When our Ingenuity is our mantra, By Ngozi Bell

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I read about a 15-year-old in Nigeria who builds mechanical and motorised vehicles using locally derived materials and it thrilled me, filling me with this incredible delight. I love creatives but I am even more fascinated by the ability of a person to sit down and work from ideation to product and display an outcome that is visible, tangible, intangible, palpable, excitable etc. 

It is ironic that Nigeria’s refinery in Kaduna was built by a Japanese company. The Dangote refinery will be built by many foreign teams, yet during the civil war, Biafra refined its own oil, built its own ammo, and literally supported itself via local ingenuity. All capabilities in the bowels of Nigeria. We have all seen that the most successful healthcare systems in the world are the ones that care for the whole population, what we know as social medicine. What if as a nation Nigeria went totally away from the norm. Choosing to build a true health care system versus adopting its own version of a sick care system, where only the sick participate. Imagine what it would do for the natural habitat; intentionally cultivating Ori (shea butter) pods, harnessing moringa trees, finding those medicinal herbs that freely grow and using them in their most potent state with our ingenuity focused on formats that make them easily accessible. Then the Nigerian agriculture would take advantage of the terrain and leverage the seasons to tools developed with the landscape in mind. Nigeria would educate itself continuously generations after generations to the vision of the evergreen future desired. 

Suddenly the architecture of the nation will become mainstream to the natural resources, enhanced by the nuanced notes of its lush and generous organic environment and embraced by the unity of an ecosystem that is at once robust and intimate, chanting the praises of its genesis. Nigeria could educate and inform with the nation in mind and the world in view; creating its jobs that address its needs and wants first and then setting its surplus to service others. Then its children would roam the streets, exploring their God-given laboratory and more will like the 15-year-old build and create and dream to their hearts desire! 

This is not fantasy but a reality to be exposed. Much like the curtains that obscure the vibrant cast on the stage just behind it. In the hardest of times, in a time before now, some Nigerians cut off from everything; acquired, created, developed and built theirs from scratch. From the bounty of scraps many young and mature have framed products from ideas, emulation and the imposition of acquired knowledge. This is happening every where every day in every way, regular Nigerians doing irregular things just because they can! 

I used to wonder why things don’t work in Nigeria when they should; why people can do only little to foster progressive systems, when more should be done, why while there are strides made in contained environments, an overall horror looms so high and fosters confusion, when it can be easier. Then it became crystal clear that perhaps that is not the point at all. Because regardless of it all, the following stands true.

•Charlatans overrun experts when platforms for excellence are demeaned;

•Fools are those who really believe through their actions that there is no recompense, no God;

•Slackers will always see the fierce lion that roams the public square;

•Laziness has a lot of cravings with no actualisation, but the diligent experiences their desires;

•The mind can endure much, overcome much, remake much and reset much, it is the seat of reform.

So, then what do we do? Find the problem? Rehearse the good pieces to ad nauseum, till we can perform them flawlessly? Rehash the good that in the old into something new? What if all this is not enough? Because every day, the loyalist sing Nigeria’s praise. The reformers speak its hope. The diligent work at its change and the hopeless despairs at its rot!

Enugu also pronounced Enugwu literally means “on top of the hill”, or “the mountain top”. On the mountain top, the air is rarefied, sometimes it’s all peace and sometimes imaginations are duly elevated. There is a saying that we must rise above the place of a problem to solve it effectively. This is because from above, you see wholistically and you have new perspective. I recall watching a football game from a president box at a football stadium. In there I learned about a game, I had previously no regard for. I was shown what to look out for, I was introduced to the game’s artistry and the science of its benevolence. I saw the players as deeply clever trying to make a play that would outsmart, or advantage themselves. It was thrilling to be ensconced in a high and lovely place, not a sweat to break. The food was delectable, the wine exquisite, the people rich, smart and charming. I thoroughly got the game, all of it and for the first time after years of exposure I had new perspective on football, the people who play it, the people it benefits and those that give it life. It fueled in me understanding and appreciation. Such is the capability of the mountaintop. Now, the mountaintop while charming can also be isolating and even challenging to navigate requiring you to be conscious and aware.

Jalingo means superior place – implying higher in rank, a promoted place capable of the uncommon. With superiority comes the responsibility of leadership and preservation. The need to encounter all engagements with wisdom and without haste so that all that is superior is properly harnessed, maintained and well preserved. We know that all too well, when we advance to superior office and suddenly the expectations are drastically removed from what was allowed, just the day before. Again superior can also encapsulate seniority that can deter the new. 

The point is that in Enugu, Nigeria can erect an innovation mountain that encrusts and uplifts the ingenuity represented by the larger region, building an ecosystem that is robust in people, process and product brave enough to build and create products and services that will serve itself nation, the continent and eventually by choice the globe.

In Jalingo, Nigeria can erect a living labyrinth of culture, that encapsulates the regional nature, aquatic excellence and the lush of the superior Mambila region.

You see God gives His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain to the just and the unjust. This tells us that the resources to ignite Nigeria’s resources are already given, in the same measure to everyone, with the same provision and flexibility to retain, repurpose, redeem. We also learn from it, that doing the right thing universally is key. God Renders to each region regardless of location, tribe, language, people the essentials of all His natural provisions however, outcomes are subject to what they combine it with or bind it to.

So perhaps for Nigeria, there is a chance to FUBU the needs, BATA the gaps, and INON the opportunity.

How about – Capital Funds that are For Us By Us. Businesses that Build Africa Through Africans. Systems that Involve Nigerians On Nigeria Soil

Many have done this, many are doing this, many will do this. We need now to collectively enhance it, embrace it and make it the big thing.

As I said, I read about a 15-year-old in Nigeria who builds mechanical and motorised vehicles using locally derived materials and it thrilled me, filling me with this incredible delight. I love creatives but I am even more fascinated by the ability of a person to sit down and work from ideation to product and display an outcome that is visible, tangible, intangible, palpable, excitable etc. Let us together connect all these dots and make it the norm all the way to a finish line that marks the beginning of a new horizon, again and again!

About Ngozi Bell

Inspiration, Hard Work, Innovation. These three foundational elements anchor Ngozi’s core belief that manifesting the extraordinary is always within reach. Inspired by her mother A.C.Obikwere, a scientist and author, she learned the privilege of living at the edge of important encounters and dedicating herself to robust and perpetual learning. Ngozi’s background is a combination of Physics, Engineering, Venture Capital/Private Equity, regulations, and business where she has managed over $1B in cumulative revenue. Ngozi is a speaker, storyteller, and writer on a diverse set of topics including AI, iDLT, ML, Signal Processing, iOT, women, entrepreneurship and more. She contributes regularly to VOA, has been a TEDx speaker and is published on tech and non-tech platforms. She is a champion of STEM, women, youth, art and the Africa we must engage. Ngozi is an adjunct professor of Physics and management with work

experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America. She is a founder of a number of a number of enterprises and host of the podcast Stem, Stocks and Stews (https://anchor.fm/stemstocksstews-podcast).