Nigeria at 52 - Men and Women Whose Light Sparkles in Darkness

Labelled one of the corrupt countries in
the world, an almost Failed State, a
disappointment of Africa and many
other words and expressions in their
elegant variations, Nigeria may have
nothing to celebrate as she marks her
52nd Independence anniversary from
the British Colonialists tomorrow,
October 1.

In a tongue-in-the-chick
acknowledgement of this supposition,
the Federal Government has planned a
low-key anniversary which will be
lacking in colour and fanfare. Those
who lament the country's predicament
point to the fact that Nigeria has been
left behind by its peers who gained
political independence between the 1950s and 1960s. India, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea,
Singapore, Pakistan, and lately our own Ghana, have made giant strides in diverse areas, while
Nigeria lingers in leadership and economic crises.

However, many Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora,
are contributing to the growth of the world through their
inventions. From Science to Medicine, Technology to
business, arts to leadership, they have made their
marks. These are those we refer to as Nigerians of the
future. From current global trends, the future belongs to
me whose ideas solve human problems; those who
dream with open eyes, to beat new paths in various
fields. In the last 52 years, the majority of Nigerian
leaders have been ensnared by corruption because they
had gazed too long at wealth rather than life-changing
innovations. The transient glory of power had deceived
many from the pursuit of noble causes, thereby denying
the country of the benefits of the fruits of their innate
talents. In the following pieces, we have identified few
Nigerians who could be referred to as exceptions to the
uninspiring way of life that has dragged the country to
political and economic cul-de-sac. They are men and
women who have followed the dictates of their spirits
and have made a difference. Their outstanding lives give Nigeria pride among the comity of
nations. We call them Nigerians of the future, because to these kinds rest the hope of this most
populous African nation.

Professor Bwala: Tackling Parkinson
disease, stroke at National Hospital, Abuja Quiet and unassuming, Professor Sunday Angaya
Bwala is an agent of hope to Parkinson disease and stroke patients at the National Hospital in
Abuja. Born in 1950, he has done so much work in Neurology, a very sensitive area of Medicine,
such that in Africa and the world at large his expertise is sought in handling delicate and unusual
cases. Professor Bwala, who hails from Borno State is the author of over 40 research publications
in the field of neurology and has worked in many hospitals in and outside Nigeria. A former
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the University of Maiduguri, now on Sabbatical at the
National Hospital in Abuja, he is still carrying out research on the pattern of neurologic diseases
at the hospital and the causes of stroke in the young (those who are less than 45 years). He is
still working on the aspects of extra-cranial and intra-cranial vessels in stroke at the National
At a time when many trained medical doctors have given up on research into diseases among
patients, and rather look up to government for political appointments, this Bwala's curriculum
vitae bears a testimony that that he has never engaged in politics or political appointments. In
his profile of over two thousand words, reference is made to hospitals and medical departments
of universities where he had worked. It says Professor Bwala "has worked in so many places as
Locum Consultant Neurologist at Taiwan Hospital and UAE University Medical School Abu Dhabi;
Consultant physician and Head of Department of Medicine King Khalid Military Hospital Saudi
Arabia; Registrar in Neurology at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital UK; Registrar Neurosurgery at
National Hospital for Nervous Diseases Maida Vale, London and Registrar in General Medicine at
the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria among others. He was also Head of Department of Medicine
King Khalid Military City Hospital Saudi Arabia among others."
Gilbert honours Africa with accident equipment
Brino Gilbert is another Nigerian who has given hope not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole. He
has invented a gadget called Counter Collision Gadget (CCG). It is said that the CCG device has
the capacity to prevent accidents on the road, air, sea and rail.
Gilbert who is a physicist has proved to be a man of industry, hard work and resilience. All this
has earned him numerous acclamations including two medals and a trophy. He made
tremendous impact at the May 2003 edition of the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX)
in the United States. He won a bronze medal in the Aerospace/Aeronautics category and a silver
medal in the manufacturing category.
Gilbert who hails from Edo State spent 10 years seeking government attention for his research.
He also approached several groups and individuals for sponsorship. Then luck came his way at
It was really tough for him because he suffered shortage of funds and materials for his research
In his words, "I had to source for funds here and there to get my air fare, BTA and the
participation fees. Thank God for the award. My eyes were suffused with tears, as I looked around
me, not seeing any Nigerian with me. I did Nigeria and Africa proud. I did Edo State proud."
This was a big honour because Gilbert was in contest with great inventors from across the world.
He has a strong vision for the way forward for science and technology in Africa. This is obvious in
his words, "The African continent could come off the aged drowsiness of technological
backwardness as there is no limit to what the human mind can do. Nigeria is blessed with human
power, but no one listens or pays attention to research and development. The government does
not invest in what may yield a great economy in the nearest future. The African mentality is the
now factor, not tomorrow."
His vision is to make CCG exportable to many countries of the world.

