The recent appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari of Alhaji Halilu Ahmad Shaba as the Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NSRDA) is a welcome development and must be commended by all.
The desire of President Buhari in making Nigeria the undisputable leader in the space programme in Africa can after all be achieved with the appointment of Shaba as its head. The director general, a professional, is renowned in the space field as a man who is a square peg in square hole.
As it is noticed by many and a fact, over the last decade since the creation of the agency, Nigeria seems to be relinquishing or has relinquished its leadership in certain field of the space programme in Africa to other countries.
Today, our country is being surpassed in various aspects in the space programme field because of the lack of vision in the national space leadership and this seems to have been nipped in the bud with the present leadership.
This leadership acknowledges that leadership cannot simply be proclaimed-it must be earned.The new director general is today reassesing its goals and objectives within the framework of the national space programmes and he is presently making the staff understand what it takes to maintain Nigeria’s leadership position as mandated by President Buhari.
This understanding will direct the selection of national objectives. The new director general believes that leadership does not mean that Nigeria must be pre-eminent in all areas and discipline of the space enterprise. In fact, the broad spectrum of space activities and the increasing number of space faring nations in Africa make it virtually impossible for any nation to dominate in all fields of space.
Being an effective leader demands, however, that this country should have capabilities to enable it act independently and impressively when and where it chooses. Its goals should be capable of inspiring others and that is the goal of the new director general of the agency.
He knows it is important for this country to move promptly to determine its priorities and make conscious choices to pursue its set objectives so that it will restore its leadership status. He believes leadership results from both the capabilities a country has acquired and the active demonstration of those capabilities and that is the aim of the new director general.
The director general who is a career professional is one of those who have committed their lives to the proposition that the exploration and development of space is a means by which we can build our civilisation that will last beyond our present limits of growth. Although past events were quite deplorable, the appointment of the present director general has now given it a hopeful futuristic feel.
This is because the new man at the helm of the National Space Research and Development Agency wants to entrench a new vision for the agency which takes into cognisance the principle in the entrepreneurship world that if you present a business plan to an investor that does not meet their criteria for funding, you do not get funded. The same principle applies to government funding with the government, National Assembly and the people filing the role of the investors, especially in this Buhari administration that is pro-business unusual.
The new director general wants to sell a business plan to the Nigerian people which will involve a result oriented proposal that is continually stage by stage convincing based on results for funding of our space programme by the Nigerian government and its people. This must be supported by all because it is a signal of a systemic departure from the past in our space programme and a pragmatic approach to the future thing.
The nation’ss space agency is at a transitional point and is facing a set of circumstances that it has not faced before. Its yearly budget is under considerable stress, servicing very expensive programmes, and a large, ageing infrastructure. There is no strong national compelling vision and that is what the new director general is out to change.
He intends to build a national concensus on the agency’s national compelling vision and mission.This will result in the agency’s distribution of resources which will be in sync with what it can achieve relative to what it has been asked to do by the Nigerian people.
The agency faces today, major challenges in nearly all of its endeavours – earth and space science, space flight and aeronautics. The agency, through the vision of the director general, would undertake new effort to procure commercial transportation in the space programme.
The NSRDA is ackowledged as the largest space programme in Africa with a workforce of more than 3,500 staff.The director general is doing the best he can to manage this workforce and at the same time execute his mandate. The major challenge facing the space exploration programme is lack of sufficient funding.The director general being an astute manager of men and resources has tremendiously managed this daunting challenge.
Shaba has proven time and time again that he is a man of integrity. He is a professionally minded person who believes in what he does at all time at the agency and does not allow his personal interest come in conflict with the national interest in anything he does. He is a man that is ready to go the extra mile to execute the mandate given by Mr President.
His reputation today is intact as the petition against him was quickly addressed before his inauguration by the president. Today, he is working assidiously to address the challenges of the space industry so that there would be no reason not to make it the best in Africa.
As Nigeria is regarded as running Africa’s largest space programe, it is important that all hands must be on deck to assist its present leadership in executing our national mandate in the space industry. We are indeed running an ambitious programme that will lead to the development of our country in all sectors of our national life. We as a people must see this space programme as a final big step in taking our country to its rightful place among the comity of nations. Our options are to support the leadership of the space agency.
Musawa was from Abuja via 08119563564