––Abdurrahman Bello Onifade
The morning wore a beautiful countenance as the sun heralded from the horizon. Every keen observer in the Adubi community could see its rays falling on the bank of the river; making it a pleasurable scene even to troubled minds. The trees seemed to be dancing to the tune of the wind, as they oscillated in unison. The walls of the houses on the street, kiosks, shops and even power transmission polls were littered with campaign posters. The senatorial district where Adubi is sited had lost its legislator in the Red Chamber after a long battle with diabetes; and it was time to elect a replacement. The contest was fierce, especially between Barrister Apari Agbotikuyo of the Democratic Development Party (DPP) and Chief Amoo Olowonyo of the Great Redemption Party (GRP)
Agbotikuyo was once a member of the Green Chamber and faced corruption charges for swindling his constituents of
N17 billion meant for public projects. Contrary to the name of his political party, the primary election which made him the standard-bearer of the party was undemocratic. Ballot boxes were snatched and even one of his opponents who seemed popular was kidnapped few days to the elections. Olowonyo, on the other hand, was a first-timer in the political terrain; although he was a business tycoon with companies in Nigeria, Botswana, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa and Egypt. He was as generous as a morning breeze. Due to his uncommon generosity even before showing interest in politics, his name had traveled the nation with the pace of light. His campaign promises were hinged on people-centric policies; education, innovation and transformation. He eventually won the election and represented his people for 8 years. Unlike many Nigerian politicians, Olowonyo was true to his campaign promises. Within his period of service as a Senator of the republic, he maximised the allowances for constituency projects; built 33 schools fully equipped with information and communication technologies (ICTs); primary healthcare centres; and established innovation hubs in the 11 local government areas (LGAs), which transformed the district to an enviable economic hub. He passed on at his palatial residence in Ìbàdàn at the age of 82.
The last child and only boy of a family of six, 12-years-old Adigun Agbekoya trains in one of these schools; where his father is the principal. The mother, popularly known as Iya Adigun, is a petty trader at Dugbe market, just behind the Cocoa House. Adigun is precocious, well-mannered and exudes altruism. As he prepares to write the qualifying exams that will transition him to the Senior Secondary School (SSS) class, his father’s thought about him wanders; because his son leads the Junior School Literary and Arts Club (SLAC) and also displays so much enthusiasm in fixing any faulty gadget or appliance at home. Would he be joining the Arts or Sciences? Most schools in Nigeria have no provisions that would allow a student combine these realms.
Meanwhile, Adigun aced his exams and joined the Sciences. The following three years become momentous, as he pursues his dream of becoming a computer wizard. During holidays, he would volunteer at Re-PsychWay––a nongovernmental organisation which enlightens people about ethical behaviour towards recycling waste; and SkillNG––a skill acquisition hub, where he learnt the basics of coding and Data Science. He could not afford a computer for himself but maximised his stay at SkillNG. He would always attend tech boot camps within the city. Sometimes in SSS 2, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy organised a science and tech competition among secondary schools in Nigeria.
Adigun and a girl, Similoluwa Nwabueze, were chosen to represent their school at the state level. Similoluwa, the daughter of a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army from Ebonyi State, is also tech savvy. 27 schools out of the 5,385 government-owned and private schools in the state sent their representatives to the competition. After a rigorous theoretical process about trends in the science and tech world, Adigun and his colleague emerged the state winners. Most of the panelists were wowed by their performance. Their responses, especially Adigun’s, to questions which were supposed to be answered in 30 seconds, were always prompt; at most 18 seconds.
Six weeks later, Adigun and Similoluwa slogged it out with other 36 state representatives in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, at an event which had the Minister and other top government personalities in attendance. Members of the press were present to cover the event. The atmosphere was filled hysteria and one could see the euphoria that characterised the past event evaporating from the large hall. After two sessions of the 5-hours competition, participants were keen to hear the results. It had indeed been a battle of titans; as most of the participants were eggheads. However, the result was to be announced based on individual performance because only one candidate was needed; who would be representing Nigeria at the global tech fair and competition scheduled to hold in Mauritius by the end of the year.
Okeke Abagana, a Professor of Cloud Computing and Space Technology, announced the result. “I must confess,” he started his speech, “that I have not witnessed a groundbreaking event as this in my 30-years experience as an academic; especially in Nigeria. Today I feel proud of these young men and women who have demonstrated sterling potentials, which can be harnessed to propel Nigeria to greatness and of course, Africa. I like to note that all of you have made remarkable outings; yet, we could only choose one person to represent our nation at the global level. Without much ado and based on the results collated by the computer systems, I hereby announce Master Adigun Agbekoya from Oyo State as the winner of today’s competition. Nkechi Oriegbulam from Akwa Ibom State is the first runner-up; and Miskeen Buba from Borno State is the second runner-up.”
