Mr. Farhan Ansari, Sr. Assistant Director (Programmes), COMSATS Headquarters, visited Abuja in connection with COMSATS’ two capacity building events, organized in collaboration with ISESCO and National Mathematical Centre (NMC), Nigeria: International Conference on Mathematical Modeling and Second Meeting of COMSATS’ International Thematic Research Group (ITRG) on ‘Mathematical Modeling’. On the sidelines of these events, Mr. Ansari held meetings with officials from Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), Government of Nigeria, NMC, High Commission of Pakistan in Nigeria.
A meeting was held with Dr. Habiba Lawal, Permanent Secretary, FMST, Government of Nigeria, on 31st December 2015, at the boardroom of the Ministry. Also present during the meeting were the respective Directors and senior officials of different departments of the Ministry; an official of COMSATS’ Centre of Excellence in Nigeria, the National Mathematical Centre (NMC); and Mr. Asim Ali Khan, Head of Chancery, High Commission of Pakistan in Abuja, Nigeria.
The purpose of the meeting was to brief the Permanent Secretary about the following:
- COMSATS and its ongoing programmes in Member States;
- COMSATS’ past and ongoing collaboration with Nigeria, including the successful organization of the afore-mentioned events in Abuja;
- Key outcomes of the 3rd General Meeting of COMSATS (27-28 October 2015) and the 3rd Consultative Committee Meeting (26th October 2015), Accra, Ghana; and
- Support needed from FMST for enhancing Nigeria’s participation in the programmes and activities of COMSATS.
During the meeting, Mr. Ansari shed light on the historical background, mission, structure, Member States and statutory bodies of COMSATS. He informed the participants regarding the technical activities of COMSATS, which were categorized in the following areas: capacity-building activities, support towards research activities, postgraduate scholarships, scientific publications, recognizing the achievements of scientists, and science popularization. He also shed light on COMSATS’ flagship projects in Pakistan, as well as its international linkages. Mr. Ansari stated that NMC-Nigeria has been consistently participating in the annual meetings of COMSATS’ Coordinating Council (participated in 16 out of total 18 meetings held so far). Moreover, he shed light on Nigeria’s participation in the recent meetings of the Commission and Consultative Committee held in Ghana, in which Nigeria was represented by Mr. Abayomi Oguntunde, Director, Department of Bioresources Development, FMST, and Prof. A.R.T. Solarin, Director NMC. Discussing the key outcomes of the meetings, Mr. Ansari presented to the Permanent Secretary the detailed Minutes of the Consultative Committee Meeting and Rapporteurs’ Report, Resolution and List of Participants of the 3rd General Meeting of COMSATS.
Discussing the support provided by COMSATS towards the scientific capacity building of Nigeria, it was informed that COMSATS has, so far, jointly organized three capacity-building events and two ITRG meetings in Nigeria; provided travel grants to 19 scientists/students, as well as awarded postgraduate scholarships to 14 Nigerian students for studies at CIIT-Pakistan. He informed that NMC is leading COMSATS’ ITRG on ‘Mathematical Modeling’, which held its second meeting in Abuja (30th December 2015) in conjunction with the afore-mentioned international conference (28-29 December 2015). He briefed the participants regarding the proceedings and outcomes of the two events. He also shed light on COMSATS’ planned activities in 2016, and welcomed the participation of Nigerian scientists and researchers in the same. Mr. Ansari also handed over to the Permanent Secretary the invoice of Nigeria’s Annual Membership Contribution (AMC) to COMSATS for financial year 2015-16, which he considered vital for enhancing Nigeria’s participation in the future programmes and activities of COMSATS.
The Permanent Secretary informed that she is aware and appreciative of COMSATS’ enormous support towards the scientific capacity building of Nigeria. She stated that her Ministry, in the past, could not effectively liaise with COMSATS and participate in its activities due to several structural changes that have been taking place in the country, but is committed to do so in future. She pledged to personally ensure that the invoice of Nigeria’s AMC to COMSATS is settled during the year 2016. She also expressed pleasure on the successful organization of the meetings of COMSATS’ statutory bodies in Ghana, as well as the international conference and ITRG meeting in Abuja. She pledged to circulate the announcements of the future capacity building events of COMSATS among 16 agencies under FMST, as well as other S&T organizations in the country, with a view to identify most suitable candidates for participation.
Later during the day, Mr. Ansari visited the High Commission of Pakistan in Abuja, and held a meeting with H.E. Lt. Gen. (R) Agha M. Umer Farooq, High Commissioner of Pakistan, and Mr. Asim Ali Khan, Head of Chancellery. The honourable High Commissioner was briefed about the ongoing programmes and activities of COMSATS, with special reference to its collaboration with Nigeria. In this regard, he was briefed about the proceedings and outcomes of the afore-mentioned two events jointly organized by COMSATS in Abuja.
The honourable High Commissioner was pleased to learn about the activities of COMSATS and commended COMSATS’ efforts to enhance Nigeria’s involvement in its programmes. He pledged to fully support the activities of COMSATS through the High Commission of Pakistan in Abuja, which is also accredited to another Member State of COMSATS, i.e., Ghana. He informed that the announcement of postgraduate scholarships offered by CIIT was widely circulated in Nigeria, and as a result about 800 students have submitted their online applications to CIIT. He took keen interest in the postgraduate scholarships offered by other Centres of Excellence of COMSATS, including those offered by IROST-Iran, and pledged to circulate this information among the relevant universities and departments of Nigeria and Ghana. In this regard, he suggested CIIT to consider the possibility of initiating undergraduate scholarship programmes for the Member States, especially for the benefit of African countries. He also pledged to facilitate in the payment of the Annual Membership Contribution to COMSATS by the Government of Nigeria.