UNN VC, others celebrate Prof Animalu, first solar energy researcher in Nigeria

Prof Alex Animalu, the first Solar Energy Researcher in the country and pioneer President, Solar Energy Society of Nigeria has received many commendations on his outstanding academic achievements.

Speaking in Nsukka on Thursday during a colloquium organised by Animalu’s friends to mark his 85th birthday in UNN.

Prof Charles Igwe, the Vice-Chancellor of UNN described Animalu the the Physics Professor Emeritus of the university as an academic giant, teacher of teachers, mentor of mentors and professor of professors.

Igwe said that, Animalu is an erudite professor whose numerous textbooks, lectures and academic publications on science and technology had continued to be quoted globally.

“Globally the history of science and technology will be incomplete without any mention of Animalu, the professor of physics.

“UNN will continue to be proud of the physicist, who was fomer Director General of National Mathematical Centre, Nigeria Academy of Science among others,” he said.

In a remark, Prof. Chidi Akujor, Chairman of Planning Committee said that, the occasion was an unwritten obligation of all intellectuals to honour an individual whose academic intellectual outputs have profound influence in scientific milieu.

“Many times I went to the reserve section of the library to consult the ‘citation index’. I will be shocked that his name is a keyword with several pages of citations.

” Most of these papers cited were in such high impact journals as Physical Review and Philosophical magazine,”he said.

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The don noted that, on June 1, 1986, he entered the building of Ettore Majorana Center for Scientific Culture in Erice, Sicily, Italy for a two-week NATO Advanced Course on Cosmic Rays.

” In front of the quadrangle of the complex was a large flex banner with the heading “Intermediate Quantum Theory of Crystalline Solids by Alexander O.E. Animalu”.

“Indeed, as the attention of the participants focused on the display, I felt so proud being identified as his former student.

” On my trips to several countries, Professor Animalu’s name is among names that will always come up once you are identified as a Nigerian,” he said.

Speaking further, Akujor said that Prof. Animalu, through his works in physics, philosophy, science and technology has made tremendous impact in science that this generation and generations to come would find difficult to ignore.

“He is responsible for lighting our interest in renewable energy, particularly solar energy. He is the first researcher in the country on solar energy.

” My joy is that he is not finished with us yet, as he is still churning out great thoughts and writings,” he said.

Also in a remark, Prof. Augustine Ubachukwu. Dept of Physics and Astronomy, UNN and Co-Chairman of the planning committee said that he first met Emeritus Professor Animalu in 1978 (45 years ago) in my second year as an undergraduate Physics student.

“I was then the Class Rep, and he was taking us in Phys 231- Thermal Physics. I still remember that the first assignment he gave us was on the liquefaction of gases, which caused us some anxiety.

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“I joined the services of UNN in 1991, and in 2001, I became his nearest office neighbour, his office is always open to both students and staff who freely consult him, especially on academic matters.

“I never knew what a great Physicist, Prof. Animalu is until I visited India as a Research Fellow at the Inter-University Centre for Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in 2001.

“There, I met Prof. V. K. Kapahi, who was then the Director of National Centre for Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India.

“I felt highly elated when he told me that India used Prof. Animalu’s textbook on Intermediate Quantum Theory of Crystalline Solids for their Higher degree studies, the book has been translated into several languages,” he said.

In their separate keynote speeches Prof Anya O. Anya and Prof. Ikenna Onyido applauded and described Animalu as academic giant whose contributions to science and technology would remain indelible.

They, however, expressed concern on the country’s poor economy and quality of education.

They attributed it to failure of successive elected governments to give education the required attention as well stop corruption in the system.

According to them, to correct the anomalies, Nigerians should be careful of the kind leadership they elect, if not all effort to change the narrative would be an exercise in futility.

Responding, the celebrant (Animalu) expressed appreciation to all who contributed in one way or the other for the colloquium in honour of his 85 birthday.

“I am not unaware of the economic hardship in the country now as a result of the fuel subsidy removal.

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” I remain grateful for the financial sacrifice by my academic friends and colleagues for this great honour to me.

“Silver and gold I have none to pay back but God Almighty will reward you all abundantly,” he said

“I thank God that I am alive to see and witness what looks like a full fledge funeral for me,” Animalu said.

Our correspondent reports that, highlight of the occasion was cutting of the 85th birthday cake by Prof. Animalu assisted by friends.

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