FIFTEEN-year-old Sadiq Alhaji Mala, fondly called Abba, is talented in crafting prototypes of military jets, Keke NAPEP, cars and others with scrap.
Where are you from?
I hail from Abadam LGA of Borno State. I am an Internally Displaced Person (IDP). I was in Primary 4 when my mother and I fled Abadam to Maiduguri. Boko Haram launched several attacks on our village which forced us to flee. My parents were farmers and cattle herders.
What exactly happened before you fled your village?
On a certain day Boko Haram insurgents came to our village, killed many and destroyed everything they could lay their weapons on. Having survived the attack, many of us fled to Maiduguri. Our relatives in Maiduguri are poor to the extent that they could not feed us, so we had to move to the IDP camp in the Mohammed Goni College for Legal and Islamic Studies (MOGOLIS). That was during Gov Kashim Shettima’s administration. At the camp we started receiving food supplies from the government. Having achieved this level of survival, I continued with my studies, but because things are hard for my mother I dropped out in JSS 2. I, therefore, started buying and selling dates to support my mother.
Two years ago, Gov Babagana Zulum relocated us from the MOGOLIS camp to Auno. I understand he did that to enable the students of the college resume classes. Now we live at Auno village in Konduga LGA.
How did you acquire the skills of designing prototypes of automobiles, including a jet?
I didn’t learn it from anyone. After I dropped out of school three years ago it took me time to gather my mental capacities and plan on what next. I always scavenge at dump sites where I pick scrap. By the special grace of Allah, all I do, whenever I encounter any difficulty fabricating any prototype, I just sleep over it. The inspiration strikes in my sleep and I wake up with the solution.
But how did you start these fabrications?
One day I thought of it and decided to craft some objects with metal scrap. Things different from the ones we used to mould with clay when I was three years old in my village. One fact is that crafting has been with me since my childhood. I used to put together many different materials to craft something. I always like to do something new. Since childhood, I have been highly ambitious in that. I started making toys with metal when I was in the MOGOLIS camp which I used to distribute to my fellow children to play with.
Some time ago Gov Zulum distributed taxis and tricycles. Inspired by that, I set out to replicate the Keke. It took me a week to produce one that can take a human being. I tested it.
Can you tell us some of the items you have fabricated?
I started with toy cars, then progressed to bigger automobiles, including this prototype Keke NAPEP with solar panel. So far I have designed an air force jet which has been chasing Boko Haram insurgents out of our communities. There is also a military motorbike, an airplane, a taxi with solar panel, standing fan and a remote-controlled gas cooker.
But I mostly focus on military equipment in order to help my state and country to overcome its security challenges.
Is it only metal scrap you use for your fabrications?
All you see here are scrap metals. I hawk sachet water at the Auno military checkpoint and use the proceeds to buy materials such as super glue. Sometimes my mother assists me with money to buy the required materials and tools which I have used to fulfill my dream of making a Keke NAPEP, taxi and an airplane, military motorcycle with a gun and a fighter jet. To craft the airplane, I drew inspiration from my proximity to the Maiduguri International Airport where I see from afar planes landing and taking off.
How many days does it take you to craft something?
It takes me just a day to craft most things. It took me a day to craft the military jet. I connected it with batteries and it moved. I have ideas, but I don’t have the materials to actualise them.
What is your dream?
To become an electrical engineer.
What are your challenges?
One of the challenges is lack of funds. Sometimes I have to hawk to get N300 for batteries. Now I don’t have money to buy new batteries. You should have observed that I have been using one set of batteries to test the mobility of everything I have crafted.
Another challenge is lack of materials and equipment. There are many chips and instruments which I need to actualise my ideas but I can’t afford them. I take two days scavenging for scrap.
I yearn to prosper in my fabrications to enable me to create jobs. But I can’t succeed without proper education. My mother yearns to see me back in school. She always says that I am her only hope. If I get assistance from the government or people I will not disappoint them.