Cheering news came the way of the dormant Central Instruments Laboratory on Friday, April 7, 2017, following an eagerly anticipated pledge of huge financial infusion by the leader of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Technical Cooperation Expert Mission to the University, Professor Aboubaka Ramadan.
Also to benefit from the IAEA largesse is the Department of Physics, which will receive the necessary accessories that would make the existing Gama-Spec equipment functional to facilitate quality research, especially for graduate students, who currently travel far distances to carry out such experiments. Additionally, the Acting Head of the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, Dr. Aline Noutcha, will benefit from a project on Insect Sterilisation to be facilitated by the IAEA Technical Expert Mission.
Breaking the good news at a well-attended farewell dinner given by the University in their honour at Helena Hotel, opposite the Institute of Petroleum Studies Park, Head of Mission and Director of Siting and Environmental Department at the National Centre for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control, Egypt, Professor Ramadan, pledged a whopping 880,000 Euros towards resuscitating the Central Instruments Laboratory (CIL) aimed at lifting research in the Faculty of Science.
Not done yet, Professor Ramadan announced yet another 58,000 Euros investment at the Centre for Marine Pollution Monitoring and Seafood Safety headed by Professor Francis Sikoki to enable it expand the scope of its research activities. Also, the Managing Director of an indigenous research firm, Giolee Global Resources, Mr. Lesi Maol, announced that students from the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology and Faculty of Science would be welcomed to make use of his company’s laboratory located at No 18, Uyo Street, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt.
Accompanied by the Director of Nuclear Safety and Security Department at the National Centre for Nuclear Science and Technologies in Tunisia, Professor Nafaa Reguigui and Mr. Reouane Boudjenoun of the Centre for Nuclear Research in the Department of Atomic Energy in Algeria, the leader of the Expert Mission, expressed satisfaction with the reception and co-operation received from their UniPort counterparts during the working visit.
“We have travelled to 22 different countries on the African continent on this type of mission and I want to confess that we have not seen such level of support and enthusiasm among our various hosts. It shows that scholars in this University take scientific research very seriously and I can assure you of our support to enable you succeed in safeguarding marine and seafood resources in Nigeria,” Professor Reguigui said at the dinner reception.
The three-member team had conducted training workshops for staff of the Centre and also participated in the Faculty of Science Research Seminar Series that took place on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
Earlier at a courtesy visit on the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, at the Committee Room, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Anthony Ibe, who stood in for him, said: “As a University, we are going to do everything within our capacity to make the National Co-ordinating Centre for the IAEA-FGN Technical cooperation projects on Marine Pollution Monitoring and Seafood Safety in the University a Centre of Excellence as envisaged.” He noted that Nigeria was looking forward to embracing Nuclear Energy as a source of power-generation, expressing hope that research at the Centre would be vital in that regard.
On his part, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Hakeem Fawehinmi, expressed joy that UniPort was chosen for the important research projects, pledging the support of the University in ensuring the fulfilment of the goals of the partnership.
Also speaking, Centre Director, Professor Sikoki, explained that the University of Port Harcourt was the National Co-ordinating Centre for the IAEA-FGN Technical cooperation projects on Marine Pollution Monitoring and Seafood Safety, citing RAF/7014-Monitoring and Management of Harmful Algal Blooms in the context of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification; RAF/7015-Strengthening Regional Capacity for Marine Risk Assessment, using Nuclear and related techniques and RAF/7017-Promoting Technical Co-operation among Radio-Analytical Laboratories for the measurement of Environmental Radioactivity, as some of the projects being executed under the co-operation arrangement.
Professor Sikoki, who noted that the Expert Mission to the University was in respect of RAF/7015, explained that its purpose was to: “Examine the National Strategy for marine environment bio-monitoring, propose possible improvements for national consideration, and assist our team in fine-tuning our radiochemistry laboratory.
“I consider this mission very timely as it fits perfectly into our vision to make the Centre a National Centre of Excellence in Marine Studies and Research. Already, the Federal Ministry of Environment has initiated the process of making us such a Centre,” he said. The Director further disclosed that plans are on with the IAEA for the establishment of a Postgraduate Training Centre in the University of Port Harcourt to service the Africa region, which is the only one of its kind on the continent.