By UbongAbasi Ise
“… in going over the history of all the inventions for which history could be obtained, it became more and more clear that in addition to training and in addition to extensive knowledge, a natural quality of mind was also necessary.
— Reginald Fessenden
The life of Engr. Ndotenyin Kingsley Ekanem offers an intriguing story of innovation, audacity, and passion. It is a story of a genius born with innate zeal for technological undertakings and would not relent in defying all odds to ensure that he carves a niche for himself. Engr. Ekanem is celebrated today as an Akwa Ibomite and a Nigerian whose innovative prowess is of rarity in this part of the world. Although Ekanem possess an enviable track-record in the field of technology, he is famous for the invention of traffic light with defaulters’ alarm. This particular invention has won him many accolades from state to national level, including an invitation to 2018 international technological competition in Accra, Ghana.
Asides from being an engineer of repute, Ndotenyin Ekanem, is a consummate businessman whose company, Alpha 1 Technical Services, performs impressively and helped transformed the lives of hundreds of youths and handed them means of livelihood. On Sunday 11th June 2017, the company celebrated its 10th Anniversary with pomp at The Apostolic Church, Afia Etoi Assembly in Ata Inim District, Uyo local government area.
Engr. Ndotenyin Ekanem is an indigene of Ukwok community in Ini local government area, Akwa Ibom State. His father is Pastor Kingsley Ekanem, and his mother, Maria Ekanem, a retired civil servant and a deaconess in The Apostolic Church. Ndotenyin is the second son in the family. He believes that his family’s strong Christian background is one major factor behind his success. At the age of 28, he got married to beautiful NyaknnoAbasi in 2008 immediately after his graduation. Today, the marriage is blessed with three kids described by him as Three Little Angels. Ndotenyin Ekanem is the managing director of Alpha 1 Technical Services and presently an Elder in The Apostolic Church.
Ekanem began his educational life in Government Primary School, Aka Offot, popularly known as Aka 1. He had a stint of secondary school life at Uyo High School before moving to Government Vocational Training School (now Government Technical College) in Ewet Offot, Uyo where he delved into Radio/Television Electronic Repairs. After finishing Junior Secondary School 3 at Ewet, young Ndotenyin left for secondary education at Government Technical College, Ikot Ada Idem, Ibiono Local Government Area where he obtained SSCE. His area of specialization was Radio/Television and Electronic Works. Given this technical background in his educational life, Ndotenyin Ekanem proceeded to the defunct Polytechnic Calabar, now known as Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH). On conversion of the Polytechnic to a degree-awarding institution, Ndotenyin had to move to Federal Polytechnic, Nekede in Imo State owing to his strong ardour for polytechnic education. This is where he obtained the Higher National Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering. Having discovered there are a lot more to learn which were not covered in educational curriculum, Ekanem proceeded to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana where he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Instrumentation and Control.
ON ALPHA 1 TECHNICAL SERVICES
Alpha 1 Technical Services is a company that deals in services ranging from manufacturing of traffic light control panels, automatic change over, industrial automation, instrumentation/controls, electrical installations, power plants/heavy duties, biomedical engineering, and solar power supply and control. The company currently has its address at Unit 1, Technology Centre, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Nung Oku, Uyo.
Talking about his company, Ekanem said, “Alpha 1 Technical Services is a brainchild of my endeavours in life. In 2007, I was still writing my final examinations, and I had a reflection that more graduates are roaming the streets of Uyo and environs without finding job. So I decided to carve a niche for myself and to create something very unpopular. Alpha 1 was actually a take-home assignment given to us by our lecturer who taught us Citizenship Education. The question was look around your immediate environment, and come up with a business idea that could solve the available challenge. So I went home and thought about a service rendering group that could solve people’s challenges. Looking Akwa Ibom State environment and Nigeria at large, I knew that basically most equipments we have are imported and installed then become faulty at a very short while. Then I resolved that I can come up with a first of its kind company that renders facility maintenance services in our society. Since it supposed to be the first of its kind, I came up with the name, Alpha 1, which was also an inspiration from God. Alpha means the beginning and we do not know the end because as far as innovation is concerned, there is no end. But the beginning is always there. Also, I used this name to reference God who is also known as Alpha and Omega. So I choose to call my company Alpha 1.”
