Science, science, and more science – the three legs upon which modern civilisation rests. As the world embraces artificial intelligence as the next wave in innovation, science becomes the sine qua non for any society seeking a competitive edge. Yet, hardly any African country is known for its advanced technological research and development capabilities. If there is any hope of significantly altering our current status on the world power perking order, science is the ticket. Science, indeed, is they key.
What would that look like? It is the day when Nigerians are not just known to be the smartest British and American scientists. It is the day when our national budget reflects a firm commitment to scientific research and development; when Nigerian scientists birth inventions to solve Nigerian problems; when Nigerian technology patents are licensed on a regular basis to solve global problems. It is the day when the idolisation of the West ends because our nation recognises the immense value in every single citizen and invests in our intellect. It is the day when we welcome science as a complement to religion.
How do we get there? Seek ye first technological leadership, and all these things –power, supremacy, economic dominance and international stature— shall be added unto you. This we know: innovation is the fruit of curiosity; nations that nurture that tree not only flourish, but they also rule. For us, it means the ongoing hemorrhage of intellectual capital must cease because the nation offers its youths, as first choice, quality and security. We must reorient our education system to focus on building, uplifting and refining rather than dismissing and weeding out. We must facilitate, encourage, incentivise and reward home-grown scientific innovation.
What are our chances? Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. Our many challenges create abundant opportunities for locally-conceived, groundbreaking innovation. Our people have never lacked talent; we fail to shine at home because there, we are bankrupt of tools for practice. But our nation can do better by investing in its people, in facilities for scientific research and development. Nobody understands our problems better than we do. Our urgency is not another nation’s priority. We cede inches in sovereignty when we depend on others to bear our costs. We lose lives of loved ones when we wait on other nations to research and develop solutions to problems that ail only our people. We can be better.
With an earnest commitment to science and technology, Nigeria can become a nursey for innovation. We can change our stars.
“Practical wisdom is making the faults of others serve as beacons to ourselves.” On …