… donates personal collections to NASRDA

… as NASRDA partners AUST on award of higher degrees on space science

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Governor General of Canada and world-renowned astronaut, Julie Payette says Nigeria must continue to operate her own communication and Remote Sensing satellites to be able to share relevant data to solve problems.

Governor General of Canada and world-renowned astronaut, Julie Payette with President Muhammadu Buhari during her visit

Payette gave the advice at the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA in Abuja on Monday during the tour of her state visit to Nigeria.
She proposed the operation of both Communication and remote sensing satellite in Nigeria to enable the country gather data and share information about any natural disaster that may occur in the country with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problem.

According to the Canadian astronaut, the operation of such satellites allows for an opening for collaboration where the needs of Nigeria can be placed at the centre where all other communities working together would assist her in tackling her challenges.

‘‘By having a communication satellite and remote sensing capabilities in Nigeria opens a lot of door to a lot of collaboration. If there is a remote sensing demand on the ground because of the flood or natural disaster, every nation that has remote sensing satellite will provide data, whoever has satellite at the time will now provide the data so that the authorities will use that data to tackle the disaster. Nigeria is in that group.

‘‘And that allows for an opening for collaboration where the needs of Nigeria can be placed at the centre where all the communities are working together, because all are working for one thing, using technology to do a better job right here on the ground. That is why it is important. In spite of that, there is a whole lot of development inherent. There are lots of works on the ground but having the proper data from space has the capability of providing help solution to problems on the ground.

‘‘One of the most important thing is that when you have a project, it inspires the young generation to study science and technology, become engineers and professionals.’’

Payette, who is the 29th Governor General of Canada and first Canadian to board the international Space Station said she was in Nigeria to witness a partnership that dates back to many decades and to support many projects initiated by Canadian government and companies in Nigeria.

‘‘We are here in Nigeria to witness a partnership that dates back to many decades. We also here to support many projects of our mission here in Nigeria. We have particular emphasis in innovation and technology.’’

In his remarks, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the visit will not only help science and technology grow in Nigeria but would also help the younger ones study science and technology in schools.

Onu, who described Payette as a great woman that conquered the earth through knowledge said Nigeria’s space programme is progressively advancing to the expected end.

“Our space programme is progressing satisfactorily. I am very proud about the work NASRDA has done over two decades of its existence”,

While reiterating federal government’s commitment to sending Nigerians to the moon, he said the administration had commenced the implementation of the master plan and reversed roadmap.

‘‘As a government, we are committed to space research and development. We will ensure that Master Plan for NASRDA. That master Plan includes having Nigerians in space is something we will pursue vigorously because we know that through space science and technology we will be in a position to have positive impact on so many aspect of our economy, whether it is in communication, environment, defense, health and education.

And by the size of our country, space is important to us, having the largest population and largest market in Africa. It is important to join the rest of humanity to explore space now and so much is needed to be known about space. Through Space research and development, so many important discoveries have been made.

‘‘Little is known about space now and so much is needed to be known about space because we have seen that through space research and development, over the years, so many important discoveries like mobile phone have come into use. As a nation, we cannot afford not to participate fully in the space exploration.’’

On Cooperation with Canada, Onu said ‘‘we have been cooperating with so many countries, including Canada in the area of space research and development for many years. There are many of their equipment we use in the space centre. We will like to continue in that collaboration. Canada has been a very good friend of Nigeria and we want to share in that relationship. We want to deepen that relationship and partnership.’’

While thanking the Governor General for donation of some of her collections, the minister said the donation was significant because the items were personal to her and that make it special.

‘‘She is one of the few world leaders that have been in the space and for her to decide to come and share some of her collections, while in space is significant. For us here in Nigeria, it is significant, not only from the point of view of the position she is holding but for the relationship between Nigeria and Canada. Her presence here helped us to encourage the young ones to see a role model. There is nothing as important as a role model vising to encourage the young ones. You can imagine how many families that have been touched.’’

‘‘We have since come to the realization that what is more important to us now is to make sure that we build a human capital. We want to be sure that we have the expertise that is needed to do virtually everything because we have Nigerians everywhere in the world doing great things,’’ he added.

The minister further disclosed that NASRDA has entered into a partnership with African Science and Technology University here in Abuja to be able to award higher
degrees, Masters and PhD in space science and technology.

‘‘NASRDA has entered into a partnership with African Science and Technology University here in Abuja to be able to award higher degrees, Masters and PhD in space science and technology.

‘‘This is something we will be making public shortly. We have revised the Roadmap because we believe that once we have the man power and resources. We will be able to reach our destination.’’

Highlight of the visit was the presentation of her personal collections from the space, which includes: Training Model of the Canadian used by all astronauts in preparation for their work in space; Photo of her wearing the Patch of her second mission to space on international space station; photo of Julie with other members of the crew of STS-096 of her first mission to space among others.

Earlier, the Canadian Governor and her delegation met with teams of graduate students at the master’s and doctorate levels and teachers who presented the findings of their cutting-edge research. She also delivered remarks where she described her own career path and the importance of science and innovation.

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