Few elderly men sat round a table watching the game of chess while sipping their beer. There were other tables scattered around the place with others playing draught and other indoor games. A huge young man with a breast that can suckle an infant approached me, his t-shirt clad to his disfigured frame while his muscles reminded me of some American wrestlers in the WWE. “You are in the wrong place Sir,” he said touching my tiny frame and pretended not to notice his presence. At that instance I sighted my invitee and was quick to inform him why I was at the club. He walked briskly over to the table and whispered with the ‘Doc’ as he is fondly called then returned to welcome me into the gathering.
“What will you take?” The Doc queried as he beckoned on a waitress. “Just water,” I replied leaning on the table while supporting my chin with my woven fingers. I was just cautious else I make some blunders while being engaged. Alcohol could wait. The lady arrived with a bottled water and the meeting ensued.
“Ubong I invited you in accordance with your recent campaigns on your Facebook account to save Ibom Science Park.” He said while taking a sip from his canned beer. I leaned on my seat, determined to air my view as regards the Science Park projects irrespective of his feelings, though I have great respect for his person. “You see the campaign is apt but there is a lot the government is already handling presently, so you may end up not achieving your goal since this does not come in as one of the government’s project in the nearest future.” He advised.
The words were brief but the import was a determined strategy to discourage me from my thought that something could be done about the Ibom Science Park. This was an elderly man who has been in civil service in the nineties and had retired to join politics where he is doing very well within the PDP family. His advice was very true and I knew this before the initiation of the campaign to draw government’s attention to the abandoned Ibom Science Park.
“At the end of the day,” he continued, “you may only end up making enemies while the project still lies abandoned. Moreover, how are you sure some mischievous members of the opposition party will not hijack your good intention and turn it to be a tool of insulting the government and using it as a campaign strategy.” He said, sounding more concerned. After series of suggestions and what he thought of the campaign I cleared my throat and searched my voice for the best line to start my argument.
“Doc.” I began. “The Ibom Science Park project is one of the smallest projects the government can embark on at this time,” I opined not minding how flawed my assertion could be. “With my recent engagement with the Akwa Ibom ecosystem, I have noticed that all we need for the Science Park is to set up the building, fix the facilities and forget about the needed equipment for now.” I said knowing quite well he will argue on such theories but I continued.
“Then we can use the Science Park as an incubation centre. A meeting point for tech entrepreneurs. with the offices completed we can give it out to young people and God so bless, there is always a constant power supply in that area so we can work consistently. I am not saying the government should start importing heavy equipment for the Science Park. No. All I am saying is that we can fix the entire structure with just a token, then developers can take possession of the place as incubation centre where their ideas could be incubated then with the products ready it could be launched as outcome of the Science Park venture.” I said not minding if he understood what I was saying.
“You see like the governor has rightly said, the equipment earlier brought to the site might have been outdated but then we have so many young people involved in tech and are currently building great applications without such equipment. Bringing them together at the Ibom Science Park could form a community that will spark up a lot of positive outcome if properly managed. For now, the government can forget about the fixing of internet and other expensive facilities since already most tech entrepreneurs uses their personal data to work. Everything equipment and facilities can come later but let the government just help the youths in fixing the walls to its completion then miracles will start happening within those walls.” I said this with all amount of confidence trusting the tech communities I belong to in recent times.
“Why are you so sure that the government can even do the little you have asked for?” My host asked while taking another sip of his beer. “Sir, I am afraid that if the Udom Emmanuel’s administration cannot save the Ibom Science Park from its current state of ruin then I doubt if any other government will do that. This government spelt it out from its inception that people oriented projects was to be the focus. Third on this government’s agenda was wealth creation and we cannot create wealth by sending our youths away to Lagos and even Silicon Valley to practice their tech profession. It is within Akwa Ibom that we expect those practicing in this field to flourish and help boost the economy which is fast nosediving nationally.” I said reclining once again in my seat.
I would have elaborated more on why the Ibom Science Park should come up as soon as possible but a call on my phone caught my attention and I recalled a wedding planning committee meeting I needed to attend. Indeed, more people are getting married everyday which transforms into raising more young people for our ecosystem. Therefore, for the generations yet unborn we must do everything to help them export technology by fixing these infrastructures unlike our generation where we have to bring in expatriate to draw a circuit board for our engineers.
In a most religious way I got up and extended my hand to my host as he took it with a welcomed satisfaction. With the look in his eyes, I have just won one more person to the #Save_Ibom_Science_Park campaign. Very soon, trusting the inventiveness of Governor Udom Emmanuel and the ‘ever ready to work’ commissioner for Science and Technology – Prof. Nse Essien, something will be done in the Science Park in the coming year. But for now, I must continue on the sole campaign to save the Ibom Science Park for the sake of the generations yet unborn. “Good night Sir,” I muttered. “Good night, Ubong” he replied “I wish you goodluck in your good intentions,” he added as I stepped into the dark taking a second look at the disfigured bouncer at the gate “good night bro,” I said not caring if he gave a reply.