FAST FORWARD TO THE FUTURE – Imagine a time in the future when the world would have been over-populated and over-dominated by world powers whose struggle for territory would make them look for other available spaces elsewhere. Where best is there to get more space than outer space? For those powerful nations who already have satellites mounted in space, this will be an easy cheese. They simply gather the intelligence from over time and start making trips out to space to claim a spot and build their outer space colonies.
WELCOME TO NOW – That moment you are about to drive to the next town in Nigeria and you have less than half a tank of fuel in your car…What’s even scarier is the fact that almost all the filling stations on the road will be shut tight. Why? Because there is scarcity of petrol.
Now, even if we have not been told the reason for it, news made rounds recently that Nigeria will send an astronaut to space by 2030. While a handful of Nigerians got excited over the news and a lot more shrugged it off and opined that they would rather hear the solutions for Nigeria’s current problems than space tales, it is pertinent that we take a look into this.
Obviously, the announcement has raised more eyebrows and questions than applauding hands and the reasons for this does not need a rocket hop to be deduced.
Is it yet another white elephant endeavor which is just to score a political point?
Is it a covet diversion from the stark realities Nigerians are currently facing due to the economic quagmire that besiege the nation?
Is it to be a stroke to the nation’s ego or that of the individual who mouthed the idea?
While the answers to these questions remain in rhetoric planes, let’s take a look at the reactions that accompanied this news and saddle up for even more questions in this post.
Someone asked if there will be enough fuel and electricity to power the rocket that will fly to space and if the Nigerian space traveler won’t be stranded for lack of fuel to return to earth when he gets there.
Another asked if it isn’t better to say that the Nigerian space travel will be done by year 5050.
Yet, more asked if it wasn’t better to focus on the problems of today than to start thinking of traveling to space in 2030.
These questions all point to one thing – Nigeria needs to fix its current problems before we get to the proposed 2030 year of the Nigerian Astronaut.
Ofcourse the current problems just might hinder the actualization of this space dream. For one, the rocket that will carry the astronaut will need to be worked on with electrical appliances and we know it will require electricity to be powered up when it is ready. With the current epileptic power supply and constant drop in power generated from the national grid, we just might make history by making the first generator-powered rocket in human history if we don’t fix the sorry electricity situation in the country today.
Another major problem that is hitting the country and that might be a hindrance to our rocket man is scarcity of fuel. A space rocket needs 1million gallons of rocket fuel to get to space. Now, with the glaring fact that we do not refine even the fuel we use for our cars but rather import them, are we going to buy rocket fuel from Russia to power our rocket in 2030 and at what cost?
It sure would be quite preferable to refine and source our own rocket fuel from here. We need to start building local refineries that can refine not only PMS for cars but that can refine and produce rocket fuel in due time. No, we don’t have to play ‘politricks’ with this. We need to be truly committed to seeing it happen and also ensure it happens.
One other question that begs an answer is this – While Nigeria plans to put an astronaut up in space by 2030, what are the plans of other nations that have already done so way before now? Will we be yet, late again, if we wait all through these years just to get to put out a ‘coat of arm’ wearing astronaut out there and pat ourselves in the arm?
From the brief trip to the future at the beginning of this write up, it can be deduced that other nations that already have satellites and have made outer space trips might just have started building their space colonies before 2030 where our astronaut might go to lodge in space, refuel and do other things while being seen as a late comer that came on ‘Nigerian time’. Ofcourse he would pay through and through for those services.
Now, note that the time there is expressed as ‘Nigerian Time’, not ‘African Time’. This is deliberate because already, an African have made a trip out to space.
Are you surprised?
You didn’t know that the first African to go to space actually went there in 2002? He was born and raised in South Africa. He is hailed as the first Afro-astronaut (even though he is of white descent) and had to undergo training in Russia for 7 months before that trip.
His name is Mark Shuttleworth and going to space was his personal dream which was made possible with research started by some South African Scientists. He actually concluded a number of experiments they did and was able to go to space from there.
And yes, South Africa has a national space Agency called SANSA (South Africa National Space Agency), yet they don’t make noise about it.
In 2013, South Africa’s ANC Youth League congratulated a Black South African, Mandla Maseko, for being the first black African enlisted to be part of a space travel. He was hailed for defying physical and political gravity.
Besides these, have you heard of Space X? It is a space project by another South African called Elyon Musk.
Elyon Musk invented the online payment system called Paypal and has invented and worked on so many other things. He went on to work on his Space X project and NASA had to partner with him.
Now, the truth is that he needed good power supply to be able to work on the things he did. He needed to be able to fund his project without buying fuel at an outrageous cost to power his generator or travel around while working.
My country plans to have an astronaut in space by 2030 but basic infrastructure has been politicized over and over while being used as a permanent feature of every government’s campaign manifesto.
South Africa made their country conducive for the likes of Elyon Musk to develop himself and stun the world with witty inventions.
I checked a recent list of top 500 African Companies and found out that South Africa has the highest number of Africa’s richest companies. And yet they haven’t announced and politicized going to space or sending an astronaut there.
Even with the problems they have there, the country has got the very infrastructure that helps such businesses and pursuits thrive.
My country wants to send an astronaut to space by 2030 but right now most of her citizens can’t travel to the next town and back without their pockets or bank accounts having a huge space after the expenditure.
