By Emem Nkereuwem, Uyo
This is the 21st century. The age some kids in the Stone Age would have probably referred to as amerikan wonda. The rest of the clichés in ibibio language was just as surreal as the concept of wonder.’ I have often wondered what Eve, the great researcher and knowledge chaser had in mind when she persuaded a more circumspect Adam to take a bite at the apple? That eventful bite of an apple in the Garden of Eden has propelled transformative innovations that have kept man in constant search of knowledge to rule his universe. Since then man has come full circle from the Stone Age to the contemporary information age. The array of inventions in medicine, aviation, transportation, communication and a host of others has literally made man god.
Today, the world can be glimpsed by just a click on the internet. Tech is the oxygen of the world. We literally depend on it and at every click the techies sit in the comfort of their champagne soaked spas counting the bucks. Sure, this head spinning bucks should make anyone dizzy. Just imagine the earnings from these two top techs as at 2021. Facebook grossed $26.17billion while Apple comfortably sat on $89.6billion profit (techcrunch.com). Okay, lets do some comparative statistics with Nigerias budget N13.6 trillion naira ($35.66billion) for 2021. Put simply, Apples profit for 2021can effortlessly take care of Nigerias budget for two years and five months.
Now these big numbers from these tech companies is the point of my discourse and perhaps it may help give some insights into why Mr. Udom Inoyo, advisor to Inoyo Toro Foundation is eager to get Ibom Techies into these limitless streams of new oil money.
Some weeks ago Akwa Ibom Tech Week Pitch Competition sponsored by Inoyo Toro Foundation showcased an array of passionate young men and women who made impressive innovations ranging from e-commerce, health, agriculture to e-language learning and I couldnt but be proud that the great renaissance had come. Not only did these talents display a deep passion to make a difference in the IT world, but that given the opportunities Akwa Ibom State could join the list of Tech Hubs in Nigeria and beyond.Alas, my waning faith rekindled a new kind of hope. Truly not all Nigerian youths are lazy after all. What has rather kept the youths less at par with their contemporaries in other progressive climes is the systemic corrupt, irascible and unconscionable political class that has robbed them of these opportunities. The many decades of system collapse has robbed whole generations of their sense of worth and reduced most to a life of chronic disillusion.
But is there a faintest ray of change on the horizon? “Is there anything for the boys” as the debasing Naija street slogan for awoof money goes? Does Nigeria’s current financial gridlock with a debt burden of N36.3trillion provide any clear rescue path to hope for the “boys?”’ Are Nigeria’s public schools primed to harness the rich human resource through strategic education and early exposure to tech skills acquisition?
Clearly the answers to all these interrogations are rested on vision driven by common sense leadership and investment in key areas of human development and a people that are willing to shed off those opaque sentiments that has held us bound in the valley of death. We can therefore not have a robust development if the youths are left behind.
But things are looking up in Akwa Ibom State. The Techies of Akwa Akwa Ibom are on the path to breaking all the barriers to scale up their art. The recent AKI Tech Pitch sponsored by Inoyo Toro Foundation was yet another giant leap into a window of the capabilities the youths are endowed with. From lifesaving innovations such as mobile oxygen box by Ndotenyin Kingsley who won a whooping One Million Naira, to an app for learning Akwa Ibom languages (Ikó Ibom) by Idara Moses with a prize tag of five hundred Thousand to Agro solution app for cassava farmers by David Edet with a three hundred naira win, the big tech train is launching a Tech and innovation revolution.
Not only did the awards make a huge impact on the Tech community but the two weeks boot camp for seventy two (72) techies and innovators which ended 22/10/2021 was even a bigger deal. The stakes were high. The money is big. One Hundred Million Naira no bi mói-mói! And this is the bucks Inoyo Toro Foundation is bringing into the Tech Train.
Characteristically the Foundation is determined to harness the talents for the big tech and innovation world. This most significant and well defined journey may someday lead to the emergence of the AKI Silk Valley. I sat through some of these interactive sessions by experts from diverse fields and the reality of Steven Johnsons thoughts struck me anew that “if you look at history, innovation doesnt come just from giving people incentives, it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.” How true even in these times when people can get intoxicated by a few transitory Naira notes!
Udom Inoyo, advisor to Inoyo Toro Foundation driven by an unquenchable passion to track the big tech dream for a generation that offers the most hope has given the proverbial “apple of wisdom” to the Techies and innovators. Hopefully, someday day the troubling chants of “anything for the boys” would morph into the soothing rhythms of value adding success. As Anna Eshoo said “innovation is the call card of the future”. How apt and how perceptive that Udom Inoyo is passionately driving and investing in this new future.
Perhaps these savvy techies and innovators may be the generation that would write off Nigeria’s debt. Lest I forget, I salute the techies for staying through those tough and hours long of classes and the facilitators (Nsikak John, Idotenyin Issac, Hanson Johnson and others) for their faith in aligning with the vision of Udom Inoyo. Let me end this with a most befitting catchphrase for the one whose depth of vision is far taller than his stature, “Udom Inoyo, ádo ónó owo future”.