Meanwhile, Alpha 1 Technical Services was registered with Corporate Affairs Commission in 2007. The mission of the company is to provide excellent services to the society.
THE BEGINNING AND THE INSPIRATION
At a tender age, Ndotenyin was seen by parents and siblings as a stubborn kid. He could help confessing this to our correspondent. “I was very inquisitive in nature in such a way that I virtually opened up all my parents’ electronic ranging from wall clock, radio to a black-and-white television, particularly, to see transistors and other components imbedded inside them. I always wanted to see the secret behind workings of these electronics. So as a child, that resulted to stubbornness and indiscipline and I got penalized for that. Although I was stubborn, it became positive at a point. My parents actually wanted me to be a medical doctor but my life pattern pushed me towards the future in engineering. They mounted a lot of pressure on me. So, a neighbour intervened and encouraged my parents to back me and set me up in a career in engineering instead of having to discipline me each time I destroy their electronic. That is why I was sent to Government Vocational Training School in 1992 to study electronics.”
Out of sheer determination, Ndotenyin, at tender age, got himself enrolled as an apprentice at a neighbouring electronics and repairs shop known as Udioko Electronics in 1992. That marked the real beginning of his profession. At completion, he did his industrial attachment with His Royal Majesty, E.O. Ekidem, the Ntisong Ibibio. According to Ekanem, “he taught me about life. He taught me the philosophy of life that in the course of the profession one should make sure he stamps his prints on the marbles of time, and that whichever job one is asked to do, he should ensure that the job becomes a signature so that the future generation would remarkably say that whoever made this, did it well. So that has inspired me every time, and I always try to add extra value to in everything that I do.”
Engr. Ekanem also had the opportunity to work with Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok. “He actually adopted me as his child. I lived in his house. He is a legend and one of few Akwa Ibomites that has seen it all. Air Marshall Eduok has helped in shaping my future; he sponsored some of my training programmes, and I served him for over 10 years. Even now, I am still serving him. He is my mentor and what I would call my Godfather, a vessel in whose hand God has deposited my destiny,” said Ekanem.
INTELLIGENT TRAFFIC LIGHT WITH DEFAULTERS’ ALARM
The traffic light system with defaulters’ alarm is said to be the first ever technology of its kind produced in Nigeria. The Alpha 1 boss spoke on the innovation with The Sensor during the exhibition of Made in Akwa Ibom Products organized by the State Ministry of Investment, Commerce and Industry between Tuesday 16th and Thursday 18th May, 2017 at Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, Uyo. He said that he was motivated to come out with such invention because he found people violating traffic rules.
“Coming out of school, I discovered that people were disobeying our traffic lights, and at the time, many traffic lights were faulty. Besides, most of those lights were imported while the expatriates that fixed them had gone back to their home countries. That became a challenge to me, and I then went on a research and came out with an innovation on traffic light system that has a defaulters’ alarm,” he said.
Speaking after the anniversary event on June 11, Ekanem told our business correspondent that his company’s greatest innovation remains the intelligent traffic light with defaulters’ alarm because of its tendency to contribute in solving complex traffic issues in the society.
Alpha 1 Technical Services has a strong commitment to excellent service delivery. The company’s starting point was the offering of facility maintenance services to more than 50 private companies free of charge, but would sometimes got rewarded at the end of the month. According to Engr. Ekanem, “It was very difficult at the start but after that, Alpha 1 Technical Services have done several installations and contributed to many companies which include building of Central Bank of Nigeria permanent site in Uyo, Four Point Sheraton, Ikot Ekpene; the electrification of Atan Offot community in Uyo, and numerous repairs of medical equipments.” Alpha 1 has rendered services to a company called PGN Limited for more than 10 years now.
“We also offer services to companies like Ona Aluminium, Eket; System Metal at Calabar; Supreme Bite, Uyo; Viza Aluminium in Maidugari; Janel Aluminium in Ogoja, Cross River State, amongst others. For the records, we got into competition with other technical firms and we won the first prize in the private organization category of the 2012 maiden edition of Science and Technology Research Innovation competition organized by Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Science and Technology. Since then no one has beaten us to that prize, and we have been representing Akwa Ibom State at the national level since 2012 till date. Recently, precisely April this year, we represented Akwa Ibom as one of the contingents at Abuja National Technology Exhibition where we came home with a second prize in the whole country. We competed with more than 5,000 exhibitors at the event. Today, we have been able to break through engineering scene of Akwa Ibom State by coming up with traffic light with a defaulters alarm – an innovation that is the first of its kind in Nigeria.”
