several plays. He has also edited an impressive anthology, Poems of Black Africa (London, 1975 ). As a consequence of his political activities during the Nigerian Civil War he was detained in August 1967 until October 1969 by the Federal Military Government of Nigeria.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (born June 13, 1954) was the former Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of Nigeria, notable for being the first woman to hold either of those positions. She served as finance minister from July 2003 until her appointment as foreign minister in June 2006, and as foreign minister until her resignation in August 2006. Okonjo-Iweala was considered as a possible replacement for former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. On October 4 2007 she was appointed as Managing Director of the World Bank by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

Okonjo-Iweala is an Igbo[3] from Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State where her father Professor Chukuka Okonjo is the Obi, or King, from the Umu Obi Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an A.B. in 1977, and earned her Ph.D. in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is married – her husband is from Umuahia, Abia State.

Nnaji found mainstream Nollywood success in 1998. Despite her popularity as an actress, she has consistently added accolades, such as singer, producer and fashion designer to her name. In 2004 she became the face of Lux soap in a highly lucrative sponsorship deal. Among other actors and actresses, she released her first album, titled No More, in 2005, following a one year acting ban. Three years later in May, Nnaji launched her clothing line St. Genevieve which was a huge success as the simple, yet elegant easy-wear clothes.

Oluchi Onweagba (born August 1, 1982) is a model. who   grew up in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria with her two brothers and sisters. She is the daughter of a civil servant father and mother who was a nurse. When Onweagba was 16 years old, she won the “Face Of Africa” contest. In August 2005, she married her longtime companion, Italian fashion designer Luca Orlandi. Onweagba’s her name,the Igbo language and means “God’s Work”.
She was urged by a family friend to enter into the M-Net “Face of Africa” preliminary screening at the M-Net office in Victoria Island, Lagos. The agency groomed her to be one of Nigeria’s entrants for the 1998 competition (now called the Nokia Face of Africa). This despite the fact that, growing up, she had maintained a relative ignorance towards fashion and modeling, but with the support of her family and friends, she decided to compete in the inaugural edition of the Face of Africa in 1998. This was the first-ever continent-wide model competition, organized by the South African channel M-Net in collaboration with Elite Model Management. She won the competition. She was just seventeen years old. Elite Model Management awarded Onweagba a three-year modeling contract.

After moving to New York City, where she still lives, Onweagba graced the covers of Italian Vogue, i-D, ELLE, Untold, and Surface; she also was featured in Nylon, Marie Claire, Allure, and other national editions of Vogue around the world. She became the face of campaigns for Gianfranco Ferré, Gap, Express, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor, as well as working for Victoria’s Secret. Onweagba’s runway experience has been with John Galliano, Christian Dior, Costume National, Chanel, and Giorgio Armani, amongst others, in London, Milan, Tokyo and Paris. She has worked with such notable photographers as Steven Meisel, Nick Knight, and Patrick Demarchelier.

Ibiagbanidokibubo ‘Agbani’ Asenite Darego (born December 22, 1982) is a model, best known as the first black African to be crowned Miss World in 2001.
Darego hails from Abonnema, Rivers, and was born into a family of eight children. At ten, Darego was sent to boarding school in a bid to shield her from her mother who had breast cancer. Darego’s mother died two years later, and her daughter has spoken of how the loss prepared her for the future.

As a teenager, Darego longed to be a model. Although her conservative father was against the idea, she entered the M-Net Face of Africa modelling competition, but failed to make it past the first round. She achieved greater success when she was crowned Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 2001. Contrary to popular belief, Darego did not replace Valerie Peterside after the latter was dethroned – Peterside had won Miss Nigeria. Darego managed to divide her time between her official duties with her education at the University of Port Harcourt where she was studying Computer Science, and she represented Nigeria in the 2001 Miss Universe competition, held in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She placed among the top 10 semi-finalists, finishing seventh. She was the only black semi-finalist that year – and the only finalist to wear a maillot swimsuit.]

In November 2001, Darego was crowned Miss World, beating Miss Scotland and Miss Aruba in the final round. Her victory in the pageant was widely welcomed in her home country, and her reign as MBGN was continued by Ann Suinner. Her one year tenure included goodwill trips and scheduled appearances on behalf of the pageant.
Darego left the University of Port Harcourt after her reign as Miss World ended in 2002, and is now studying Psychology at the New York University. She is signed to Next Model Management, and is currently pursuing a modelling career in Europe. In 2002 she was a spokesperson for L’Oréal cosmetics. In 2006, a catwalk model believed to be Darego posed topless at a fashion show], causing outrage in Nigeria. Darego has made no comment. Darego is currently working on a fashion reality show, soon to be aired on Nigerian television.

Babatunde Raji Fashola (born June 28, 1963) is the thirteenth governor of Lagos State, Nigeria. As a candidate of the Action Congress party, Fashola succeeded his predecessor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in April 14, 2007,[1] and was sworn in on May 29, 2007.

Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) is a descendant of the patriarch of the Fashola family, Alfa Bello Fashola of Princess Street in Isale Gangan, Lagos. On the Fashola family tree, he is the great grandson of Bello Fashola, a philanthropist and a very close friend of Esugbayi Eleko, who contributed morally and financially to the struggle to return Esugbayi Eleko to Lagos after the Oba’s banishment from his kingdom by the then colonial government. Bello Fashola had 137 children with Tiamiyu Bashorun Fashola as the eldest child. The direct linkage is as follows: Bello Fashola begat Tiamiyu Fashola, who begat Raji Olayinka Fashola, who begat Ademola Fashola who begat Babatunde Raji Fashola.

