President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to effectively utilise the satellite facilities at its disposal towards resolving the critical issues confronting Nigeria, particularly in the areas of security, improved communication, and digital penetration, as well as agriculture.
He gave the charge on Thursday at a meeting with members of the National Space Council of the agency at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The President expressed a renewed commitment to the space sector, describing it as the foundation of cybersecurity and a vibrant digital economy.
“No doubt Space is providing a new frontier for human development,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu.
He added, “As a stimulus for increased technological advancement and economic innovation, outer space offers a unique challenge and platform for effective exploration and exploitation of our natural resources and the protection of our environment.
“Moreover, space technology remains the foundation for cybersecurity and a vibrant digital economy.”
To this end, President Buhari directed the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to prepare and submit a revised 25-year roadmap for the implementation of the National Space Policy to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval.
He noted that there was a need to put in place the necessary infrastructure required for the actualisation of the goals and objectives of the nation’s space policy and programme.
The President urged the agency to engage in partnerships with other relevant stakeholders and the private sector to achieve its objectives.
He asked it to seek to explore useful collaboration with the private sector on how to best commercialise some of its output in furtherance of the government’s objectives.
“The present administration is committed to developing our society by engaging relevant human resources for the socio-economic improvement of our nation.
“We shall be steadfast in providing the required support towards the success of the space programme, as well as relevant resources needed for its growth and successful realisation of the mandates of the nation’s space agency.”
While commending NARSDA for the satellites already launched, the President charged its CEO, Dr Halilu Shaba, to do more.
“I am very proud of the strides we have achieved with the launch of NigeriaSat-1, NigeriaSat-2, Nigcomsat-1R, and NigeriaSat-X. Of tremendous interest to me is NigeriaSat-X which was designed and built to flight standards by our engineers and scientist.
“I expect you to drive your team towards the attainment of these goals which deepens your relevance in our national construct while inspiring millions of our youth to explore the opportunities in this field,” he told Shaba.
The NASRDA chief, on his part, updated the meeting on the status of the NigeriaSat-2 and the progress made on building and launching of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (Nigeria SAR-1), and on Optical Earth Observation Satellite (NigeriaSat-3).
He called for intensified funding of the agency’s activities in order to achieve the set objectives and gave a detailed briefing on NASRDA’s support to the military in the fight against terrorism.