18 August 2017

Nigeria: I Still Want to Meet Saraki - Young Inventor Who Overcame Dyslexia

A 19-year old, Tobi Ayanwoye, who overcame dyslexia to build electrical appliances says he is still eager to meet Nigeria's Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Speaking to our correspondent, Mr. Ayanwoye , who had in a PREMIUM TIMES' exclusive report narrated how he overcame dyslexia as a child, said his vision of building technological appliances is still intact despite his challenges.

Dyslexia is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that does not affect general intelligence.

Mr. Ayanwoye appealed to the senate president who had promised him an 'invitation' to look into the pledge.

Earlier in January, Mr. Saraki had told his media handlers to look into Mr. Ayanwoye's work. Similarly, he had extended an invitation to the boy, alongside other young Nigerian innovators.

Bamikole Omisore, the Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media had confirmed the invitation, saying, "the Senate president saw his entry and was fascinated by it and he is one of the entries we were told to prioritise at the #MadeinNigeria Desk.

"The invitation to Tobi is part of the move by the Senate President to meet with young innovators like him to hear directly from them challenges they go through and how they have been able to make It against all odds."

But more than seven months after, the meeting has not held.

When Mr. Ayanwoye received the news of his invitation by the senate president, he was in Senior Secondary School, SSS 3, in Ogbomoso, Oyo State.

He told our correspondent that he was excited and had almost concluded that his pains were over.

The boy, who had lost his mother few months earlier and had no support to actualise his dreams, felt he had finally arrived at his breakthrough moment.

But many months after the senate president's invitation failed to materialise, he became worried as all hopes appeared lost. With the help of his mentors, he had on several occasions made efforts to get across to Mr. Saraki but failed, he told PREMIUM TIMES.

"It was my mentor that told me about the invitation initially. When it wasn't forthcoming, we tried to reach them. We have since been trying to call them but the number isn't going through anymore," he said.

In July, Mr. Ayanwoye completed his secondary school education and has been faced with uncertainties ever since.

"Yes, I finished secondary school in July, this July. One of the plan is to put in for Federal University of Technology, Minna, FUTMINNA but we don't have any means of support," he said.

He, however, explained that rather than stay at home and waste away, he plans to enrol for a training programme.

"For now, I want to learn fabrication; how to fabricate my project for six months - how to make these things myself because for now I get the raw materials from outside and put together myself," he said.

"The person I want to learn from said the training goes for N40,000 and I don't have the means. I explained to my mentor, MD Tiamiyu, and he said we would seek support. But for now we don't have any means of support yet.

"Even for my proposed degree programme, there is no sponsor."

He explained that although he still lives with his father, 'the old man' doesn't have the means of sponsoring any of his endeavours.

His mother, a petty trader who took up loans to settle his school bills from his primary school days, died on December 3, 2016 in an auto crash along the Mokwa-Jebba Road. She was buried the next day, December 4.

"It was my saddest day on earth. I was not really myself. She was my mentor, my guide, my mother... my everything," Mr. Ayanwoye had told PREMIUM TIMES.

"Sadly, when the incident happened, I was on my way to Lagos to receive another award from my school's Alumni Association for being the most innovative student of the year in the school. That day was my happiest and saddest day on earth."

Mr. Ayanwoye said all hope is now invested in the little efforts being made by his mentors to raise money for him, and a probable meeting with Mr. Saraki, who had promised to 'encourage' him in January.

"I will be happy to meet the senate president and I am eager to be invited so I will know what is in the offing for me," he said.

"I will be very happy if he or anyone can assist me so I can go learn these things."

Explaining his vision further, Mr. Ayanwoye said he would like to study abroad and learn how to produce the materials he uses for his equipment himself.

"The first thing I'd be glad to have as an opportunity is to possibly go to places, to countries I can learn things on my own from the scratch so it won't be like I would be buying the things from other places.

"I intend to build a panel on my own beside even buying it; I intend to build many things."

When asked about the specific terms of the 'invitation' he got from Mr. Saraki, he said he was only told that he and others would be 'encouraged'.

"He (Mr. Saraki) only said they are going to 'encourage' me; that was the only statement he made on twitter," he explained.

"Although we weren't told the time but we expected it was going to be something short. That was in January."

All efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to get Mr. Saraki's comment on Thursday and Friday were futile. His media aide, Mr. Omisore, didn't respond to calls placed to his known number.

Emails sent to him were not responded to as well.

Read PREMIUM TIMES earlier report on Mr. Ayanwoye here.


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