By Chinenyeh Ozor
The National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, otherwise known as the Centre for Basic Space Science, CBSS, Nsukka, has been described as one of the government agencies that has distinguished itself in technological advancement both local and internationally for the development of the country.
The rating was given by the International Astronomical Union, IAU, during the first Nigeria Space Science and Astronomy/Forum held at Ascot hotels in Enugu, which featured conferment of awards to eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in the public and private sectors as well as tertiary institutions to sustain rapid growth in science and technological research in the country.
Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who was represented at the occasion by the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Greg Nnaji, said while declaring the forum open that the event was all about promotion of technological advancement, adding that the state would continue to partner with the Federal Government to achieve the most rapid technological advancement possible in the country.
Ugwanyi commended the CBSS for winning the West African Astronomy Regional laurel, and expressed optimism that the centre would make a breakthrough in the onerous task to place Nigeria on the world map of leading nations in research and astronomy.
In an opening remark, the Chairman of the occasion, Senator Chuka Utazi who represents Enugu North Senatorial District in the National Assembly said that he had personal interest in space science research and education for the advancement of future generations, pointing out that no country can move forward without research and technology.
Utazi who represented both the Deputy Senate President, DSP, Ike Ekweremadu, and other federal lawmakers on at occasion noted that adequate measures had been put in place at the National Assembly to place Nigeria on the world map going by the laurel won by Prof Mrs Frank Okeke as the fifth best agronomist in the world, adding that any further breakthrough in research by the agency would be showcased locally and internationally.
In his welcome address, the Director of the Centre, Prof Fidelix Opara, noted that the primary aim of the centre was to initiate, foster growth of basic space research and astronomy in the country, in collaboration with other NASRDA, network of international partners, Nigerian Universities as well as other government research institutes.
He further said that the educational projects efforts at outreach for the centre in the region included corporate organisation and schools like, St Cyprian Girls Secondary School, Nsukka, Premier Secondary School, Ukehe, Special Science Secondary School, Nsukka as well as the Department of Physics, UNN, explaining that the programme centred activities of teachers and their students at the instance and mandate of the centre.
Opara, however pointed out breakthroughs can be achieved not only with the collaboration of government owned institutions, but also with private organisations and individuals that have passion for such.
In his own contribution, the Obi of Onitsha, Anambra State, Igwe Alfred Achebe expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for initiating the establishment of the research centre in the region and asked public and private sectors, corporate bodies to partner with it to enable it actualise its visions and mission in the country.
Achebe then urged researchers at the centre and other institutes to always update the public on climate change in order to boost the economy of the country particularly in agriculture.
The West African Astronomy Regional team includes, Dr Patrice Okouma (Gabon), Dr Eric Aggrey (Ghana), Dr Zaka Kam (Burkinafaso), Dr Zaka Komenan Zachane (Ivory Coast) and Dr Kevin Govender (Director OAD, South Africa).
Award recipients of the centre include the deputy senate president, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Delta state, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Senator Ali Ndume, Sir Emmanuel Mbaka, MD/CEO Platinum Mortgage Bank and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Achebe. Highlights of the occasion included exhibition of scientific sensory devices.