Halilu Shaba: Garlands for the Space Man!

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As this day, October 1 arrives, certain things features in my thoughts as a Nigerian. First, this day marks independence of the nation and dignity for our country, Nigeria. On this day, our dear country became a self-determining nation, an entity responsible for her actions and consequences. In fact, this day comes across as one of victory over the imperial oppression, deprivation and forced actions that the colonial rule typified.

As a boy growing up in our village so many years ago, this day is special for me. On this day, I managed to provoke within me an internal sense of rebellion against my parents’ domestic laws and orders. For instance, we were hardly allowed to go out of the house and there were several other directives that restricted us from doing one thing or the other but strangely, on every October 1st, I used to develop the courage to break these house rules without the slightest sense of fear or worry. Well, as pupils, we used to go out to the village centre to participate in or watch the march-pasts and other celebratory events and displays that are usually held across schools and other institutions in observance of the Independence Day. It used to be real fun. So we seized the opportunity to stay out and perpetrate our mischiefs all day long, skipping the Islamiyyah classes and other routine chores of the house. I often get beaten whenever I return home in time for the Maghrib prayers but that never bothered or deterred me always enjoying myself these freedom days because no matter what, I would have had my day, and there were always worth my while.

However, this particular day stands out for me because it is also a similitude of the day of birth of Dr Halilu Shaba, a friend and a good man, a true and a detribalized Nigerian, a consummate corporate CEO and a professional of no mean repute whose passion for and faith in the future of Nigeria as a greater and better nation stands unrivalled.

Anyone who knows the man and his extra-ordinary vision, spirit and dreams for our dear country will without doubt see the pleasant coincidence between his birthday and our national day. Moreso, one will find it quite serendipitous that he ends up heading the National Space Research and Development Agency(NASRDA), an agency saddled with the enormous responsibility of driving our national growth and development through advances in space technology development.

“Ai Alhamdulillah kenan faduwa tayi dai dai da zama” were my words to him upon hearing the announcement of his appointment as the Director-General of NASRDA. Instantly, he knew where I was coming from and he nodded with a knowing smile, and responded, “Allah Ya shige mana gaba”.

Dr Shaba is a man truly committed to giving back to our communities, our country and over the years, I have watched with enthusiasm and admiration how he has struggled to use his knowledge and experience to not only touch lives but, in recent times, through his deliberations and exertions to add heroic and impactful pages to the history of our country in the march towards space conquest.

I sense that Dr Shaba does that for not just the love of labour but also because he knows that ultimately the lives of our people would be made better by the achievements of NASRDA.

Needless to say, a developed and functional space technology unleashes economic opportunity, reduces barriers to doing businesses, guarantees efficient and effective management of security and provides a level playing field for all.

Dr Shaba knows this and is working for it. I have continued to watch with enthusiasm how he has been going about his works to ensure the realization of the country’s dream of tapping into the vast potential for human development which the space technology offers. It is therefore only natural for a man of his outlook of life and professional disposition to approach his work with such uncanny focus, energy and passion.

For these reasons and many more, Dr Shaba’s life and professional strides deserve deep respect and his birthday, worth celebrating, at least, for those of us who know him and his values.

On a personal note, Space man, I wish you all the very best in the future, particularly, in these unusual times, which more than ever require that Nigeria speeds up her space efforts in a more constructive and sustainable manner. On behalf of myself and other friends, the prayers are that Allah keeps you healthy, happy and fulfilled always; and the country keeps getting your valuable services. Happy Birthday, Dr. Allah Ya kara daukaka da hikma da fahimta. Aameen.

– Yakubu Ali wrote from Abuja.

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