So it’s been a little while I did a chronicle that wasn’t school and learning related, and that’s due to the fact I’ve gotten to that point where I’m pleading with God for extra hours at the end of the day…. It’s also because there’s too much happening! From Nigeria to Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe to Egypt, to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Japan, it’s almost impossible to keep up!
Anyways, I’m back, and repeating my promise to give you something to engage with every week, and I’ll keep that promise; at least I’m not promising 50,000 posts in one day!
On to the business of the day; I’ve wanted to run interviews on this blog for a while because despite all the ‘sad’ things around us, there are young people who are doing exceptionally brilliant stuff! Especially the ones that if you’re not told of, you’d likely miss.
The idea for the first interview came about a week ago, when I was researching facts for an article that would show the impact social media has had/is having on politics in Nigeria and I stumbled on ‘Nigerian Constitution App for Blackberry’, developed by a Nigerian, Zubair Abubakar.
Zubair Abubakar, fine boy abi? Brains too!
I found him on Twitter, asked for an interview, and below is an hour’s worth of our discussion, reproduced as taken off Gtalk!
FGS: hey, good evening!
FGS: good evening…… Nice day?
ZUBAIR: good evening ma, yes, I had a nice day. You?
FGS: yes, I’ve had fun, especially since I finished a report I’ve been trying to write since Wednesday
ZUBAIR: ah, great!
FGS: yup! So basically, I wanted to do this interview because as part of my research on Social Media and Nigerian politics I stumbled on @techloy’s site, and I saw your work
ZUBAIR: oh ok…..
FGS: And I believe that it’s a platform for people to get to know you, and the work that you do…and it’ll help our knowledge base so that our arguments and requests from government are backed with a knowledge of what we are entitled to..
ZUBAIR: ok, sure!
FGS: great, thank you. Let’s start with, what is the one thing you hate?
ZUBAIR: WOW, I love so many things, I cant even pick one thing that I hate…but I would say dishonesty from people and people trying to take advantage of others.
FGS: Ok, we’ll pick through your answer but please tell me three things you love, since you said you love ‘so many things’
ZUBAIR: I love to impact in peoples lives
FGS: that’s one…
ZUBAIR: I love reading and learning basically
FGS: that’s 2a and 2b
ZUBAIR: I love God
FGS: three! Ok, back to the things you hate, have you ever felt someone was taking advantage of you? Tell me (us) about it..
ZUBAIR: yea couple of times;well a typical example is the way Nigerian leaders rule over us without caring about be accountable to us(me)
FGS: Isn’t that a function of their knowledge of the fact that we didn’t care? I say ‘didn’t’ because we do now…
ZUBAIR: Well, exactly!
FGS: Why would you say then that they ‘took advantage’ of you, since you agreed with me that they had a reason to?
ZUBAIR: well, in the moral sense, because you have a reason or power to take advantage of someone doesn’t make it okay to do so!
FGS: Agreed…. Forgive my manners, I forgot I didn’t ask who you are, and what you do…
ZUBAIR: LOL, I guess you already know that
FGS: No(insert smiling smiley)
ZUBAIR: I am a web/mobile application developer, a TED fellow, a volunteer amongst other things.I currently work with connectnigeria.com as a lead developer
FGS: Wow….And your name is? I know your twitter handle is @zubairabubakar
ZUBAIR: you can get more here: http://www.ted.com/profiles/9272, http://www.facebook.com/zabubakar,zubairabubakar.com,
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/zubair-abubakar/3/329/935. Zubair Abubakar is my full name
FGS: Have you always been a ‘techie’? By that I mean is it something you’ve always had a flair/skill for, or you studied and acquired it?
ZUBAIR: yes I have always been a techie, but my studies helped a great deal to develop the skills
FGS: What/where was school?
ZUBAIR: I first did a diploma in Information Systems Management at APTECH Computer Education, Lagos,then a BSc. Computer Science at Ashesi University Ghana
FGS: How long have you been building apps?
ZUBAIR: web apps or mobile?
ZUBAIR: since 2003, so that’s roughly about 8yrs!
