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PROFILE : Prof P. N. Okeke (Space Scientist & Professor of Physics)

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If you ever took a course in high school Physics in Nigeria, then the name P.N. Okeke must sound very familiar. P.N. Okeke has become a household name for every high school kid doing physics, so much that the same way Einstein is often used synonymously for “genius”, P.N. Okeke is used in place of “physics”. Well, the full name is Pius Nwankwo Okeke, and he is the Author of the arguably the most popular Physics Textbook (Senior Secondary Physics) in Nigeria. Of course, the book’s popularity is a consequence of how the author explained the science concepts in it; some folks claim that even a janitor can think of discovering new laws of physics after exhausting its content.

Brief History

P.N. Okeke was born on the 30th of October, 1941. He felt, once upon a time, that his dreams of becoming a scientist would not see the stages of reality—that world-crashing-down kind of feeling common among young dreamers growing into adolescence. He attended a primary school in Oraukwu where he did very well in Mathematics, but poorly in almost every other subject. Do you remember who had a similar story? Yes, Einstein! And like Einstein, he simply was not interested. He moved to Washington memorial Grammar school in 1957- 1962, a private secondary school where he had no opportunity to offer physics and chemistry because of his past record.

Eventually, P.N. Okeke moved to Lagos and attended Emergency Science School Lagos where he did all the science subjects at O’Level GCE and then A’Level GCE; he had a distinction in Pure and Applied Mathematics and Physics. He was offered admission to study Physics in 1965 at the University of Lagos, Nigeria.

He emerged with the most outstanding results in the Faculty of Sciences. He won a scholarship from his faculty as a result that would cover his education to PhD level, anywhere in the world!

You could call it the waves of providence, but P.N. Okeke eventually ended up completing his B.Sc at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Or to be less mysterious, the Civil War necessitated his move to the East to finish his studies, disrupting his gloriously laid career map, creating another one in the process. He graduated with a second class upper degree in 1971, and was appointed a Junior Research Fellow of the University of Nigeria in 1972.

Achievements

He continued his studies at the University of Nigeria, and earned his PhD degree in 1975; he was the first person to do this at the time. Under the supervision of the very distinguished Astronomer Professor M.J. Rees, he carried out his Postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1979. He rose to the rank of a professor and leader of the Space Research Centre University of Nigeria in 1989 and also tackled many problems in Astronomy and collaborated with researchers worldwide to become a distinguished international scholar.

P.N. Okeke has a lot of international awards to his name, and some of them are:

Senior Research Fellow National Astronomical Observatory, Tokyo, Japan 1993
Visiting Scientist, University of Tuebingen, Germany 1995
Visiting Professor South African Astronomical Observatory 1996
Visiting Scientist Harvard Smithsonian Centre USA, 1997
External Board Member, South African National Science Foundation 1994-2000
Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society, London
Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Science
Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Physics
Fellow of Planetary and Radio Science
Fellow of IAA
United Nations Consultant in Space Science in Africa
In the course of his dedicated research, he made the following outstanding discoveries:

Discovery of a new eclipsing cataclysmic variable;
Prediction of observational consequences of a mini black hole;
Proposed a Nuclear Beam Model in Radio Sources.
Contributed immensely in Astrophysical Spectral Research,
Conducted massive postgraduate training for Nigerian Space Science scholars using facilities at home and abroad
Prof. P.N. Okeke is the African recipient of the UN/NASA award in 2007 for his tremendous contributions in the development of Astronomy in Africa.
At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. P.N. Okeke has never failed to prove his soundness in administrative roles.

With over 6 Professors heading Space Research programs in other Universities, 25 PhDs, 30 MSCs, and 75% of Nigerian Astronomers linked to him, P.N Okeke has engraved his name upon the stones of posterity. About 3/4 of Astronomers in Nigeria are the products of Prof. Okeke.

Prof. Okeke directed the NASRDA Centre for Basic Space Science (CBSS), and with the help of the Chinese, set up its permanent site at Nsukka that is now one of the largest Radio Telescope in Africa. The Centre has been recently upgraded to African Regional Centre for Space Weather Research. Through the efforts of P. N. Okeke, CBSS has entered into collaborative research with over 20 universities and several research institutes including the National Meteorological Agency, (NIMET). And today, excellent successes are being recorded in the areas of Atmospheric Science and Astronomy throughout the country.

Prof. Okeke successfully set up a network of twenty automatic weather stations operating through wireless telemetry for monitoring Nigerian Climate, as well as, for studying Radio Propagation in Nigeria. He signed MOUs with several countries for various research programs for which over 50 scientists from Nigeria have received training. Some of these institutions are:

National Astronomical Observatory(NAO), Japan,
South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town,
HartRAO Observatory, S. Africa,
Harvard Smithsonian Centre, USA,
University of Delaware, USA,
Altteche Technology, China. And
Urumqi Radio Astronomy Observatory, China.
P.N. Okeke, who is now an Emeritus Professor at the University of Nigeria, has written over a dozen books on Physics and Astronomy, ranging from secondary school to university level. And these books are best sellers in Nigeria and some other African countries. His accomplishments, asides from the fact that they would impress even the most critical of souls, are a compass to guide our generation as we collectively work to changing the world.

Credit: Clare Modupe Odia

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Man punches nurse in the face multiple times after his wife is vaccinated for Covid

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Police are looking for a man in Canada they say punched a nurse in the face multiple times, knocking her to the ground after she administered a Covid-19 vaccine to his wife without his permission.

