Ekong’s way

•A Nigerian student not only solves a 30-year math puzzle but accuses us of neglecting our education at home.

One of the laments that cast a gloom on the state of the nation during the recent election campaign season in Nigeria was the abysmal low to which our education system has dropped.

But the news coming from Japan, and specifically Tokai University in Tokyo, lifts the mood. Ufot Ekong has so far capped his storied run of accomplishments in that far-eastern country by solving a mathematical puzzle that eluded everyone for 30 years. And he pulled off the feat in just his first semester in the university.

This is a cut away from the usual Nigerian tales of turpitude and vanity ranging from financial crimes to drug trafficking to footloose spending. This is a Nigerian contributing in sublime ways to advance civilisation.

In a picture that displays his Nigerian fervour, Ekong decked out in flowing bright Nigerian attire with a dark cap as he bowed to receive his award from the university chancellor. He also obtained a first class degree in electrical engineering with the best marks in the university since 1965.

Prior to the latest laurel, he had won six awards for academic excellence. Yet he does not fit into the picture of the peacock class of Nigerians whose parents are rich and pay the fees and plant them in the luxury of the foreign society. Rather, Ekong had to work two jobs in order to pay his fees. He combined physical deprivation with mental exertion to soar over his mates onto the high perch of history.

Even now that he is working for the top automobile brand Nissan, he is studying for his PhD. For his project, he has designed an electric car that travels as fast as 128 kilometres per hour and changes batteries on the go, according to news reports. For Nissan, he is a proud owner of two patents, which shows that he is not just a bookish warrior but one who bends the straitjacket of the classroom to meet the exigency of everyday needs.

Ekong is not just the sort of engineer locked away from the humanities. He is endowed with the renaissance elan as he is a polyglot fluent in English, French, Japanese and Yoruba. He won a Japanese language award for foreigners.

The eminence of men like Ekong only reminds us of the glittering potential buried in the inefficiencies, corruption and general poor governance in the country. Ekong did not bloom like this in Nigeria. He had to struggle to a foreign soil, work to pay his fees and excel.

His story only underpins the tragedy of our system. Our gold is dross at home. Our dross is the gold of the world only when burnished for us by foreigners. This newspaper has written a number of editorials on people of coruscating minds like Ekong, and we seem to just celebrate them and move on to the next big story from outside our shores.

Not long ago, we had the story of Emmanuel Ohuabunwa who made history at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The Arochukwu-born prodigy became the first black student to earn a grade point average of 3.98 out of 4.0 for a degree in neurosciences. He also bagged the highest honours in his graduating year.

No less fascinating is the story of 21-year-old Gabrielle Oluwanifemi Akinluyi who earned a first class degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Tulsa, also in the United States.

It is high time we asked of ourselves the efforts that would light the candle of genius from our own schools. We should not always celebrate the potential of our students and our environment.

It is time that we had our home-grown genius, and many of them.

The post  Ekong’s way appeared first on The Nation.

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 Ekong’s way

•A Nigerian student not only solves a 30-year math puzzle but accuses us of neglecting our education at home.

One of the laments that cast a gloom on the state of the nation during the recent election campaign season in Nigeria was the abysmal low to which our education system has dropped.

But the news coming from Japan, and specifically Tokai University in Tokyo, lifts the mood. Ufot Ekong has so far capped his storied run of accomplishments in that far-eastern country by solving a mathematical puzzle that eluded everyone for 30 years. And he pulled off the feat in just his first semester in the university.

This is a cut away from the usual Nigerian tales of turpitude and vanity ranging from financial crimes to drug trafficking to footloose spending. This is a Nigerian contributing in sublime ways to advance civilisation.

In a picture that displays his Nigerian fervour, Ekong decked out in flowing bright Nigerian attire with a dark cap as he bowed to receive his award from the university chancellor. He also obtained a first class degree in electrical engineering with the best marks in the university since 1965.

Prior to the latest laurel, he had won six awards for academic excellence. Yet he does not fit into the picture of the peacock class of Nigerians whose parents are rich and pay the fees and plant them in the luxury of the foreign society. Rather, Ekong had to work two jobs in order to pay his fees. He combined physical deprivation with mental exertion to soar over his mates onto the high perch of history.

Even now that he is working for the top automobile brand Nissan, he is studying for his PhD. For his project, he has designed an electric car that travels as fast as 128 kilometres per hour and changes batteries on the go, according to news reports. For Nissan, he is a proud owner of two patents, which shows that he is not just a bookish warrior but one who bends the straitjacket of the classroom to meet the exigency of everyday needs.

Ekong is not just the sort of engineer locked away from the humanities. He is endowed with the renaissance elan as he is a polyglot fluent in English, French, Japanese and Yoruba. He won a Japanese language award for foreigners.

The eminence of men like Ekong only reminds us of the glittering potential buried in the inefficiencies, corruption and general poor governance in the country. Ekong did not bloom like this in Nigeria. He had to struggle to a foreign soil, work to pay his fees and excel.

His story only underpins the tragedy of our system. Our gold is dross at home. Our dross is the gold of the world only when burnished for us by foreigners. This newspaper has written a number of editorials on people of coruscating minds like Ekong, and we seem to just celebrate them and move on to the next big story from outside our shores.

Not long ago, we had the story of Emmanuel Ohuabunwa who made history at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The Arochukwu-born prodigy became the first black student to earn a grade point average of 3.98 out of 4.0 for a degree in neurosciences. He also bagged the highest honours in his graduating year.

No less fascinating is the story of 21-year-old Gabrielle Oluwanifemi Akinluyi who earned a first class degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Tulsa, also in the United States.

It is high time we asked of ourselves the efforts that would light the candle of genius from our own schools. We should not always celebrate the potential of our students and our environment.

It is time that we had our home-grown genius, and many of them.

The post  Ekong’s way appeared first on The Nation.

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Subscribe to our mailing list and get latest Nigeria trends in your inbox.

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in your inbox

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