Written By Emeka Chiaghanam
TWO boys, Chukwuebuka Patrick Atikpo and Chukwuebuka Patrick Ubaka, and their parents stormed National Light Newspapers claiming that they are the original inventors of Bitter Leaf Washing Machine, being passed off to belong to a secondary school pupil in Awka, Anambra State.
According to Chukwuebuka Patrick Atikpo, the spokesperson of the duo, they invented and produced the machine in 2014, when they were in Senior Secondary school, “The inspiration behind our invention came some time in 2014, while we were in SS1. I was at Nawfia Comprehensive Secondary School, Nawfia, and my co-inventor, Chukwuebuka Patrick Ubaka, was at Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, when we heard Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, declared his great love for agriculture and his plans to take agriculture to the next level in the state. Governor Obiano recounted how he and other Igbo people used clothe washing machine to wash bitter leaf (Onugbu) in the United States of America. That got the two of us thinking, because it sounded strange to us.
“Governor Obiano’s statement challenged us to do something about that. We are science inclined and believed we can invent a machine purely for washing bitter leaf. Onugbu soup is our delicacy, it is Anambra food, and we love Onugbu. Seeing Governor Obiano’s love for mechanized agriculture, we began work on the project. We really struggled very hard. It wasn’t easy for us that very year to embark on such a project.
As at that time, there was no Onugbu washing machine anywhere in the world. There was no reference point to start working on the machine, even on the internet. We are the first to invent Onugbu washing machine anywhere in the world. The OGANIHU C2 is the name of the washing machine. OGANIHU stands for progress in Igbo; C2 represents Chukwuebuka, our first names. We bear the same English names, it is only our surnames that differ.
We are here to let the world know that our invention, the OGANIHU C2, the Onugbu washing machine has been stolen and somebody else taking the glory. We want the world to know that we are the original inventors. Not as being claimed by Dikanna Evans Onuigbo, an SS3 student of Community Secondary School, Okpuno, Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State.
We invented the OGANIHU C2, because of the love the governor expressed for agriculture and the ingenuity on our own part to make the dream come true of preparing bitter leaf without stress. We are proud to be the originator and inventor of the onugbu washing machine. We have evidence to prove that the machine was our invention.
We actually started working on the OGANIHU C2, after we came back from NTA ETV Expo, in Abuja in 2015, where we actually exhibited ‘Flood Free Environment Project.’ Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Awka, sponsored us along with others to Abuja. You can verify this from Mrs. Tochi Oputa , she was a Producer at NTA Awka, but now on transfer at NTA Abuja and Mrs. Ifeoma Uche, Assistant Producer, NTA Awka, who is still at Awka.
For the 2016 NTA ETV Expo, where we exhibited our Bitter Leaf Washing Machine, we qualified from the zonal level where all the secondary schools in Anambra State exhibited their inventions. Winners from each local government area met at the state level, where only five schools from Anambra State went to represent the state at the national level in Abuja. Not only were we the only Anambra team that won, we were also the only team that won in senior science category from the South East Zone. We have the video clip. This video clip has been online since 2016. You can Google it.
At the NTAETV Expo in Abuja, Chukwuebuka Ubaka, my co-inventor, and I came 5th out of the 36 states in Nigeria. NTA International posted it on Youtube. You can Google it at NTA ETV Expo 2016 closing ceremony. You can Google the Inventors of Bitter Leaf Washing Machine. For coming 5th, we won a carton of Indomie, a roll of Noble Carpet. If you watch the video clip, you will see us in Isi Agu attire when we were presented with a carton of Indomie Noodles. They mentioned one of our schools, our state, and our invention – ‘Mechanized Bitter Leaf Washing Machine’ that is actually the English name. The machine is actually OGANIHU C2. When we came back from Abuja in 2016 with our invention, we documented it and took it to the Chief of Staff’s office. There was no response thereafter.
