Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has nominated Dr Ahmad Shaba Halilu as substantive Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA. The nomination letter to the Senate dated 25 February, 2021 was read in the Senate plenary of 9 March, 2021 by Dr Ahmad Lawan, Nigerian Senate President.
In it, President Buhari wrote: “Pursuant to Sections 14(1) and (2) of the National Space Research and Development Agency Act 2010, I present for confirmation by the Senate the appointment of Mr Halilu Ahmad Shaba as Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency…”
Dr Halilu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria (1988); a Masters in Remote Sensing from Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria (1993) and a doctorate from same university also in Remote Sensing (1999). He worked briefly in National Population Commission and lectured in Federal University of Technology, Minna, from 2001 to 2006 before moving to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, as Deputy Director from 2006 to 2009. He joined NASRDA as Director, Strategic Space Applications in 2009.
The position of Director General, NASRDA, became vacant after the two terms of Prof Seidu Mohammed as Director General ended in June, 2019.
NASRDA on 2 July, 2019 announced that Mr Jonathan Angulu is Acting Director General and will oversee a smooth transition. Mr Angulu handed over to Dr Halilu on 26 July, 2019 to continue as Acting Director General. However, on 29 July, 2019 the Federal Government of Nigeria reversed it citing “violation of civil service regulations and (which) amounted to an infraction of regulatory policies” and re-instated Mr Angulu. On 15 May, 2020 following the retirement of Mr Angulu, the most senior Director in NASRDA, Dr Francis Chizea, was appointed Acting Director General, as required by the Public Service Rules, by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. He has remained in that position till this appointment of Dr Halilu as substantive Director General by President Buhari.
If confirmed by the Senate, Dr Ahmad Halilu will be the third Director General of NASRDA. The first was Professor Robert Ajayi Borroffice and the second was Professor Sheidu Mohammed. NASRDA was created in May, 1999 as a Research and Development agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology with a mandate to pursue the development and application of space science and technology for the social and economic benefit of Nigeria.
Obiechina Obba is an Analyst with Space in Africa. He has been a Science journalist since 1989. and was Science Correspondent with NTA, Africa’s largest television network, for 19 years. He rose to become NTA Network News Producer from 1996 to 2008. He is an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Nigeria; and also has certificates in Science Programmes from DW Akademie, Berlin, Germany; as well as in Voice Training from FRCN, Lagos, and in Editorial Writing and Analysis from the University of Ibadan among others. He was the only Nigerian journalist to cover the launch of NigeriaSat-1, Nigeria’s first national satellite, live, in Pletsesk, Siberia, Russia, on 27 September 2003. His 164-page book, NigeriaSat-1 the Full Story, on that, was assessed by National Universities Commission, NUC, and placed in libraries of all government-owned universities in Nigeria. In 2008, he moved on to head the Information Office of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, NNRA, till 2012.
An award winner of “Outstanding Corps Member” in his NYSC service year of 1983/84 in Rivers State, he is a member, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ; and Associate Member, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, ANIPR.