In an interview with Conscience Radio, Mr. Michael Oluwagbemi, the chairman of AFRILAB and also the cofounder of WENOVATION hub, expressed concern about the present Nigerian situation and worried about complicated situation that Nigeria is in.
His early beginning is an inspiration for younger generation, he hails from Ikoli Ekiti, he is determined to change the history from his parents who are working class and based on salary and pray for promotion. At the age of thirteen he started a business and at the age of fifteen he published cartoons and sold thousands all around, getting huge money from it. This helped him a lot to have enough when he got admission into the University of Lagos at the age of fifteen. He drew inspiration from his grandfather, who was a business tycoon in the 1900s.
His experience of how workers were being treated in Nigeria and the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the Ibrahim Babangida government in the late 80s, made him change his life pattern, to be great in life and start focusing on what to do to make impact and standout. He has two degrees, first in civil engineering and second in electrical engineering. First at University of Lagos and Second at Mayan University in Texas, United State, with master in electrical at the age of twenty 21, he became first young black born to be professional Engineer in United State of America at the age of twenty-six (26), where typically Profession status can normally be achieved at the age of Sixty (60).
He worked in different oil and gas companies. In his early career one of the companies he worked for was ExxonMobil.
Mr. Michael Oluwagbemi said “Everyone has a role to play in the economic recovery of the country, economy is not rocket science.”
He itemized three major solutions.
First, is that the need for Human Capacity development, where students play major roles in building and infrastructure. His advice is to improve funding of our education and good things will happen. Only improved funding of education can help technological development. If we take education seriously, we will get recovery from the recession.
Secondly, we need infrastructure development, because infrastructure is very important and that explain why government comes in because individual cannot build roads and power generations but if government make all this available, it will encourage business to run for twenty-four hours (24hrs) daily, this will help the GDP.
He advocated for broadband super high way data (Internet), that will help government to increase in telemedicine and reduce road movement, this will also increase GDP. There is no need for people to pay for data like Kingala in Ruwanda.
Thirdly, is Velocity of money, there is a need to create value for money. This is important with right policy, right infrastructure, monetary policy must be right, monetary policy must not encourage holding money at the centre, and doubling of dollars. There is also a need for a government with transparency and community building, instead of paying jumbo salary for politicians and many unnecessary things. USA only has four ministries and Nigeria has twenty-six (26) ministries after President Buhari reduced it”
Since he has two degrees in electrical engineering he says “The population is increasing and there is no power station to serve them, only forty percent of Nigeria Population live in city and will have thirteen cities (13) in Nigeria”.
To him there is no need to give power to power supply to about sixty percent of the rural area with no industry , what we need to do is to break down the grid. By sending out power, out from centre grid from different power generation causes line losses. Sending power from close generation stations to close cities is the best, instead of sending it to centered grid for distributing, all what we need is to make our Power Purchases agreement (PPA) transparent. State government should find partners to get about 250meggawatts from the thirty states It is already increasing beyond 4500mggawatts that draws us back all time. Privatization of electricity to GENCO and so on is waste of time. Many of the arrangements are a complication because there is no transparency in PPA It gives us big problem. Investors will come in without lobbying and moving around them to appeal for their presence if we get it right with power.
Advising Youth on Participation
He urges Nigerian youth not to give up their dream and to be passionate with their vision, looking at those ruling Nigeria leaders none of them is from rich family except Late President Mr Yardua.
He calls on youth to take initiative and to be active participants in politics, also to make sure that they participate in their community politics. Youth have advantages that older generation didn’t have, which is the social media. The last general election was won on social media and it means the youth can do better if elected in to political office and in urging them to protest, picket and vote against anything they don’t want, that is anything against their dream. He against selling of voters’ card and urge anyone not to sell their voters card. Revolution on social media is now possible and inspired others to participate and grow their social consciousness. He said is proud of Nigeria youth and is hopeful that in the coming period that Nigerian youth will be in lime light because they are blessed with social skills. There have though been negative things because we have a disorganized government.
On Election of Trump in US and his fear
He foresees a different world and the world is moving from UNIPOLAR world to MULTIPOLAR world where big countries can take over small countries. To him Africa has been colonized again and worried about that because there are big problem in Africa including borrowing money to run their economy. The Nigeria situation, by not moving fast economically, is holding down black Nations.
AFRILAB and Wennovation HUB
AFRILAB is an organization of organizations, was created with hope of bringing young people with ideals together the brain drain in Nigeria. AFRILAB is the umbrella of about fifty hubs in Africa, they provide innovations and also working together to generate jobs and make money to solve the problem through technology. They also campaign for use of Broadband as infrastructure. Share ideals and getting funds for business. They also advocate for technology as infrastructure.