By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
Two Research Fellows at Ahmadu Bello University’s Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) have been granted ‘Temporary Reactor Operator Licences’ as Operator Class ‘C’ of a Miniature Neutron Source Research Reactor (NIRR – 1) by Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA).
Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority is a Federal Government agency responsible for regulatory oversight of all nuclear and other ionizing radiation applications in the country.
A statement from the Public Affairs Directorate of the Ahmadu Bello University stated that the two Research Fellows are Engr. Safiya Aliyu and Ms. Nana Fatima Abdulmalik. Both are believed to be the first female nuclear researchers qualified to be granted such licences in Nigeria.
The licences were issued under the hand and seal of the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Dr Yau Usman Idris. All the two licences were issued on 25th July, 2022.
The award of the reactor operator licences was in line with Sections 6 (c) and 29 (c) of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act, and in compliance with the global best practice with regard to gender inclusion in the nuclear industry.
The Operator Class ‘C’of a Miniature Neutron Source Research Reactor (NIRR – 1) has as specifications “a tank – in – pool type research reactor of minimal power 34KW and design specifications as contained and approved in NNRA/NIRR -1/10 and NNRA/NIRR -1/07 and at the site described in and approved in NNRA/NIRR – 1/01.”
According to Terms and Conditions of the Licence, the licensee being a trainee reactor operator is authorized to assist a Class ‘A’ licensee in the operation of the Nigerian Research Reactor -1 (NIRR – 1), and the licensee is not authorized to operate NIRR -1.
The licences, copied the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, will expire on 31st December , 2022, and is subject to renewal three months prior to expiration pursuant to Section 23 (2) of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act.
A letter notifying the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Kabiru Bala, of the development, the Director, Centre for Energy Research and Training, Prof S A Jonah, said the feat attained by the two female staff of the Centre was “worth mentioning and celebrating”.
While congratulating the Vice-Chancellor on the success, Prof Jonah described the feat as “a landmark in the development of nuclear science and technology in Ahmadu Bello University in particular, and the country as a whole.”
Born in Zaria, Kaduna State, on 28th September, 1982, Engr. Safiya Aliyu joined the services of the Centre as Assistant Research Fellow in September, 2010 after her graduation (B. Eng – Electrical – Upper Second Class Division) from Department of Electrical Engineering, Bayero University, Kano in 2008.
She obtained an MSc degree in Control Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University in 2018, and she is currently pursuing a PhD program in Control Engineering at Ahmadu Bello University.
Engr. Safiya Aliyu is now a Research Fellow II and Trainee Reactor Operator at the Centre.
Ms. Nana Fatima Abdulmalik was born in Bauchi, Bauchi State on 22nd October, 1988, and joined the services of Ahmadu Bello University on 6th September, 2017 and was deployed to Centre for Energy Research and Training.
She graduated and holds B. Sc, Geology (Upper Second Class Division) and M.Sc, Structural Geology, all from Ahmadu Bello University in 2011 and 2016 respectively.
Ms Nana Fatima, who is now a Research Fellow II at the Centre, is presently pursing a PhD program on Structural Geology at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.