Had they excelled in a music show, there would have been a wide celebration. Had they come top in a beauty pageant or Big Brother Africa show, they would have been appreciated by many. If they had surpassed other teams in an international football competition, they would have been given a royal welcome and probably a presidential handshake.
But they have done even more than these, making the nation proud in a very significant way, using their intelligence but not much is being done in commendation, especially by the federal government.
Yes, the five young girls of Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha, Anambra State, made the nation and indeed the African continent proud and they should be celebrated. They took the world by storm when they defeated representatives of other technological giants, including United States of America, China, Spain, Turkey to clinch the trophy at the recently held World Technovation Challenge at Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA.
The teens which include Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye, developed an app called FD Detector (Fake Drug Detector) to tackle the challenge of fake pharmaceutical drugs in Nigeria. The app leverages on drugs barcode to verify the authenticity and expiry date.
There are indeed so many reasons to be proud of these girls’ uncommon achievement. In the first place, it shows that Nigeria is not all about bad news, but that good news can also emerge from the country, thereby creating a positive image for the country.
It is also a story that will inspire every Nigerian that we are not limited by where we come from. If these girls who all live in Anambra State could defeat their peers from technologically advanced countries, then a child from any other part of the country can equally make it here in Nigeria, given the right environment and proper tutelage.
At this point, mention must be made of the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, who is widely acclaimed to have laid the foundation for the girls’ success by investing heavily in the education sector during his administration, and the current governor, Willie Obiano, who has continued with the vision.
It is also a thing of joy that after all these years of fake drugs menace, young girls from the country have come up with workable solution to it. Many lives have been lost due to the consumption of counterfeit drugs.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC), has been in a relentless battle against fake drugs, some of which are produced abroad, imported into the country by some greedy businessmen and sold to innocent Nigerians who either get worst or even die after consuming them.
So for these young girls to have come up with an app that can save thousands of lives, it shows their love for the nation and they should be recognised and rewarded.
Apart from a welcome party and a rewarding package which Anambra State government is said to be preparing for them, they should be given scholarship by the federal government and made to take their technological innovation to the apex so that the country can benefit fully from that. Failure to do so may lead to other countries taking them, training them and using them while Nigeria will be at the losing end.
It is also important that Mrs Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu and other people who helped in coaching these students be adequately rewarded and celebrated too, because without their dedication and commitment, we wouldn’t be telling the success story today. This will encourage them and other teachers to do more for our children.
As the Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev Dr Valerian Okeke said, “this feat has drawn the attention to the need for intentional investment in education as government would do for bridges, roads and other infrastructural projects”.
Let there be more emphasis on human capital development by all levels of government as that is the sure way out of the quagmires the country is currently in. Adequate funding of education is no doubt the way to go.
Education is the pillar of development and determinant of technological, political and socio-economic growth and development of any nation. In the words of Ben Franklin, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”.