By Omolere Akingbade (Echoes Africa Magazine, 2018)

The potential of the African diaspora to help shape the future of the continent by being part of developmental processes going on in Africa has been the talking points of African leaders in recent times, and a few sons and daughters of the soil who are making giant strides across the globe, in their chosen fields, are beginning to key in, and it’s only a matter of time before the impact of their contributions to the development of the continent would be felt.
Abuja Graduate School recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Professor Andrew Ekpenyong, a Nigerian Diaspora, for the incubation of an industrial university in Abuja, the nation’s capital. The industrial university will start as an institute within Abuja Graduate School, alongside Abuja Metropolitan City Polytechnic which is already registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria.
Supported with funding from abroad, the institute will target innovators and inventors who already have solid ideas of what they want to invent or innovate, but do not have the equipment, or financial resources to do so. The obvious target would be individuals who have already applied for patents with their innovations or in the process of doing so. Successful candidates will be enabled and empowered to achieve their goals with the latest up-to-date equipment, mentoring and hands-on support.
Professor Andrew Ekpenyong, who is also a Reverend Father, has spear-headed the building and commissioning of a research hospital that provides 100% free medical services in the Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Calabar. He earned his PhD from the University of Cambridge UK, and did his post-doctoral work at Technische Universitat, Dresden, Germany.
Based in the USA, Fr. Ekpenyong is an internationally renowned professor of medical physics and has an enviable track-record in Quantum Mechanics, Nuclear Instruments and Methods, Biological Physics and Dosimetry. For instance, he has developed microfluidic mimetics enabling in vitro modelling of the human pulmonary microcirculation with potential impact on the clinical management of lung diseases and inflammatory disorders.
Professor Ekpenyong explained that the institute working with Abuja Graduate School will place more emphasis on practical knowledge and experience, rather than paper qualifications. Graduating students MUST innovate or invent something as a condition for graduation from the Institute. Innovative technologies such as Cloud Computing, Micro-electronics Machining and Nano Technology are among the programs that will be offered, including cyber security.
The Executive Vice Chairman of Abuja Graduate School, Dr Enukora Joe Okoli stated that the institute will be known for quality, rather than quantity. He opines that the concept is just what Nigeria needs the most, for urgent economic development and emancipation. He shared that he expects Abuja Graduate School and the Industrial Institute to learn from India’s Institute of Technology and become a pace-setter in technological innovations for Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.
On his own part, Dr. Sebastian Obasi, Director of Agricultural Programmes at Abuja Graduate School, said he hopes the Institute will also look at agricultural machinery, production, processing and preservation as they are desperately needed at this time in Nigeria’s history.

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