President Muhammadu Buhari has said the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) is the only government agency saddled with the core mandate to build and launch satellites for various applications in Nigeria.
He made this clarification at the National Space Council (NSC) meeting at the State House, Abuja, saying the development of space science and technology, particularly the launch of earth observation, communication and navigation satellites remains the core mandate of the nation’s premier space agency.
The president who also doubles as the chairman of the Nigeria Space Council directed all stakeholders in the space sector to strictly abide by the regulatory framework provided by the law establishing the National Space Research and Development Agency, popularly known as NASRDA Act 2010.
He commended the efforts of NASRDA in taking giant strides in the field of space science and technology in Africa, adding the agency had shown pivotal role in its deployment of expertise in the design, building and launch of Nigeria SAT -1, Nigeria SAT – 2, Nigcomsat -1R and most importantly, the Nigeria Sat – X which was designed and built to flight standard by Nigerian engineers and scientists.
According to him, space technology provides a new frontier for human development as a stimulant for increased technological advancement and economic innovation which offers a unique platform for effective exploration and exploitation of natural resources as well as the protection of our environment.
Buhari expressed his commitment to the space sector, describing it as the foundation for cyber security and a vibrant digital economy which is at the forefront of progress and development across the globe.
He further pledged the support of his government towards the success of the space programme, particularly in the provision of relevant resources needed for the growth and ultimate realization of the various mandates of the Nigeria Space Agency.
The president also directed the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonanya Onu to as a matter of urgent attention, prepare and submit to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval “a revised 25-year roadmap” for the implementation of the National Space Policy.
In his contribution, Onu said space science and technology is critical to nation building and has direct impact on all sectors of the economy, even as he applauded the role NASRDA has played in the development of space science and technology which according to him is the catalyst for promotion of meaningful development and attainment of societal transformation.
He further stressed the need for the space agency to collaborate with relevant stakeholders for the actualization of its agenda which seeks to promote the development of space capabilities that address the urgent needs of Nigerians.
The minister also pledged his support for the agency especially in the area of effective policy formulation and implementation in line with its mandate at ensuring that both human and material resources are mobilized to realize its basic objectives for the overall benefits of Nigerians.
In his presentation on the current status of Nigeria SAT-2, the NASRDA director-general, Dr. Halilu Shaba, described it as still functioning effectively and supplying relevant data despite the need for its replacement as it has exceeded its designed lifespan in orbit.
The NASRDA boss informed the meeting about the progress made on building and launching of two very important satellites which are the Synthetic Aperture Radar (Nigeria SAR -1) and an optical earth observation satellite (NigeriaSat-3) that would go a long way in providing relevant data on mapping and geospatial information for decision makers in addressing issues of urgent national importance like security and economy.
Shaba appealed for intensified funding of the agency’s activities in order to actualize the set objectives for the technological advancement of the country.
He also gave a detailed briefing on the agency’s support to the Nigerian armed forces especially in their fight against terrorists, and the provision of digital support for agriculture and population activities, as well as the distribution of infrastructure and projects monitoring.
A statement by the agency’s head of media and corporate communications, Dr. Felix Ale, said the National Space Council oversees the activities of the National Space Agency especially in the areas of policy development, national security and international space policy matters. It has the president and the vice president as chairman and vice chairman respectively with the NASRDA director-general as secretary and other members.