THE REGIONAL EDITOR OF EVERGREEN NEWSPAPER AND ONLINE MEDIA, DR KELLY IHETU ACCOMPANIED BY NEWS EDITOR MBAOMA CHISOM, SECRETARY SUSSAN OGADINMA AND SENIOR REPORTER AKUCHIE AMARACHI WITH CREW MEMBERS VISITED HONORABLE IKECHUKWU SUNDAY UMEH (COMMISSIONER FOR TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT IMO STATE) AT HIS OFFICE, STATE SECRETARIAT, NEW OWERRI, IMO STATE, NIGERIA AT 10:00 AM GMT +1.
Within the interview, HONORABLE IKECHUKWU SUNDAY UMEH bared his thought on making IMO state the Technological Hub of the South-East
TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION OF IMO STATE
…HONOURABLE IKECHUKWU SUNDAY UMEH
Can we meet you officially sir?
I am Honorable Ikechukwu Sunday Umeh, the Commissioner for Technology Development Imo State.
What are your vision and mission towards Technological Advancement and Development in the State?
To make Imo State the Technologically hub of the South-East, We want to see how we can transform Imo State because we noticed that Aba and Onitsha are already commercial cities and we have also noticed that Awka is trying to develop their educational system. Also, we are trying on how to develop the technological system of FUTO, IMOPOLY, NEKEDE, ALVAN because I believe we are equal to the task thereby making Imo the technological hub of the south-east.
Sir, we are in the era of I.T (Information technology) what efforts are you making to get the youths to be self-reliant?
Immediately we were inaugurated, two weeks later, we embarked on ICT tour of all the 27 LG in the State, and we observed that all the ICT centres we have are substandard. Since COVID-19 has paralyzed the educational system, we are looking at all these things to make sure that we are going to teach our students through E-Learning. So we have gone around making sure that all the ICT centres are up to standard. But we observed that some centres like the ones in Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, and Nwangele are vandalized. We are already working with the Governor to see that those centres are re-equipped with the structures that are already dilapidated. So we are working hard to ensure that they are put in order. Immediately after that, the issue of our youths becoming ICT compliance will soon be a thing of the past that is why we are putting our best to see that ICT centres are citied at the LG.
In some developed places youths are been trained in skill acquisition such as website development, app development, computer maintainers, phone repairs etc. are there plans in place to train youths in these areas in Imo State?
Immediately our Gov. Dist. Senator Hope Uzodimma was inaugurated, the first thing he thought of was on how to empower the youths. He went further to the ministry of commerce/Industry and caved out skill acquisition/entrepreneurship as a separate ministry to address this need. According to the commissioner it behoves on the media to promote this through their writings and information dissemination it is our work to make sure that these APPS are created. If you get to our workshop at these premises with ICAP you will see that people are working. We have come up with an application to train the whole Imo State students, what is remaining is to get the Executive order from the governor then we kickoff. We have already set-up a classroom here using our own APP to teach all the students especially on science courses like; physics, chemistry, mathematics and Biology purely. Other courses can go to its place because we are only interested in the sciences to make sure that the technological pursuits are achieved. Recently I learnt from the commissioner for skill acquisition that our governor is recruiting 5,000 people from each L.G. that will be trained in various skills to fight unemployment.
We came up here with a manual automated handwashing machine which the governor saw and asked me to mass-produce and he is giving me 100 Imo youths to be trained and the more we produce, the more we sell the products and pay them. This is another wonderful way of empowerment and by Gods grace, in the nearest possible time this project would have kicked off. A lot of things are already ongoing in the workshop right now. Once our governor gives an approval to go ahead, it will no longer be a secret its now open to everyone and work begins at the field of ICAPS so that people will come and see that these products are produced by us not been imported.
Where are you seeing the state in the next 5 years technologically?
Imo would have been the technological hub of south-east with emphasis on indigenous content that will be exported to other parts of the country and beyond 5 years simply means after the first term of Gov. Hope Uzodimma. Last week we set up a committee and this committee concluded with a plan of Technological/Innovation Expo 2020 headed by Professor A.B Ohanuzuo who is the past Orator of FUTO. Immediately such expo is done in Imo, we are going to pick major projects that are locally oriented. What I mean is projects that have local contents, so that we can get the raw materials from within. Our policy is Start to finish and any project embarked on must be finished before embarking on another. We are praying for acceptance from our stakeholders. Once the governor approves it, all our products will be Imo state-oriented, no product will come from outside Imo. Our children are wonderful, the plans for the production of the manual automated machine was the ideas of Imo children.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHALLENGES BEDEVILING YOUR VISION AND THE THINGS YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
The first thing is lack of interest from Nigerian student; people don’t pick interest in innovations and inventions nobody goes to school to study nuclear physics so we can continue with the Ogbunigwe that Ojukwu produced. But the few people we have immediately they come out they start a business because the stakeholders are not helping out.
If a child here in Futo could be able to come up with a Robot and nobody could talk about improving what he did, it kills the talent and it is a major challenge
Soon I will be having a meeting with a professor from Futo, professor Oguta he is from the department of plant breeding/genetics and we will be discussing on the greenhouse cropping were we want to use technology to be producing food in Imo state continuously
Stakeholders are the major problems we have. They don’t listen to us. And because of this, there is no laboratory in the whole of Imo state and practical’s and experiments cannot be carried out. When we have Futo, Imsu, Alvan etc stakeholders cannot agree to send funds to build up laboratories in Imo state so we can carry out experiment in our own state without going to another state.
Most schools like Alvan, Futo and others study courses that need practical analysis for the student to understand better but there is no laboratory for such practical’s to be carried out.
Stakeholders need to sit up, they need to look up to these matters and stop spending money on frivolities. The honourable commissioner is calling on spirited Nigerians of Imo state extractions to come to the aid of the government to move the state forward in other to achieve the Imo state of our collective dream. Leaving all this in the hands of the government will not drive the desired development we want but a partnership built on transparency, probity, and honesty is what we need most at this time. The Commissioner, therefore, is making this passionate appeal more of a clarion call to all our concerned stakeholders to join forces with him in engraving their names in the sands of time.
Another major challenge is short term investment, most people want to make quick money, they find it difficult to learn handy work and skills that will help them, they lack the interest to learn, they only want to make money quickly and they forget that they have to work hard to get money
Here in this ministry of Technology and Development, we don’t have crowd why?? Because people that come here are those who have vision and mission and have given themselves to research so if our youth today can give themselves to research it will help them a lot.
The commissioner observed that there is a lack of passion for long term investment in the state, no child wants to work for 6months before he or she starts to make money. If we can have people that think of long term investment money will come, if it doesn’t come today it will come tomorrow.
In no distant time, Imo state will grow but our youths do not believe that’s why they involve themselves in fraud and dubious means to make money immediately and buy a car and after everything, it doesn’t work out for them and they become desperate and poor tomorrow. Our youths need to be educated to involve their self in long term investment and forget about making quick money that will not last; they should engage themselves in research, inventions, skills, innovations, developments and many others that will be beneficial to them in the future.
So one of the major challenges is that our people do not engage in long term investment, so we advise our people to engage in that, for them to improve and be great in the future.
“He who works must eat”
What is your advice for Ndi Imo
My advice to Ndi is that after COVID-19 there will be poverty. Ndi Imo should try their possible best to prepare for post-COVID-19 which we have endorsed now and it is because of post-COVID-19 that I have been shouting that we are bringing a professor of plant genetics/breeding so that we will be able to site greenhouse everywhere and people should go into farming all year round, no more farming once in a year, every period of the year we should be farming and when COVID-19 is over we will be able to have food to eat.