Indigenous innovators who partnered to manufacture ventilators in the pursuit to curb the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic have advised parents to encourage their children to embrace their passion especially in science, technology and innovation (STI). BINTA SHAMA reports.
Study shows that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), are programmes that almost every developing nation has embraced. However, the bottom line is in using it as a means to satisfy national needs and reach out to meeting foreign needs as well as adding value to the economy.
Mr. Usman Dalhatu, a 200 level Mechanical Engineering student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Dr. Yunusa Mohammed Garba, a Lecturer in Department of Human Anatomy, College of Medical Science, Gombe State University have both invented a ventilator machine to help the government at every level of leadership to wipe out the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep citizens safe.
Ignorance not an excuse to embrace STI
Speaking in an interview, the duo said illiteracy or ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse for parents or guardians not to guide their children or wards on the path that they seem to find interest in, at an early stage so as to groom them to perfection.
Both inventors identified the invention as a means to create jobs, wipe out idleness and poverty and support the present administration’s drive to diversify the economy.
Dalhatu said, “We were at the process of finalizing the machine when the pandemic broke in, then we postponed the launch when I was asked to produce a ventilator because they saw the need. They decided to see the possibilities of how we could design the ventilator and provide funding. I made a sample and along the way I met Dr. Yunusa with his own version and so we saw the chances of collaborating and producing a better one than the initial models we made.
Yunusa then said, “Due to the pandemic we decided to collaborate in order to come out with more perfect and standard ventilators especially in the era when these equipment became scarce and were used in the healing processes of every covid-19 patients. 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 are emergency type insulators and the ICU type ventilators which we want to break the covid-19 challenge. While on the other hand, we will like for Nigerians to see how we can manufacture things locally so that we can build our own production 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 but if we can produce what we use I think the country will be better because there was a drive to take the naira higher than the dollar and this can still be achievable by the time the government supports young innovators like Usman and this will sink deep in STI.
“Other important factors you should know is that, what makes our innovation different is that ventilators found now are overpriced in the sense that during my PhD programme, 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 observed 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 no longer depends on foreign production but our own indigenous invention and productions thereby exporting and increasing the nation’s GDP.
Identifying talents in innovations
Speaking on the emergency type ventilator it is solar powered and if we can get them across the rural areas it will do the nation a great deal or help thereby saving lives. Nigeria embracing STI fully will allow children to be go getters. 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 the 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 to bring out the talent and them early enough. It is only the parents that should do this but the government also will need to give support in the 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 only some have been lucky like us.
Usman is of the point of view 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 the child is specifically and personally I am interested in.
“Mostly in Africa we don’t see the possibilities and talents in innovation. We hardly see the future in metallic parts. I am fortunate to have my mum support my production verbally, financially and where need be and she has used her own money to ensure that the right thing is done on my inventions, she consistently advises me and contributes. I, on the other hand, will advise parents to support and not to relent and visualize the potential of what they are doing to perfect the inventions,” Dalhatu stressed.