The winners were rewarded with laptops and cash prizes. Adigun got
N1 million and a laptop; while the runners-up got N500,000 and N250,000 and laptops, respectively. Other participants, including Similoluwa, who fell within the first ten were given consolation prizes; N50,000 each. One thing was, however, enticing about Adigun. He would also network with colleagues and acquaintances. He never feels he knows it all. He got contacts of many colleagues at the competition and felt he could leverage their expertise for something great in the future. Upon return to Oyo, Adigun committed half of his cash prize to his school computer laboratory. More computer systems were purchased to facilitate more students’ access to practical activities during computer studies. The remaining was used to support his family, especially the mum’s business which had been affected by the ravaging corona virus pandemic.
Adigun now has a computer of his own which he uses to explore a lot of things. He would spend hours watching videos on YouTube and practising whatever he had seen. By the end of SSS2 he developed a website for his school and a mobile app––AdiShare, which facilitates knowledge sharing among students. Meanwhile, the competition in Mauritius was scheduled to hold during his first term in SSS3. Mr Henry Asamoah, a Ghanaian-born Nigerian teacher was to accompany him on the trip as well as a delegate, Madam Neneh Oyiza, from the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. Everything was set and by 9th of December that year, they were received at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Port Louis.
The competition had 172 participants from across the globe; Africa, Asia, America, Europe, Middle East, and Australia. The event which lasted about 120 hours had fascinating sessions featuring ideas across diverse areas; with emphasis on the use of science and tech to purse the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Each participant had 7 minutes for presentation. When it was Adigun’s turn, he unveiled a new app called SageClime. In a 4-minutes-38-seconds presentation, he explained thus:
“SageClime is developed to stimulate, facilitate and enhance (indigenous) knowledge sharing; especially in those areas where African potentials have not been duly maximised. The App works by allowing one to register seamlessly based on one’s interest––as a knowledge sharer or acquirer. The reasons behind its development are many; however, one stands out. Africa is blessed with abundant natural resources, particularly plants which can be used to overhaul our health sector. For too long, much emphasis has been put on formal education system as a way to get this knowledge; whereas our forebears who never attended formal schools used plants and herbs to cure a lot of ailments and diseases. But the knowledge has gradually gone into extinction because of lack of proper preservation and inadequate sharing mechanism with succeeding generations.
“More so, there is a pervasive syndrome of shyness that comes with knowledge sharing in Africa because meanings are often read into your contributions when sharing knowledge. Some persons think it is ITK (I Too Know); while others are just passive about the whole thing. I strongly believe that achieving the SDGs will be a fantasized illusion without knowledge diffusion across all divides and among all stakeholders. With SageClime, one could register and be anonymous if you do not want to be tagged with derogatory comments like ITK; although I hope you could get credit for the knowledge you share or explore others’ knowledge and acknowledge the impacts.
“Importantly, this App hopes to revolutionise knowledge sharing, acquisition and use in Africa. Regardless of your level of education, the knowledge you’ve acquired from your dad in his farm or at home in Accra, for example, could be the solution to another person’s problem in Harare. I, therefore, see this App as a valuable tool for both professionals and nonprofessionals to harmonize expertise, with knowledge as the tool for societal transformation and global realisation of the SDGs.”
His presentation was crowned with a resounding applause from the audience in the 15,000 capacity hall sited in Beau-Bassin Rose-Hill. Aside his sterling idea, his outspokenness was heart-melting. His impeccable English portrayed him like a young man who had possibly dined with the Queen of England for 25 years. Many people in the audience were ajar. Meanwhile, at the end of the event, Chi Kimura, a Japanese was announced the overall winner with his idea on how to curb global terrorism and insurgency. Adigun was the first runner-up; while a Canadian, Misty Bren, was the second runner-up. Chi, the grand winner got $1,000,000 cash prize; Adigun, $500,000; and Misty, $250,000. He was also awarded a scholarship to study Computing and Future Studies at Yale University; and later had to undergo his internship at a notable tech company in Silicon Valley. Within 3 weeks that SageClime was hosted on Play Store, it was downloaded 17 million times and got about 83 million reviews. It became a reliable, global platform to get African indigenous knowledge on diabetes, stroke, arthritis; trends in tech, medicine, arts and humanities; education, etc.
With a master’s degree in Knowledge Management and Technological Innovations at 21, Adigun has become one of the youngest, richest billionaires in Africa, coming second only after Aliko Dangote. He has been featured by the BBC, CNN and on Forbes list of ‘100 Most Influential People’ to watch out for in the future. He, however, rejected job offers from top tech companies in the United States and Canada; but returned to Nigeria where he established six tech hubs in the six geopolitical zones (North-East, North-Central, North-West, South-East, South-South and South-West). His foundation, Adigun O2, has gradually built offices in 13 African countries and plans to build more; with a view to domesticating technological innovations and knowledge economy on the continent.
When asked by the New York Times what he wants to be remembered for in the future, Adigun smiled, saying, “I want to be remembered as that young man who goaded Africans towards technological developments and economic prosperity through knowledge diffusion. Because I strongly believe that if knowledge is power; then knowledge diffusion is superpower.” – YA