The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has listed certain disciplines that are indispensable to tackling challenges of food security, regional integration, population matters, environmental protection and sustainable socioeconomic development, and are essential ingredients for enduring democracy. He made the list at the 50th anniversary celebration of the African Regional Institute for Geospatial Information Science and Technology (AFRIGIST) situated at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. First Representative of the Nigerian Government on the AFRIGIST Governing Council doubling as the Surveyor General of the Federation (SGoF), Surv. Abudulganiyu Adeyemi Adebomehin stood in for the minister at the occasion.
These disciplines among others according to him include the specialized fields of Geospatial Information Science and Technology integrating Photogrammetry and Remote-Sensing, Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Cartography which their importance cannot be overemphasized.
Fashola revealed that the activities of the Institute has positively impacted on member-states and Nigeria’s efforts towards addressing problems of agricultural production, monitoring and protection of the environment, exploration and exploitation of oil and solid minerals, population census determination and the prediction and possible control of natural disasters such as desertification, drought, floods, erosion among many more. “AFRIGIST trains manpower for many Government Organizations in Nigeria including the Survey Department of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, the National Population Commission, National Planning Commission, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) of Nigeria, the Universities and Polytechnics in the modern technologies of photogrammetry, remote-sensing, Geographic Information Science and Cartography”, he says.
While noting that AFRIGIST has so far offered trainings to nationals of close to 27 African Countries in short-term courses and at technician, technologist and postgraduate levels in various geospatial fields he said the Institute in its portfolio of innovative geospatial information science and technology has achieved much in the past 50 years. According to him, it was in realization of its essential role in critical manpower development and capacity building in the interest of Africa that spurred the unalloyed commitment of the Nigerian Government to the development of various infrastructures such as the new administrative complex, health centre and staff residential quarters in the Institute.
He expressed appreciation to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), the governments of other member-states of AFRIGIST, donors and development partners for their invaluable contributions in making the Institute a centre of excellence.
In his speech, the Representative of the Ghanaian Government on AFRIGIST Governing Council, Surv. Naa Abukari, who spoke on behalf of the chairman of members of the council disclosed that the Institute formerly known as Regional Centre for Technology and Aerospace Science (RECTAS) has been a foremost actor in matters of geospatial information science and technology in Africa since its establishment in 1972under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Surv. Abukari thanked the FGN for what he called, its ‘enormous support’ to the Institute. He also commended other countries that have been supportive.
While welcoming the guests, the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr. Akingbade Adewale Olusola expressed deep appreciation to the FGN for funding the new administrative complex and the health centre facility that were commissioned.
At the commissioning of the health centre, Dr. Olusola appealed to the FGN for the provision of an equipped ambulance to complement outside and within services of the centre.
Highlight of the celebration was the public presentation of 2 books, “Land Administration Reform in Africa: Lesson from Southwestern Nigeria” and “Geospatial Sciences, Environmental Management and Security in Africa”.
In his review of the former, the Dean of Academics, AFRIGIST, Prof. Joseph Oluko said the authors thoroughly evaluated the pilot implementation of the Systematic Land Titling and Registration (SLTR) project carried out by the Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform (PTCLR) with the support of Growth and Employment in the States project (GEMS3) of the Department for International Development (DID). The latter book according to Prof. Oluko focused on various research works around the environment, resource management, disaster management, health and security.
He recommended the books for use by policymakers, political leaders, lecturers and students engaged in researches.
Abu, I. Michael
Head of Press and Public Relations, OSGoF