Let me start with thanking my good friend Engr. Brig. Gen M.O Agu (retd) who recommended me for the respected position of Special Guest of Honour for this occasion to the National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers, Dr. Sadiq Umar, MNSE and his Exco members.
I met Engr. Brig. Gen M.O Agu (retd) many years ago in Maiduguri when he was performing high level military duties and keeping Borno State really safe and actually the ‘home of peace’. Those were the good old days. I have been a member of the Nigerian Army Officers’ Mess in Maiduguri for many years. So, I know that good military officers and good engineers do not forget good friends. Since I knew Engr. Brig. Gen M.O Agu (retd) well, I give him ‘A’ as a patriotic military officer and also ‘A’ as passionate professional engineer. My dear good friend, Engr. Brig. Gen M.O Agu, I am very pleased to be here today to honour you on the occasion of the 3rd edition of this lecture organized by the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers.
It is not at all surprising that Gen M.O Agu, FNSE was the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers. It was formerly known as the Space Engineering Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. As space engineering and technology is now highly specialized field in its own right, it’s good that it is given due recognition as Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers.
Coming to Engr Gen Agu’s interest in the promotion of Space Engineering Technology in our great country, Nigeria, that is by no means unusual. In the military all over the world, they have the Engineering Corps and also the Signal Corps. They were responsible for the enormous engineering and communications functions of the military. They have very good professional engineers in addition to their military training. Former President Obasanjo after whom the Obasanjo Space Center is named and General Kontagora were excellent commanders of the Engineering Corps. And former Senate President, David Mark, of Signal Corps.
In the military, they undertake a lot of Research & Development, (R& D) in science, engineering & technology. So, they develop and use all sorts of advanced technology in-house and top secret. The GSM is a good example. The Global System of Mobile Communication was actually developed and deployed by the U.S military connecting/covering all their bases around the world for their exclusive top-secret use. But in the 1990’s, former U.S President, Bill Clinton, declassified it for commercial/civilian use as the U.S military might have, by then, already developed and deployed more advanced communication system for their use.
That is how we, civilians, many years after the U.S military had been using it, got the Satellite TV we are now using: CNN, BBC, NTA, AIT, Channels, Aljazeera & so on all over the world. I, therefore, urge Nigerian Government and private sector operators to put many of the top class military engineers like Engr. Brig. Gen M.O Agu, (retd) to good use because they have capacity to add value.
From the time God created man and put man on planet earth, mankind has been progressing incrementally through the use and application of scientific knowledge and, of course, common sense plus the guidance, teachings and wisdom of the Prophets sent by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe to mankind. All and every knowledge and technology are derived from God, the Almighty and All-Knowing. He is the Originator, the Creator, the Sustainer and the First Cause. So, there is no discrimination by God, our Creator, in the distribution/dissemination of all types of knowledge and technology to the different races of human beings on our planet earth.
Again, it’s important to emphasize that every knowledge and technology is good. Explosives can be used for good or bad purposes. In the construction industry, they use it for good purposes – to blast rocks to construct highways. But it the same explosives suicide bombers use to kill or destroy fellow human beings. The same atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing thousands of people can also be used for energy generation. In France, about 70% or so of their electricity supply comes from atomic energy. So the real essence and utility of knowledge and technology is in its use/application to satisfy human needs – that is comfortable, secure, peacefully co-existing, free from hunger, poverty, ill health and illiteracy on our planet earth and within the domain of God’s universe.
Our planet earth, we must know, constitutes a very, very tiny portion of God’s universe and domain. Some of the stars within billions of galaxies are more than 100 light years apart. For us on planet earth, the whole universe is infinity. Does that mean we on earth should just mind our own business? No, we should continue to study and improve/increase our knowledge and understanding of the universe using our God given intelligence/intellect, scientific, engineering and technological know-how so that we can increase our ‘imani’ (faith in God) and fear Him for He is Almighty and All-Knowing, the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe and He Alone Has power over everything in the universe. Our fear of God should be in recognition of the Power of God, power of God that is also reflected in the enormous size and order of the whole universe which He Created and is Sustaining. This is the reason why the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers will be champions in the coming space age civilization.
From time immemorial, mankind has been watching the stars, sun and the moon with naked eyes in the beginning. But as mankind continues to acquire more and more scientific and technological knowledge, the interest of human beings in what happens in the rest of the universe also increased considerably.
Accordingly, the importance of remote sensing started to grow when late President J.F Kennedy of the U.S announced a program to land American man on the moon, giving a time scale. He went ahead to establish an implementation agency for the landing of man on the moon. That was how the world famous engineering, scientific and technological agency called National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) came into being. The objective of landing man on the moon was achieved on schedule some fifty (50) years ago. Since then, the Agency called (NASA) has become a kind of incubator for all sorts of scientific, engineering and various technologies and expertise for space exploration. Also remote sensing techniques & equipment have become more available. To properly monitor and study our planet earth and the rest of the universe, a very sophisticated observatory fully occupied by multinational astronauts was designed and manufactured and put in orbit high above the earth, our planet. It is called International Space Station. It’s like huge satellite orbiting the earth – locating and tracking hurricanes, torpedoes, storms, ocean currents, atmospheric activities above the earth etc., and also recording & transmitting data of various types within the Milky Way and other galaxies across the universe. Also extra ordinary and important scientific, technological, astronomical researches are carried out on the ISS. It’s my belief that in the decades to come, our own members of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers will fully participate in the soon to come space age activities and make Nigeria proud. May the Lord do it for us, (Amin)!
The members of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers are really very important in respect of the security, progress and prosperity of our country. This is because remote sensing subject matter of today’s lecture is among the multi-purpose available techniques and technology which can easily be deployed and used for the on-going counter insurgency operations by the military. Also, the Nigeria Customs and Nigeria immigration can effectively use remote sensing techniques to check smuggling activities across our porous borders and also curtail illegal immigrants coming into our country to further undermine the already problematic security situation. All over the world, relevant authorities are successfully using such technologies. The Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers should start aggressive advocacy on this matter.
In conclusion, for us in Nigeria, it’s not really enough to acquire knowledge, technology and special skills. What we seem to lack or ignore is the capacity and willingness to use or apply this available or acquired knowledge, technology or special skills to solve the multitude of our national, sub-national and existential problems and crises. They say the end justify the means, at least some times. The ends or results we want in our country are peace, unity, security of lives & property, employment and prosperity for large majority of our people. No effort or resources should be spared to achieve these ends.
And this is the function or duty of leadership at all levels in both the public and private sectors of our dear country. Knowledge, technology or special skills not used or applied for solving/addressing national problems and satisfying needs of the people is just and unfortunately wasted. So, we appeal to all our leaders at all levels in both the public and private sectors to create the necessary opportunities and conditions for those who have acquired or gotten the necessary scientific, technological knowledge & skills to be engaged so that they can contribute meaningfully to our economic and social development. The members of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers who are really multi-talented deserve to be gainfully employed.
My dear guests, members of the Nigerian Institution of Space Engineers and members of the Nigerian media, thank you for your attention and patience!