Security challenges: NASRDA, NSE, space engineers seek deployment of space assets

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By Ijeoma Olorunfemi

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers (NISEng) have called for the deployment of space assets to address the security challenges in the country.

They made the call at the hybrid 7th annual lecture and 6th conferment of fellowship awards organised by the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers (NISEng) in Abuja.

The event was in honour of retired Brig.-Gen. Michael Agu, the pioneer chairman of NISEng in recognition of his contributions and achievements towards the growth of space engineering in Nigeria.

The lecture had the theme “Repositioning Nigeria’s Space Infrastructure as a Critical Dual-Use Asset for National Security: Government-Industry Imperatives.”

Dr Halilu Shaba, Director General of NASRDA, said the country needed high-resolution satellites that would pinpoint hotspots of insecurity activities.

Represented by Dr Sadiq Umar, Director, Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD), Shaba also said the country had lots of ungoverned areas where insecurity was thriving.

“We have broadband connectivity, Direct-to-home connectivity, it means we should communicate assets and our remote sensing facilities to curtail these security challenges.

“Nigeria Sat X is a remote sensing satellite with low resolution. We are thinking of high-resolution imagers that can pinpoint where problems are and solve them.

“You can pinpoint using like 0.5 to 1 metre resolution and we don’t have a space asset that is of that resolution.

“We are working in collaboration with relevant agencies and the Presidency to acquire a high-resolution satellite that can pinpoint, show where problems are and give us pre-knowledge, movement of bandits and terrorist.’’

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He added that the country also required a Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite that could see through the clouds even at night.

According to him, without security, the country cannot grow; there will be food insecurity and a lot of challenges.

The President, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Engr. Tasiu Gidaari, while declaring the event open, said there were lots of issues bedeviling the nation.

Gidaari said that top on the list was infrastructure deficit that crippled development, among other issues.

“As engineers we are encouraged to continually engage in Research and Development (R&D) and seeking technologically driven innovative ways to solve our problems.

“The NSE is at the forefront of innovation, we have launched the Smart Innovation hub of the NSE, so avail yourself to be part of R&D and commercialisation of research works,” he said.

Shaba, in a virtual lecture on the theme, said space-based communication systems such as satellites enabled, secured and ensured real-time communication for military forces, government agencies and emergency responders.

He enumerated that space assets ensured weather forecasting, environmental monitoring, secure data transmission, cybersecurity, among other importance.

He highlighted that the Nigerian space asset had been instrumental to monitoring disasters like flood, oil spillage, forest fires, managing post-disaster recovery, among other goods.

Shaba recommended that there should be strategic planning and investment, space diplomacy, collaborative framework, international cooperation, risk management and contingency planning to boost use of space asset.

Dr Umar Abdullahi, National Chairman of NISEng, said that the annual lecture had always been a time to reflect on the remarkable journey, legacy set by Gen. Agu.

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Abdullahi explained that space had become an important part of the national security apparatus.

He said that the use of space assets for communication, weather forecasting, surveillance and navigation, were all necessary for safeguarding the nation.

According to him, it is important we recognise this dual-use potential and harness it for national growth.

“Let us remember that our actions and decisions in the realm of space engineering have far-reaching implications for our nation’s security, prosperity and well-being.

“Let us strive to make Nigeria a spacefaring nation, not just for the advantage of science and engineering but also for national growth,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the annual lecture holds concurrently with the World Space Week between Oct. 4 and Oct. 10.

It is usually celebrated in recognition of the first artificial satellite Sputnik into orbit in 1957. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani

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