Saturday, April 2, 2016

A NUCLEAR NIGERIA: ARE WE READY?

                                                    Image courtesy of www.theecologist.org
It is no longer news that the country is looking at generating power from Nuclear energy and it is on that basis that this article stems forth.

Nuclear energy being one the fastest means of power generation is not only expensive but unsafe and unstable. In developed countries where its usage is employed, there are established means of containment in the event of a nuclear disaster. Having said that, what comes to one’s mind is the Chernobyl, Three mile Island and Fukushima disasters which shook the countries they were situated and the world at large.

It is no longer news that there are moves to build nuclear plants in the country and this I believe should be a thing of concern giving our poor maintenance culture. We had problems maintaining our refineries here in the country which saw us importing refined products, something we have been doing for years and would continue for God-knows-how-long. Now come to think of it, how would a country that had issues maintaining refineries fare when it comes to maintaining nuclear power plants.

Let me take us on a little scientific journey on the workings of a nuclear power plant so we would at least know what we could be dealing with. Nuclear reactors are based on a scientific process known as nuclear fission which sees atoms of larger element disintegrate to yield smaller elements, of course with the emission of energy.

Nuclear power plants are powered by uranium (a type of radioactive element) which functions by heating up a turbine which produces electric power. South Africa is one African country where its usage is employed.
What could go wrong with nuclear power?

Radioactive wastes
This I believe should be our main concern as nuclear wastes could take a lot to contain. This extremely dangerous waste must be looked after for thousands of years. A little accident could spell doom for a future generation if it isn’t handled properly. Our maintenance culture again becomes a thing of worry.

Nuclear radiation
During this process of fission which powers reactors like breeders, there is usually a chain reaction which is of a cascade nature and this could sometimes give rise to Plutonium, an unnatural element which when released into nature could pose serious hazardous problems.

Preferred targets for terrorist attacks
 Movies and books have taught us that nuclear plants are hot targets for militants and terrorist organizations.

Nuclear accidents
Accidents do happen and in the event of a nuclear accident, there could be serious threat to the environment (Fukushima) and also human life (Chernobyl).


Nuclear experts have been contributing to the discourse and one of them , Wole Olaoye, who has been covering Nigeria’s nuclear aspiration for decades warned: “We have security problems in Nigeria right now. And I don’t want to think of a situation where we will manage the fallout of a nuclear leakage. With the level of incompetence with which we have treated our hydro-power stations. I don’t see us managing nuclear power competently and efficiently.”


Even as sustainable as nuclear energy may appear (although it is not in its entirety), I am still of the opinion that Nigeria is not yet ready.  Think the textile industries, power generation and distribution, Ajaokuta steel mill and others in the solid mineral industry, the car assembly plants, etc. Nuclear energy cannot just be handled the same way.  


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Monday, September 7, 2015

FOR BUDDING WRITERS: 3 SIMPLE STEPS TO GETTING AN IDEAGASM

                                                                      Image courtesy of www.7ideas.net


This article came up after I had an ideagasm while reading the transcription of Chip Kidd’s TED talk (The Art of First Impressions in Design and Life) video in which the word was mentioned.

For a while now, the blog has been idle due to inactivity or what my good friend have referred to as not just a ‘block’ but a ‘writer’s idea block’. He may be correct because it has actually been months since my last upload. Although there should be no excuse for the little community of readers; there actually is. I have been sent on the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme here in Zamfara state and my routine have been slightly skewed, hence little or no time to write.

Back to the article, The term “ideagasm” is a merger of two words ‘idea’ and ‘orgasm’ which simply stands for the orgasmic feeling when one’s mind becomes impregnated with ideas or better still, the feeling that comes with an “Eureka” moment (Ikeji, 2015). For a writer, this is one of those times we cherish as we just go ahead and put pen to paper; letting it flow.

Writer’s block is a phenomenon which many writers like me detest. You just want to pen something down but have no idea on how to go about it. My longest block was for over 4 months after which I stumbled and fell on an inspiration which made me experience one of my memorable ideagasm as a budding writer. The product of that idea, later led to an article which made the content editor for the Jobberman blog then, contact and had me submit articles which were published on a weekly basis some time ago. I may not be an expert on idea generation for writers but these few generators I am about to share have worked for me and could be helpful to budding writers lacking ideas or suffering from ‘the block’. Thank me later!

