Nigeria: Geniuses - Nigeria's Leading Scientists and Their Inventions

23 August 2019

While the nation grapples with many worries on the home front, a few - very few - have been her bright lights in research and invention. In this report NKECHI ISAAC looks at Nigerians showcasing their science and tech talent and giving the nation more than a few reasons to smile.

The Golden Girls that won big At Technovation Competition in 2018

In August 2018, a team of five Nigerian girls were announced winners of the $10,000 Junior Gold Awards at that year's Technovation World Challenge in California, USA.

Code-named Save A Soul, the group of five developed the FD-Detector, an app to help fight fake drugs. By scanning the barcode on drugs, FD-Detector is designed to determine the genuineness of a drug.

The Save A Soul team, made up of five young students from the Regina Pacis College in Anambra State, made an impressive run to reach the finals in California. The team emerged victorious in the Africa regional competition held in July in Abuja, Nigeria, that same year.

The girls: Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo, and Vivian Okoye, with their innovation, overcame stiff competition from students from Spain, USA, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and China. And with over 2000 apps submitted for the competition, this win was no easy one.

The team has further plans for the FD-Detector. In the long run, they aim to partner the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ensure the app goes mainstream.

Jelani Aliyu

Jelani Aliyu is credited with designing General Motors' leading auto brand, Chevrolet Volt. Born in Kaduna State, Nigeria in 1966,

Aliyu earned an associate degree in Architecture from Birnin Kebbi Polytechnic in 1988. Upon graduation from the Polytechnic, he worked at the Ministry of Works, Sokoto, before pursuing further education in the United States. He graduated in 1994 with a degree in Automobile Design from the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan, and was hired by General Motors.

Cyprian Emeka Uzoh

Cyprian Emeka Uzoh holds more than 126 United States-issued patents and over 160 patents worldwide in semiconductor technology, including United States Patent No. 6709562, 'method of making electroplated interconnection structures on integrated circuit chips,' which earned him the Inventor of the Year award in 2006 from the New York Intellectual Property Association.

Nigeria's 3 musketeers that Won Gold at 2018 World Adolescent Robotics Competition in China

A team of three Nigerian students - Tawakalitu Giwa, Oluwaseun Omotayo and Ayomide Adetunji - soared at the 2018 World Adolescent Robotics Competition in Guiyang City, China, after winning for themselves gold medals for proper documentation of processes on engineering note, at the event.

Omowumi Sadik

Omowunmi Sadik is the inventor of microelectrode biosensors that can detect foreign materials and can be used to spot drugs or explosives.

According to patent number 20060275786A1, the request for the patent was filed on December 7, 2006. Sadik also has patents for additional distinct biosensors and is a surface chemist, inventor, and college instructor.

She was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1964. In 1985, she earned her Bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Lagos. She also obtained a Master's degree in chemistry in 1987. In 1994, she earned her Ph.D. from Wollongong University in Australia.

Sadik is the recipient of several fellowships to include the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the National Research Council, to name few.

She is also a collaborator with the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, UNESCO in Romania, Turkey, and Japan, and previously a panel member for the National Institution of Health on Instrumentation and Systems Development.

Sadik is currently a professor at Binghamton University in Upstate, New York, where she is formulating technology that will recycle metal ions from waste for industrial and environmental purposes.

Bennet Omalu

On November 12, 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) honoured Bennet I. Omalu, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., with the Distinguished Service Award for his work in discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players. Granted by the AMA Board of Trustees, this award honours a member of the AMA for meritorious service in the science and art of medicine.

A Nigerian-American forensic pathologist, Dr. Omalu discovered CTE while working at the coroner's office in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) in 2002. He recognised brain abnormalities in several NFL players who evidenced personality changes or cognitive disorders before dying at an early age. He named the condition CTE, and described the abnormal accumulation of tau protein in the brains of these individuals.

Silas Adekunle

Silas Adekunle was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK at about 11 years old. He spent much of his childhood obsessed with science and technology, playing with Lego robot kits and watching YouTube videos to get ideas for simple robots he could build himself at home.

Now 27, Adekunle is the CEO and founder of a robotics company that he says has raised $10 million in funding. He also built what he calls the world's first gaming robot, which impressed Apple executives enough that, in 2017, the tech giant signed an exclusive distribution deal with Adekunle's UK-based company, Reach Robotics. Apple now sells the robots at $250 a pop.

Adekunle built his first robot when he was only about nine years old and still living in his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria.

Col. Oviemo Ovadje (retd.)