FGS: Wow….what’s the first app you developed? (web and/or mobile). By the way, I was in first year for the greater part of 2003
ZUBAIR: oh really! Well, it was a web app, a diploma project, where customers can create accounts, deposit(virtually), check their account balance
FGS: neat…Can we digress a bit? How do virtual deposits happen? I can understand online transfers, deposits via ATM’s et al but I don’t really get virtual deposits, and I’ve been too lazy to google it!
ZUBAIR: a simple implementation could be the use of recharge cards
ZUBAIR: so a website may sell the recharge cards and ask users to buy a card of certain value (say N5000) and then load the value of the card into his/her account on the website
FGS: oh ok…
ZUBAIR: then the account reads that he/she has N5000 on the website and can use it to buy stuff or transfer to another user
FGS: Nice….is it in use now? The app?
FGS: Zubair? (he was gone for like 8 minutes)
ZUBAIR: hey sorry for the break in transmission…thanks to NEPA.. lol
FGS: that’s fine; one of the reasons we’re all going out to vote next month abi?
ZUBAIR: exactly! And no, the app is not in use
FGS: Did you register in February ?
ZUBAIR: no; in January, why?
FGS: January I beg your pardon… DO you have your voters card?
FGS: Ok, I would have been very worried if you didn’t! That would have been one less vote…. What was the experience like? Easy, difficult?
ZUBAIR: well ok, could have been way better
FGS: ok, that’s what everyone thinks… What prompted the Nigerian constitution for BB app? And don’t worry, we’ll be talking about things other than work in a bit…
ZUBAIR: lol its ok. Well I was learning how to develop for blackberry phones at the time so I thought about what app I could develop to make an impact and coincidentally, I was lazily reading the constitution then
ZUBAIR: and then it occurred to me that Nigerians don’t read or don’t even have access to the constitution; what if I developed an app that would let them read it on their phones……and that was it!
This is what the app looks like, get familiar!!
FGS: neat!!! Now to the stuff that sells papers…how old are you?
ZUBAIR: lol, 27
FGS: ok, back to the app. Has it been successful, how popular is it?
ZUBAIR: well, I would say yes, I has been downloaded 15,000+ times, here you go
http://mobileappsnigeria.com/nigerianconstitution/ (that’s the link to download it guys)
FGS: wow…that’s a lot of downloads! @techloy did a little analysis of the amount of money you would have made if you sold the app
ZUBAIR: it has also set a record of most downloaded app in Nigeria within 72hr – 10,000 downloads
FGS: Yes, I am aware of that…kudos!!!
ZUBAIR: yep, I know right! Thanks; a big thanks to social media
FGS: How are you publicizing the app, because there are currently more than 80 million Nigerians using mobile phones; placing this app in the hands of even a tenth of that number would be great.
ZUBAIR: my plan exactly; so far its has been, bb broadcast, facebook posts, twitter, and blog posts
FGS: ok, nice. When you are building apps, what do you do?
ZUBAIR: do you mean when I am NOT building apps?
FGS: yes, excuse me
ZUBAIR: ok, well couple of things, reading, volunteering, sports, hang out with friends
FGS: Any ‘special’ friend?
ZUBAIR: LOL, wife you mean?
FGS: whatever…wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, cat, dog, you choose….
ZUBAIR:LOL, not really, I’m mostly a loner
FGS: are you lending credence to the saying that techies are ‘loners’?
ZUBAIR: yep to some extent
FGS:You’re not even trying to deny it! Anyways, my final three questions (and I must thank you for being a sport), what’s your favourite childhood memory?
ZUBAIR: lol, you are welcome
FGS: what’s your favourite childhood memory?
ZUBAIR: I’ve had couple, I think I first time on a plane would be the one
FGS: What’s your favourite meal?
ZUBAIR: tuwo rice with fresh fish stew
FGS: who’s your most favourite person in the world?
ZUBAIR: dead or alive?
FGS: You choose
me: thank you very much!!!
And that my dear friends, is Zubair, and the end of the interview (and this chronicle)… Feel free to talk to him on Twitter, he’s an easy, approachable fella, and please download the app, and forward the link! Knowledge of the law will enable us lead more productive lives, and ensure that no one tramples on our rights. Thank me later!