The terrain of science and physics particularly has always been perceived by many as a path to be treaded only by angels. The principles of physics and her philosophies thereof are so demanding that it must be not only a brilliant mind that will have to face it, but a man or woman with a mind as a nerve of steel.
Despite the challenges to be abreast with, in the discipline, a Nigerian Scientist, Deborah Ajakaiye has proved beyond doubt that success in the field does not belong to angels, but determined individuals whether male or female.
Deborah Ajakaiye has made history as the first ever female physics professor in Nigeria and in Africa. Though her feat has not got equal recognition, her achievement remain widely celebrated. Her story unveil the possibilities of more prominent and impactful female scientist to spring up in Africa and in the world.
Deborah was born in 1940 at Plateau state capital, Jos, in the northern region of Nigeria. Beside being a woman of Yoruba origin with a core conservative nature, she has a mind so scholarly like that of Einstein that make her exceptional.Let us look at her family background to see if her success may have had a foundation there
Though born in 1940, a period in Nigeria where the idea of training female children in school was almost repugnant, she was privileged to have had parents who believed in gender equality.
Prof. during her days has always expressed gratitude toward her parents, who didn’t allow gender to play a single role in the domestic chores among her siblings. She identified this act by her parent to be a motivating factor that gave her a psychological freedom to live out her potentials without any form of societal impedance.
When interviewed by NTA , she advised modern-day parents not to be gender conscious in choosing toys for their children. Futhermore, she instructed that such behavior may send message to the children’s psyche at that early stage.
Deborah was brilliant at her tender age and exhibited much passion and enthusiasm for mathematics. This made her delve comfortably into geophysics, an area she thought would satisfy her noble intention of contributing to the society. Here, it suffice to mention that her curiosity paid off when her work in ‘geo-visualization’ opened up the nation’s fortune . That particular work has been used to locate both mineral deposites and ground water in Nigeria
Professor Deborah took an important position in the Nigerian mining ministry. She made mind blowing contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria through hydrocarbon discoveries.
As earlier mentioned, her work on ‘geo-visualization’ provided ways to locate both mineral deposits and ground water in Nigeria. Because of this awesome discovery , she was honored and awarded by the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society.
She was also the first black African to be named a fellow of the geological society of London.
Amongst many awards, Professor Ajakaije was among the 50 Nigerian women who were honored with a special award by the first lady, Patience Goodluck Jonathan, on September 29, 2010, at the 50th independence Award for Women Of Distinction.
Ajakaiye has written many books and made presentations at several lectures. She co
Co-authored the book, course manual and atlas of structural styles on reflection profiles from Niger Delta, with A.W.Bally. The book has become an international reference material on seismic studies and research on the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria and similar Deltas worldwide.
Apart from teaching at the University , Ajakaiye served as a member of the advisory council of AAPG from 2001 to 2004 as was elected as AAPG’s Africa Region President(2005-2007).
She was the first and only African to win the AAPG award in 2011.
It is of interest to know that Deborah led NNPC’s guest to increase the nations crude oil reserve through the geophysical exploration of the inland sedimentary basins including the chad Basin, Gongola/Yola Basin, Benue trough, Anambra Basin , Bida Basin, Sokoto Basin and the Dahomey basin
Indeed , Professor Deborah Ajakaiye was a hero who lived her life in every bit trying to make impact and promoting her continent’s wealth through her research in geophysics