He is also linked to Isale Eko through his paternal grandmother who is a direct descendant of the Shomade/Bashua family of Obun Eko and Suenu chieftaincy family house. His paternal great, great grandmother was Jarinatu Okunnu from Isale Eko Onilegbe family whilst his maternal great grandmother is from Idumagbo Isale Eko of the Suenu Chieftaincy family.

Babatunde Raji Fashola was born in Lagos on June 28, 1963. He attended Birch Freeman High school Lagos and Igbobi College Lagos. He studied Law at the University of Benin from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, LL.B.(Hon), degree in 1987.
He is married to Mrs. Abimbola Emmanuela Fashola and they have children.

Adenike ‘Nike’ Oshinowo-Soleye is a Nigerian businesswoman and socialite, currently reviving the Miss Nigeria pageant.

Oshinowo was raised in Ibadan and England, where she attended boarding school. Although she had intended to become an air hostess or a doctor, she studied Politics at the University of Essex. Shortly after obtaining her degree, Oshinowo, who was mentored by former Miss Nigeria Helen Prest-Davies, represented Rivers at the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant and emerged winner.

After her reign, which saw her compete at Miss World, Oshinowo featured in a commercial for Venus cosmetics and hosted a fashion and beauty show on Nigerian television. Her business ventures included an African restaurant and Skin Deep, a health and beauty spa which ran for seven years before it was sold after she decided to create her own range of beauty products for the Nigerian market. In January 17 2010, she released the workout video Nike Oshinowo: Fit, Forty and Fabulous – the first celebrity fitness DVD produced in the country – and is currently working on the beauty products which will include fragrance, skincare, and haircare.

Now in her forties, Oshinowo, who is fluent in five languages including Japanese and French, is hailed as a style icon in her homeland. Although she had stated in previous interviews that she had no plans to become a wife, Oshinowo is now married to medical doctor Tunde Soleye. In 2009, the couple was in the news following a lawsuit instituted by Soleye’s ex-wife Funmilayo, who claimed that he had been unfaithful with Oshinowo during their marriage.

In 2010, after a six-year attempt, Oshinowo-Soleye finally bought the Miss Nigeria franchise from former organisers Daily Times, and is chief executive and creative director of the pageant.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote (born April 10, 1957) is a businessman based in Nigeria. He is the owner of the Dangote Group, which has operations in Nigeria and several other countries in West Africa. A wealthy supporter of erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dangote controls much of Nigeria’s commodities trade through his corporate and political connections. With an estimated current net worth of around US$ 2.5 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as one of the richest black African citizens [3] and the third richest person of African descent in the world behind Mohammed Al Amoudi ($9.0 billion) and Oprah Winfrey ($2.7 billion.) [4]

The Dangote Group, originally a small trading firm founded in 1977, is now a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. Dangote’s businesses include food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group dominates the sugar market in Nigeria: it is the major sugar supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to Nigeria’s largest industrial group, including Dangote Sugar Refinery (the most capitalized company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, valued at over US$3 billion with Aliko Dangote’s equity topping US$2 billion), Africa’s largest Cement Production Plant: Obajana Cement, Dangote Flour amongst others.

Nwankwo Kanu (born August 1, 1976 in Owerri, Kanu Nwankwo  is a professional football |footballer, currently playing for West Bromwich Albion F. C. West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League. He is known for his height, which is 198 cm (6’6″).  Kanu began his career, aged fifteen, at first division club Federation Works before moving to Iwuanyanwu National in 1992. After a notable performance at the Football U-17 World Championship|U-17 World Championships he was  signed by Ajax Amsterdam in 1993 for $250,000. He made his Ajax debut in 1994 and went on to play 54 times for the Netherlands|Dutch side, scoring 25 goals. In 1996, Ajax sold him to Internazionale Inter Milan for around $4.7 million; that summer he played in the Nigeria national football team|Nigerian squad that won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics Olympics. Kanu was named African Footballer of the Year for that year.

At Inter a medical examination revealed a serious heart defect; he underwent surgery in November 1996 to replace an aortic valve and did not return to his club until April 1997. In February 1999, after just twelve games for Inter, Kanu was signed by Arsenal F. C. Arsenal for roughly $7.5 million. Initially his career was revived under Arsène Wenger, and he was named African Footballer of the Year for the second time in 1999.

Kanu’s appearances for Arsenal gradually became less frequent, and in the 2004 offseason, after failing to get his contract with Arsenal extended, he moved to West Bromwich Albion F. C. West Brom on a free transfer. Kanu played for Nigeria in the Football World Cup 1998  and Football World Cup 2002 World Cups.

Kanu is remembered for his classic hat-trick against Chelsea F. C. Chelsea, in which one of the goals was scored parallel to the goal line.

Biodun Shobanjo is the CEO of the new [reality tv series, The Apprentice Africa. Born some 63 years ago to a peripatetic civil servant, the Shobanjo family’s peregrinations imbued the young man with a cosmopolitan world view and his early experience as a broadcaster prepared him for life as an advertising practitioner.
Biodun Shobanjo, who rose to the post of Deputy Managing Director of Grant Advertising before his 30th birthday, co-founded Insight Communications (now Insight Grey) in 1979 and has today grown the company from the initial 18 man strong team into an advertising behemoth.

The Troyka Group which is the holding company for Insight, SKG2, Optimum Exposure, Media Perspective, MediaCom, Quadrant and Halogen amongst others employs over seven thousand Nigerian men and women.

Biodun Shobanjo attributes his success to  a fierce determination and a steely can-do attitude. “I was young when I left Grant advertising and young people are very daring, so it didn’t cross my mind that I wouldn’t make it. Again, without meaning to be immodest, I really have never failed in my life. If you’re not used to failing you don’t even contemplate failure.”

