By Sunny Ikhioya
Every breakthrough in technology is a product of painstaking researches. Every strong institution we see today in the world, is also an outcome of diligent studies and researches, while the application of research findings is what determines its success or failure.
If there are setbacks in the course of an application, further studies are required until it gets done in the right manner. That is the way it works and it is a continuous process, because every discovery is still work in progress, with another set of investigations and inquiry beginning from there.
That is why in developed societies, no product researching is final, they are always looking for new ways to improve or upgrade products. It is not only limited to science and technology, it affects their management structures and even their politics.
The United States of America presidential election has just taken place, with accusations and counter-accusations all over the place. At the end of it all, people will sit down to analyse the whole situation, with identified loopholes plugged, through legal and constitutional means.
I have taken the pains to go through the above examples because I have looked south, west, east and north in this country and cannot find productive researchers anywhere. A country without a viable research and development focus will never move forward. The apathy from the government side has also extended to the private sector.
Our banks, multi national companies, manufacturing concerns, institutions of learning, government parastatals are all rentals and clearing agents. Even the NNPC with all the resources that have been put at its disposal, cannot function with locally developed technology, after over forty years of oil discovery in the land. We are just satisfied to be agents and distributors and that is why our technological development is stunted.
We love deceiving ourselves, talking about space researches and looking for oil in the Chad basin, when we are supposed to start from the basic, simple production. Nigeria was once a producer of steel, through the Nok culture, even before the advent of the white man.
Why haven’t we developed further on this, to fit our indigenous technology with modern science? In the course of the civil war, Biafrans were producing petrol on their own without assistance from foreign countries; today, over forty years after, the country still imports petrol from abroad, what is responsible for this?
When talking about guns, the kalashnikov AK47, is well known around the world, but this is the discovery of one individual in the old Soviet Republic, encouraged by the state. What is happening to the local manufacturers of our dane guns, has anyone in authority thought about upgrading our local manufacture to modern standards?
It is not by going after them and arresting skilled men like common criminals, it is to fish them out and integrate them into official circles, with necessary code of conduct clearly spelt out. When you encourage and effectively monitor them, you will see that they will perform.
It doesn’t have to be big, they can be set up in cottage industry format or cooperatives. When you successfully integrate these people, you will discover that our battle over crime will improve, as we will be going down to the grassroots and using the skills more positively. The same system can be applied to the Aba made producers and the hide and skin businesses in the north.
All of these are not impossible tasks. When a leader identifies a focus, he brings his team in and they all work consciously towards making the focus a reality. We operate a department of science and technology only in name, no set target, infrastructure, funding and right personnel to make it work. We must encourage researches in this country, even in our social sciences and arts sectors. They say, if you do not know your past, you will not be able to focus on a direction.
With open researches and findings, most of the misconceptions we are having about ourselves today will not be there. We want a democracy that is set up like America, but have we researched the system in America to understand why it is working and ours is still in a merry go round state?
We have seen families that have lived in particular areas of this country for centuries and they are still referred to as settlers until today, they cannot afford to raise their voices because they are termed non-indigenes. That is why the northerner will prefer to do business with people from the outside than with his fellow Nigerians and vice versa.
Have our political scientists researched this? We have the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, NISER, and other professional bodies, what have they been researching? Do they not know that the number one obstacle to peace, unity and security in this country, is the problem of indigeneship and settlership?
When you have this settled, the problem of trying to fix census and other manipulations of ethnicity and otherwise will be a thing of the past. If our many experts in diverse fields, have truly put their researches together and given the right recommendations to government, pending issues will be easy to address.
The way of science is open; hear, see, smell, taste, touch etcetera, it is something everyone sees and agree it is, if you manipulate, you will never get the right result. And, that is the job of our researchers, to get solutions to the myriad of problems facing society.
In the past we had them in different fields of endeavour, Prof. Awojobi, Chike Obi, Ade Ajayi, Claude Ake and the rest; but where are our current researchers? It is clear that our system has eliminated these ones to insignificance, but, I believe that, if they had used their research efforts to help build mankind, the result would have been different in Nigeria. It is also important to note that, if we pursue research, we will be eliminating tendencies of oppression and suppression, merit will be the yardstick for reaching decisions.
At the height of the coronavirus lock down in Nigeria, we saw different individuals and institutions, laying one claim or the other to the discovery of cure for the virus, today we are hearing nothing, everyone has gone silent, that is our way and we expect to make progress in this manner. Is there anybody out there monitoring these claims and how they can improve lives in Nigeria?