AT a time when Nigeria is going through serious economic challenges, and there are calls for the country to diversify the economy from being oil dependent one to the manufacturing sector, this may be the best period for the country to value its creative minds.
In the past, Nigerian citizens have displayed great intelligence with innovations that if they were from other countries of the world, they would have been rewarded and compensated due to their creativity. We’ve had Nigerians develop cars, helicopters, telecommunication transmitters, televisions, and even attempted ground breaking vaccines like the HIV/AIDS vaccine, among others, but being a country that kills dreams, none of these brains ever thrived with their innovations.
As a result, one wonders what the future will have for Ayodele Maja, a 26-year-old partially deaf young man who has developed a DVD player. The DVD today is popular among Nigerians, particularly the youth. Ayodele’s innovation is definitely enough to turn him into a millionaire, if properly managed.
However, as the country is struggling to diversify its economy, it is expected that the necessary government agencies will support Ayodele’s innovation. Ayodele’s DVD, incased in plastic, is not different from the regular imported DVD players. It can be controlled remotely, and can even work for several hours, since it is specially developed not to overheat even if powered on for several days.
While Ayodele’s DVD player might look beautiful, his life has been a struggle. After working as a bus driver for several years, plying Ibadan to Abuja, he felt he had had enough when the struggle for leadership in the Oyo State’s National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) was brewing.
“Even before that, the owner of the bus I was driving was not treating me well, and when the leadership crisis started, I felt it was time to quit.
“Because I had flair for electronics, I decided I needed to go and get formal training in electronics. This I did for just three months; that was enough for me to set out on my own.
“I began getting clients, and I was doing fairly well. I can repair television, radio, DVDs, computers, and all that, but the idea of building DVDs didn’t just come to me.
“I needed money so badly some time ago and I had so sell the DVD I was using, but I was not comfortable not having a DVD player I could be using to watch films and listen to music; but because I already know everything about electronics, I just pieced together some components I had bought when I last travelled to Lagos, and behold, it worked well.
“I had the DVD machine encased in a plastic container, and when I was using it in my shop, somebody saw it and marveled. He then asked me to sell it to him, which I did for N4,000.
“Since then, I have had several other orders, with many clients coming back to buy for their friends and relatives. There was even one I did that had television screen on it, and it was working perfectly before I sold it.
Now, what is the next step for Ayodele? “I want to be able to mass produce the device so that it can become cheaper. I want to be selling them for just N2,500 because there are still many people who can’t afford the N4,000 I currently sell them.
“Apart from that, I want to urge the Nigerian government to assist me so that I can go to the United States or Japan to learn how to produce the intelligent circuit (IC) which is the brain power of all electronics.
“If I can get this opportunity, then I can return and also create a more beautiful case for the device so that I can be producing them en masse.
“The Nigerian government should not forget that Japan, South Korea, United States, Germany, among many other countries, developed through technology, and this is really the time to support those who are innovative technologically so that we can also develop our manufacturing sector.
“If the government, or even wealthy individuals can assist me, then I can export the device to other developing countries, particularly in Africa; one area where mine will be different is that it will be cheaper compared to the ones imported from Asia,” Ayodele said.
Despite not having formal tertiary education, Ayodele, who is hard at hearing, said he had always been fascinated by electronics.
“Right from my young age, I have always loved to dismantle electronics, particularly radio and television, and I believe this is my true calling.
“My years as a commercial bus driver could be described as my years in the ‘desert,’ but I believe that I have found my calling now.
“I just want the Nigerian government, and even wealthy businessmen to invest in what I am doing, and there will be huge benefit for both parties.
“Nigeria can be the leader in technology in Africa, but this will be determined by how the country supports its citizens who are technologically-gifted.
“I am, therefore, calling on the Nigerian government, through the Minister of Science and Technology, to support my innovation so that we can begin to build a country that can thrive through technology,” Ayodele said.