Prof. Babatunde Rabiu, the director and chief executive officer of the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education-English (ARCSSTEE), has earned a reputation as a visionary scientist and leader beyond compare.
His groundbreaking research activities in the field of ionospheric physics, space weather and solar-terrestrial interactions and solar energy development have made him a globally sought-after scholar. In Nigeria, he established the first geophysical observation, consisting of a network of ground-based space observatories with facilities such as magnetometers, digisondes, ionospheric GNSS monitors and optical imagers which have helped mitigate disruptions caused by space weather and solar-terrestrial interactions.
Rabiu’s unwavering dedication to knowledge production for human development has made him a beacon of brilliance and a true luminary in his stride even in an elite sphere of knowledge. In 2012, he was elected as the pioneering president of the African Geophysical Society (AGS) and, in 2020, became the first African to be appointed as a board director of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
His selfless contributions to Africa’s development are incalculable. He serves as the African coordinator of the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI) and has facilitated research donations and capital-intensive ultramodern equipment to accelerate Africa’s development.
Throughout his career, Rabiu has mentored many students and professionals, nudging them to transcend success and attain significance. His guidance steers emerging space scientists and technologists toward the stars. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, India; a visiting associate professor at the solar-terrestrial environment laboratory of Nagoya University, Japan; an adjunct professor at the International Centre for Space Weather Science and Education (ICSWSE), Kyushu University, Japan and a Senior Associate of the UNESCO-funded Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy.
As the director/CEO of the Centre for Atmospheric Research (CAR), Anyigba, Rabiu demonstrated his unwavering patriotism by staying back in Nigeria for patriotic considerations despite receiving a more lucrative international appointment.
He established a team of avid learners-turned-leaders to develop in-country expertise for operating, processing and analysing space weather processes, ensuring that Nigeria becomes a leading provider of innovative solutions for space weather, solar-terrestrial interactions and solar energy.
Rabiu’s ethical approach to physics for human development is salutary. During his inaugural lecture at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) in 2015, titled: “Terrestrials and Extraterrestrials: Divine Nexus for Man’s Comfort,” he underpinned the intersection between physics and music, highlighting the ethical vision of the uses of physics.
The dynamics of space weather and solar-terrestrial interactions could cause disruptions to satellites, communication systems, and power grids, which could have untold socioeconomic and political effects if experts do not tackle them proactively. Hence, Rabiu has provided knowledge-based leadership that enables Nigeria to lessen the negative effects of space weather and boost the resilience of critical space infrastructure.
In conclusion, Rabiu’s outstanding intellectual contributions aimed at improving human conditions, coupled with his well-burnished reputation as a visionary scientist and a master at the helm, keep lifting him to higher pedestals of responsibilities, influence, and honours.
He is a leader without borders and his achievements attest to the fact that Nigerians cannot be relegated to the margin in competitive, knowledge-driven systems or merit-based hubs of innovative development. He is a true inspiration to the younger generation and a source of pride to Africa.
Osamwonyi Omozuwa & Bola Abdurahim. Omozuwa is the head of admin, Advanced Aircraft Engineering Laboatory while Abdurahim is the chief scientific officer, African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education-English.