In 2017, we submitted everything about our invention to Anambra State Ministry of Science and Technology. The Commissioner for Science and Technology, Prince Chinedu Emeka sent the Director in the state Ministry to come to our house and verify the authenticity of our invention. The Director in the state Ministry of Science and Technology and her assistant actually came to our house to see the invention, which they confirmed. The pictures are there.
Chief Chinedu Emeka, from his pocket sponsored us to Enugu to participate in Olandigbo Science & Tech Trade Fair in Enugu, with the theme ‘Igbo Can Do’. It was a two-day exhibition, held from 19th – 20th December 2017. The State Director in the Ministry of Science and Technology accompanied us to Enugu.
When we came back, we briefed Prince Chinedu Emeka and told him that we were advised to patent our inventions at the fair. We went there as exhibitors and not as competitors, because we did not register on time. They were amazed at our invention. We also participated in NOTAB training at the event, which was about patent and copyrights right issues. Our work was actually the talk of the town. You can confirm this from Emeka Nelson, who won the Oladindgbo competition that year.
Emeka Nelson is in Awka and can testify that our machine was the talk of the town. When we came back to Awka, we wanted to go to Science and Tech Expo, Abuja and were told by the Ministry of Science and Tech that they sent a memo to the state government to sponsor us to attend the Science and Tech Expo in Abuja this year but it didn’t sail through as the Governor Willie Obiano was trying to wind up his first tenure. Since then, we have not heard anything from the Ministry of Science and Tech.
Since 2015, ‘Anambra Young Inventor Tech’ made up of Chukwuebuka Patrick Ubaka and I, Udenze Jeremiah, Okeke Emmanuel, Anigbo Raphael, attended Abuja NTA ETV Expos and other science and tech exhibitions and competitions. You can verify this from them.
I’m a 300 level, Polymer and Textile student, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and Chukwuebuka Patrick Ubaka, due to lack finance to further his education works at Trig Point Hotel, Nibo, as room attendant.”
Contributing, Chukwuebuka Ubaka said, “Dikanna first chatted me up on facebook. That was after he saw our invention online and was impressed by it. At another time, he said he wanted to improvise our invention and make it more portable. We told him to discontinue with the idea. That he should not work on what we already invented. But we never knew he continued with it behind the scene. He always refers to us as his mentors. We asked him to work on something original. Go to our facebook pages, you will see our conversations with him. Our conversations with him started January 2017.”
Mr. Francis Onuora Ubaka, a carpenter, father of Ubaka Chukwuebuka, said, “I want to let the whole world know that the Onugbu Washing Machine which my son and his friend Chukwuebuka took years to invent in my compound is being claimed by somebody. I want the government and the world to know that it was the brainchild of these two kids. Anybody claiming to have invented the machine other than these two Chukwuebukas is not true.”
On her part, Mrs. Unoma Ubaka, a food vendor and Chukwuebuka Ubaka’s mother said, “I’m here to let people know that my son with the other Chukwuebuka invented the machine in our house, before taking the invention to Abuja. We want the state government to look in this issue. The two are the inventors of the machine.”
Mrs. Ifeyinwa Atikpo, retired civil servant, and Chukwuebuka Atikpo’s mother, amid sobs said, “My son with the other Chukwuebuka started the Bitter Leaf Washing Machine in 2015.” She lamented that her son and his friend Chukwuebuka’s invention wants to go down the drain after years of toiling to invent the machine.
Reacting to the claim that the Bitter Leaf Washing Machine he was credited to have invented, was not his original invention. Dikanna Evans Onuigbo, after pleading for some time and on three separate telephone conversations said the mechanism of the machines were not the same thing, “I started the project long ago. I started experimenting on the project….” Asked further if the invention was his, he said, “I can’t answer that.”
He finally said he had spoken to Chukwuebuka Patrick Atikpo and told our reporter to talk to him (Chukwuebuka).
Chukwuebuka Patrick Ubaka (Left) and Chukwuebuka Patrick Atikpo (Right)