As expected, “trrarraarrrraara” came the sound of my boy’s pee on his mackintosh. I had warned the mother few minutes ago to take the boy to the bathroom where he will pee before returning to his sleep. She had argued. 2 hours was time too early to stress her from achieving the latest designs she was trying to cut for a customer. Recently, having witnessed her cut some marvelous designs, and the calculations she had to make, I had learnt to respect her opinions. And so, when she tried to show her professionalism in knowing the boy’s routine, I kept quiet relying on my knowledge of the quantity of water the boy had drank before going to bed. Now my wife was rushing to gather the mackintosh less the liquid soil’s the mattress. I smiled and continued my writing. After all, I was once a boy and I know what we can do.
If I have ever needed concentration, it was now. A call to secure the future was coming from all angles. “We are finished” one caller had threatened and I had pleaded with the brother to give some hopes. Last Saturday, the mother inlaw of a popular publisher in the State was buried in Ibiono and while coming back a friend had cried out on reaching the Ibom Science Park site. “Nsinam Owo mitanga iko ibanga Ibom Science Park emi?” Meaning, “why is it that no one is talking about this Science Park?” He queried while looking at us in the back seat.
On several articles on tabloids in Akwa Ibom State I have attempted to raise a voice about the Ibom Science Park. Most times you only receive calls from some patriotic citizens giving you hope while the situation remains the same. But recently, it seems to be a collective call. Someone had once accused me of dinning with the Ministry of Science and Technology while the Science Park lie in waste. I had defended myself by elaborating one or two events that convinced me of the present leadership in the ministry and I believe I won the argument since his response sounded hopeful too.
But now my friends. “Mme Ubong modo eba” Eric had replied, meaning “the ‘Ubongs’ are there”. Now at the back seat were two ‘Ubongs’, all in the media industry. But then even when I try to shift the responsibility to my friend, I knew promoting tech was my call, maybe just why people keep talking about Science Park whenever I am around.
My wife returned smiling with the mackintosh. She knew I have won her again and was ready to receive some jabs from me. Sometimes when I predict the boy right she marvels. Truth is, we were once boys. I looked at my screen again with a new thought in me. “We were once boys,” I thought. Our fathers never thought of building an ecosystem that will help us compete globally in tech. Tech was relegated to the background. Certificates mattered more than knowledge and skills. No one thought of a future with technology. We were OK with the importations as long as the oil was never going to dry in our lifetime. Education meant obtaining a certificate even if it was stolen.
However, some of our leaders seemed to give hope that what is happening in Silicon Valley can happen in Akwa Ibom. The future was important to them and they had instituted some projects to secure same. Unfortunately, when they exited office, deception and greed crept into our nascent democracy and everyone thought more of power than the society where skills and talents were laid to rest. Poverty knocked on the doors of the politicians in the name of supports while this lucrative project designed for the same youths, waste away unquestionably. Now I am faced with the work of showcasing skills in Akwa Ibom ecosystem through my startup and the Science Park would have been a perfect place for such beginning.
Now sitting behind my computer, I would like to meet the governor one on one. I would request that the state hands over the science park to us in the tech world in partnership. I will suggest that the ministry of Science and Technology under the able leadership of Prof. Nse Essien partners with the private operators in the state to establish the Science Park as a startup for the state – the people. “Your Excellency, the few partnerships we have had so far with the Ministry of Science and Technology had been a successful one,” I would tell the governor. For the sake of our kids, we must revisit the Ibom Science Park project. To be continued.