Nigerian medical doctor, Col. Oviemo Ovadje, is credited with inventing the Emergency Auto Transfusion System (EAT-SET), which is an effective, low-cost and affordable blood auto-transfusion mechanism that saves patients in developing countries. He has patented the invention in nine countries.

Oviemo was born in Nigeria and hails from Delta State. He began working on the invention in 1989 with $120. In 1995, he was declared best African scientist and founded EATSET Industries, in April 2001. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Nigeria funded the EAT-SET Project, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) acting as the executing agency and providing assistance in the coordination of the project.

He has received many international awards, among which are: OAU-WIPO Best African Scientist Gold Medal, Geneva Switzerland (1995); Winner, Promex Medal Geneva, Switzerland (1998); First African Winner, World Health Organisation Sasakawa Gold Medal, Geneva, Switzerland (2000); Winner ARCO Gold Medal, The Dorchester, UK, (2001); Winner Army Council Medal, Nigeria Army, Army Head Quarters, Abuja, Nigeria.

Saheed Adepoju

Saheed Adepoju invented the INYE-1 & 2 tablet computers designed for the African market.

Saheed is the co-founder of Encipher Ltd, a Nigerian-based technology company that introduced the first android-powered tablet into Nigeria. The INYE-1, which was unveiled in April 2010, is a 7-inch resistive screen tablet. It runs android 2.1 and allows users to connect to the internet using its inbuilt WIFI card and to use an external 3G modem from GSM networks. It offers about three hours of battery life and allows HDMI output to HDMI capable devices.

INYE-2, which was unveiled in May 2011, is an 8-inch capacitive screen tablet. It runs Android 2.2 and allows users to connect to the internet using its inbuilt Wi-Fi card as well as its inbuilt SIM. It offers about eight hours of battery life and allow users to connect to other USB devices.

Seyi Oyesola

Oyesola is credited with co-inventing the CompactOR or the "Hospital in a Box", a solar-powered life-saving operating room which can be transported to remote areas of Africa and set up within minutes.

Seyi is a Nigerian trained doctor and inventor. He received his basic science and medical education at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, with specialist training in Anaesthesia and Critical Care in the UK and US. In order to help bring surgical care to every region of the continent, Seyi co-developed CompactOR, or the "Hospital in a Box" - a portable medical system that contains anaesthetic and surgical equipment. One major advantage of this invention is that the operating suite is light enough to be dropped into inaccessible zones by helicopter and it can be powered by solar panels.

Sebastine Chinonye Omeh

Omeh is best known for his research into the use of wind-propelled turbines to generate electricity.

Omeh is the managing director of Hybrid Micro Machine Products Limited. He is from Ogrute, Igbo-Eze North LGA, Enugu State. He is a graduate of engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Challenged by the energy crisis in Nigeria and the need to develop indigenous technology he conducted research into the use of wind-propelled turbines to generate electricity, thereby pioneering wind energy technology in Nigeria.

Shehu Saleh Balami

Balami is credited with designing a solid-fuel rocket. Since year 2000, Shehu Balami, a Nigerian engineer, has been involved in designing rockets.

He is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State. He has produced two solid fuel rockets which were launched along the new Kaduna Millennium City Road in Kaduna State.

In 2008, with the support of his friends and family members, he was able to build his first rocket which he later modified in 2011. The solid-fuel rocket was produced under the auspices of the Movement for the Propagation of Science and Technology in Nigeria.

Yemi Adesokan

Adesokan was selected by expert judges of the Technology Review of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US for his discovery work on drug-resistant infections. He was honoured by the MIT in 2011 because of his innovative work.

Born in the US, Adesokan is the founder of Pathogenica Inc. Medical experts are of the view that his innovation may bring an end to the problem of drug resistance in the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ume Ifeanyi Charles

Ume Ifeanyi Charles is credited with five inventions all of which were patented at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These are: Method and Apparatus for Measuring Thermally Induced Warpage in Printed Wiring Boards Using Shadow Moir (US Patent No. 5601364, Feb. 11,1997), Method and Apparatus for Measuring Thermal Warpage Using Projection Moir (US Patent No. 6564166 B1, May 13, 2003), Object Inspection Method and System, US Patent No. 6747268, June 8, 2004, Inspection System and Methods (US Patent No. 7492449,February 17, 2009) and Ultrasound Systems and Method for Measuring Weld Penetration Depth in Real Time and Off Line, US Patent No. 7762136, July 27, 2010.

