Stakeholders have again brainstormed to strengthen Nigeria’s quest to use Space Science Technology to address the socio-economic challenges that emerged in Nigeria following the devastations of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was the crux of the 2021 Annual Space Dialogue and National Media Conference on Space Science Technology and Innovation organized by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in Abuja yesterday.
Speaking on theme “Effective Utilization, Promotion and Reporting of Science Technology and Innovation in Post COVID-19 Era”, Minister of Science Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the Annual Space Dialogue is a clear demonstration of the NASRDA’s commitment towards the actualization of its goals and objectives particularly in the exploitation of space technology for the soci- economic development of Nigeria.
Onu, who was represented by the Minister of State for Science Technology and Innovation, Mohammed Abdullahi, noted that the Federal Government has taken a number of bold steps to demonstrate unequivocally strong commitment to the development and application of space science and technology as a veritable tool for development and cohesion.
“It is important to mention that the digital divide between the developed and developing nations is in the level of Science and digital development. Hence the Federal Government has decided to tap into the vision of space application as can be testified with the successes recorded in the field of space science and technology.
“I strongly believe that the policy document and programmes of the nation’s roadmap are capable of transforming Nigeria from the status of a consumer nation to an active participant in space technology and allied fields if vigorously pursued,” he said.
He called for synergy between the agency and the states to enable the sub- regional levels to exploit the technical capacities of NASRDA’s information and data to improve agriculture especially now that the nation is transforming from a resource base to a technology and knowledge based economy.
Director General of NASRDA, Dr. Halilu Ahmad Shaba in his welcome address, said the agency will continue to pursue feasible ways of realizing the Nigerian Space Agenda with keen focus on the attainment of the capabilities in Space Science Technology and Innovations for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
“NASRDA remains enduringly committed in her determination to fulfill her mandate, by deploying capacities in Space Science and Technology for the enhancement and realization of a better life for the ordinary Nigerian.
“NASRDA at establishment was saddled with the mandate to ‘pursue the development and application of space science and technology for the socio-economic benefit of the nation.’
“We are committed and on the right path to our 25-year roadmap as approved by the Federal Executive Council,” he noted.
He said further that the agency is training scientists not just in acquiring degrees and certificates but in acquiring knowledge that focuses on solving cutting edge problems for the overall socioeconomic development of the nation.
He also commended the media for their support even as he urged them to continue to propagate and promote the Nigerian Space Programme through effective reporting.
“All hands must be on deck and all skills and resources mobilized to combat the hydra-headed menace of COVID-19 and technology is the sure way to go,” Shaba added.
Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Oladele Bamidele Daji, who gave the keynote address, said although the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the global community, it also presented opportunities to mitigate the impacts.
“Such impacts could be mitigated by the application of solutions from space science, technology and innovation. This may demand that we carefully examine the purpose, design and execution of our space technology and innovations policies,” he said.
He said further that “addressing disruptions caused by the pandemic and the return to a better new normal requires that innovations, particularly digital technology, is perceived as a prerequisite for Nigeria to address its main developmental challenges such as poverty, limited access to health services, food insecurity, climate change and good governance.
“All these are components of human security that are essential for enhancing productivity, competitiveness and economic diversification.
“We must take advantage of all these in our quest to maximize space science, technology and innovations for the enhancement of human security in the PostCOVID-19 era” he said.
Highlight of the Dialogue was the conferment of the “Award of Space Ambassador” the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who became the first governor in Nigeria to bag the award from NASRDA.
Addressing newsmen, Governor Bagudu promised that he will do more for the development of agriculture in his state especially in the area of rice production.