WE STARTED VERY LITTLE

We started very little and then we grew into a family, now we are a community.

Some years ago while at the University, we had our own lives different from others. We were called “geeks”, we had no lives anyway similar to our contemporaries and so we were relegated to the cubicles. We created our own heaven, we made jokes that were only jokes to us, we were a family strongly bonded by our sheer technical abilities and passion. Instead of parties we joined techies around the world in celebrating free software and open source once every year.

Me (left) and Nanven (right) — During a Software Freedom Day

We spent our time discussing linux codes, algorithms and complex problems that any of us was able to solve. It was the best days of my life and it turned out the defining moment of my career.

We invited people to listen to our presentations on SFD

Soon after graduation, we parted ways. Our geek family suffered separation, oh yes some went to serve our country in the one year compulsory NYSC scheme while some who couldn’t graduate due to one problem or the other remained in school to tidy up. To cut the story shot we were ushered into the real world. I would have wished the university kept us had there any knowledge that exposing us to the street would mean every man to himself.

Well, I had gone into personal consulting for firms and governments. One of my biggest geek performance was helping the world bank recover its lost data worth over 49 Million naira not up to a year after graduation. I was the last guy to be called for the Job. I was living in Kaduna then when I got a call from my boss who believed i have solution to every problem concerning computers. My boss wouldn’t call to ask if “i could” solve a problem, he believed so much in my abilities. He told me i should get ready, we are heading to Abuja. Just like the Nigeiran Airforce’s motto, i was always “willing, able and ready”.

We got to Abuja late night and I was shown to a computer room where I got the briefing for my new job. Was informed by a top government official that every good tech guy they had brought all over the country had failed to solve the problem and so they had given up before meeting my boss who vouched on my abilities. I remember, I immediately started theorizing hard core computer science of everything that went wrong and also proffering solution, the people surrounding me who couldn’t understand jack from all my theories where all head down and one of them muttered “You are right, just do it”. In less than two hours, bingo! The tall skinny geek had turned a superstar and someone was paid for the job. I wasn’t. You wan’t to know why? Geeks at first don’t work for the money, the excitement that you have solved a problem no one was able to was the best form of payment as at then. The feeling was next to none. #geeklife

I realized one thing, the geek family I left in Jos had impacted something in me. I was an overnight super star because innately I was representing my guys. Our daily discussions, arguments and jokes had transformed me into a digital monster. Here am I like in a somewhat movie scene, where an hacker had to be brought to salvage a situation. Ten minutes later, the joy had faded off because I wasn’t going to have the next morning to explain to the family how I solved a world bank problem. It was cultural back in school days, once you solve a problem you would explain your solution to the family the next day (most problems are solved in the middle of the night ) and everyone would be happy to hear what we referred to as your “Hack”. Writing a blog or making a phone call wouldn’t convey my inner enthusiasm since i am not much a good writer and also i needed a “chop knuckles” which i can’t get virtually.

Life has been in isolation, although achieving more career wise, i was not living in satisfaction. My intellectual growth wasn’t exponential as should be expected. There was need of a consistent tech ecosystem where one can meet like minded people. Yes! this i realized was the missing link. I remember vividly when i relocated to Kaduna for my industrial attachment in 2008 i had gone to meet the head of NIIT after a woeful 2 month isolated life. I told him i was sick and could only get well if i can talk to any programmer. He laughed uncontrollably confessing he had never seen a thing like that in his life. I was unshaken so long the encounter finally brought about the birth of a tech ecosystem in Kaduna state known as “ASKGUIDE” where we met weekends to discuss technologies and innovation. It was there i met the likes of Chukwunenye Amadi, Ifeanyi Morah, Majeed Alabi and other great geeks who made my stay in Kaduna worthwhile.

Innovation and technology thrive when you isolate geeks and give them basic things they need, food, shelter, internet and games. You would be marveled at the level of creativity and invention that this would birth. An atmosphere for interaction, competition and challenge through hackathons and bootcamps, conferences and finally programs to enable them share and air their believes and creativity is needed if we want to see the next phase of technological advancements and huge acceptance of tech startup culture in Nigeria.

In 2010 when I came to Abuja, it was more of a busy town. Someone once told me, it is impossible to listen to a line of conversation in Abuja without the mention of “Naira”. It posed a threat to my being. I doubt if I thought I would survive the city. Thanks to Enspire Incubation who opened up the opportunity to start the “hive” hangout which was seen as the gathering of techies taking place every friday. YES! its our own form of clubbing only that we don’t have to see the strip dance. Who cares after all! Men at work.

Hive Hangout — Every Friday night

Thirteen (13) years gone, we returned to Jos with an hackathon tagged “HackJos” which brought both techies and wannabes together to compete in a software competition and back now into the first tech hub in Jos. The birth of nHub Nigeria.

HackJos Hackathon 2015

If we must forge ahead as a nation, we must provide a conducive place where young people can share ideas. We must rewire the minds of young people through innovation hubs. Rewiring is needed more so in a country where corruption is admired and corrupt politicians are seen as models.

One thing I know for sure, had the University kept us we would have grown into a mega research lab helping the University.

Today we are four months old at nHub, we started small, grew into family and now we are a community. I have never being happy than been in the midst of young people who want to change the world first by impacting their communities. Yes, next year proves even more promising. Our end of year party was a blast. 2015 is a year I will not forget in a hurry that once upon a time a city that was once maimed by the media as the headquarter of killings and cattle rustling is now known as a tech city building young people who are world changers through technologies.

At nHub, I have seen learners becoming professionals empowering learners. Retnan

God bless Plateau State, God bless Nigeria.

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