Do I believe that Nigeria can have an astronaut in space someday?
But of what benefit will that be to her citizens?
You see, the first men to go to space did so over 47 years ago. They were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and were both seen as celebrities of sorts when they returned to earth from the first recorded space trip in human history. Pundits say it was just another ‘feather-ish’ accomplishment with no clear benefit other than educational research.
Space travel is a project of the future for humanity. It is about man venturing out to see opportunities in space, explore new discoveries and carry out a few other ‘hush-hush’ activities they intend to stun the world with – some are already doing so.
But please note that it is first a dream carried by individuals. Individuals venture out and then their government establishes Space Agencies and start with the knowledge from the individual.
In Nigeria, sadly, our government shoot for lofty goals, spend huge money on equipment and projects and yet fail to see that all we need is for the country to be stable and conducive for her citizens to develop and create the things that will advance this nation.
In one of his ‘Common Sense’ videos, Senator Ben Bruce pointed out that Nigeria has underwater cameras and the likes but lack skilled people to man it. We put so much emphasis on acquiring equipment and machines and forget that the people needs to be properly equipped in order to man those machines and make them and the nation work.
Africa’s first Black Astronaut, Mandla Maseko
Too much priority is placed on our mineral resources and too much is being said or done on the grounds of political grandstanding, point-scoring, etc. Our human resources tend to be repeatedly neglected and efforts to truly make Nigerians get a better deal out of the government seem to be portentously thwarted either by persons within the government of the day or the opposition who distract them and even create conflict and crisis where none existed.
If we want to make this country work, we need to come more together and make it work. We must not dastardly oppose the moves made by any government in power just for the sake of making them look ‘clueless’, ‘inept’, and ‘incompetent’ way ahead of elections. Nigeria has been plagued with the same problem of poor infrastructure for years over.
We need to wake up, come together and solve this problem in this generation so that the next generation of Nigerians will have something to thank us for.
Dear politician, basic amenities and good infrastructure are what should be made available to the people without making it look like you are doing them a favour.
At this juncture, please permit me to point out that the 2030 space travel ambition seems to be the only projection into the future that the present government has made.
Every great nation today came to a point in national realization in their yesterday and built from there. They began to commitedly build into the future they saw for themselves and their leaders came together to make it all work. The likes of world powers like the US and UK both have ‘United’ in them. The likes of China, India, Dubai etc closed up and looked within to develop themselves out of the rot they were in.
Every nation needs a vision. What is the Nigerian vision?
Is there really a road map vision for this country?
Does Nigeria have a concrete vision of where we are headed in the next 30 to 50 years?
We have leaders, yes, but where are they leading us to?
A leader should have or at least see a vision and lead his/her people towards and into it.
As earlier pointed out, the only concrete projection into the future so far is the Nigerian Astronaut dream project. However, without a concrete vision, we will just be a nation orbiting and floating around in space.
Dubai was made great by a single vision of creating a beautiful oasis in the desert. India became a tech hub after determining to use technology to advance their society. China is economically independent right now because they grew local industries and today, we are asking them for a $60bn loan and giving their currency a place in our foreign reserves.
All these nations couldn’t do it without their people. Are we investing in our people?
More importantly, while we pursue or not pursue a vision for the future, the government of the day should solve the nation’s problems of today. Doing so will give the citizens confidence in whatever future is promised.
Telling us a Nigerian astronaut will be sent to space is not enough. There has to be tangible benefits of that travel outlined and concrete steps taken from now to not only ensure it happens but first to fix the problems of now that just might hinder it.
– We need to start improving our electricity supply.
-We need to set up and run our own refineries.
– We need to re-inforce science studies in schools. With the rate of cheating in exams and the outdated curriculum being used in schools, we need to overhaul the education system from bottom to top.
– We need to establish research institutions.
– We need a grand plan that will activate that ambition
And at the end of it, what will it give us after we successfully send a man to space and back?
Let’s pretend it will totally transform Nigeria.
But I really think the major benefit will be that we will be seen to have solved some of the problems that plague the nation if we improve electricity to power our national rocket, establish refineries to produce rocket fuel (at least car fuel will be easier), improve our education system and do other things to make it all a smooth take off to space.
Sadly, some of these politicians won’t be active by 2030. So, the right thing to do is to set the grounds right for the young ones that will make that rocket trip possible.
We aren’t asking for too much. The government should tackle the ‘now’ problems of electricity, fuel, insecurity, outdated curriculum, etc. We will build from there. We are already building from here and we are doing so with generators and expensive spending on fuel.
If you are a young man and you have dreams of being an astronaut, you are better off researching and working on projects that will eventually lead you to that dream rather than downloading every hit song that drops online and passing your day and time obsessing over things that don’t get you closer to your dream.
Don’t sleep and dream only at night. Wake up, stay up and work on your dreams even if it requires doing so through the night.
Finally, it is the youths that will deliver and live in the future of Nigeria. Let’s invest in them even as I urge them to invest in themselves. Our youths will have to rise and defy the laws of physical, political and psychological gravity that hold them down and create platforms/products that will skyrocket the nation into the future. I believe we can.
Philip Asuquotes is a frontline media and strategy consultant who believes that the African continent will be advanced by Africans through their intellect and committed endeavors.
You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org
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