The ever dapper and sartorially elegant man of style says there are four essential elements for success and he lists them as “Professionalism. The other is honour. The third is integrity. The fourth is passion. They come in any order but if you have these four things, chances are that you’re going to succeed.” A consummate advertising and marketing communications practitioner, Biodun Shobanjo is a perfect choice for the CEO of The Apprentice Africa because as a believer in people, his business style has favoured a mentoring ambience which has spawned protégés who are leading lights of the advertising and marketing communications industry in Nigeria.

Today, the top 10 CEOs of the top 10 advertising and marketing communications outfits in Nigeria are proud alumni of what admirers love to refer to as the “Insight University.” Biodun Shobanjo brings to the Apprentice Africa almost forty years of top-notch corporate experience, entrepreneurial savvy, multi-disciplinary industry experience and a business maxim founded squarely on the belief that success is not negotiable. As he loves to say: “Winning is not everything. It is the only thing!”

P-Square are a Nigerian R&B duo composed of identical twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye. The story of P-Square began in St. Murumba College, a small Catholic school in Jos, Nigeria. Identical twins Peter and Paul joined their school music and drama club where they began singing, dancing, and miming songs by MC Hammer, Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson.

They later formed an a cappella quartet called “MMMPP” (M Clef a.k.a Itemoh, Michael, Melvin, Peter and Paul). Drawing inspiration from their music idol Michael Jackson, they began break dancing, formed the group called “Smooth Criminals” in 1997. They droped M Clef from the group “MMMPP” which later was changed to “MMPP”. Their artistic talent and precise dance routine soon made them household names in the city of Jos, where they performed at school functions and other occasions.

Later in 1999, Peter and Paul returned to music school to develop their skills on keyboard, drums, bass and rhythm guitar. Their work includes the soundtracks for a number of films like Tobi, Mama Sunday, Moment of Bitterness and Evas River.

Later in 1999, they applied to the University of Abuja to study Business Administration. The Smooth Criminals disbanded when its members left to various other universities. Subsequently Peter and Paul formed their own group, variously called “Double P”, “P&P”, and “Da Pees”, until they eventually settled on “P Square”. They are managed by Bayo Odusami aka Howie T, a seasoned concert promoter and the CEO of Adrot Nigeria Limited.

In 2001, “P-Square” won the “Grab Da Mic” competition, and hence Benson & Hedges sponsored their debut album, titled Last Nite, which was released under Timbuk2 music label. P-Square was also nominated as “Most Promising African Group” in the Kora Awards three months after the release of their debut album. They eventually won the 2003 Amen Award for “Best R&B Group”.

In 2005, P Square released their second album, Get Squared under their own label, Square Records. This album was marketed nationwide by TJoe Enterprises, although they were still managed by Howie T of Adrot Nigeria Limited. The video for the second album held the #1 position on the MTV Base chart for four straight weeks.

They have an ever growing fan base across South Africa with a particular stronghold of die-hard fans in Cape Town.

The group has performed alongside the following international artists like Ginuwine, Sean Paul, Akon and Busola Keshiro. The members of P Square are now located in Lagos.

Late in 2007, they released their best selling album so far, Game Over. It has sold 8 million copies worldwide.

In 2009, P-Square released their fourth studio album, Danger. The album features collaborations with 2face Idibia, J Martins and Frenzy. The first single called “Danger” is a hip hop song with cutting synths and a frog bass baseline similar to an Eminem song. The video affirms this with the presence of clowns and staggered movements in front of the camera reminiscent of comical videos by Eminem. They are also known for the close resemblance which the twins have to American R&B Superstar, Usher Raymond.

On 4 April 2010, P-Square was named the Artist of the Year[citation needed] at the KORA All Africa Music Awards in Ouagadougou, Burkina-Faso while they were in London for a Concert at the Troxy, and they will receive a whopping sum of $1 Million Dollars as the Award Winners, in Ebebiyin City.

CHIEF MICHAEL ADENUGA –  Chairman Chief Executive Officer of Globacom.

Adenuga’s rise to wealth and accompanying fame is an interesting story. His resolve to succeed against all odds started when, while in America, he worked as a taxi driver and security guard to sustain himself in school.
Born on April 29, 1953, Michael Adeniyi Isola Adenuga had his secondary school education at the Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State, before proceeding to the North-Western University in Oklahoma and Pace University, New York, both in the United States where he studied business administration.

At age 26, Adenuga had already become a millionaire with connections in high places. With his unique flair for risks and sheer tenacity of purpose, in no time he started reaping profits in billions. He owns Equitorial Trust Bank and Consolidated Oil, which carries out crude oil drilling, refining and marketing.

He won the bid in August 2002 through his Globacom Limited. The SNO has a wider range of operations as Globacom has the right to operate as a national carrier, operate digital mobile lines, serve as international gateway for telecommunications in the country and operate fixed wireless access phones.

Adenuga’s estate business and company shares traverse several countries in Western Europe, North America and the Middle-East.
have four children

Enoch Adejare Adeboye is a Pastor from Nigeria and General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)

Before joining the pentecostal church Adeboye was a mathematics lecturer, and worked at the universities of Lagos and Ilorin; He has a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Lagos, hitting a successful career in the academic world. After he joined The Redeemed Christian Church Of God he began working to translate the sermons of its then Pastor and founder, Rev. Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, from Yoruba into English.

In 1981 by Divine Providence Adeboye became the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church Of God, making him leader of the Church after the death of Papa Akindayomi the previous year. For three years he filled the role part-time, still lecturing at Ilorin, until giving up his university position to preach full-time.

