They mock me but then, the little cash I am able to source I put it into it instead of buying clothes or food.
Christopher Onah Ogah is the Karl Benz of Nigeria. The native of Iyala LGA of Cross River State is a master inventor and manufacturer, building a plane and a car prototypes from waste materials he could lay his hands on. In this interview, he told Inspire that despite his creativity, life has not been fair to him but he is not ready to give up.
How did your education contribute to what you are today?
After I graduated from secondary school in 2002, I went to technical school where I studied automobile engineering at Government Technical College Adosoba, Abule Ado and graduated in 2005. After, I was able to study Industrial Physics at the University of Benin. I have been into invention for a very a long time and what I wish to see in invention is, I desire to see the principle of science put in place for humanity use. I have built so many things like drones, cars, helicopters, aircrafts and so many flying objects.
When did you start to build?
I started at a very tender age. I just have passion for it. And thank God my parents were there to give me support.
What is your goal?
I want to go into building my own car, designing my own car and seeing it in real life. Since I have all the ideas it takes to build a car I came up with this little prototype.
Have you tried seeking employment in automobile firms?
Yes, I have tried to seek employment there but the country is not looking for the best but favored persons. I am not keen on the employment but to have a place to make my dreams come through.
Where have you tried to seek employment?
I have gone to many companies. I have gone to Kia Motors but located along Oshodi expressway, Isolo. I have also gone to Hyundai Motors, all they tell me is to submit my C.V and I never get a call; have gone to Stallion motors which is VON at Volkswagen. Have gone to places and they all appreciate the work but they are not really encouraging me.
What comes to your mind when you want to build?
First, building a car, you need to have a creative mindset. Then, you get your inspiration, imaginary view. If I decide to build a car I don’t have to look at the existing cars. I just capture some structures within my mind, put it to sketch and develop it. This way, it will look beautiful. Then, I put it into construction to bring it to real life and that’s how I have been able to build my cars, planes and any other things I need to build.
Where do you get those materials to build?
Right now, I cannot lay my hands on bigger materials. Because building a big scale car that can carry human beings is capital intensive. I use the materials available to me or around me. The materials I use are mainly from scrap such as, jerrycan, foil leather mainly from biscuit for the screen, for the headlight I use Eva water bottle, the brake light which is the rear light I use empty perfume container, then, I build the tyres with 5L gallon, a black coloured type and design it with a machine tube. My aim of doing this is to see it work and you can see that it works. It’s the principle of operation I am actually after just to see that it performs the same function that the big cars can perform. With these if I am provided with the right materials I will build a big car.
When your friends see you do these things don’t they mock you?
Yes, sometimes people see it as a toy. But those that have technical mind know what it entails. Those with technical mind when they see it they marvel because they know even the bigger cars we have today passed through this stage. Without a prototype you cannot come up with a bigger one because every error you have to correct you are to correct from the prototype. If I have to build a bigger car today I must carry out something like this to make my corrections. You know in engineering everything is done by calculations. You calculate everything you are doing so that there is no error. Coming back to your questions concerning my friends mocking me; Yes, when they see this they see it as a waste of time. That you are wasting your time instead of going out to source for cash, to enjoy yourself and other things. You know it’s time consuming.
When others will be hanging out or catching fun, I take my time to sit down, do a lot of racking of brain because this thing you are seeing here if there is any error it will not work. What will be the fun? After building a car like this and you don’t get your result. They mock me but then, the little cash I am able to source I put it into it instead of buying clothes or food. Though, I have to eat but then, I do more of buying my materials to make sure I put my construction into place.
Do you go to dump sites to look for materials?
Yes, that’s one other thing that makes people mock me the more. So when you go to source for these materials from the waste bin popularly known as bowler, people see you as a mad person because I will be picking the relevant ones I can make use of, I will pick it and people will be like what’s this person doing in refuse dump. But me that is picking it I know that at the end of the day when I put it to use people will appreciate my idea.
Do you have a woman in your life that appreciates you?
Yes, I just got married and my wife, it was when she saw my creative work she challenged me the more. Right now, she’s appreciating my job and she’s encouraging me. So all I need to seek right now is the help from government. We need the assistance from government to help me develop this idea. I can design a car, build a car and also electrically fix the components to make it functional. So I want government to look into this.
Why not go into ordinary mechanic repair works?
I am looking beyond going for mechanic work. If I get employed now, it’s only just to source cash for the meantime. In our country, we are buying cars, we have what it takes to build our own. If government can sponsor me I am very sure with time importation of cars will stop and we will start building our own cars and everybody will own a car in Nigeria.