•As country mulls trip to the space
By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Governor General of Canada and world renowned astronaut, Julie Payette says Nigeria must continue to operate her own communications and Remote Sensing satellites to be able to share relevant data that can help solve some intricate problems.
Payette gave the advice at the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, in Abuja, recently, during 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 where all other communities working together would assist her in tackling her challenges.
She said, “having a communication satellite and remote sensing capabilities in Nigeria opens doors to a lot of collaborations. If there is a remote sensing demand on 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.
She said that although there are lots of works on ground, but having the proper data from space has the capability of providing solutions to problems.
“One of the most important thing is that when you have a project like that, it inspires the young generation to study science and technology and eventually become engineers and professionals.”
In his remarks, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu admitted that the visit may not only help science and technology grow in Nigeria but could also help the younger ones study science and technology in schools.
Onu, who described Payette as a great woman of knowledge promised that Nigeria’s space programme will progressively advance to the expected end.
“Our space programme is progressing satisfactorily. I am very proud of the work NASRDA has done over two decades of its existence.
“As a government, we are committed to space research and development. We will ensure a master plan for NASRDA which includes having Nigerians in the space. It is a vision 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, be it in communications, environment, defence, health or education.
“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. Through Space research and development, so many important discoveries have been made,” he said.
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Onu also revealed that “Nigeria has been cooperating with so many countries, including Canada in the area of space research and development. We will like to continue in that collaboration. Canada has been a very good friend of Nigeria and we want to deepen that relationship and partnership.”
Highlight of the visit was the presentation of her personal collections from the space; 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; among other items 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.