The Church, which was not well known before Adeboye took charge, now claims branches in over a hundred countries, including more than 14,000 in Nigeria. Adeboye has stated that his aim is to put a church within five minutes of every person on Earth.

In 2008 Newsweek magazine named Adeboye one of the fifty most powerful people in the world. He is married to Foluke Adeboye, also a pastor, with whom he has children.

Islamophobic Media Coverage Is Out Of Control. It Needs To Stop! By Gabriel Arana

islamSenior Media Editor, The Huffington Post

Sometimes prejudice is subtle. On CNN Sunday, it was not.

“Why is it that no one within the Muslim community there in France knew what these guys were up to?” CNN anchor John Vause asked Yasser Louati, a French anti-Islamophobia activist.

Louati responded graciously, saying the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims should not be held responsible for the actions of a few extremists. “Sir, the Muslim community has nothing to do with these guys — nothing,” he said. “We cannot justify ourselves for the actions of someone who just claims to be Muslim.”

Vause dug in his heels, claiming he had “yet to hear the condemnation from the Muslim community on this, but we’ll wait and see.”

All the CNN anchor would have had to do is search “Muslims condemn Paris attacks” on the Internet to find hundreds of instances of the Islamic community condemning last Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in the French capital, including the social-media campaign #notinmyname.

Media writers like The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple and Salon’s Jack Mirkinson condemned Vause’s astonishing display of ignorance. But far too often, journalists are able to pass off casual bigotry as journalistic inquiry.

It’s not just the fear-mongers at Fox News, who exploit terrorist attacks to fuel anti-Muslim hostility with such consistency it’s almost not worth commenting on. It’s the mainstream media, and while Islamophobia rears its head in print as well as online, it is most pronounced on television.

Make no mistake: When producers dream up panel discussions about whether Islam is a violent religion, they aren’t merely “asking the question”: they’re perpetuating prejudice. Yes, a good percentage of Americans hold this view, but the role of us in the media is to dispel such myths — not legitimize them. Ultimately, presenting tolerance and bigotry as equally valid sides of a balanced debate only ends up fueling bigotry.

Islamophobia in media coverage follows a predictable cycle. When someone commits an act of random violence and information is scarce, first comes the warrantless speculation.

“Journalists, especially TV journalists, love scoops,” says Nathan Lean, a scholar at Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. “So what happens is a lot of them ask leading questions — they insinuate, infer, hypothesize: ‘Could it have been an attack carried out by Al-Qaeda?’ Then all of a sudden the conversation is dominated by Al-Qaeda.”

This is how NBC’s “Today” show ended up running a ludicrous segment on Monday about the possibility of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, using the PlayStation 4 to plot terrorist attacks. It’s how an image of a Sikh man in Canada was doctored using Photoshop, and landed on the front page of La Razón, one of Spain’s largest newspapers. It’s also how Time magazine falsely reported that Uber had charged four times its normal rate during the Paris attacks.

In the unfortunate event that an attack is terrorism-related and the perpetrator is a radical Islamist, journalists invariably ask, “Why aren’t Muslims condemning this?” as CNN’s Vause did.

“We still see this expectation that Muslim institutions have to come out and condemn things that you wouldn’t expect other groups have to condemn. There’s the assumption of collective responsibility,” says Corey Saylor, legislative director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group.

“The number one victims of ISIS are Muslims, the notion that somehow we’re not fully committed to combatting that twisted ideology is difficult to wrap your mind around,” he adds.

In fact, CAIR, like countless other Muslim organizations, strongly condemns terrorism whenever incidents occur — it has done so more than 100 times. In 2014, the group even signed on to an open letter to ISIS, which was penned by 120 Muslim scholars, that meticulously deconstructed the group’s theology.

The vast majority of citizens in Muslim countries hate ISIS as much as any of the flag-waving patriots on Fox News. A recent survey from the Pew Center of 11 countries with substantial Muslim populations shows widespread negative attitudes toward the terrorist group — in no country did support for ISIS rise above 15 percent. That’s a smaller percentage than Americans who believe in UFOs (21 percent), think there’s a link between vaccines and autism (20 percent) and deny climate change (37 percent). Strong majorities in most of these countries also support the recent airstrikes against ISIS.

There are many differences within the diverse global community of Muslims, which includes Saudi Arabia — a U.S. ally and possibly one of the most extremist Islamic regimes on the planet — as well as secular-progressive Turkey and Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, all of which have elected female heads of state. The same prejudice that flattens the nuances that exist within the Muslim community blinds journalists when they are faced with the good Muslims do, and blames them for the monstrous acts of a dangerous minority.

“All the good things Muslims are doing get ignored while the barbaric subset of the Muslim world that claims our faith become our spokespeople,” Saylor says. The open letter to ISIS was largely ignored by the media, but “if you have one crazy guy in a cave in Afghanistan waving a sword, you can guarantee him several news cycles.”

The media’s default of erasing distinctions between terrorists and non-terrorists, and between attackers and victims in the Muslim world is why we are currently in the midst of an insane discussion (if you can call it that) about allowing Syrian refugees into the country.

Nearly all of the half-dozen or so suspects involved in the Paris attacks were born and raised in Europe. And yet, based on the discovery of a single Syrian passport found near the body of one of the suicide bombers, our current discourse is revolving around whether we should turn away tens of thousands of innocent, suffering people because one of them might be a terrorist.

Instead of relying on credible sources of expertise on the matter, the mainstream media more often gives pundits, who have limited information but a lot of opinions, a platform to disseminate misinformation. Instead of giving anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller a means of reaching millions of people with her racist rhetoric, why not talk to someone from the Migration Policy Institute, the country’s most-authoritative think tank on migration issues?

