Saturday, 22 August 2015

ASSOCIATION OF NSUKKA PROFESSORS, IT IS TIME TO CHANGE

Professor Malachy Okwueze, Member, Association of Nsukka Professors
Development journalism is a specialised area of human endeavour. It strives to engineer development in the society through communication. Nsukka cultural zone is brimming with its trade mark fresh yellow pepper (Ose-Nsukka), rich in distinctive flavour and nutritional values. It is cherished by house wives and hoteliers for cooking. It has rich potential for wealth creation. Because of seasonality of its production, almost everybody tends to produce the same thing at the same time. The forces of supply and demand hardly make the benefit encouraging to farmers.

Most times, farmers are compelled to sell at give-away price. At other times, those who are not lucky enough to sell dump them at the market for the next four-day market.This is after carrying the stuff on their heads over considerable distances to local markets first. The stuff may go bad before it is sold, in which case the wastage is a loss both to the farmer and to the society at large. Since inception in 2010, the Association of Nsukka Professors (ANP) through its Adada lecture series has been churning out lectures with evergreen appeal on issues that challenge society.

Hopes were raised almost to the level of fantasy when the lecture series held in 2012 with a scintillating topic that fits well into the psyche and needs of Nsukka cultural zone: Harnessing indigenous technologies for the development of a people by Aloysius A. Attah, a Professor at College of Engineering, University of Texas and President MACVAL Associates, LCC, Engineering, management and Construction Firm, USA. It concluded: “We are in a world of rapid, severe change. To be successful in developing our indigenous technologies, we must change our attitudes and methods of operation. We should accept the responsibility to bring about changes needed to support harnessing indigenous technologies in Nsukka zone.”

A fine and well researched lecture, no doubt. Three years after, outcomes from the lecture which are expected to positively impact on the advancement of our indigenous technologies and business enterprise is yet to manifest. Not many individuals and businesses understand what these indigenous technologies are, how they can tap into the array of whatever opportunities these technologies offer.

In the absence of the changes needed to support harnessing indigenous technologies in Nsukka zone, our tropical environment continues to cause fast bio-deterioration and destruction of the fresh yellow pepper and its close cousins of vegetable crops. Such means of storage or preservation as are in use at the moment are expensive, require electrical energy and are in short supply. These are unavailable to the pepper farmers who still look up for action from the engineers, technologists, researchers, manufacturers and business owners in the area of storage and preservation of the yellow pepper et al.

Association of Nsukka Professors (ANP) has done well. It has done its primary duty of brain storming and shining the light to show the way. It should, however, take this effort to another level beyond the realm of ideas.

It should as an organisation in a vantage position, use the vast and varied connections available to its diverse members to bring together entrepreneurs, both from within and outside Nsukka zone. The governments: local, state and federal could be made to come and be enlightened and have a buy in into the programmes and projects. The Association’s technical sub-committee should meet regularly to brainstorm on way forward, identify projects within the cultural zone that would be attractive for various levels of public-private partnership (PPP), /public-public partnership (PPP), develop appropriate strategies and embark on high level advocacy to carry along all stakeholders.

It may be necessary to broaden the association’s revenue base through charging of economic fees for consultancy services, fund raising events, appeals for donation from high net worth individuals, groups and business organisations. Thinking of these projects in a large scale, one should look towards the Adada River Valley (Uzo-uwani LGA) with a wide expanse of arable land. The Government of old Eastern region had previously recognised and employed it as a good place to experiment on Agro Allied Industries.

Engaging personalities like Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi who is the Chairman/CEO of Peace Mass Transit, Prince Dr. Emeka Mamah who is the Chairman/CEO Ifesinachi Group of Companies, Chief William Agbo who is the Chairman /CEO of Wilson Nigeria Ltd and the Senator representing Enugu North Zone, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, amongst others, will be a good way to start to attempt giving body to the illuminating lectures.

Just as Victor Hugo (1802-1885) is reputed to have said: “There is no force as powerful as an idea whose time has come”, the ANP stands as an expression of the infinite possibilities of Nsukka Cultural zone, of men with impeccable credentials and unwilling to be restricted by the shackles that hold society down, of home grown expertise who seeks to make a positive change through the force of ideas.

To this extent, the Association is beckoned to change its pace and strategies and brave the odds, to break out of the mould and reach for the outer limits, to bring all in its intellectual arsenal and professional armada to bear on equipment, tools and processes in the area of agriculture (Yellow Pepper) storage /preservation, and to help solve the elemental problems that still afflict growers of yellow pepper in Nsukka cultural zone.

There is no better time to epitomise the Association’s motto of academic excellence for community services and its key objective of to execute programmes consistent with the interest of the Nsukka Cultural zone and the larger society, than now. This is the time. (Guardian)
Charles Anekwe wrote from Odenigbo Nsukka