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OPINION: IVTEC AND THE FUTURE. By Aliyu Olatunji Ajanaku

Date: 2017-12-12


Our problem, as Chinua Achebe once put it, is simply leadership. Our leaders lack vision.

Let me share a story I heard about India's pharmaceutical Industry whose drugs and equipment now sell like hot cake everywhere.

Some decades back, the Indian government decided they wanted to be manufacturing their own pharmaceutical machines and equipment. They imported machines from Germany and gathered a group of technicians who were essentially "mechanics" and asked them to break down these machines to the tiniest details, and reproduce them part by part, then build new ones locally. The project recorded between 20 and 40 percent success. They then focused on the 20 percent that succeeded and funded them fully. That was how various companies began to spring up, manufacturing different machine components. Of course, this took several years. Today, India, as at the last count, has nothing less than 82,000 different companies that are manufacturing pharmaceutical equipment. India is also a global giant in IT software and is a go-to place for all sorts of human advancements!

That is the power of vision. That was visionary leadership at work.

Kwara State Government recently commissioned a vocation centre which, true to the character of its political leaders to always use high-falutin words to cover up its failures or attempt to glorify white elephant projects, is named the International Vocation Centre. The center, echoing similar controversies that attended similar 'giant' projects Shonga Farm and Aviation College, has got off on a dubious note over ownership claims. But that is a topic for another day.

Now, what is the future plan for IVTEC? Is it to collect between a quarter of a million and half a million Naira from poor parents being owed salaries and taxed to oblivion and then graduate artisans who will not be guaranteed patronage by the same government that collected money to train them? It's there in the open. How many local engineering companies in Kwara get patronised for contracts by KWSG? Duravil is Lebanese; SETRACO is from Edo; while Borini Prono which constructed the Ahmadu Bello Way is an Italian firm.

What the IVTEC project should be about is how to launch Kwara into concrete industrialisation using the skills of its graduates. But nothing from the recent development from there suggests this is going to happen. It's this lack of vision that killed the Nigeria 6-3-3-4 system. All the introductory technology equipment purchased by the Ibrahim Babangida regime were eventually stolen and sold off to fabricating companies.

Our plans in this country, and especially so in Kwara, are always ad-hoc and meant to serve the tape-cutting ego of the government in power at any point in time. Look at the Aviation school? Where are the products of the school? Even the ones sponsored with local government funds in Kwara? They are gone. Shouldn't the school have invested more on training aeronautic technicians and emphasise less on pilots? And then follow it up with establishment of a hanger where airlines can bring their aircrafts for regular servicing? Just imagine how that can put Ilorin and indeed Kwara on the world map? Only a forward thinking leadership can achieve that.

We are not there yet. We don't even seem to be headed in such direction. Time will tell.


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