MPI found in a 2015 report that “the refugee resettlement program is the least likely avenue for a terrorist to choose” to infiltrate the country. The reason is pretty obvious once you get to know even a little about the program: The process of gaining refugee status puts applicants in direct contact with the FBI, and they have to undergo a “painstaking, many-layered review” that takes several years.

Amplifying ignorance isn’t harmless. It’s the reason 29 Republican governors and one Democrat have pledged not to accept Syrian refugees, despite the fact that the Constitution they love to brandish forbids them from doing so.

Whether it’s CNN’s Don Lemon asking a respected Muslim lawyer if he supports ISIS or News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch suggesting we should give Christian refugees from Syria first dibs on coming in, the most frustrating thing about media coverage of terrorist attacks is that it doesn’t get any better over time. It’s not like news organizations ask the dumb questions and get them out of the way. We don’t get smarter, better, more informed. When terrorism strikes, the campaign of misinformation repeats itself, time and again.

As journalists, it’s our job to know better, and do better.

Gabriel Arana is senior media editor at The Huffington Post.

Reprinted in Full from Huff Post Media




musicThat quote is attributed to Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, a German poet/expatriate who lived in Paris.[i]

Heine’s observation was never more evident than in the minority responses trending on social media following the November 12-13, 2015 murders in Beirut and Paris. Beyond the vitriol, outrage and promise of retribution, there is a chorus in the background.

French soccer fans who went to Stade de France on Friday to watch their team’s friendly against Germany, were detained by police for hours following explosions that created a stampede.   They were locked inside the stadium for security reasons in the aftermath. As they were evacuated they slowly embraced their shock and horror with a shaky rendition of La Marseillaise (the French national anthem). I posted that video to join the chorus.[ii]

On Saturday, German national Davide Martello towed a piano with his bike to Paris’s Bataclan Theatre, the site of a simultaneous attack where many died and many more were injured.  Martello then sat down to play the World’s Anthem for Peace and Brotherhood: John Lennon’s Imagine. I appreciate his dedication.[iii]

On Sunday, I recalled a different place and time when the United States led citizens around the world in a pledge of solidarity for the region so often beset by crisis.  The bombing in Beirut killed 43 people.  We Are the World, USA for Africa (1985), was a charitable event conceived by activist Harry Belafonte.  The hit song (written by Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones) was created at a historic event that brought the most famous artists in the music industry together into one studio.  It topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, it won three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award, and a People’s Choice Award—while raising over $63 million for humanitarian aid.  I posted that video to join the chorus.

As I continue to contemplate the words of UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, advising citizens to be “alert, but not alarmed” in the wake of the attacks, I wondered if there was a song that perfectly expressed my own reaction.

There is. To the mothers who learned Saturday morning that a child of theirs was lost to them forever, to the fathers and families of those who lost their lives in Beirut and in Paris on November 13, 2015, to officials who are dismayed that it happened on their watch, and to those who are acting and reacting and plotting and planning without any semblance of rhyme or reason: I send love.  Wherever you are, however you feel, I know that in the words of Michael Jackson, you are part of me.

I invite you to join the chorus for PEACE, LOVE AND UNITY.



[i] Heine was born December 13, 1797 in Düsseldorf, Germany. He was one of the most significant poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic, best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder (art songs) by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine’s later verse and prose is distinguished by its satirical wit and irony. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities. Heine spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris.

[ii] http://www.professorbarnes.com/celebrityprivacy/?p=546

[iii] Man tows piano by bike to Bataclan Theatre in Paris and plays John Lennon’s Imagine http://road.cc/content/news/171241-man-tows-piano-bike-bataclan-theatre-paris-and-plays-john-lennons-imagine



There’s A Choice We’re Making

La Marseillaise ~ French National Anthem

A Media Renaissance — South Of the Border By Michael Shaw

Reprinted from Huffpost media


Here’s a question for armchair politicos, business school professors, foreign policy advisers and world travelers:

 Mike shawWhat country runs from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf Stream waters of the North American basin, and stretches for more than 2,000 miles, with a terrain as diverse as its 120 million citizens?

 What country is a showcase of technological innovation, international finance, commercial development, while supporting robust print media, advertising, and creative vitality from Canada to Latin and South America?

 The answer, of course, is Mexico. Among many other things, the country is an artistic bridge to the United States, and a linguistic extension on behalf of the Spanish-speaking people north and south of the Equator.

 At the forefront of this movement is Kenneth Isom Barnes, a Mexico City-based publisher and entrepreneur, who is an intelligent business owner and astute observer of various trends.

 As Barnes notes, contrary to the current trend, circulation of print media is on the rise in Latin America. Big names—including GM, Telcel, Walmart, Nestle, and P&G—are spending big dollars in Mexico.

 It confirms the findings of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), released in its “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2015-2019,” where, aside from holding steady and weathering the onslaught of a volatile marketplace, advertising for consumer magazines—in Mexico and Latin America—should increase during the next four years.

 Mr. Barnes says:

 “Mexico is a dynamic country with a series of rich cultural and culinary traditions. Showcasing this history through the power of print and digital media, complemented by the concept of branding as storytelling, is a chance for advertisers to express themselves with long-form content that is substantive and stylish.”

 Consider that comment within the broader context of a surge in online advertising totaling $479 billion. Then there is that spike in e-commerce surpassing $6 billion in annual sales. Mexico demonstrates that one need not choose between “conventional” marketing and the Web. Both platforms offer promising returns and plenty of room for creativity.

