The Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT), Ahmadu Bello University(ABU), Zaria is an institution with a principal mandate focused on the development of nuclear science and technology in Nigeria. Initially, it was domiciled in the Physics Department of the University before relocating to its present site on Monday, 29 March 1993. The Centre over the years has assisted various faculties of ABU as well as other universities in Nigeria to train faculty staff and students in various nuclear related researches. Within the African regional level CERT has empowered students from Ghana, Cameroon, Chad, Niger in capacity building initiatives in nuclear research. It has equally played host to several distinguished IAEA scholars including the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei on 19th January 2005.
DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The establishment of CERT is closely associated with the historical development of Nuclear Science and Technology in Nigeria being a Member State of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Nigeria was admitted as a Member State of the IAEA in 1964. Like every other Member State Nigeria was therefore privileged to participate in the pursuit of the objectives of the IAEA as entrenched in its Statutes: ‘To accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world and to ensure so far as it is able that assistance provided by it, or at its request or under its supervision or control, is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose’ In order to take up the advantage of membership of the IAEA, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in 1976 under the leadership of the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo enacted a decree No.46 (1976) (now an Act of the National Assembly) establishing the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) entrusted with the responsibility of developing atomic energy and the consideration of all matters related to its peaceful uses. Within the same year, the FGN selected Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife as Centres of Excellence in nuclear technology, with. the mandate of developing nuclear science and technology for the socio-economic development of the nation.. Backed up with the FGN recognition and national legislative enactments the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria ,Prof. Iya Abubakar in 1977 established the Nuclear Science Programme Committee (NSPSC) headed by the then Head of Physics Prof. Debora E. Ajakaiye as the Chairperson.
The Committee ABU,Zaria among others issues was given the following terms of reference:
1) To set out the objectives of a nuclear project in Ahmadu Bello University
2) To prepare plans on the development of nuclear technology in Ahmadu Bello University,
3) To coordinate the first phase of the programme
4) To advise on any other relevant matter that will promote the programme
The NSPSC initiated a lot of spade-work on the nuclear project through awareness programmes, manpower development via training and retraining of the existing staff, recruitment of new ones, consolidation and installation of the desired infra-structure for the programme take-off. These events led to the establishment of the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology (CENTECH). Later on the Centre was renamed Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) and a proposal presented to the University Council for inclusion of its statute into the laws of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with its Vision and Mission statements as follows:
CERT is to be a Centre of Excellence that shall provide facilities for the training of Nigerians at all levels of energy matters, nuclear science and technology. It shall also conduct basic and applied research in nuclear science and technology, develop nuclear instrumentation and control devices. The Centre is to serve as a place for dissemination and documentation of knowledge in energy, nuclear science and technology.
To promote the application of nuclear science and technology by providing facilities for training of Nigerians for the development of agriculture, health, mineral resources, industries, power supply and other sectors of the Nigerian economy; to provide high level training and development of strategic personnel in collaboration with the international community/agencies; to conduct research in nuclear science and technology for the advancement of knowledge. While the foundations for nuclear technology were been laid down at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the FGN continued on her own part to concretize the realization of the national nuclear program as expected by international standards through Act No. 19 (1995) on Nuclear Safety and Radiation which led to the establishment of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority whose responsibility as the name implies is to regulate nuclear science and technology in the country(FGN Official Gazette, 1995). On 3rd February 2004 CERT commissioned the only Nuclear Research Reactor in Nigeria (NIRR-1) and is fully operational till date CERT is now properly established as a nuclear research institution with facilities for the conduct of research and a managerial system responsible for the day to day running of the Centre.
The Management of the Centre consists of the following
1) The Director
2) Heads of Sections
3) All Professors
4) Administrative Secretary and Finance Officer
By its statutes there is a Board of Governors as well as a Professional and Academic Board to oversee the activities of the Centre The Director’s responsibility, as outlined in the Statute of the Centre among other duties includes the overall administration as well as the supervision of research activities of the Centre The Head of Health Physics and Radiation Biophysics Section of the Centre who is also the Chief Radiation Safety Officer (CRSO) for the University reports to the Director matters related to the production, use and disposal of radionuclides in the university. The Director in turn informs the Vice Chancellor on such related matters
The list of Directors of the Centre and the period of their tenure of office is herby outlined:
1) Professor Shamsideen ELEGBA, (1991-1998)
2) Professor Ibrahim Musa UMAR, (1998-2006)
4) Professor Idris Isa FUNTUA, (2006-2010)
5) Dr B.B. Muhammad DEWU, (2010-2015)
6) Prof Y.A. AHMED(2015-date)
The Director is the Head of the Centre, ran by an Administrative unit and Research Sections. The Centre presently has five Sections namely:
1) Nuclear Science and Technology Section (NSTS)
2) Health Physics and Radiation Biophysics Section (HPRBS)
3) Material Science Development Section (MSDS)
4) Engineering Instrumentation and Design (EIDS)