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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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Labour Of Our Heroes Won’t Go In Vain,’ Govs Celebrate Armed Forces Remembrance Day

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Governors across states of the Federation have joined in the celebration of 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

The Federal Government had earlier ordered the closure of parts of the roads accessing the arcade of the federal secretariat complexes and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja to mark the event in the Federal Capital Territory.

In the South-West, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde at the event held on Saturday at the Remembrance Arcade, Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, promised to keep encouraging and working closely with members of the armed forces and the survivors of the fallen heroes

He commended the officers and men of the security agencies for their efforts in battling insecurity in the state, urging them to continue to do their best to ensure that peace reigns in the state and the country at large.

Governor Seyi Makinde

“For Nigerians, some people made sacrifices for us to be where we are right now and also paid the ultimate price.

“So, I believe we should not allow their toil to go in vain,” the governor said.


In Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, it was a solemn moment as the state governor, Dapo Abiodun joined other dignitaries which include the heads of security agencies, traditional rulers to lay the wreath in remembrance of the Nation’s fallen heroes at the arcade ground in the state capital.

The 21-gun salute was also shot in memory of the fallen heroes and the supreme price they had paid for the unity and peace of the country.

Governor Dapo Abiodun

 

The governor who also inspected the parades and the colour party called on Nigerians to sustain the quest for unity, peace and progress of the country, for socio-economic development and progress.


In the Eastern region, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi led other members of the state executive council to the event held at the Unity Square in the state capital.

Security Agencies represented at the event include the Nigerian Army; the Nigeria Police Force; the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); and the Nigeria Immigration.

Governor David Umahi

The Nigerian Legion Ebonyi State chapter at the event called on both the state and Federal Government to make available enhanced welfare packages as well as provision of job opportunities to the children of servicemen and women who have paid the supreme price defending the country.


Also in Imo State, resident joined their counterparts in other parts of the country to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.

The event which took place at the Ndubuisi Kanu square in Owerri, the Imo state capital, witnessed match past by the armed forces and security operatives as well as the presence of top government functionaries in Imo State.

Governor Hope Uzodimma

Delivering his speech, Governor Hope Uzodimma asked Nigerians to take the opportunity of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration to reflect more on the meaning and importance of sacrifice as it affects the interest of the Nation.

He described the military as the noblest and patriotic profession.

In the South-South, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa represented by his deputy Kingsley Otuaro led top military and para-military officers to lay wreaths at the statue of the unknown soldier.

The event was held at the cenotaph where the governor inspected the guard of honour mounted by the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce and members of the Nigerian Legion.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

 

A minute silence was observed while a 21-gun salute was taken in honour of the departed heroes.

Some widows of the fallen heroes also used the opportunity to ask the Federal and State Government to look into their plight and provide support for them to be able to fend for themselves and their families.

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in his address held in Benin, the state capital said unguarded talks about Nigeria’s unity will cost lives and the efforts of fallen heroes would have been in vain.

Governor Godwin Obaseki

 

He also disclosed plans to include wives of the fallen heroes in the state’s welfare programmes, adding that some of the legionnaires have already been integrated into the security architecture of the state.


In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel called on Nigerians to embrace dialogue in resolving thorny issues in the country.

Governor Udom Emmanuel

 

The governor said most of the circumstances that caused bloodshed in the country’s history would have been settled peacefully if the key players embraced dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In Kwara State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq urged Nigerians to continue to provide information to the military in order to end the insecurity in the country while also urging the country to appreciate the sacrifices being made to keep the country together.

He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in enhancing their welfare.


Meanwhile, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appealed to the Federal Government to sustain the payment of pension and gratuity to retired military personnel.

While laying a wreath at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Sokoto, he said this will enable the retired personnel to live well and take care of their needs and it will also serve as an encouragement to the serving personnel to do more in the service of the nation.

He said their services in unquantifiable in ensuring the unity of the nation by laying their lives for the service of the nation.

However, Katsina State Government restated commitment to restore peace and normalcy in the state with several strategies, approaches and mechanisms been introduced by the state to eradicate terrorism in the state.

