Over the weekend, the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), one of the Northern Nigerian more formidable tertiary learning institutions, unveiled a car manufactured by its department of Mechanical Engineering. The unveiling, which makes it the country’s first locally made environmentally friendly car, adds to the ingenious outputs of fellow institutions like Covenant University which have made similar moves and continuing a trend that may see Africa’s largest economy climb the ladder of innovation and acquire a regional leadership status in the same.
While unveiling the car to journalists, Dr. Mohammed Dauda, the Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Dean of the Engineering Faculty, said the car is also environment friendly. He hinted that the car would be part of the university’s entry in this year’s Shell Eco Marathon Competition.
“In addition to federal government’s automotive policy, I must say that the reason we started this (manufacturing of the car) came from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited. They invited ABU to participate in what they call Shell Eco Marathon Competition. The car should be one that consumes little fuel but goes long distances. This competition is held in America, Europe and Asia and we are participating in the European one in Netherlands in May this year,” he said.
Revealing that the car was a true demonstration of local content, he added; “All materials used for this car were sourced locally. Though, there are things that we did not fabricate ourselves, you will be surprised that some of the components like the electrical, we just looked at an old computer system and then adopted some of the components that were useful to us. So, this is one example of what we did, which is recycling, otherwise, I will say 100 percent of the things we used were produced here in Zaria.”
The car from ABU, as well as well the battery components from Covenant, demonstrates the power of engineering from the shores of Nigeria. It also indicates that the country is able to hold its own in the midst of its more developed peers, but only if certain fundamentals are sustained.
If engineering is a child, maths and science must be its parents; therefore, every country that seeks to improve its fortunes within this space must reinvent its approach to teaching both subjects. The study of science and maths advances problem solving skills, and the United States, a host to some of the best schools in the world today, has recognized the need to improve its maths and science scores as it has faced increasing competition from the likes of Japan in the quest for technological superiority.
For more innovative feats, Nigeria must necessarily make critical broad education-sector reviews with the central intention of developing more robust and value adding curricula that bridge the current gap between the classroom and industry. The country is already blessed with a critical mass of intelligent citizens, the thing to do is empower them mentally in the right ways and maintain the environment that harnesses and spurs innovation.
By Emmanuel Iruobe