Ifeanyi is a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. He is a recipient of the Donald P. Eckman Education Award in recognition of his contributions towards education of mechatronics throughout the world. In 2010, he was also awarded the Electronics and Photonic Packaging Division (EPPD) Excellence in Mechanics' Award.

Aloysius Anaebonam

Aloysius Anaebonam holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Boston, Massachusetts.

He is the Founder & Chief Scientist of BREEJ Technologies, Inc., a developer and marketer of advanced treatment cosmetics products for problem skin.

So far, Anaebonam holds about 12 U.S. Patents, vis: Extended release acetaminophen (Patent number: 6254891, July 3, 2001), Extended release acetaminophen particles (Patent number: 6126967, October 3, 2000), Pleasant-tasting aqueous liquid composition of a bitter-tasting drug (Patent number: 5962461, October 5, 1999), Pleasant-tasting aqueous liquid composition of a bitter-tasting drug (Patent number: 5763449, June 9, 1998), Composition and process for prevention and treatment of cutaneous immediate hypersensitivity reactions (Patent number: 5684037, November 4, 1997), Composition and process for prevention and treatment of cutaneous immediate hyper-sensitivity reactions (Patent number: 5684038, November 4, 1997), Terfenadine oral granules (Patent number: 5626879, May 6, 1997), Process for treating uremic pruritus (Patent number: 5576346, November 19, 1996), Process for treating hemangioma (Patent number: 5552436), Composition and process for prevention and treatment of cutaneous immediate hypersensitivity reactions (Patent number: 5532270, July 2, 1996) and Terfenadine oral powder (Patent number: 5455049, October 3, 1995).

Kunle Olukotun

Olukotun is well known for leading the Stanford Hydra research project which developed one of the first chip multiprocessors with support for thread-level speculation (TLS).

He is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan. He is the founder of Afara Websystems (later acquired by Sun Microsystems), a company that builds servers surrounding a custom high-throughput CPU architecture and develops IP traffic management systems for high-throughput, low power server systems with chip multiprocessor technology.

Mohammed Bah Abbah

Mohammed Bah Abbah developed his pot-in-pot refrigerator by combining the knowledge he had gained from his grandmother's craft of traditional pottery with simple laws of physics. He followed up on the idea by placing food in a small pot, which is then placed in a larger pot. The space between the two is filled with moist sand and a wet cloth cover is used to cover the whole set-up. As the water in the moist sand evaporates through the larger pot, it carries heat away from the inner core of the whole set-up.

Mohammed holds no patent on this invention because the pot-making business is not new. What is novel is the fact that he set up local production facilities to provide the pot-in-pot for the cost of $2 (N320) for the smaller pot-in-pot refrigerator and $4 (N640) for the bigger versions. The invention allows perishable food to extend their spoilage rate. For example, meat can be stored in it for up to two weeks instead of a few hours.

Olu Atanda

Olu Atanda is credited with the co-invention of a self-lubricating layer for a data-storage device and disk and holds the following patents at the USPTO; Self-lubricating layer for data storage devices (US Patent No. 6,677,105, January 13, 2004) and Self-lubricating layer for a data storage disk (US Patent No. 6,430,114, August 6, 2002).

Brino Gilbert

Brino Gilbert is credited with the invention of the Counter Collision Gadget (CCG), a device that has the capacity to prevent accidents on the road, air, sea and rail. The invention earned him many awards including a bronze medal in the Aerospace/Aeronautics category at the May 2003 edition of the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX) in the US. He also received a silver medal in the manufacturing category and a trophy for being the best invention from Africa in the continental category.

Gilbert, physicist, spent 10 years seeking government attention for his research and approached several groups and individuals for sponsorship. His vision is to make CCG exportable to many countries of the world.

Emeka Nchekwube

Emeka Nchewube is a Nigerian-born Neurosurgeon who currently lives and practices in the US. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria and earned his Bachelor's degree in chemistry from Central Michigan University. He attended Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit where he also finished his Neurosurgery residency. He is board-certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the San Jose Surgical Society, the American Medical Association and the California Association of Neurological Surgeons.

He is credited with the co-invention hypo-estoxides, derivatives and agonists thereof for use as stent-coating agents (U.S. Patent no. 7229979), hypo-estoxides, derivatives and agonists thereof for use of anti-parasitic agents (Patent no. 6242484), terfenadine oral powder (U.S. Patent no. 5455049) and solutions of pentamidine (U.S. Patent no. 4,853,416).

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