On Monday, around 9:15 a.m., a man walked into a Brunet Pharmacy in Sherbrooke, a city in southern Quebec, and accused a nurse in her 40s, who police have not named, of vaccinating his wife, Sherbrooke Police spokesman Martin Carrier told CNN.

“Right at the beginning, the suspect was very angry, very aggressive, he asked the nurse why she vaccinated his wife without approval, without his consent,” Carrier said. “And he punched her right in the face multiple times so the nurse didn’t have the time to defend or explain herself … and she fell to the ground and the suspect left running out of the drugstore.”

There are no laws in Canada that say individuals need their spouses’ permission to get vaccinated, and it is unclear if his wife had given consent.

The nurse was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance where she was treated for the “multiple injuries to the face” he said.

As a result of the incident, the pharmacy told CNN partner, CBC, that they suspended vaccinations. CNN reached out to the pharmacy but they refused to comment on whether or not vaccinations were being administered Thursday.

Brunet Pharmacy’s parent company, The Jean Coutu Group Inc., also declined to comment but told CNN they “fully condemn this act which is unacceptable towards the pharmacy teams who have been providing essential services since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Canada has vaccinated 69.8% of its population, surpassing the US by 15.6%, according to data from Our World in Data, seen in CNN’s vaccine tracker.

Although most Canadians have welcomed public health measures and the country has one of the highest vaccination rates worldwide, case counts and hospitalizations are on the rise, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, especially among younger, unvaccinated Canadians.

Police do not have a name or photo of the suspect or security footage of the incident, Carrier said. They do however have a description of the man and are hoping with the public’s help, they’ll be able to identify him and charge him with assault.

The suspect is described as, 30 to 45-year-old-man, 6-feet tall, medium build with darker skin, short brown hair, thick eyebrows, two small ear piercings on each ear and a tattoo on his hand that appeared to be in the shape of a cross, Carrier said

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NPA vows to upgrade country’s maritime hub status

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Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

In a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos by NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Olaseni Alakija, Bello-Koko disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun,  at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of directors.

The theme of the retreat was “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence.”

He noted that investments in modern deep seaports would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

The statement said Bello-Koko disclosed that a lot had been done, especially in the last few months, to resolve most of the identified constraints to the efficient movement of cargoes to and from ports.

Such efforts, he said, were in line with the new direction and measures being put in place to actualise NPA’s aspirations,

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 per cent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement.

“This was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat with the theme ‘To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa,” he said.

The statement said the acting managing director described the board retreat as very timely, as it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision.

According to him, the vision is one in which the executive management works closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate and embraces an all-inclusive strategic outcome for the organisation with the requisite buy-in of the board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the board with regards to the executive management’s limitations in actualising some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat,” he added.

The NPA boss informed the board that recent interventions made by the authority had led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.

He, however, explained that some of the benchmarks which were yet to be achieved were dependent on “externalities and variables” that required concerted inter-agency actions.

He said that NPA, despite dogged efforts, has yet to optimally achieve the said benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and red-tape.

He enumerated the constraints as conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the ports and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplications of functions.

He informed the board that concerted efforts were being made to expand NPA’s revenue streams, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.

According to him, unlike the practice in sister Francophone countries where government funds the dredging of ports, the NPA was responsible for funding its.

This, he said, has put a lot of strains on its resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.

“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at the Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar Ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.

“With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities.

“There is then the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings,” he stated.

Bello-Koko explained that the authority was blessed with prime real estates which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.

“NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones.

* Apapa Wharf

“They are mostly allocated but burdened by poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the authority and the Federal Government.

“Management will need the support of the board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualise the lofty aspirations of the authority,” he said.

The Acting MD also disclosed that management had opened correspondence with some multilateral financial institutions such as the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp).

He explained that these were all part of plans to access long term low interest credits for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

“In making the Nigerian seaports more business friendly, we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor.

“A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.

“The authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lily Pond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.

“The trucks would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform and the authority is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system, he said.

He added that other solutions being implemented was the push to link all seaports to the national rail network, as well as optimise the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Bello-Koko said that currently the authority was streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

He said that the Bonny Seaport project in Rivers, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South-South and South-Eastern regions.

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BREAKING: Former CBN Deputy Governor Obadiah Mailafia Dies at 64

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A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, has passed on at the age of 64.

Mailafia, who was a columnist with The PUNCH was said to have died at midnight after a brief illness.

The former deputy governor, who was the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the 2019 election, was a known government critic and had advocated for public sector and exchange rate reforms.

Mailafia was born on December 24, 1956, in the Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

He later graduated top of his class at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1978 with a First Class B.Sc.Honours Social Sciences degree (Politics, Economics, and Sociology). He also has an M.Sc. from the same institution.

He subsequently won a French Government Scholarship to France, where he earned a Certificate in French Language and Civilisation from the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1985.

Mailafia later proceeded to the United Kingdom as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholar at Oriel College, earning a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 1995.

He joined partisan politics in 2018 amid the rising killings in Southern Kaduna.

Despite losing, he remained an ardent government critic and got into trouble with the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when he alleged that a northern governor was a Boko Haram commander.

This earned multiple invitations by the Nigeria Police Force, forcing him to recant his statement.

In his last interview with The PUNCH, Mailafia said the refusal of the CBN to sell foreign exchange to bureau de change operators may not yield the expected result because corrupt bankers would frustrate it while the BDC operators were being shielded by a “Jigawa cabal”.

He had also lamented that Nigeria was operating a “dollarised” economy which was hampering economic growth.

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