Delegates call for nuclear technology devt

By JOSEPH ERUNKE

FORMER Minister of Education and delegate to the National Conference, Professor Jubril Aminu, yesterday, described the moribund Ajaokuta Steel as a victim of economic hit-men, regretting that Nigeria made the mistake of giving the contract to Russians.

Contributing to debates on the report of the Conference Committee on Science and Technology, chaired by Dr Daniel Maddo, the elder statesman said: “Ajaokuta steel is a victim of the economic hit-men. We made the mistake of giving the contract to the Russians because they helped us during the war and the other powers were angry, hence they used some people to run it down. It is a grand conspiracy by international hit-men.”

Instead of iron and steel, most delegates, who contributed to the debates made case for the development of nuclear technology in Nigeria.
In the report, one of the key prayers was that adequate funding should be provided by government for development of nuclear technology.

Noting that Nigeria is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the committee regretted that the projection to generate nuclear electricity by 2017 has been shifted to 2020.
Delegates were of the opinion that utilisation and funding of nuclear technology are intensive because it is imperative in the modern world.

They agreed that the complexities involved in the development, management and maintenance of nuclear technology development were too complex for a country that is known for not conclusively implementing projects.

A delegate on the platform of the Civil Society Organisation, Nnimmo Bassey said a country that cannot manage her hydroelectricity technology should not attempt nuclear technology, which is more complex.
To this end, he suggested that “funds should not be channeled instead to the development of solar power and other alternative means of energy generation, if energy is the most important component.”

In his contribution, Professor Anya O. Anya lamented that Nigeria would continue to go in circles as long as the political will to develop science and technology is not there. Much more the unrepentant resolve to always channel ideas of national development through bureaucratic processes.

Anya said Nigeria has comparative advantage in the development of material science with all the materials and resources need for it are abundant in the country; “instead of steel, we should be talking of developing material science. With the use of plastic mixed with steel, aluminium, iron and other composite element, if properly moulded can be stronger than steel. But the political will has been lacking. The way we are going, we will not get anywhere as every innovation submitted for implementation is subjected to bureaucratic processes, where some are sent to a ministry or parastatal and they die there,” he said.

Also speaking, Atedo Peterside said building nuclear plant was far above the capacity of Nigeria to manage because the process is accident prone. “Nigeria cannot manage road accident talk less of nuclear science accident. For now, we have to drop the nuclear technology, if we must build, let’s build it at the fringes.”

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