Wednesday 24th May, 2017
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Pioneering and Pioneers: The search for national self-sufficiency (2)

Pioneering and Pioneers: The search for national self-sufficiency (2)

Ordinarily, the cur­rent recession is seen as a setback on our national economic diversification and transformation efforts, but it also provides an op­portunity for pioneering a revolution in our economic development and sustain­able growth. It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, therefore, the current situation rather than become a source of despair should serve as the needed “shot in the arm” to unleash your pioneering instincts to confront the current challenges we face as a na­tion. For instance, Profes­sor Njoku Obi, a pioneer in the development of cholera vaccine in our country was motivated by the cholera- in­duced death of thousands of our country men and women to become a pioneer in Nige­ria in the development of the World Health Organization (WHO) approved Cholera Vaccine in 1971.
A few years ago, Jelani Aliyu a Nigerian inventor and innovator was chal­lenged by the dependence of Nigerians on foreign auto­mobile imports and tasked his pioneering instincts to ef­fectively utilizing his creativ­ity and ingenuity in automo­bile design and production. He succeeded by changing the fortune of the American automobile industry. Also, it is important to mention a leading entrepreneur an investor, Innocent Chuk­wuma, the Nigerian born, auto maker who was not intimidated by the lack of basic infrastructure such as electricity and relevant raw materials but has blazed the trail in automobile manufac­turing in our land. Recently, another Nigerian, Chinedu Echeruo, challenged his pio­neering scientific instincts and outcompeted Ameri­cans to develop an App called Hotspot and sold it to Apple. Ufot Ekong, a Nige­rian student in Japan solved a 50-year-old mathematical puzzle in 2015 and became a mathematical genius in an industrialized country, an­other rare demonstration of a pioneering mind-set borne out of the need to challenge our pioneering instincts to become a trail blazer in any chosen field of human en­deavor. Therefore, the basic ingredient of a pioneer starts with the understanding that a challenging environment is a motivation to boost inno­vative instincts that produce pioneering ideas to change society.
However, not everyone with a university degree eas­ily develops those rare pio­neering instincts. Some will fall by the way side like the parable of the mustard seed and bear no fruits. At this juncture, permit me to share an anecdote from the Late Sir Akanu Ibiam, a foremost nationalist, patriot and sea­soned Administrator, in a speech he delivered at a send forth- party for the graduat­ing final year school certifi­cate class of St John Bosco College, Ishiagu in 1981. In the speech, he admon­ished the students with the following words: “Among you will be the President of Nigeria someday, senators, governors, scientists whose work will change the world, foremost businessmen and community leaders. From you also we shall have armed robbers and hoodlums, trou­ble makers and those who will work day and night to pull down our dear coun­try and rubbish our society. Today, as you move into the society, the choice of where you belong in this great di­vide is yours to make”.
It is absolutely important to mention that all through history, whether in fami­lies, communities or the larger society, problems al­ways arise. These problems may occur in politics, in the military, the economy, in the professions or may even in­volve products and services. In very seldom and historic moments, the society may be moving in a given direc­tion that urgently requires a sharp turn to follow, in order to promote efficiency and improved productivity. All these will require pioneering efforts to accomplish a set of goals and thereby achieve desired results. Those who champion and lead the pio­neering efforts are pioneers. Hence for pioneers to suc­cessfully lead the pioneer­ing effort to achieve self-sufficiency, their efforts must be encompassing so as to provide quite often new and suitable solutions to existing problems.
We can now see and un­derstand why all through history, both in ancient and modern times, no nation has ever been truly great with­out science and technology. A nation can be rich and wealthy through the posses­sion of abundance of natural resources but can only be truly great through the appli­cation of science, technology and innovation. Any nation that aspires to rule the world, dominate affairs in the globe and move towards achieving self-sufficiency must accom­plish it through the effective application of science, tech­nology and innovation.
The pioneering effort in science, technology and in­novation has been behind the rise of every civilization ever known to humanity. The pioneers have benefitted tremendously, and in some cases such benefits resulted in their dominance of world affairs. By the United King­dom pioneering the indus­trial revolution, she accumu­lated a massive military and economic power that helped her to control and exercise influence in virtually all time zones in the world. Today, the English Language is the most spoken second lan­guage in the world.
Nearly two centuries later, the computer made its de­but in the United States of America (USA). It drastical­ly assisted numerical calcula­tions. As computing technol­ogy matured, silicon chips replaced analog technologies and helped the emergence of a massive global market for productivity software. This helped change business practices in many different industrial sectors as well as helping reshape how people lived and worked.
The United States of America which pioneered this change had under 170 years, between 1776 when she became independent and 1945 when the Second World War ended, had be­come a super power. All through her history, she at­tached a lot or importance to scientific and technologi­cal knowledge. The USA not only had and still remains the largest economy in the world, but also dominated the globe militarily and cul­turally. Most of the scientific and technological inventions that shaped the 20th century was discovered in the United States. This trend has contin­ued so far up till now right into the 21st century.
As the developed coun­tries of the world spend enormous resources on re­search and innovation in or­der to fully exploit the huge contributions of science and technology in nation build­ing, Nigeria did not do so in the past. We are working to ensure that this changes. In the years to come, we can no longer afford to pay lip-service to the development of science and technology. We must see it as our future and hence work very hard to utilize it as an important tool for enduring and sustainable development.
Concluded.

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