Governor Aminu Masari during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Katsina Peoples’ Square said the relative peace currently being enjoined in the state is due to the dedication, competence and discipline of the troops and other sister security agencies.

He commended the army for the untiring sacrifice towards securing the lives and property of Katsina citizens.


In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello said the security agencies should remain resolute to end the security challenges in the country.

Bello disclosed this at the 2022 Nigeria Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Permanent Cenotaph, Minna.

He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in enhancing their welfare.


Meanwhile, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appealed to the Federal Government to sustain the payment of pension and gratuity to retired military personnel.

While laying a wreath at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Sokoto, he said this will enable the retired personnel to live well and take care of their needs and it will also serve as an encouragement to the serving personnel to do more in the service of the nation.

He said their services in unquantifiable in ensuring the unity of the nation by laying their lives for the service of the nation.

However, Katsina State Government restated commitment to restore peace and normalcy in the state with several strategies, approaches and mechanisms been introduced by the state to eradicate terrorism in the state.

Governor Aminu Masari during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Katsina Peoples’ Square said the relative peace currently being enjoined in the state is due to the dedication, competence and discipline of the troops and other sister security agencies.

He commended the army for the untiring sacrifice towards securing the lives and property of Katsina citizens.


In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello said the security agencies should remain resolute to end the security challenges in the country.

Bello disclosed this at the 2022 Nigeria Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Permanent Cenotaph, Minna.

He commended the men of Nigeria Armed Forces and other security agencies for protecting the lives of the people especially in dealing with insurgency and criminal elements, urging them not to relent.

The governor urged them to continue to protect the integrity of the nation, promising the support of the state government towards ending the insecurity.

“My call is on the military to remain resolute. Today is a special day where we come to remember our fallen heroes that have lost their lives in wars and in the course of their assignments”, he said.

Highlights of the event were the release of pigeons as a symbol of peace, exchange of pleasantries with the widows of the fallen heroes and members of the legions as well as the inspection of the guard of honour by the Governor.

Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku in his address urged the Nigeria Army to sustain the momentum against insecurity and ensure that peace reigns across the country.

He said his administration will not relent in supporting the military and other security agencies to ensure that criminal elements are wiped out of the state, as well as avert the recurring herders, farmers clashes and communal crisis.

The governor, who was was represented by his Deputy Haruna Manu assured of prioritising the needs of ex-servicemen and fallen heroes families.

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Former Oyo State Governor, Alao-Akala Passes On

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Otunba Adebayo Christopher Alao-Akala, a former Governor of Oyo State, is dead.

Details of his death are sketchy but sources close to the politician confirmed the tragic incident to SunriseNigeria.

The politician, who had been battling terminal ailment for a while, died in his Ogbomoso country home, on Wednesday morning, according to sources.

A top source in the All Progressives Congress (APC) who confirmed his death to Daily Trust on Wednesday morning, said he died in his room.

“It is true that Oga is dead. He died in the early hours of Wednesday in his room in Ogbomoso. He was full of life last night. In fact, I head he was playing with his children before he went to bed. We are in a mourning mood now,” he said.

Akala was the governor of the state between 2007 and 2011.

Born on June 3, 1950, at Ogbomoso in the Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Alao-Akala had his elementary school at Osupa Baptist Day School, Ogbomoso before proceeding to Kamina Barracks Middle School, 5th Battalion of Infantry in Tamale, Ghana.

This is the third known death of a prominent Ogbomosho native in a month.

On December 12, 2021, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, the Soun of Ogbomoso, passed on.

On January 8, 2022, Prof Taibat Danmole, his daughter who was a lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU), also died.

The deceased, who was a professor of education was married to another university don, Prof. Hakeem Danmole, who is the Dean College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin

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Former Nigerian Leader, Ernest Shonekan Dies, Aged 85

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Ernest Shonekan

Chief Ernest Shonekan who headed the Interim National Government that succeeded the junta of General Ibrahim Babangida, has died.Shonekan died in Lagos at the age of 85.

He was the interim head of the Nigerian Government between August 26 and November 17 1993 when he was ousted in a coup led by late General Sani Abacha.

 

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