Other people’s material: I would like to place a disclaimer here that this is in no way supporting or advocating for plagiarism. What I simply mean by this is that by reading other people’s material, you may experience an ideagasm maybe from a new word or from how a sentence is constructed and from there; you could be typing over a thousand words. The Forbes website, Ted.com and a plethora of news stories have been helpful to me in the past and still are. Remember: If you are not reading, you are not writing.

Use of Apps: Sounds funny right? But it is serious business as app developers have come up with apps that can help you generate titles for your work when you put in key words. Some of these apps suggest titles for your work and proffer additional information that you may find helpful. One of these apps which I just came across and got to like is named Portent. A little keyword search on Google would redirect you to their site for download. Others are Hubspot, Buzzsumo, etc.

Knowledgeable discussions: Being observant while certain discussions are ongoing is one of a budding writer’s biggest tools. There are a thousand and one stories and articles from “knowledgeable” discussions with friends, in a formal/informal setting or even in a meeting. I started writing an article on Nigeria and the nuclear energy issue after seeing one news story on SouthAfrica’s new nuclear plants just yesterday. That story spurned a discussion amongst the people in that room with me and an argument ensued on whether the country is ripe for nuclear energy or not. I spoke when the need be, put pen to paper and then jotted down salient points for my next article.

Every writer’s nightmare -the block- could arise from a lack of ideas but incorporating simple rituals as the ones stated above could see you having a long lasting writing life.


Keep writing!


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LEARNING IS GOOD; PRACTICE IS BETTER.


                                                               Image courtesy of www.dreamstime.com


Recently, I was on one of Abuja’s numerous highways when my eyes caught an MTN ad on a billboard with the inscription learning is good, practice is better. I picked up a pen, wrote that down and the rest of this article is what happened next.

Some years ago, I took driving lessons from a friend. I learnt the basics and felt like I have arrived. A couple of weeks later, I would end up bashing the car against a gate when I was asked to drop some people off. I learnt the skill quite alright but never took time to practice. Each time I look back at that incident, I always think to myself learning to drive was good but practicing it would have been better. This same thing was going to repeat itself sometime in 2008 when I represented my school’s local government area in a Spelling Bee competition. I picked up the dictionary, learnt most of the words but didn’t make out time to vigorously practice them because I felt I knew them already. I lost out of the competition that could have seen me clinching the 250,000 naira prize money and becoming the governor of Lagos State for one day. Again, if only I had practiced.

The art of writing could be learned, one could get books on writing to teach oneself. You could also decide to take writing lessons from professionals in the field or even seasoned writers and then do some fine writings. It takes constant practice to either stick to or up your game, if not; all that is learned would be meaningless. Learning the art is one thing and constant practice is just the way to go as you keep tasking your brain, becoming more productive and dishing out some fine stories, write-ups or articles as the case may be. There are a lot of people who never sat in a class to take formal writing lessons but learnt the art on their own, wrote consistently and today they have the sign writer boldly written on their chest just like the Superman ‘S’sign. And just like Superman, could save the world when the need arises, these people could defend the sign on their chest when called upon or tasked with writing.

90 if not 95% of the reasons why students fail exams or don’t perform to the best of their ability is solely because of lack of practice. (The other 5 or 10% could be left for the other factors giving the Nigerian education system.) Even assignments and class works are designed to foster the act of practicing in the students so as to have or show in-depth knowledge of what they are being taught. I am yet to see a student who opens their books constantly, practice every single thing that was written in there and not at least pass their exams in a normal condition. That is, putting certain factors aside.

Ever wondered what the political arena and leadership in general would look like if a good number of those who ‘studied’ political science as a course and/or have a good knowledge of public administration or even took leadership courses are at the helm of affairs in the country’s government. (Studied was enclosed in inverted commas because every single person who finds themselves within the four walls of any higher institution in this country carries the tag ‘student’ wherever they go, the reference therein doesn’t really include every political science students.) For the purpose of this article, you’d agree that if these same people put all that have been learnt into practice, there would be an array of workable policies and progress would be recorded in some if not all sectors of the economy. But then again, politics in this country is based on ‘experience’, godfathers and all what’s not.

Learning is one thing but practice is another and of course better. It takes practice to attain that near-perfect state in whatever it is one is doing or getting oneself involved in. Indeed, just like that MTN advert said: learning is good, practice is better.


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