Deola Sagoe: New thinking in fashion
A mother of three children, Deola Sagoe has become a big name in Nigeria's fashion industry.
The Ondo State born fashion designer actually studied Finance and Management at the University
of Lagos and the University of Miami, United States. She started designing in 1998, but what has
been described as her "lively and colourful designs" has shot her to the front row in global
fashion industry. Recently, she was appointed to represent the country in a United Nations World
Food Programme campaign entitled "Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food." The young lady
exhibits in several countries including the United States and South Africa, and has won several
awards for her Africa designs.

Abba Chedi Zubair: World renowned Pathologist
Dr Abba Chedi Zubair is a world renowned pathologist and specializes on transfusion medicine. A
licensed Clinical Pathologist, Dr Zubair typically concentrates on Blood Transfusion and Stem Cell
Infusion. He is one of the world's leading scientists doing research on stem cell.
A 1991 graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Zubair also studied at University of
Sheffield's Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine Cancer Center, Philadelphia, United States. Currently, Zubair, who hails from Kano
State, is the Director of Transfusion Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy at the Mayo Clinic in
Jacksonville, Florida. He has been working alongside the Waisman Biomanufacturing to produce
GmB messenchymal stem cells for treatment of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a
common disease associated with organ rejection post lung transplant.
He seeks to identify and characterize normal and cancer stem cells using immuno-phenotyping,
molecular and cell culture techniques. Characterization of cancer stem cells will allow better
insight into the mechanism of stem cell resistance to chemotherapy and might therefore lead to
identification of new therapeutic targets, more effective anti-cancer therapies and

Dr Philip Emeagwali: World fastest 'calculator'
Dr Philip Emeagwali shocked the world in 1989 when he received the prestigious Gordon Bell
prize for his performance on the world's fastest calculation at 3.1 billion calculations per second.
His calculation was adjudged a remarkable feat in the world because it was twice faster than the
previous world record and the method used to achieve it. Instead of using the supercomputer, Dr
Emeagwali used the internet to access 65,536 through a system called massively parallel
computers [the use of small computers simultaneously]
His discovery was of great value and breakthrough in the oil industry today. It's being used for
the stimulation of oil from the fields. This has helped many oil producing nations of the world for
the extraction of more oil and thereby increased their revenue without difficulties as it were
before this invention. Beside this, his discovery effort is also being used to predict weather
patterns for at least 100 years forecast. The field of meteorology has witnessed great
advancement as a result of his work.
The Nigerian scientist has over the years recorded other numerous breakthroughs in the fields of
mathematics, computers and science which had earned him other awards and honours across the
The world known inventor and scientist was born at Onitsha, in the eastern part of the country.
He received a scholarship to Oregon state university in USA where he bagged a BSC. Two
masters Degrees from George Washington University and the third one from the University of
Maryland. He earned a PhD from the University of Michigan also in the USA. His wife, Dr. Dale
Brown is also a renowned microbiologist. She was named scientist of the year in 1996 by the
National Technical Association.

Jelani Aliyu: Automobile designer
Jelani Aliyu, the Nigerian prodigy who was recently conferred the national honour of Member of
the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) is extremely talented and blazes the trail for African
engineers in the global field of automobile design.
He designed the Chevrolet Volt, a state-of-the-art electric car, for General Motors.
Born in 1966 in Kaduna into the family of Alhaji Haidar Aliyu, a public servant from Sokoto State,
Jelani Aliyu studied at Capital School, Sokoto before going to Federal Government College in the
same town. He graduated in 1983 and received an award for Best in Technical Drawing. He then
studied design at two other tertiary institutions in Nigeria before moving to the United States. He
received his diploma in Architecture from Birnin Kebbi Polytechnic in 1988, where he was
recognized as the Best Student. He had a brief stint at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria,
where he initially planned to study architecture, but later got a scholarship from the Sokoto State
government to study in the US. In 1990, Aliyu moved to Detroit, Michigan to enroll at the College
for Creative Studies where he received his degree in automobile design in 1994 before beginning
his career with the design staff of General Motors. He worked on the Buick Rendezvous and was
the lead exterior designer of the Pontiac G6. He also worked on the Astra with General Motors'
Opel Division in Germany in 1999. During his studies he received two awards from Ford Motor
Company and Michelin, US.
Indeed, Aliyu recorded a major breakthrough in the automotive industry, with the design of
"Chevy Volt", described as an "American Revolution." It was made possible by the brilliance of
the Nigerian genius after a 10-month marathon sprint to bring the Volt to reality.

