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We’ll put additional satellites in space – FG

…As Senate demands reversal of wrong employment in NARSDA

By Stanley Iwuoha

The Federal government says it is now more determined put additional satellites in the orbit to enhance the realization of its developmental agenda for space technology.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu made the pledge at two day 2020 edition of Space Dialogue and National Media Conference on Space Science and Technology held at the Obasanjo Space Centre, Airport Road, Lugbe, with the theme: Potency of Space Dependent Technologies in Driving Good Governance and Eliminating Corruption in Post COVID-19 Era.

The Minister said the administration believes so much in the ability of science and technology in the Transformation of the Nigerian economy from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy and has proven same through the much needed supports rendered to the development of science and technology ministry and its agencies in the country since inception.

He said the administration has put five additional policies in place in the last five year and when implemented, especially the Executive Order No 005, Nigeria will achieve what China has achieved in shortest time.

‘‘We will make sure additional satellite are put in the orbit. I assure you that the ministry will continue to do the best it can to ensure that additional satellites are put in the orbit that will help in the direction the nation is going.

‘‘Without space science and technology, it will be very difficult for Nigeria to compete with the rest of the world. We should aim to be the best in the world and this is achievable. We are prepared to make NARSDA to compete with best space agencies in the world.

‘‘We have introduced five additional policies in the last five year and if implemented, especially the EO 005, Nigeria will achieve what China has achieved in short time.’’

Dr. Onu, who admitted that NARSDA made mistake in staff recruitment promised that the Ministry would ensure sanity in the agency for optimal delivery of its mandate.

‘‘I agreed to mistakes made by NARSDA in the recruitment of staff, but we are determined to correct the mistakes done in NARSDA.’’

In his goodwill message, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, SEn. Ajayi Boroffice, frowned at what he called wrong employment at NARSDA and called on the ICPC to thoroughly scrutinize the anomaly to enable the agency achieve its set goals.

Sen. Ajayi said it was wrong for such a sensitive agency to have 80% support staff as against 70% engineers and scientists that are needed to carry out researches and innovative studies in line with the

‘‘The space agency today is really the shadow of what we thought it would be. The reason is because we have wrong employment.

‘‘How can we be taking people with religious, Islamic studies in space centre? Space centre is means mixed staff application, employment. Where support staff constitute 80% of work force is wrong. We need engineers and scientists to constitute 70% of the workforce. But the reverse is the case.

‘‘I learnt that the ICPC is around, scrutinizing employment documents. It is sad to have 2 -2.5m staff. We have to reexamine ourselves, and sanitize the space agency, so that we can achieve the purpose for which it was set up.’’

He charged the Acting DG of the agency, Dr. Francis Chizea who he said was part of the dream of the agency at onset to pursue it with vigor and interpret it fruition.

‘‘I challenge you with dedicated staff to actualize the dream and mandate of the agency. We can re-orientate NARSDA to what it should be. Right now, I don’t think I am happy. The space agency has nosedive, the trajectory is disastrous. We have to get it right now.

‘‘I thank God we have a president that believe in science and technology. We have to keep pace to be in space.’’

He further challenged the staff of the agency to sit up and move the agency to where it should be, saying that 90% of human challenges can be solved in space if deployed.

The keynote speaker, Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh said the challenge facing the space agency does not lie in funding but in application.

He charged the Federal government to anticipate into the future by investing more in the space technology to be able create the needed job opportunities and wealth and also compete at the global space.

According to him, space technology holds the key to empowering the citizens and until government put the structure in place and build the culture, the benefits will continue to elude the country.

Ekeh further challenged the Federal government to earmark special fund for building cost effective satellites that would absorb many enterprising youths to become future billionaires.

Speaking on security, he chided the security agencies for relying on physical combat, insisting that the war against insecurity cannot be won by guns and bullets but by technology war fare.
The Zinox Chairma regretted that Nigeria is the country in the world where technology people are not the richest and posited that the only way for Nigeria to succeed in post-COVID era is to leverage space science and technology.

Earlier in his address, the Acting Director of NARSDA said that the dialogue was aimed at stimulating robust intellectual discourse on critical issues of national and global interests, particularly on the successful implementation of the Nigeria Space Agenda.

He informed that the agency now boast of seven activity centres of excellence and fix research laboratories located in various geo-political zones of the country for various important researches that affect all facets of human life and strategic to national development.

‘‘NARSA remains irrevocably committed to her resolve to deploy the capabilities of space science and technology for the improvement and betterment of the life of the ordinary Nigerian and for the greatness of the country.

‘‘It has become evident that the utilization of certain emerging technologies such as space dependent technologies provides the modern and basic approach to revolutionalise tee way in which operations are conducted at the local and national levels in our environment.’’

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