Furthermore, the gifted engineer mentioned several other accolades won by his company which include Award of Excellence from Rotary Club 4901 Calabar; Certificate of Excellence from Akwa Ibom State Youths for Change and Development; Certificate of Recognition from University of Nsukka; Certificate of Excellence from Full Life Business Group. Ndotenyin and his company also won awards from NDDC, Christian Youths Organization, Electrical/Electronic students association.
Furthermore, Alpha 1 star innovation, traffic light with defaulters’ alarm, has earned the company a ticket to represent Nigeria at West African Science and Technology Exposition that is going to be held in Accra, Ghana in 2018. It has also won the company an invitation to 2018 National Science and Technology Expo.
In the words of the Engr. Ekanem, “we can say that we are satisfied with our innovation because local, national and international agencies have recognized us. Presently, we are at the final stage of getting our patent right under National Office of Technology Acquisition Programme (NOTAP). They are going to give us free patent because of the prize we won in Abuja on traffic light and defaulters’ alarm.”
Ndotenyin Ekanem has a philosophy that says that “a mango that refuses to fall when ripe will definitely fall when rotten.” According to him, “that is to say that we should always exercise patience because everything that God ever destined for us will surely come to pass.” His second philosophy is borrowed from ICAN which says “what others can, I can.” Ekanem believes that this serves as a secret of his success because that made him not to limit himself.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SOCIETY
Since inception in 2007, the engineering company has trained, free of charge, more than 400 youths on instrumentation and control including several other technological skills. Alpha 1 boss added that the 32nd batch consisting of 48 trainees are expected to graduate in the coming month.
Although Alpha 1 has delivered a lot of services to clients from state to national level, most of the projects come to the company through third parties such as expatriates and the politicians. That constitutes a major challenge. Alpha 1 managing director held that lack of government’s belief in local talents has placed indigenous enterprises in the situation of having to depend on jobs from the third parties where profit becomes marginal or totally absent.
Ekanem said that a company of 10 years can handle a direct contract from government. He suggested that the best way to encourage enterprising youths is to engage them in entrepreneurship, thus discouraging their rush for white collar job.
Ekanem said, “Our mission and vision statement is to make Alpha 1 Technical Services a home-brand – a name that will be known in all the families in Nigeria. This would be done by working hard and stay competitive with our foreign counterparts. So Alpha 1 is to go into maintenance, fabrication and installation of instrument-based devices. The moment we successfully have a big factory that designs and fabricate these instruments and machines, this when the goals of Alph 1 would be achieved.”
Meanwhile, Ekanem has hinted on his firm’s possibility to employ more than 10,000 youths in the state. He said that with necessary measures put in place, his company has the capacity to accommodate more than 10,000 employees as its services cuts across the entire country.
“If God’s grace is sufficient, and government also gives us the necessary assistance that we might require of them, I think Alpha 1 Technical Services has the capacity to employ over 10,000 youths at any given time because our services cut across the 36 states of the federation,” he said.
10TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
It was all excitement on Sunday 11th June 2017 as Alpha 1 Technical Services celebrated its 10th Anniversary at The Apostolic Church, Afia Etoi Assembly in Uyo. Some of the guests who attended the anniversary service spoke with The Sensor:
“In 2013, Ndotenyin Ekanem was a resource person who trained 200 unemployed youths free in Akwa Ibom State on instrumentation and control. The training was a 6 month programme, and he did very well. Again in 2014, we partnered in training of another batch of 100 youths on machine installation. As I speak now, we are on a 3-month training on Solar Power Installation and Air Travel Management.
To me, Engr. Ekanem is a very nice person. He is very industrious and dynamic. He is one person that is always ready to give out to the society.
We are just celebrating his company’s 10th Anniversary, and one can see the number of staff he has been able to employ. Some months ago, he was the one leading Akwa Ibom on Federal Government Expo on technology. In the next ten years, Akwa Ibom people would be looking for Engr. Ndotenyin Ekanem, and he will all over the world.”
