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Mixed reactions as govt plans to send first Nigerian to space

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There have been mixed reactions following an announcement that the Nigerian government is planning to send a Nigerian to space in the shortest possible future.

The announcement was made by the Director-General of National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA), Dr Matthew Adepoju, after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a U.S firm, Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), on Human Space Flight programme.

Adepoju, who signed the MoU on behalf of the Federal Government in Abuja on Wednesday, said the agreement was aimed at sending the first Nigerian to space.

Adepoju noted that the event marked the commencement of the agency’s efforts to implement part of its mandate of human space flight, as the agency is committed and determined to ensure a Nigerian is sent to space.

“The Human Space Flight programme is one of the cardinal objectives of National Space Policy and Programme.

“It was with this in mind that we established the Department of Physical and Life Sciences about three years ago to forge this mandate.

“This is also coming as one of our deep space exploration because there are many spinoffs that will come from the collaboration and opportunities opened for Nigerians,’’ the DG said.

Also speaking on the plans, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji, said the human space flight was a key objective of Nigeria fully supported by the President Bola Tinubu Tinubu administration.

Nnaji said the National Space Policy and Programme (NSPP) which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2001, identified human space flight as one of its three pillars.

“Human spaceflight is not just a random aspiration of our country but a major objective of the Nigeria Space Policy and Programme which was approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, in 2001.

“Reviving and implementing all abandoned national plans is a cardinal point of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the administration of President Bola Tinubu. This partnership provides a way of achieving our long-time aspiration as a nation.

“This is also coming as one of our deep space explorations because there are many spinoffs that will come from the collaboration and opportunities opened for Nigerians.

“According to the 25-year roadmap approved in 2005 for the implementation of the NSPP, our first human space flight was scheduled for 2018.

“This means we are about six years behind schedule,” Nnaji said.

However, the plans have been eliciting mixed reactions from Nigerians since it was made public.

While some Nigerians have applauded the government on the move, others believe it should not be a priority as ordinary citizens are going through harrowing experiences as poverty and hardship continues to bite hard.

Those with the latter school of thought are urging the government to prioritise the welfare of the citizens instead of embarking on an audacious task of sending a Nigerian to space.

Metro

Over 10 million people displaced by Sudan war— IOM

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that as the world’s worst displacement crisis worsens in Sudan, almost 10 million, which is about 20% of the country’s population, have been forced from their homes since the conflict there started.

This is the most recent alarming estimate from the nation in East Africa, which has been destroyed by fighting that started in April 2023. The majority of the nation, around 50 million people, are now in need of humanitarian help and half of them are experiencing starvation as a result of the war.

According to a bimonthly report from the IOM, since the start of the conflict, over 2.2 million people have fled to foreign nations and about 7.8 million have sought safety within the nation. Previous conflicts in the country have already resulted in the displacement of an additional 2.8 million people.

When fighting broke out between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital city of Khartoum last year, it soon spread to the west throughout Darfur, with the RSF seizing control of most of the major cities.

Some UN experts have argued that the main cause of migration from Darfur—where it is impossible to provide aid—is now hunger rather than conflict.

“All refugees I met said the reason why they fled Sudan was hunger,” said World Health Organisation country director Dr. Shible Sahbani to reporters after visiting refugees from Darfur, the source of half of the displaced population, in Chad.

“A woman who just reached Adré reported that all food they used to produce locally in Darfur was taken by the fighters,” he added.

More than 150,000 people were displaced from Sennar state as the RSF extended its reach in the southeast of the nation in recent weeks, according to the IOM. Many of these individuals were relocated for the second or third time following RSF attacks on houses and marketplaces in the state’s minor towns and villages.

The RSF blames the activities of rogue actors and disputes that it has harmed civilians.

RSF forces have conducted incursions in Gedaref state, home to 668,000 people who are facing heavy rains and no shelter. This state is currently hosting a large number of displaced persons.

Human Rights Watch issued a warning last week about the risk of the RSF expanding into the Gedaref for the 40,000 Ethiopian refugees, most of whom are Tigrayans, who are alleged by the RSF to be fighting alongside the army.

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Nigerian govt to spend N3tn on new minimum wage, pensions, gratuities— Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, on Friday, disclosed that the Federal Government would spend N3 trillion on the new minimum wage as well on payment of pensions and gratuities.

The minister made the disclosure during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Appropriations chaired by Olamilekan Adeola, while presenting the general principles of the newly amended 2024 budget to the committee at the meeting.

During the meeting with the Committee, Bagudu highlighted that the new budget additions would not be funded by loans but by an already reserved profit.

He further explained that priorities were given to projects that would open up roads for investments and emergencies, while other road projects would be addressed in subsequent batches.

He also stated that the country’s historical underinvestment in infrastructure was a root cause of recent problems and commended President Bola Tinubu for addressing the infrastructure deficit.

Bagudu told the Committee that the recurrent budget of N3tn will fund the minimum wage, pensions, and gratuities, while the capital component of N3.2tn will augment existing road projects on state and federal routes, including coastal roads, the Sokoto-Badagry road, railway construction, and dam irrigation.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had on Thursday, accepted the N70,000 minimum wage proposed by Tinubu, saying it was an act of solidarity.

The union, in a statement signed by its National President, Joe Ajaero, at the end of its National Executive Council meeting, affirmed that the NLC would continue to defend the rights of Nigerian workers at all times.

“NEC-in-session concluded that this decision, though challenging and far from our initial demand, was made in the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice for the Nigerian masses to avert a threatened further hike in the price of petrol, which would inflict more hardship on the already suffering masses.

“Once again, NEC-in-session restates the commitment of the NLC to continue standing resolutely in its mission to defend and advance the rights of Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people at all times.

“It therefore calls on all Nigerians to unite in this cause and to hold our leaders accountable to the same standards of sacrifice and service.”

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