"Gone On Arrival" could be a far better term describing the current "condition" of the NigComSat-1 satellite. In a feature news piece published in Vanguard online dated Lagos, Nigeria, Friday, November 14th, the news site published the following...
The Action Congress (AC) has asked the Federal Government to explain what really happened to the country’s 40-billion-naira communication satellite, which was launched into orbit with fanfare in 2007.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the official explanation that the satellite was merely faulty and is now being repaired in orbit, where it was parked like a car, is totally unacceptable.
“The government owes the people a more detailed and sensible explanation on how a satellite that cost 40 billion naira in taxpayers’ funds and built to last 15 years can suddenly go bad, with non-functioning solar panels and all that, after just 18 months in orbit.
“For those who may not appreciate the huge cost of the satellite, 40 billion naira is about one third of the 1-billion-dollar budget of a particular African nation for 2009!
“It is important to let the people know what really happened, after all the present administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua prides itself as an adherent of due process and the rule of law.
“For starters, did the award of the contract for the construction of the satellite follow due process? Was it awarded to a capable and proven manufacturer? Who certified the satellite fit for deployment in orbit?
What happens to those who have transponders on the satellite? These are some of the questions that need answers urgently,’’ AC said.
The party also slammed the government for hoarding information on the fate that has befallen the satellite, saying officials of the administration only grudgingly admitted that something was wrong with the satellite after the media reported that it had gone missing.
“They now came out to say the satellite was not missing but was parked in orbit for repairs. Whatever play on language they are engaged in, one thing is certain: the 40-billion-dollar satellite is out of action!
“We have had a reason to warn in the past that this administration should overhaul its information management process and try to be proactive. Now, we have seen again that the government has yet to heed this warning.
“It would have been better for the government to have immediately informed Nigerians after confirming that something had indeed gone wrong with the satellite, instead of waiting for the rumour mill to thrive before owning up, and even then failing to come clean,’’ AC said.
The party said it was imperative to get to the root of the problems of NigComSat urgently because the country is in the process of launching a second satellite into orbit.
It lamented that the hopes that the communication satellite would help link, especially through the Internet, the remotest parts of the country to the information superhighway have now gone up in smokes with the news that it is out of service.