Saturday, November 15, 2008

NEPA In Space

Ok, so this isn't really funny, but I stand by the words of the great sage, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, which I shall paraphrase as follows: Why I dey laff? Man no fit cry.

On other worlds, and in alternate realities (by which I mean in other countries on Earth) satellites possess solar panels for main power, batteries for back-up power, and a little fuel for course corrections and such. The solar panels are of durable construction, having been refined over decades of research, and while they may eventually fail, their life span is measured in years, not months.

In Nigeria, accelerating in its quest to be unlike any other country on the planet, solar panels only last about 18 months. Which is why no one should be surprised that our brand new communications satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1, which cost us around N40 billion, has lost power, and been shut down to prevent it from crashing into other satellites from the aforementioned worlds and sparking an inter-planetary conflict.

It would be unimaginable in any other country that a piece of equipment which is still virtually brand new, and which was purchased at huge cost to the taxpayers could fail so soon, and nobody is brought to book. At the time of the launch of the satellite, most Nigerians didn't want the damned thing. And after its launch, many questioned the wisdom of purchasing a satellite possessing such antiquated technology that clouds could disrupt its operation.

As for the company NIGCOMSAT, it immediately engaged in a pissing contest with the NCC over who could determine the operation of the satellite, with the NCC arguing that it had supreme oversight when it came to the issuance of frequencies to customers, and NIGCOMSAT saying it could sell its frequencies to whomever it damn well pleased. That the satellite has been shut down puts an end to that quarrel.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the whole business, however, is not that a new satellite has failed already (which leads one to ask if the bloody thing was, in fact, new) but the fact that websites reporting on the matter can't seem to agree on what it cost Nigeria. Of those I've seen so far, the BBC and VOA say it cost $340 millon, Yahoo says it cost $311 million, and Space Mart said it cost $257 million. And we all know what that means, no?

As for Baba, who made sure to name the so-called "Space Center" in Abuja after himself, he should know that he has now achieved the impossible. He has managed to export NEPA into Space, and he should be applauded.

1 comment:

Chxta said...

When you think about it (and manage to put the embarrassment behind you), it is actually very funny.

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