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Is time ticking on Nigeria

Published by Punch on Thu, 29 Dec 2011

A very audacious article I read this year was Times February 10 edition, 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal. It was primarily themed on scientific research and futurism. Two ongoing researches listed in the piece were especially fascinating: one was to design a computer with artificial intelligence capable of computing to the amazing turnover of one billion times the speed of human thought. Considering that some studies say humans have used only 10 per cent capacity of their brain potential, this super computer, if and when it is created, will be a god of sorts. The chess playing Deep Blue by IBM is a tame childs play when compared to this more or less cyborg invention.The second researchwhich, if it succeeds, will topple religion, other dogmas and aspect of philosophytreats old age as a sort of sickness. That meansyes, you get itsomething that can be cured. The scientists concerned with this project are working towards life extension such that death might be curable or, maybe, put off.Of course, these ideas look rather far-fetched and crazily preposterous. Not even everybody in the sciences thinks it should be done or whether it is even possible. But we have, in this generation, seen the mapping of the human DNA, witnessed the ubiquitous power of the Internet, successfully cloned a sheep and other living organisms, unerringly sent women and men into other space and through better health care increased life expectancy, so who still has impossible in his dictionary' By 2045, who knows what science would have achieved'There is something to be said about the audacity of imagination of this futuristic thinking by the researches. Even if the quest is not 100 per cent achieved, it will broaden thinking and advance knowledge in such a way the world will no longer be the same. There have been other technological advancements in several parts of the world this year: graphene, robot nurses and soldiers, intelligent vehicles, mobile 3D, interactive signs, cloud computing, wireless sensor network, Internet-ready refrigerators, components photovoltaic solar cells, and ubiquitous computing, cyber implants. The list keeps growing!This same 2011, there have been various other inventions such as a mirror that tells your heartbeat, a pen that can detect prenatal complications and even the flying car. China unveiled its prototype train that is capable of travelling 500km per hour; when the country launched its own rocket into the sky this year, it did all by herself. By 2045, even if man doesnt become immortal, it is building up a plethora of inventions that will contribute to humanity in such a way that life as is presently known will not be the same.As this year ends, I try to review our contributions in this part of the world to scientific advancements apart from consuming these things as they come. The most (in)famous invention and impactful to come from Nigeria has been a death machine. Nigerias invention was not gained from an invasive pandemic, nuclear disaster or famine. Nigeria procured its inventive fame via terrorist bombs and their nasty accoutrements. Bombs are a tool of war but Nigeria is not at war or under sneak drone assault, yet it has gained notoriety for wholesale deaths via bombs. A part of Nigeria has been turned into a killing field and those that should be at the vanguard of securing lives and property seem to be showboating.Since January, when the Jos crisis which claimed an estimated 200 lives heralded the way for other mass killings, it has been an unending coupling with death - at an average of one blast and several deaths per month. It has become the nightmarish norm that whenever one wakes to the news, a bomb has gone off here or was detonated or failed to fire off. Almost on a weekly basis, one hears this and other frightening news items such as ethno-religious crisis so much so that its regularity has rendered it mundane.I have computed more than two thousand deaths in these violent acts. And this is a very conservative estimate. Those that are living by the battle lines of this war are dying on many fronts; we have become a prominent nation of death by installment and, now being grouped in the league of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Khmer Rouges Cambodia.The notion of death, violent and instant, has gripped the nation. A toga of haplessness grinds out its numbing paralysis on everyone as there seems to be no answer to the unceasing bombs. Funny enough, one can easily predict President Goodluck Jonathans template response: We are sorry this happened. We are working to get the perpetrators. In all these, apart from arrest of some suspects, the brains behind these death machines are largely at large. Some of the suspects have been killed in shoot-outs. Several law enforcement agents have lost their lives to this and as a New Year approaches, there is a fear that plays gently in many hearts: Where will the next devastating harvest be' Sadly, the National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi, reportedly said on Tuesday that Nigeria is too large to be policed; meaning, the reign of terror and death in the country continues.In all these things, I cannot stop wondering, by 2045, where will Nigeria be in the scheme of things as the rest of the world gallops towards astounding achievements' Is this the wayone week, one troublewe will continue as a nation'The latest killings by Boko Haram on Christmas day not only cut lives in their prime, they are a major setback for Nigeria in a lot more ways than is immediately obvious. The way Boko Harams fulsome disdain for human lives was even reported in the international media was disheartening; footages of people being rescued with crude human stretchers beamed across countries. As the rest of the world gallops astoundingly, Nigeria lifts her dead -and living- who have been sacrificed on the dais of a rebellion whose cause is neither defined nor understood.And those are about the things that have defined this year.The gory pictures of the insurgency are haunting and after a while, you begin to question not just the humanity of people who visit such inhumanity on others, but those of us who somehow live with this irrational display of violence and have yet to lose our cool completely.In the next few days, the reckoning of another year starts. There is nothing much different about New Year other than the fact that a new count starts on the Gregorian calendar. (I fervently hope that Boko Haram doesnt throw more bombs to usher in the New Year). I thinkand strongly believethat the beginning of another year should tell the Nigerian state and its peoples that it is time to sit up and begin a strategic rethink of the future. Beyond just planning on a yearly basis, we need to begin to take some leaps. The rest of the world is moving on and we cannot continue to exist like this. We should advance and to achieve that, we need to break this endless cycle of meaninglessness.Countries are marching towards a better life for their citizens, Nigeria should not be left behind to carry out mass burials too many times in one year. We cannot be running after insurgents, rebels and terrorists forever. Something has got to give. And soon too. It is high time the President and the security agencies stopped hiding behind bland speeches, jaded promises and political posturing. Didnt he say earlier this year that he knows those behind the Boko Haram crisis' Beginning in 2012, we have only seven years before that magic year, 2020, when we are supposed to join the 20 top economies of the world. We do not have to always wake up to news of more human slaughter on the altar of diablerie.Have a wonderful whats left of 2011!
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