John Dabiri: A new look at wind-energy technology
In 2010, Popular Science magazine named John Dabiri as one of its "Brilliant 10" scientists. A
Nigerian based in the United States, young Dabiri is a 2001 graduate of Princeton University in
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Now, he is an Associate Professor of Aeronautics &
Bioengineering. Because of his achievements and nomination as one of Brilliant 10 scientists two
years ago, Dabiri was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship which earned him $500,000 grant to
conduct further research in wind-energy technology. He is renowned for getting ideas from
Jellyfish to design propulsion systems, and he has given insight into new approaches for
optimising power generation from Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. He is said to have told a
publication that he was inspired by schooling fish.
The significance of his discovery is traced to lack of space with current wind farms. Modern wind
farms need a lot of land resources to separate wind turbines. Dabiri was quoted as saying that
"propeller-style wind turbines suffer in performance as they come in proximity to one another,"
hence his decision to work on vertical turbines which are new additions to the wind-energy
landscape. His turbines would have no propellers; instead they would use a vertical rotor, such
that they can be used in smaller plots of land. Dabiri added that "Our goal is to demonstrate a
new technology that enables us extract significantly more wind energy from a given parcel of
land than is currently possible using existing methods. We want to take advantage of our
constructive aerodynamic interference between closed spaced vertical-axis wind turbines. Our
results can potentially make better use of existing wind farms, allow for wind farms to be located
closer to urban centres - reducing power transmission costs - and reduce the size of offshore

Yemi Adesokan: Invents drug-resistant infection kits
Yemi Adesokan, a Nigerian born and US based founder of Pathogenica Inc, was selected by
expert judges of the Technology Review of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the
United States of America for his discovery work on drug-resistant infections.
Adesokan, a 35 year old young Nigerian was honoured by the MIT in 2011because of his
innovation work which has the potentials to change the way mankind responds to disease
Medical experts are of the view that his innovation may bring an end to the problem of drug
resistance in the world particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Renowned world innovators that were previously honoured by MIT included:Mark Zuckerberg ,
founder of Facebook, Sergey Brin of Google. Adesokan in 2011 joined other TR35 honourees to
discuss their achievements at the Emtech MIT conference in Cambridge.
His discovery work was carried out by biotechnology start-up that he founded with Professor
George Church of Harvard Medical School DNA technology. The Pathogenica's kits were able to
identify the presence, which enables physicians to screen for multiple diseases with accurate
results and a rapid turn-around.
Since this innovation, sequencing technology has improved, equipping scientists with knowledge
of individual genomics. Also, with his innovation, the cost of DNA sequencing has dropped more
than 40,000 fold.

Oluyemi Badero reaches the apogee
Oluyemi Badero, a cardiologist based in New York is one of the interventional cardiologists
among top US cardiologists. Badero who is in his early 50s, was two years ago listed among the
top 50 US and Canada-based Nigerians recognized by Nigerians abroad during the 50th
independence anniversary in Abuja.
Badero who is the President and CEO, Cardiac Specialists of Brooklyn, LLC has said his listing this
year by the Castle Connolly regarded as eminent among US medical professionals will further
spur him to do more and do better for humanity stressing, "when you are devoted to do your very
best, the recognition will come."
By this honour, Badero is now at par with a handful of US Black doctors and Nigerians on the
Castle Connolly list. Three other Nigerian doctors: Professor Ferdinand Ofodile, Dr Ola Akinboboye
and Dr Chukwuma Okadigwe have so far been so honoured.
Badero who did his MBBS in 1984 from the then University of Ife had two residency programmes
in the US both at the State University of New York between 1990 and 1994. He had two post-
residency fellowships at SUNY and Yale, between 1994 and1998.
Badero was the Chief of Cardiology at Saint John's Episcopal Hospital, South Shore, New York
between 2003 and 2007, and also Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the State University
of New York Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn.
Badero is popular not only in his field of study. He was awarded "Worthy Sir Knight, Dr Oluyemi
Badero" by Knights of Columbus.
Few years ago, the 108th session of the US Congress praised Badero's "outstanding
accomplishments in the field of medicine," and "one of the very few African-American specialists
in his field."

Shehu Balami:The rocket inventor
Engineer Shehu Balami, 30, has since 2000 been involved in the invention of rockets. A graduate
of Mechanical Engineering from the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State,
he started by making research into how to make smaller models which instead of flying began to
explode due to very low power and the lack of thrust to drive them. That was for his first degree
thesis in 2008. As at last year, he had produced and launched two solid fuel rockets which were
launched along the new Kaduna Millennium City Road in Kaduna State.
Explaining how he started, Balami said he developed interest in rocket making since he was a
child, not with the aim of building them but to enable him build space satellite for Nigeria. He
was quoted as saying, "I have a special passion for anything that flies, be it aeroplane or rocket
and that was the reason why I started making research into rocketry. In fact, it informed my
choice of my project topic in the university."
For his invention he had to depend on friends and family members. He stated that for his
invention in 2008, he got a support of N10,000 from friends, while for the modified one in 2011,
he raised N30,000. The solid-fuel rocket was produced under the auspices of the Movement for
the Propagation of Science and Technology in Nigeria. It is made up of those who have interest in
science and technology.
As at 2011, Engineer Balami had commenced research into what he called remote controlled
aircraft, though he complained that the major impediment to this project would be lack of funds.
He had said, "If government pays attention to local scientists and technologists and supports
them financially, with this kind of inventions I have launched, I believe strongly that one day we
will be able to build our own satellite or the engine that will take the satellite to the space and
save Nigeria a lot of money."

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