Professor S. B. Elegba had his formal education between 1962 and 1980 during which time he obtained a First Class Masters Degree (M.Sc.) in Theoretical Nuclear Physics from the Kharkov State University, Ukraine in the former Soviet Union. He began his professional career immediately following his M.Sc. in 1974 by joining the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria as a Lecturer in physics. His further education development was then in tandem with his professional development as he acquired a Doctoral Degree (PhD) in Theoretical Solid State Physics from the University of Oregon, USA in 1980. He thenceforth rose along the ranks to become a Professor of Physics in 1990.
- Pioneer Director (1991 – 1998) of the Centre for Energy Research and Training, ABU, Zaria; Professor Elegba belongs to various learned societies and associations. These include:
- Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Physics
- Member, American Physical Society
- Member, Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics, and
- Member, Society of Radiological Protection (UK
Professor Elegba formally joined the mainstream government service with his appointment as the Director, Energy Information Systems Department of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, where he served from 1998 – 2001. Professor Elegba served as Director in the Energy Commission of Nigeria until his appointment as the pioneer Director General of the NNRA by the President in February 2001.
From its fledging beginnings, the NNRA under Professor Elegba made great efforts at putting in place a high-quality regulatory framework to effectively register, license, inspect and enforce nuclear safety and radiological protection in all practices in the country. In this respect, he developed the philosophy and the basic administrative and technical infrastructure to support the activities of the NNRA.
Professor Elegba as an Academician
His academic era was his most formative period and due largely to his flair and dynamism; he took on tasks and responsibilities of a wide variety and complexity. Many of these were pioneering and the achievements were equally remarkable. He was at various times:
- Secretary (1980 – 1985), Nuclear Science Programme Steering Committee, ABU, Zaria, the pre-cursor to Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) of which he became the Coordinator from 1986 to 1991;
- Pioneer Director of Nigeria’s most advanced research institution in the area of modern science and technology; the Centre for Energy Research and Training, ABU, Zaria; (1991 – 1998)
- In 1987, he installed, commissioned and operated the first Neutron Generator in West Africa;
- He supervised over twenty (20) candidates at M. Sc. and Ph. D. levels;
- Authored/co-authored over two hundred (200) scientific publications/technical reports;
- Supervised over fifteen (15) commissioned projects on energy and application of nuclear technology in environment and mining industry, and five (5) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) projects on nuclear energy applications totaling over three million US dollars (US$3,000,000);
- In 1994, he successfully applied for, negotiated and obtained approval for the acquisition of the first nuclear research reactor in Nigeria through a Technical Cooperation Project from the IAEA, the installation of which started only in 1997.
In his role as the pioneer Director of the Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Science and Technology at the Ahmadu Bello University, he actualized the dream of General Olusegun Obasanjo as encapsulated in the Nigeria Atomic Energy Decree 46 of 1976. He also brought into the country the first Nuclear Research Reactor during the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) era.
As a development strategist, he was able to convince the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, Austria to partner with his Centre in using Nuclear Analytical Techniques to develop a soil fertility map for Nigeria as none or very scanty existed. He further showed that the absence of such a map resulted in arbitrary fertilizer application and the ground water pollution arising therefrom. In addition, government was subsidizing the fertilizer and the farmers were equally loosing money and the fertility of their lands. The impact of such a project was very fascinating to the IAEA so much so that the body committed over two million dollars (US$2,000,000) to the procurement and installation of the first nuclear research reactor in the country.
Professor Elegba brought together under one roof five different but very important sectors of the national economy, namely, agriculture, solid mineral development, education, science and technology, and of course, nuclear safety and radiation protection in all applications of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation.
Licensing of the First Nuclear Research Reactor
The licensing of the first Nigerian Nuclear Research Reactor (NIRR-1) is one of the major achievements of Professor Elegba. Based on his antecedents as one who oversaw the installation of the facility, he was in good stead to plan and coordinate the elaborate security operation for the receipt and transportation of the first nuclear fuel into Nigeria from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport to CERT. Furthermore he directly supervised the process of the authorization of the various types and stages of licensing required for licensing a major nuclear installation. These included the licensing of the Site Design and Construction, the importation of Nuclear Fuel and Road Transportation, Commissioning of the Reactor Operators.
The successful commissioning of NIRR-1 also necessitated the development and implementation of a system of regular inspections both to ensure the continuous safe operation of the facility and safeguard of the fissile material at the facility. The issue of safeguard is a national duty to which Nigeria is committed by Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Implementation of the system of regular inspections has ensured the identification and elimination of any potential radiological incident or accident. This also ensures the safe operation and security of the facility as well as the safeguard of the fissile material at the location.