 That flexibility, particularly within the realm of commercial television, is one of several reasons why, according to Barnes, “TV programs—from situation comedies to soap operas to action-adventure shows—have an established audience with immediate appeal to global advertisers.”

 As the statistics illustrate, and as independent studies confirm, Mexico is a destination for art directors, copywriters, media buyers, account executives and the panoply of photographers, filmmakers, and international clients—the entire roadshow of creative personalities and business professionals.

 Visit Mexico, and rejoice in this media extravaganza.

 Witness the character of a country alive with a narrative of historical significance and cultural greatness.


And Other Stories to take part in Year of Publishing Women 2018


We accept! In 2018, we’ll only publish books by women.

The Guardian and The Bookseller published a talk Kamila Shamsie gave at Hay Festival as part of Writers’ Centre Norwich’s National Conversation. It lit a fuse by talking about the fact that books by and about women are still significantly less likely to win literary prizes or to receive as much recognition as their male counterparts. She therefore challenged publishers to have a Year of Publishing Women in 2018, and we’ve accepted!

So far as literary fiction is concerned, we have no doubt that she is right and that the industry is biased towards male writers. But why? That’s the million dollar question! We alone cannot redress any numerical imbalance in the representation of men and women in our bookshops and in the media, but we hope to help widen the debate, as well as to make an impact in the area of publishing women in translation (where the statistics are even more skewed towards men).

We want to focus our attention on this issue and share our experiences. We will look at our submissions and acquisitions processes and consider whether there’s any inherent gender bias in the way we choose books. We see it as a continuation of our ongoing project to open up publishing, which started with our brainstorming events, our subscriber supporter base and our reading groups for discussing foreign language books we could publish. Our senior editor Sophie Lewis wrote more about our Year of Publishing Women for The Independent.

 We’re really excited about the books we might discover, and we hope you will be too! Keep an eye out for our writing about how it goes – we’ll be sharing our experiences at events, in the media and on our Ampersand blog.



Electronic Frontier Foundation Disappointed as Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) Passes Senate

senateBy Mark Jaycox

CISA passed the Senate today in a 74-21 vote. The bill is fundamentally flawed due to its broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities. The bill now moves to a conference committee despite its inability to address problems that caused recent highly publicized computer data breaches, like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.

The conference committee between the House of Representatives and the Senate will determine the bill’s final language. But no amount of changes in conference could fix the fact that CISA doesn’t address the real cybersecurity problems that caused computer data breaches like Target and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The passage of CISA reflects the misunderstanding many lawmakers have about technology and security. Computer security engineers were against it. Academics were against it. Technology companies, including some of Silicon Valley’s biggest like Twitter and Salesforce, were against it. Civil society organizations were against it. And constituents sent over 1 million faxes opposing CISA to Senators.

With security breaches like T-mobile, Target, and OPM becoming the norm, Congress knows it needs to do something about cybersecurity. It chose to do the wrong thing. EFF will continue to fight against the bill by urging the conference committee to incorporate pro-privacy language. And we will never stop fighting for lawmakers to either understand technology or understand when they need to listen to the people who do.


Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015

(Sec. 3) Requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop and promulgate procedures to promote: (1) the timely sharing of classified and declassified cyber threat indicators in possession of the federal government with private entities, non-federal government agencies, or state, tribal, or local governments; (2) the sharing of unclassified indicators with the public; and (3) the sharing of cybersecurity threats with entities to prevent or mitigate adverse effects.

Requires notification to be provided to entities when the federal government has shared indicators in error or in contravention of law.

Directs the DNI to submit such procedures to Congress within 60 days after enactment of this Act.

(Sec. 4) Permits private entities to monitor, and operate defensive measures to detect, prevent, or mitigate cybersecurity threats or security vulnerabilities on: (1) their own information systems; and (2) with authorization and written consent, the information systems of other private or government entities. Authorizes such entities to monitor information that is stored on, processed by, or transiting such monitored systems.

Allows entities to share and receive indicators and defensive measures with other entities or the federal government. Requires recipients to comply with lawful restrictions that sharing entities place on the sharing or use of shared indicators or defensive measures.

Requires the federal government and entities monitoring, operating, or sharing indicators or defensive measures: (1) to utilize security controls to protect against unauthorized access or acquisitions, and (2) prior to sharing an indicator, to remove personal information of or identifying a specific person not directly related to a cybersecurity threat.

Permits state, tribal, or local agencies to use shared indicators (with the consent of the entity sharing the indicators) to prevent, investigate, or prosecute offenses relating to: (1) an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm, including a terrorist act or a use of a weapon of mass destruction; or (2) crimes involving serious violent felonies, fraud and identity theft, espionage and censorship, or trade secrets.

Exempts from antitrust laws private entities that, for cybersecurity purposes, exchange or provide: (1) cyber threat indicators; or (2) assistance relating to the prevention, investigation, or mitigation of cybersecurity threats. Makes such exemption inapplicable to price-fixing, allocating a market between competitors, monopolizing or attempting to monopolize a market, boycotting, or exchanges of price or cost information, customer lists, or information regarding future competitive planning.

(Sec. 5) Directs DOJ to promulgate procedures relating to the receipt of indicators and defensive measures by the federal government. Requires such procedures to include automated real-time sharing procedures, an audit capability, and appropriate sanctions for federal officers, employees, or agents who conduct unauthorized activities.

Directs DOJ to develop, and make publicly available, guidelines to assist entities in sharing indicators with the federal government, including guidance for identifying and protecting personal information.

Requires DOJ to promulgate and periodically review privacy and civil liberties guidelines to limit receipt, retention, use, and dissemination of personal or identifying information. Provides for the guidelines to include steps to make dissemination of cyber threat indicators consistent with the protection of classified and other sensitive national security information.

