Vol. 1, Issue 20, September 30, 2003
Nigeria Launches Anti-Embezzlement Satellite
In a fiery liftoff from north-western Russia, a Nigerian satellite blasted into orbit Saturday, propelling one of the poorest nations on Earth into space for the first time.
"It makes me proud to be a Nigerian," said Jacob Monroe, a 27-year-old security guard in the commercial capital, Lagos. "It shows our nation is progressing. We've joined the space age."
The government plans to use the $13 million satellite to monitor water resources, soil erosion, deforestation and natural or man-made disasters, space agency spokesman Solomon Olaniyi told The Watley Review. But the satellite's principal mission will be to monitor email traffic.
"Nigeria has a very serious problem with corruption," said Joseph Akinyede of the National Space Research and Development Agency, based in the capital, Abuja. "Every day, unscrupulous individuals are siphoning millions out from our economy."
Typically, money is smuggled out of the country with the aid of people overseas, particularly in America. Deputy finance ministers and bankers contact people overseas and make arrangements to transfer money out of Nigeria, usually sharing a percentage with the person who assists them in the transfer.
"These criminals are taking twenty to twenty-five million dollars at a time," said Akinyede. "Nigeria is far too poor to survive this hemorrhaging of resources."
Appeals to American consumers have not helped stem the flow of money out of Nigeria.
"Let's face it, if you had a chance to make an easy $5 million just by helping some Nigerian banker transfer money to the states, wouldn't you take it?" said financial analyst Jeffrey Goldberg. "It's not like these opportunities just drop into your mailbox on a daily basis."
The Nigerian government hopes that the satellite will assist in identifying potential embezzlers as they are in the process of emailing their requests to people abroad.
"We've got a strike team ready to go," said Akinyede. "The next banker who tries to move $25 million out of the country is going to be in big trouble."