The young lasses, who have now become Africa’s golden girls, are Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye.
The exciting news that five girls from Anambra State, who represented Nigeria and Africa at the World Technovation Challenge in the Silicon Valley in San Francisco, United States, last Thursday, won gold in the contest was good reprieve for a nation whose politicians give no hope. Events in the political arena recently show that Nigerians had better jettison the old order and embrace a new crop of leaders or remain in the doldrums. The two major parties have shown that they are two faces of the same coin and can only continue to yield fruits as in the past. We should not plant cassava and expect to reap cocoyam. We will certainly reap what we sow and if we sow what we see in the arena today, from the old block, we must fasten our endurance belt. The intention here is not to open any book of lamentations but simply state that the nation is on an old political road and should not expect to come to another destination. The road we now travel is a familiar one. The discourse today veers away from the saddening gale of defections for self-preservation that hold no promise for the people who may well be mere spectators in their land.
The girls from Anambra State, who won gold in the Technovation Challenge, hold aloft the torch of hope for a nation in political doldrums. They show that the future can, indeed, be bright in spite of the political machinations of their fathers and grandfathers.
The team, led by Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu, according to reports, defeated representatives of other technological giants, including the USA, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China, to clinch the gold medal. The young lasses, who have now become Africa’s golden girls, are Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye. The girls, under the tutelage of Ugwu, spent five months researching and developing FD-Detector, an application, which swept through 2,000 other applications to get to the finals in San Francisco. The software has the potential of tackling the challenge of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. The technovation event is for girls across the world to identify a problem in their community and develop an Android application that would address those problems. It is indeed heartening that 115 countries participated in the qualifiers but only 12 teams from across the world were selected for the pitch in Silicon Valley. It is even more so that these college girls from Anambra made the winning pitch.
They have caught world attention by this feat. Coming ahead of girls from countries that drive technology, it shows that all hope is not lost for this nation. Nigerians can hold their own in the comity of nations. Nigerian professionals occupy strategic positions in top-rated firms outside the nation’s shores. It is instructive that these techno whiz kids were groomed in a mission school in Onitsha, a town noted for trading and business. There is more to Onitsha than the nation knows. Ragina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha, from where the girls rooted, belonged to the church but was forcibly taken over by government, alongside several others in years gone by. Those schools went into decay across board and former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, took the bull by the horns and returned the schools to their original owners and still funded the schools so that the citizens do not pay through their nose to send their children there. Obi took the bold step and his successor, Governor Willie Obiano, saw the great wisdom in the move and followed in his predecessor’s footsteps in the noble move. Today, the state has begun to reap the fruit of that wise move. It would be a malaria-induced dream to imagine that the school, remaining in the direct purview of government, could have achieved this feat. It would have been decrepit and not conducive for learning. Perhaps it begs the question to ask why public schools hardly stand to be counted for such outings. The Anambra example is ironical in the clear fact that government also funds the church-managed schools as it does public schools. Why then does one outshine the other? Is it in their stars or in their gods, as some writers given to poetic expressions would ask? The answer lies somewhere between management and monitoring, with the former taking higher leap in ranking.
The complacency dogging public institutions has made Nigeria Airways, National Electric Power Authority [NEPA], NITEL and others of their ilk moribund. Their substitute in private hands have soared. At the inception of telecom firms, NITEL took the new garb of MTEL to provide mobile phone service. It hardly took off before it steeped downwards, perhaps still groaning and striving to get up. Those who bought their lines must have been constrained to look for alternatives. The foregoing is part of the lesson from the scientific feat by the girls from Anambra. I need to place a caveat, to wit: I am not from Anambra State, lest anyone posit that I pour encomiums on my state. That being noted, one recalls that the state once held an unenviable role as one with low male school enrolment, where the boys faced Ochanja market in Onitsha, where they could count hundreds of thousands of naira but could not issue an invoice for sales, where the few that could write invoices were paid by those who could not, to write same for them. No denigration is intended here. The lesson is that, with focus and determination, every debilitating situation could be turned around. Today, traders have so embraced education that there are adult schools in some markets as happens in Alaba International Market, Lagos.
The cogent question for now is, what will become of these girls? Would they be left to defect to foreign lands as did a certain Damian Anyanwu of the Radio Mbaise fame of yesteryear? The young Damian developed a radio station way back in the late 1970s or early 1980s and was forced to defect to the United States, owing to neglect and no support. Governor Obiano deserves kudos for supporting the trip. He has promised a reception for the girls. The real grooming commences thence. First, the application should be put to use in the public interest, for any research that gathers dust is as good as non-existent. The girls should be watched and followed closely.
Obi and Obiano have scored a bull’s eye on this one. Congratulations to the golden girls.