Directs DHS to develop a process within DHS for the federal government to: (1) accept cyber threat indicators and defensive measures from any entity in real time, and (2) ensure that appropriate federal entities receive the shared indicators in an automated manner through that real-time process. Requires DHS to certify to Congress that the DHS sharing capability is fully operational before the process is implemented.

Requires the DHS capability to be the process by which the federal government receives indicators and defensive measures under this Act that are shared by a private entity with the federal government through electronic mail or media, an interactive Internet website form, or a real-time, automated process between information systems, except: (1) communications between a federal entity and a private entity regarding a previously shared cyber threat indicator, and (2) communications by a regulated entity with such entity’s federal regulatory authority regarding a cybersecurity threat.

Prohibits DHS’s process from limiting lawful disclosures of communications, records, or other information to: (1) report known or suspected criminal activity, (2) participate in a federal investigation voluntarily or upon being legally compelled, or (3) provide indicators or defensive measures as part of a statutory or authorized contractual requirement.

Directs DHS to ensure that there is public notice of, and access to, the DHS sharing procedures.

Requires DHS to report to Congress regarding implementation of the sharing process within DHS.

Requires cyber threat indicators and defensive measures shared with the federal government and threat indicators shared with state, tribal, or local governments to be: (1) deemed voluntarily shared information, and (2) exempt from disclosure and withheld from the public under any laws of such jurisdictions requiring disclosure of information or records.

Authorizes indicators and defensive measures to be disclosed to, retained by, and used by, consistent with otherwise applicable federal law, any federal agency or federal government agent solely for:

  • protecting an information system or information that is stored on, processed by, or transiting an information system from a cybersecurity threat or security vulnerability;
  • identifying a cybersecurity threat, including the source, or a security vulnerability;
  • identifying the use of an information system by a foreign adversary or terrorist;
  • responding to, or otherwise preventing or mitigating, a serious threat to a minor or an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm, including a terrorist act or a use of a weapon of mass destruction; or
  • preventing, investigating, disrupting, or prosecuting an offense arising out of an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm, as well as offenses relating to serious violent felonies, fraud and identity theft, espionage and censorship, or trade secrets.

Prohibits indicators and defensive measures provided to the government from being directly used by government agencies to regulate the lawful activities of an entity.

(Sec. 6) Provides liability protections to entities acting in accordance with this Act that: (1) monitor information systems, or (2) share or receive indicators or defensive measures, provided that the manner in which an entity shares any indicators or defensive measures with the federal government is consistent with specified procedures and exceptions set forth under the DHS sharing process.

(Sec. 7) Directs appropriate federal entities and the inspectors general of specified agencies to report to Congress at least every two years concerning the implementation of this Act. Requires such reports to include: (1) an assessment of the impact on privacy and civil liberties; (2) a review of actions taken by the federal government based on shared cyber threat indicators, including the appropriateness of any federal entity’s subsequent use or dissemination of such cyber threat indicators; and (3) a description of any significant violations by the federal government.

Requires reports to Congress, at least every two years, by: (1) the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board; and (2) Inspectors General of DHS, the Intelligence Community, DOJ, DOD, and the Department of Energy regarding shared indicators and defensive measures.

(Sec. 8) Prohibits this Act from being construed to permit the federal government to require an entity to provide information to the federal government.

(Sec. 9) Directs the DNI to report to Congress regarding cybersecurity threats, including cyber attacks, theft, and data breaches. Requires such report to include: (1) an assessment of current U.S. intelligence sharing and cooperation relationships with other countries regarding cybersecurity threats to the U.S. national security interests, economy, and intellectual property; (2) a list of countries and non-state actors that are primary threats; (3) a description of the U.S. government’s response and prevention capabilities; and (4) an assessment of additional technologies that would enhance U.S. capabilities, including private sector technologies that could be rapidly fielded to assist the intelligence community.

(Sec. 10) Amends the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 to authorize DOD to share with other federal entities information reported by a cleared defense contractor regarding a penetration of network or information systems.

The Banking Industry’s Transparent Attempt to Weaken the CFPB By Senator Elizabeth Warren

ElizabethWarrenYou’ll never guess who’s going around Washington, trolling the halls of Congress, talking about the importance of protecting the long-term health of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The banking industry.

That’s right: After years of trying to kill, then delay, and then defang the agency, the banking industry and their Republican friends in Congress have launched a new effort to attract Democratic support for their latest attack by claiming that they just want to help the agency and the consumers it protects. Surely Democrats will not be taken in by yet another attempt to weaken the CFPB.

The latest industry-sponsored bill would fundamentally change the structure of the CFPB by replacing the agency’s single, independent director with a commission of political appointees.

The banks can’t point to any difficulties with the agency’s operations. In fact, the CFPB has been operating for only four years, but the success of the single-director structure is already apparent. Under the leadership of Director Richard Cordray, the CFPB already has:

  • returned more than $11 billion to over 25 million consumers who were cheated on their credit cards, checking accounts or other financial products;
  • built a complaint hotline that has exceeded all expectations, handling more than 700,000 complaints and building an information database that is beginning to level the playing field for consumers; and
  • issued new, common sense rules on mortgages and other financial products and services that have helped consumers compare costs and understand risks — all while making markets safer and more resilient.

Part of the reason the agency has succeeded is the current single-director structure makes it easier for Congress to hold someone accountable for the agency’s core mission — concentrating the mind in a way that does not occur with multi-person boards.

