By Ayo Akinfe
 We all dismiss Frederick Lugard’s caricature of Africans as racist but no one has been able to explain why a nation like Nigeria produces thousands of professionals every year, yet all they think about is making money. How many Nigerian engineers and architects for instance actually take pride in their work?
 As we speak, we are still unable to come up innovative suggestions about how to mass produce goods cheaply. This is despite the fact that we have one of the lowest labour costs in the world. Given our love for cars, huge market and availability of cheap labour for instance, should Nigeria not be among the most cost-effective place to assemble automobiles?
 We can only really compete globally when it comes to crops and primary products where we have the advantage of favourable climatic conditions. We are the number one producer of kolanuts, yam, shea nuts, cassava, egusi and cocoyam but with crops that are mass produced elsewhere like rice, maize, cotton, palm oil etc, our production costs are so high that imports are cheaper than locally grown produce
 Now, a few days ago on December 8 marked the 77th anniversary of the death of Albert Kahn. This was a brilliant architect who built the production factories of companies like Fords. Together with his younger brother Julius, Albert developed a new style of construction whereby reinforced concrete replaced wood in factory walls, roof, and supports
 Kahn also designed many of what are considered the classic buildings at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. These include the Burton Memorial Tower, Hill Auditorium, the Hatcher Graduate Library, and the William L. Clements Library. In 1937, Albert Kahn Associates was responsible for 19% of all architect-designed factories in the US
 Now, here is what differentiates Mr Kahn from the average Nigerian. In 1941, Kahn received the eighth highest salary and compensation package in the US worth about $486,936, but guess what, the man paid 72% back to the government in the form of tax. For him, just seeing his buildings was satisfaction enough
 For me, Kahn’s greatest achievement was his actions during World War Two. It was he who designed most of the US ear production factories that manufactured the armaments that defeated Nazi Germany. He also shared his thoughts with the Soviet Union when they decided to move all their factories from Leningrad, Moscow and Stanlingrad to the east and build them from scratch in the wastelands of Siberia
 I am perplexed that no Nigerian engineer has come up with an innovative machine that can peel a tuber of yam or cassava under five minutes. We also have not come up with an egusi shelling machine that can be mass produced and marketed internationally
 Before we start blaming our leaders, if anyone has such innovative ideas and packages them well, they can be sold to industrial conglomerates. Every company on the world will be interested in a machine that can make it millions. If we spent one tenth of the energy we expend on owambes, extravagant parties, chieftaincy titles, religious extravagance and SUVs on innovation, we would patent about 1,000 machines a year
 If Nigeria’s engineering and scientific community got its act together, it could bypass our inefficient, visionless and unimaginative government at both state and federal levels. As we go into 2020, I am throwing an challenge to the Nigerian Engineering Forum and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. Set yourself the target of coming up with at least 50 patents a year, starting in 2020. You do not need the government for that.