Mr. Patrick Akpan Udo Etoh, National President for Akwa Ibom Youths for Change and Development Initiative
“He is my mentor, boss, and partner in business. Before I first saw him one-on-one, I heard so much about him. I never knew him then, until I got to Akwa Ibom from Lagos. As I am working with him now, the experience is very fantastic. He is highly innovative and very dynamic. He is a man with willingness to give to the society through his wealth of experience.
As Alpha 1 Technical Services continues, in the next ten years it will be at the peak of success, and I believe that it is going to touch so many lives, especially, the youths, thus bringing them out of poverty.
In the training we are conducting right now, we have some of the students he had trained. And they are now with us as teachers, facilitators and source of inspiration to the new students.
Mr. Taiwo Olufemi, Greatmafet Business Solution
“Ndotenyin is an Elder and a colleague in the vineyard. He is a friend too; a brother. So we are close.
He is a nice person, and somebody to reckon with. He has the fear of God in him, and always stands by the truth.
By God’s special grace, he is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his company. Although I have no deal with the company before, I believe they have been doing fine based on information on ground. So I encourage Ndotenyin and his company to put up more effort as I wish them more years of service.”
Elder Gabriel Atakpo, Chairman Anniversary Committee, The Apostolic Church, Afia Etoi Assembly, Uyo
“Ndotenyin is my childhood friend. We grew up together, and we belong to the same church. Incidentally, he is also an Elder in The Apostolic Church, and currently we are serving together at Afia Etoi Assembly.
He is a humble, diligent, hard-working and innovative. And in all aspect of life, Ndotenyin has proven to be a father, a mentor, and a philanthropist. I am proud of his company, Alpha 1 Technical Services. He has motivated a lot of youths and trains many of them for free. As we speak, Alpha 1 is not just a company in Akwa Ibom but a Federal Government company. The company has been certified in so many fields. One thing about Alpha 1 Technical Services is that it emphasizes professionalism. So, I can attest to it, and I can recommend people to Alpha 1.”
Elder Umoh Antia, Responsible Elder, The Apostolic Church, Afia Etoi Assembly, Uyo
“He is a very good man to me. He advises me. Ndotenyin is someone that respects God and by character, he is very humble. Doesn’t talk too much, but whenever he talks he does it.”
Mr. Aniebiet Thomas, Member TAC, Uyo
“I will first and foremost say I’m grateful to God for ordering my footsteps to Alpha 1 Technical Services; and being associated with the company is a privilege to me. I am a trainee at Alpha 1Technical Services coming to redefine my profession, and widen the scope of my knowledge in engineering field. I thank God that, so far, I am learning so much. Engr. Ekanem has been so awesome and wonderful. I would say he is like a father, a mentor, and a coach to us. He is liberal, and a blessing to us. Particularly, my relationship with him is just like a father and son.”
Anthony Abraham O. – Alpha 1 trainee
“My time at Alpha 1 Technical Services is very wonderful. I have a boss who is very caring, supportive and understandable. He is a family man; he takes care of all of us.
I can’t just thank him enough. He is a great teacher, and he has taught us a lot within this short period of time. I thank Almighty God for his life and family; and I pray that God should continue to bless the works of his hands.
Olugu Funmilayo Chiamaka, Alpha 1Trainee
“Engr. Ndotenyin Ekanem is a great man to me. He is a good engineer. He trains me on how to do construction of panels, instrumentation and control with machine installation and other electrical and electronics work. I pray that God should bless him.
Endurance Aniekan Dick, Trainee
“Engr. Ndotenyin Ekanem is one of the most wonderful engineers I have ever come across. He has imparted in us a wealth of engineering knowledge. He has been training us on instrumentation and control for years now. He has been training batches of students, and I am one of those he has trained this batch. The 10th Anniversary we have just celebrated was just awesome.
Barnabas Isong, Trainee
“I would describe him in just one sentence: everybody in the world was born beautiful, and only few have a beautiful mind. Engr. Ekanem is one of those that has the beautiful mind”
Chukwu Emmanuel, Trainee
“I would say he is a blessing to our generation. It is a privilege to work with him. He is a blessing, personally, to me. I am grateful to meet such a person in my life. I pray God would continue to strengthen him so that he would continue to impart more knowledge to us, and to our generation.”
Chika Success, Trainee