The single-director structure also allows the agency to be more nimble in responding to new and emerging threats to consumers, to move faster and more definitively. And the structure permits the head of the agency to stay focused on protecting consumers, rather than burning time managing partisan sniping and bickering among the political appointees on a commission.

The single-director structure has also allowed the agency to respond more efficiently to reasonable requests from the financial services industry. When, for example, community banks asked the agency for more flexibility to issue mortgages to their customers, the agency promptly agreed — creating broader exemptions in its mortgage rules for smaller lenders and those in rural and underserved areas. Years of delay and partisan bickering among commissioners were easily avoided.

In short, the agency is working, which may be exactly why the big banks and their Republican friends are pushing so hard to tangle it up with a different administrative structure. The arguments they offer for their bill don’t even pass the smell test.

The industry and its allies claim that the consumer agency was originally conceived of as a commission — a point that is both irrelevant and wrong. It’s irrelevant because what matters is whether the agency is working now — not whether it’s identical to some initial conception of it.

As Jeffrey Zients, the Director of the President’s National Economic Council, wrote last month: “The CFPB has been an incredibly effective watchdog for the American people. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But the industry claim is also wrong.

When I first proposed the idea for a federal agency dedicated to protecting the consumers of financial products, I suggested that the agency might resemble the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In making that comparison, I focused on the mission and jurisdiction of the agency — not its structure.

As the consumer agency went from a theory to a reality, I delved more deeply into the details of how the agency might work, and I took a close look at the successes — and failures — of other agencies. I consulted with experts. I read books. I talked with government workers. And it didn’t take long before I strongly supported a single-director structure.

Nor was I alone in reaching that conclusion. The architects of the Dodd-Frank Act — Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank — also personally supported a single-director structure from the start.

In the run up to the financial crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inaction demonstrated the challenges facing a politicized commission. Even now, more than five years after Dodd-Frank was signed into law, the SEC still hasn’t finalized more than 30 explicitly-required rules, thanks in part to partisan bickering among commissioners. And the SEC’s track record is sparkling compared to some of the other federal commissions — like the Federal Election Commission — that barely function at all.

Let’s face it: The quickest way to undermine an agency’s effectiveness is to make it a commission — which is why I want a single director and the banking industry doesn’t.

The industry also claims that a single-director structure would leave the agency vulnerable in the case of poor leadership. I smile at the thought that the agency’s vulnerability is suddenly keeping the industry’s lobbyists up at night. But hypocrisy aside, I know some of my Democratic colleagues genuinely worry that the CFPB could go backwards under the leadership of a director appointed by a hostile Republican administration — and they wonder if a commission might be a good way to hedge against that risk.

They are right to worry about the future of the agency under Republican control. Shoot, I worry too, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense to forgo a single director. As Georgetown Law Professor Adam Levitin has argued, the legal checks on the CFPB make it difficult for a new director to move things backwards. There are serious legal protections that restrict an agency’s ability to repeal, or even amend, existing rules.

Ultimately, a poor director might cause the agency to bring fewer enforcement actions, ease off its supervisory responsibilities, or take other steps to undermine the agency and its mission — and that would be very bad. But those risks are balanced off by the opportunity to make real progress under the leadership of a good director who embraces the agency’s mission. Progress in good times is better than the perpetual gridlock of a commission.

And that brings us to the last industry argument: a commission is needed to bring accountability to the CFPB. Industry lobbyists have said again, and again, and again for years that the CFPB director is some sort of tyrant, free to rule as he pleases without congressional oversight.

Again, they are just plain wrong. The consumer agency is one of the most accountable agencies in town.

By law, the agency must:

    • submit annual financial reports to Congress;
    • report to Congress twice a year to justify its budget from the previous year;
    • send its director to testify before both houses of Congress twice a year;
    • submit financial operating plans and forecasts and quarterly financial reports to the Office of Management and Budget;
    • subject itself to an annual Government Accountability Office audit of its expenditures;
    • operate under the oversight of the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Reserve
    • subject all rules to careful cost benefit analyses;
    • consider the impact of rules on smaller banks; and
    • consult with federal regulators and consider any objections those regulators raise during that process.

And, of course, Congress can always overrule a CFPB rule that it doesn’t like, and the agency’s actions are subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.

That’s a list that will measure up against any regulatory agency in Washington. But the CFPB is held down by one additional constraint that sets it apart from other federal agencies: it’s the only agency in Washington that is subject to a veto by other regulators.

That’s right, the CFPB’s rules can be rejected by the Financial Stability Oversight Council. So let’s get the record straight here: There is a huge amount of accountability built into the CFPB structure.

The industry push to replace the single director with a commission is not about accountability — and never was. It’s about weakening the agency by making it slower, more political, and more partisan — leaving the biggest banks more opportunities to boost their profits by cheating American families.

We saw this movie before, when the big banks raked in billions of dollars financing crazy mortgages, deceptive credit cards, and dozens of other tricky products — and it ended with a crash that cost the economy as much as $14 trillion and a fat bailout for the very people who caused it. It’s time to say no to the big banks and no to their lobbyists, their lawyers and their Republican friends in Congress.

The CFPB is starting to make a difference. It’s working on the side of people — not giant banks or shady payday lenders — holding lawbreakers accountable and helping level the financial playing field. That kind of independence can’t be tolerated in some circles. For years, both the industry and the Republicans have made clear — directly and indirectly, in front of cameras and behind closed doors — that they want a toothless consumer agency, an agency that waters down rules, settles with lawbreakers on the cheap, and doesn’t interfere with industry profit-making even when it means robbing consumers.

Votes over the CFPB present the same choice today that they always have — a choice between big banks and predatory lenders on one side and families on the other.

Me? I’m with the families.