Nigerians in Space.
At first blush, it sounds like a television sitcom – a comedy even.
But it’s a real thing.
When you think Nigeria, space exploration isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.
Usually, it’s corruption.
I remember flying back from Nigeria on Lufthansa and reading an article in one of those airline magazines about a family that had been duped in a 419 scheme.
Apparently, the victim received an email requesting their assistance.
The scammer claimed to be the sole heir of a substantial fortune over $500M, which was being held by a Nigerian probate court pending some formality requiring the beneficiary to provide security in order for the inheritance to be released.
If the victim would simply put $50K on deposit in a bank as the scammer’s security proxy, they would receive a handsome $1M commission for the temporary inconvenience of being without their money.
Their funds would be safely held in escrow for a few weeks, after which they would receive their deposit plus commission.
The scammer purportedly provided contact information and wiring instructions to a bank, which the victim could verify independently, which would hold the money and transfer the commission, when the scammer’s money was released from probate.
Of course, the victim called the number provided and the ‘bank’ employee convinced the victim that everything was on the up and up.
Satisfied with the veracity of the scammer, they forwarded the funds, waited the appropriate length of time before trying to reach the scammer again.
Needless to say, when they reached out to the scammer, he was long gone. The number to the ‘bank’ no longer worked and the victim was out $50,000.
It was the shoddiest of scams and I was quite embarrassed for the simple folk taken in by so obvious a scam.
Indignantly, I thought “serves them right for being so patently greedy.”
But my second mind knew that the actions of the scammers was just that, a scam.
Juxtapose that story with the one I recently read about the Nigerian space program.
I was completely open reading about my people’s genuine space aspirations.
It goes beyond ‘aspirations’ actually, as there are already several Nigerian launched satellites in orbit, providing vital information and data about climate patterns, spacial anomalies and satellite mapping to Nigeria and neighboring countries.
The country has invested several millions of dollars in the space program, with financial support from countries like the United Kingdom, who have a profound interest in the success of the program.
Quiet is kept, Nigeria has been building a steady and impressive presence in the space race, making the dream of manned space exploration a distinct possibility within the next few decades.
According to CNN, the “National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has launched five satellites since 2003, with three still in orbit delivering vital services.”
Working in conjunction with Chinese and other interested parties in the space community, Nigeria is on a steady march to putting a man in space.
While it’s not projected to occur until 2030, the strides Nigeria has made – with other countries scaling back their space programs – is significant.
In fact, Nigeria is fast becoming a hotbed for space activity for independent space enthusiasts eager to see these types of investments into the space program.
The mere thought of Nigerians in space program has forced me to alter my perception of what we are capable of.
I can’t just see us as corrupt scammers.
Now, when I think “Nigerian” I think ingenious.
So the next time you hear someone say something disparaging about Nigerians, or if you, yourself start having misgivings – remember this tasty tidbit.