How Nigeria can develop homegrown technology, by Nwoko
Against the backdrop of President Muhamadu Buhari’s recent trip to China, and the $6 billion deal struck between the two countries, an octogenarian, Demas Nwoko, has stressed the need for Nigeria to develop homegrown technology based on its culture.
Nwoko, who made the demand, in an exclusive interview at his Idumuje country home in Delta State, cautioned that the deal with China could open the country’s total economy to Chinese products, thereby stunting creativity and local production efforts.
The octogenarian, who is also an architect, said Nigeria’s politics and leadership were not moving in the right direction, as there was no protection for the few local producers who are braving the odds to excel.
According to him, “It’s a combination of the good and the bad. It shows that our politics is not mature, and our leadership, not moving in a way that would benefit the people
He noted that under normal setting, outsiders protect their own culture, in such a way that people don’t intrude to soil it. He stressed that the best way to grow is to develop technology, along the line of one’s comparative advantage.
The architect said progress couldn’t be achieved by copying others culture or technology, as the case may be.Tracing the infrastructure decay in the country to our attitude to growth, Nwoko gave the instance of local furniture makers all over the country, who were shutting down businesses, as a result of inferior Chinese and American products that have flooded the local markets.
He blamed policymakers for a poorly conceived educational philosophy that does not take into account Nigeria’s diverse cultures for the current malaise.
Nwoko said he has been making doors locally, before the intrusion of Chinese doors into the markets; a situation that restricts our own economic development in door building.
There were people who were building doors in Lagos and everywhere, who have all closed down, because American and Chinese furniture and doors took over the markets.
The Paris-trained architect recalled how he was denied the opportunity to design and build the National Theatre, Lagos, lamenting the disaster that the cultural edifice has become ever since.
He recalled that he had proposed multi-venues or theatres in parts of Lagos, as against a single edifice, so as to open up different neighbourhoods to the entertainment offerings that FESTAC ’77 provided.
He regretted that that political decisions negated against the fruition of that robust plan, noting that it would have resulted in ripple effects on the nation’s cultural productions ever since.
According to him, “You can not have an audience of 5,000; in the way the theatre was built. In fact, that building is a sports hall imported from Bulgaria. So, apart from the main bowl being 5,000, they attached the cinema halls, which were not properly designed for those activities.”
He added that even the master plan he had for FESTAC, was not allowed to work, because of jaundiced government policies.Nwoko explained that by his proposal, there would have been at least five theatres or venues in Lagos, Apapa, Isolo, Yaba, Victoria Island, etc, with each venue having the capacity of 1,000 – 1,500 persons.