Investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) is very essential for accelerating economic development and social progress. With the high unemployment rate in Nigeria and the inability of the governments at all level to provide more jobs for the teeming jobless Nigerians, STI presents a unique opportunity for people to be gainfully employed and realize their full potential, BINTA SHAMA.
Developing countries across the globe have embraced Science Technology and Innovative to foster sustainable development by building greener, more inclusive societies.
However, Nigeria appears to be lagging behind the moving trains. To be at par with its counterparts in other climes, a lot needs to be done to encourage promising, young and vibrant minds to embrace innovations in the field of science and technology.
It was against this backdrop that two young Nigerians, Dr. Yunusa Mohammed Garba, a Lecturer in Department of Human Anatomy, College of Medical Science, Gombe State and a 200 Level student
of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Usman Dalhatu, strongly, advise parents to encourage their children to embrace their passion especially, in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
According to the young investors, who have both invented a ventilator machine to help the Nigerian governments at all levels to curtail the devasting effect of the novel Coronavirus disease which has affected million of people around the world, including Nigeria where nearly a thousand persons have already died of the disease, to wipe out the coronavirus pandemic, there’s the need to nurture the young minds along this chosen career path.
Ignorance not an excuse for not embracing STI
For them, ignorance or illiteracy does not come into play here as they advise parents or guardians to guide their children or wards on the career path that they seem to have a passion for, at an early stage to groom them to perfection.
At an interview, the duo noted that STI has the potential of creating jobs for the vast unemployed Nigerian youths to take them out of idleness, shackles of poverty and support the present administration’s drive to diversify the Nigerian economy.
Explaining the journey down the lane of success, Dalhatu said: “We were at the process of finalizing the machine when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in Nigeria, then we postponed the launching when card ICT asked me to produce a ventilator because they saw the need.”
“They saw the possibilities of how we could design the ventilator so they provided the funding and I made a sample and along the way I met Dr. Yunusa with his own version. With this, we had the chances of collaborating and producing a better one than the initial models we made,” he explains further.
Corroborating Dalhatu, Dr. Yunusa said: “Due to the pandemic, we took advantage of the scarcity of ventilators at that time when Nigeria was in dire need of the machine to aid the healing processes of Covid-19 patients who were then in critical conditions, so we decided to collaborate in order to come out with more perfect and standard ventilators.”
“When our work went viral, Gombe state government endorsed the collaboration alongside another colleague called Aliyu Hassan. We actually manufactured two different designs of the ventilators, that is Emergency Type Insulator and the ICU Type Ventilator,” he continued.
Becoming Self Reliant
Yunusa says there is the need for government to support local inventors to encourage local production of goods for self reliance.
“We will like Nigerians to see how we can manufacture things locally so that we can build our own production-base because the problem in Africa is that we look at things in the black box, we don’t believe in ourselves and seem to believe that good things cannot be made by us. However, if we can produce what we use, I think the country will be better because there was a drive to drive the Naira higher than the Dollar. This can still be achievable by the time the government supports young innovators like Dalhatu and this will sink deep in STI.
Thinking Outside The Box
Against all odds of cost implications, Yunusa was able to think outside the box to produce his first ever experimental ventilator which he says, worked perfectly.
“Other important factor you should know is that, what makes our innovation different is that ventilators found now are overpriced in the sense that during my PhD program, I was asked to produce something like that without buying any material for it due to cost implications and that was when it hit me that if we can use stuff out of the expired ones to develop our own, then why not we develop our people locally.
” So we went ahead and observe that it isn’t that complex. The major aim for a ventilator is to be able to help support a person with a respiratory problem (that cannot breathe well), to have an expression of air to his lungs. And if that can be controlled, it means it can need some mechanism. The design is what makes most people not to approach it but if we are faced with the mindset of ‘we can do this’ then it is very achievable which in turn we no longer depend on foreign production but our own indigenous invention and productions thereby exporting and increasing the nation’s GDP,” he narrated.
Speaking on the emergency type ventilator, he says, it is solar powered and if gotten across to the rural areas, it will do the nation a great deal in saving lives.
Identifying Talents in Innovations
Yunusa thinks children should be allowed to do what they have passion for, adding, parents should help to identity the talents in them, encourage them to explore it and nurture them to perfection.
” The problem is that we try to direct our children on what we think is best for them as children and at the end you find many of them failing because their interest isn’t projected but if we allow them to explore what they think is best for them and the talent they have, such crave would grow to passion and then perfection to the extent of being recognised and celebrated by all who may come across or hear of their invention.
“And this is the reason why you have the guidance and counseling department in schools so as to encourage them bring out the talents in them early enough. It is not only the parents that should do this but the government also will need to give support in a loss of these ideas because a lot of them die prematurely as well. There are so many talented Nigerians in need of these supports but some have been lucky like us,” he said.
His co-inventor, Dalhatu also shares a similar view as he observed that Africans in general do not see prospects in innovation but rather ponder on giving the child education to come by, instead of knowing what exactly he or she is specifically and personally interested in doing or becoming.
“Mostly in Africa we don’t see the possibilities and talents in innovation. We hardly see future in metallic parts. I am fortunate to have my mum support my production verbally, financially and where needed and she has used her own money to ensure that the right thing is done on my inventions. She consistently advises me and make useful contributions. I on the other hand, will advise parents to support and not to relent and visualize the potentials of what they are doing to perfect the inventions,” he stressed.