Ignatius Asabor, a 22-year-old technical college graduate, who is into building drones, left Nigeria after he was discovered on Facebook and employed by a company in Finland. He tells Punch about his accomplishment and new experience
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Ignatius Asabor, I am 22 years old and I hail from Delta State. I attended Utagba Ogbe Technical College, Vocational 3, Auto Department, where I got National Business and Technical Examinations Board and West African Senior School Certificate Examination results.
How did your parents feel when you first started making drones?
At first, my mother was not happy at all. She wanted me to study Law, but it was not my passion. She tried to stop me several times but I resisted all the troubles and kept doing what I believed in and had a passion for.
How did your parents feel when you told them you were travelling abroad?
They couldn’t believe, at first, but they were extremely proud of me. After all, they were able to cooperate with me, and they’re happy about my achievement.
When did you make your first drone?
I made my first drone when I was just nine years old.
While making the drone, how many times did you experience failure?
I failed more than 1,000 times.
Did you ever think of giving up?
No, I never did. My failure teaches me and I learn from my experiences. That was how I taught myself. I knew that someday I would be great and achieve success from my hard work. And I was right about it; I am beginning to reach my goal.
What inspired you to start building drones?
At first, I wasn’t building drones. I started by drawing some things, especially cars. After a lot of thinking, I decided to make some of the cars I drew come to reality. That was what came to my mind that made me start building cars with empty drink cans, cartons and other materials I got around me. After several months of building cars, the cars got so much simpler for me and that was what inspired me to try something harder, which was when I made my first carton and foam plane. It took me several years of failed attempts, loss of materials and tools to achieve that. I learnt in a very hard way, but I never gave up. I knew that just as I was able to make the cars I built to move, someday, the same thing would happen to the plane, too. I believed so much in myself that no matter how long it took, it would happen someday.
With your experience now, how long does it take you to build a drone?
It depends on the size and the type of technology that has to be in it. Some of my drones take me up to two or three weeks to build, while some take just three days to be ready to fly. My drive is to make life much easier for mankind.
Do you plan to make drones in commercial quantities?
Yes, sometime in the future.
What support do you need to make this a reality?
I would appreciate it if I get support from the government – money for tools, equipment and real machines.
Apart from drones and automobiles, what else are you working on?
I have my secret projects which I have written and drawn down. They take time but they will be achieved. I have built several custom cars, aeroplanes, robots, ships, and some other things I have created myself in model size, of course.
How do you feel when talents like yours are hardly recognised in your country?
I feel really bad. I tried so many times and as hard as I could (to get help). (I have got) so many types of promises but I have never received any support from the government. As a student, I showcased several street flights in public to survive and to save money for my innovations.
What would you say prepared you for what you have been able to achieve at this age?
Belief in myself, hard work, and that spirit of not giving up easily.
When you are not working on machines, what do you like to do?
I like drawing and painting, flying drones and other aeroplanes I built, and I love reading as well.
How did the company in Finland find you?
It was via Facebook; that was how they reached out to me.
Can you describe your experience so far in Finland?
Finland is the best place I have ever been in my life. The living conditions are one thing I enjoy, apart from the cold weather, but with clothes, I have no problems. Compared to Nigeria, it was like I was saved from a deathtrap by the Finnish company (Rada oy Ltd.).
If you have a chance, do you plan to stay there or come back to Nigeria?
I would rather stay in Finland for the rest of my life than coming back to Nigeria; God forbid.
What were you doing before you left Nigeria?
I was building an unmanned aerial vehicle drone to help security agencies in the search for kidnappers in the forests in Edo State. I left Nigeria five days before the day I was supposed to launch it into the air. It is impossible (to launch it) right now because I took most of the sensors and important materials with me to Finland.
What does the Finnish company expect from you?
They expect all I can offer and learn from them.