I am amazed when I see what science and technology have transformed the world into. It is nothing more than innovation brought about by science to make people detached from the natural, primitive and crude way of life. Every time I travel by plane, I ask for a window seat at the check-in counter. The reason is that it allows me to see what’s going on outside the plane even when we’re in the air. I’ve been wondering how the human brain conceived and built such a device that could fly despite the weight of the plane. When I get up on a plane to go to the bathroom, I seem to be walking in the air.
It’s not just planes that amaze me. Science and technology make everything possible. When I go through a body scanner at an airport or hotel; when I sit at home watching TV or use the remote to turn on the air conditioner or radio; when I’m in a TV studio with a button-like microphone on me, my voice Zoomed in; when I see the wonders I can do with my phone – from using it for voice and video calls, sending text messages, using it to live stream on social media, using it as a camera to take pictures, as a TV, sending Email, radio, internet browsers, etc., I’m all fascinated.
Today, information and communication technologies have made the world a global hamlet, and no longer even a village. ICT makes it possible to hold virtual meetings using different platforms such as zoom, skype, google meet, Vmix, etc. When COVID-19 forces the world into lockdown in 2020, science and technology come to the rescue. Today, about a dozen vaccines are rapidly being developed to deal with global epidemics and save humanity from extinction. Medical research has made this feat possible. The field of medicine has advanced so much that diseases previously known as fatal diseases are now treatable and manageable, if not curable. Such diseases include HIV/AIDS, Lassa fever, cancer, tumors, Ebola, meningitis, and more. Telemedicine now offers doctors the opportunity to communicate across borders while treating patients. The caesarean section that many women fear is now being requested because it can now be done seamlessly and patients are ready to go home within three days of the procedure.
Many years ago, e-commerce seemed strange and out of reach. Today, ICT makes online marketing a reality and a necessity. People are now buying all kinds of things online, including buying cooked food, buying a car, renting an apartment, selling a property, and more. Decades ago, communications research was conducted through the post office. Study online now. Many private schools have started online classes for many months during the COVID-19 global lockdown. Workers are being asked to work from home, and they are doing well because ICT enables workers to receive and complete their tasks virtually.
Science and technology make it easy to tackle crime and insecurity. There are now armored vehicles, body scanners, drones, CCTV cameras, jammers, bomb detectors, metal detectors, trackers, forensic labs, bulletproof vests and many more high-tech weapons that can be used to fight crime. In banking and financial services, technology enhances financial inclusion. About 20 years ago, banking transactions were only conducted in the bank lobby. That was the age of picking tally numbers. Bank customers are assigned numbers and are called one by one for processing. Today, there are online and online banking solutions. People no longer need checkbooks and withdrawal slips. Customers can send and receive money outside of official bank hours, virtually 24/7; they can get bank loans on their Android or smartphone, even without filling out any forms at their bank. Customers can even open bank accounts online with zero outstanding deposits. All of this is achieved through science and technology.
In the housing sector, there are now prefab houses that can be joined together on any piece of land. There are now many types of roofing sheets, paints and building materials. Unlike the rooms and living rooms that were most common in the 70s, there are now detached and multi-bedroom apartments, duplexes and many other building techniques. In the field of engineering, scientific breakthroughs are remarkable. There is aeronautical and robotics engineering. Space shuttles are now commonplace, with plans to make life on Mars possible in the near future. Automotive engineering has been able to produce wonders on wheels, so much so that there are now electric cars as well as driverless cars, trains and even planes.
The entertainment industry has been turned around by technology. With the breakthrough of ICT, it is now possible to make very innovative, ingenious and wonderful films. Information Communication Technology (ICT) is the product of years of intensive research and is often referred to as cinematic skills. The profits of the music industry have not diminished. Today, science and technology enable the production of high-tech musical instruments. There are electric guitars, keyboards that give you a thousand and one tunes, mixers, wireless microphones, and more gadgets that now help in music creation, production, sales, and marketing. This is why contemporary musicians are more financially successful than the pioneers and those who started about three or four years ago. Stand-up comedians and skit producers are making a living in what is believed to be ICT for slackers and homeless people.
What about football and other sports? Technology now plays a vital role. There are electronic scoreboards, electronic video assistant referees, high-tech sports training equipment and stunning stadiums with state-of-the-art facilities. Even in the field of agriculture, even fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified crops and silos are products of science and technology, in addition to agriculture-related industries that now add value to agricultural raw materials. In elections, technology now plays a key role in improving electoral integrity and credibility. The 2022 Electoral Act now gives the Independent National Electoral Commission legal support for the use of biometric voter registration and authentication, electronic voting, and the virtual transmission of election results, inspiring young people to participate in elections. The point to note here is that no area of human endeavor has been positively influenced by science and technology. The big question is: How much is my dear country involved in creating technological innovations?
Ironically, Nigeria is more of a consumer than a producer of ICT and innovation. We sell a wide variety of high-tech products here, but 90 percent are imported from abroad. However, we have the Commonwealth Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education, which claim to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly known as STEM education. We also have the Ministry of Communications and the Digital Economy and hundreds of underfunded research institutes. Nigeria cannot overcome its economic and development challenges without making the necessary investments in scientific and technological research. Where are the industrial parks in Nigeria? Where is Nigeria’s Silicon Valley equivalent of the US? Why did we abandon mass production of many patented research breakthroughs? To be honest, we cannot escape the mantle of a backward third world country without the strides of technological innovation!