The Federal University of Technology, Akure has produced its first set of Doctoral graduates under the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) Graduate Research Program in West African Climate System (GRP-WACS). Speaking at the passing out ceremony of ten Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduands Monday, March 23rd 2015, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adebiyi Daramola expressed excitement at the initiative’s commitment to the advancement of Climate Science in West Africa and the development of the manpower needed to address climate change that particularly threatens the sub-region. He expressed appreciation to the German government for establishing the GRP-WACS Centre in Nigeria which is one of the six in operation across West African Universities.
Daramola highlighted with satisfaction FUTA’s trailblazing role in the production of PhD graduands. He said FUTA enjoyed the unique privilege of being the only University in West Africa offering full degree programmes in Meteorology, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels from 1984 until recently when it was joined by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana and Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that the passing out ceremony reminds the system that it owes the future of the environment to the men and women who are well-trained and equipped to ask questions and provide answers to the many Climate Change challenges for decades to come, pointing out that FUTA already serves as the University component of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Meteorological Training Centre (RMTC) of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency. He said “today we send the first ten PhD candidates produced by the WASCAL programme into the world to be teachers, climate scientists, planners and possibly revolutionaries ready to tackle issues of deficient rainfall, floods, drought, food security, environmental management, climate modeling and prediction as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation. We must continue to provide necessary funds to attract and support many more of such talented students in order to ensure the fullest development of their capacities in a rapidly changing world”.

He congratulated the graduands on what he termed laudable achievement in preparation for their contribution to solving the myriads of environmental challenges facing the region and commended their hard work, patience, endurance and dedication which he attributed to their success. He wished them the best in future endeavours and charged them to be ambassadors of WASCAL and FUTA.

Earlier, the Honourable Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Laraba Mallam who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mr. Paul Tafa congratulated the University Management on the timely completion of the first circle of the programme which she attributed to the dedication and commitment to duty of the WASCAL Centre alongside the cooperation and encouragement from the University authority and the community as a whole.

The Minister who traced the establishment of the WASCAL GRP-WACS Centre, in West Africa (FUTA) from 2009 explained that the lack of adequate, reliable and verifiable scientific research findings, data and information on Climate Change in Africa and indeed in Nigeria had continued to be a major challenge against effective policies and actions to combat climate change, hence the Centre which is aimed at engaging in research with Africa to develop excellence as well as build Institutions and capacities. She said “it is for this reason and considering Nigeria’s existing facilities, vast manpower and resources that will put the Centre in good stead to effectively deliver on its goals that the Nigerian government vigorously pursued the opportunity provided by the German government’s initiative which led to the establishment of the Centre in FUTA”.

The Minister who expressed gratitude to the German government for the laudable initiative highlighted socio-economic implications, added benefit to the nation’s research potential, proximal benefit to research Institutions and the opportunity for the nation to drive the process as benefits to Nigeria for hosting one as WASCAL’s Centres, adding that the graduation is the beginning of such benefits.

She noted that the best gift any country could give another was the tool to enhance its ability to tackle challenges and chart a well-defined course for its people to attain their full potential and share knowledge through quality research and education. She explained that the Federal Ministry of Environment built on the WASCAL initiative to further enhance the Centre’s data management by installing a state-of-the-art High Performance Computing (HPC) System at FUTA WASCAL Centre and also undertook a training on “Establishing and Use of the E-infrastructure for Climate Change Data and Information Management System in Nigeria” between 5th August and 30th September, 2014 towards better policy formulation and implementation.

She therefore urged the University Management and the Centre to explore options of availing wider spectrum of stakeholders the services of the centre and the climate information for use in research and other socio-economic sectors of the nation. She assured the Centre and the University as a whole of government’s support in sustaining the beneficial initiative in fulfilling its obligations under the WASCAL cooperative agreement and to also support and partner the Centre to initiate, plan and finance training activities that will showcase the importance and practical use of climate information. She congratulated the graduands and called on them to use the knowledge acquired effectively in their respective countries and beyond.

Dr. Laurent Sedogo, the Executive Director, WASCAL who was represented by the Director, Department of Graduate Studies, Dr. Mamadou Ouattara said the graduation was a landmark for both WASCAL and FUTA. He praised the exemplary collaboration received from the Vice-Chancellor and Management teams of FUTA WASCAL had worked with. He said “the commitment and efficient conduct of the Programme’s activities by your team and the support provided by your colleagues in other Universities of Nigeria, of West African Countries, Germany, South Africa, United States of America and so on have allowed reaching the results we are celebrating today”.

The Executive Director explained that WASCAL is an ambitious initiative owned by ten African Countries of the ECOWAS region, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, strongly supported by the Federal Government of Germany to carry out research intended to provide science-based advice to policymakers and stakeholders on Climate Change impacts, mitigation and adaptation measures. Expressing joy over the success of the graduands, he told them to be aware that they are the first tangible and probably the most important products of WASCAL. He urged them to always represent a unique and important investment that the West African region can count on; reminding them of the uniqueness of the training they had received.

He promised WASCAL and FUTA’s continued support for the graduands in order to successfully play their roles in the society, asking them to keep in mind the necessity to cherish and maintain the relations established during their studies at the Centre.

The Chairman, WASCAL International Board, Professor Haidara who couldn’t hide his excitement on the production of PhD graduands under the initiative in the region expressed gratitude over the excellent collaboration between WASCAL and FUTA and hoped that the partnership would continue.

Addressing the gathering, the Director, WASCAL, FUTA, Professor Jerome Omotosho described the occasion as unique. He reiterated that it was the first of its kind in FUTA, Nigeria and West African as a region. He noted with pride that FUTA was the first University in the region to receive the privilege to host WASCAL PhD programme in Climate System. He thanked the immediate past Professor Adebisi Balogun led-administration for keying into the initiative that has become a reference point for FUTA. He expressed gratitude to God and the German government for the success of the programme in FUTA thus far and commended the Vice-Chancellor for the special attention and encouragement the Centre had enjoyed from him and his administration.

Delivering his goodwill message, the Director General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency, Dr. Anthony Anuforom described the event as another major achievement in the training of Meteorologists in the sub-region. He said FUTA set the pace in the establishment of a department of Meteorology and today West Africa is getting to its climax on its account. He noted that almost all meteorologists in the region are products of FUTA and are excelling in their chosen field. He thanked the University Management for providing a conducive learning environment and pledged his continued support for FUTA while congratulating the graduands. The Director General was represented by Mr. Ifeanyi Nnodu, Director, Nigerian Meteorological Agency,

Charging the graduands to be conscious of their training as solution providers on climate change which he tagged a global phenomenon, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, FUTA, Professor Adebisi Balogun urged them to see themselves as global graduates and not restrain themselves to the region. He enjoined them to make the best of the opportunity given to change the region with the acquired knowledge and congratulated them for coming, seeing and conquering.

The representative of the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Dr. Appollonia Okhimamhe also noted that FUTA had proven that Nigeria has what it takes to move the region forward.

The graduands who are citizens of West African countries are:
1. AKINSEYE, Folorunsho Mathew M Nigeria
2. ANNOR, Thompson M Ghana
3. AWOTUSE, Ayoola Olamitomi F Nigeria
4. BAMBA, Adama M Cote d’ivoire
5. DIASSO, Ulrich Jacques M Burkina Faso
6. QUANSAH, Emmanuel M Ghana
7. MOUNKAILA SALEY, Moussa M Niger
8. NIANG, Coumba F Senegal
9. SANOGO, Souleymane M Mali
10. TOURE, N’Datchoh Evelyne F Cote d’ivoire