Nigerian Twitter is one of the most fun places to be on earth.You cannot go through your timeline and keep a straight face. Naija people would not let you keep a poker face required to scroll through the social web detached. You will either laugh, cry or even curse. From the obnoxious wolves of Naija Twitter forcing unnecessary trends to the armchair hypocritical philosophers and social media activists, there is no dull moment on Nigerian Twitter.
Over the weekend I stumbled upon a startling revelation while scrolling through my Twitter timeline, apparently there is a Yoruba man floating in space somewhere and we did not even know. In learning about this Nigerian astronaut, I was so full of admiration and pride for my country, but further investigation revealed a nasty norm.
From the look of things, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde has been floating in space since 1990, that is 26 years now(never mind his cousin forgetting basic 2+2). And his cousin that is a namesake of one our big pastors around here has been soliciting for funds from foreigners to help bring the astronaut home and of course promising to share entitlements with them in ‘due course’.
I am not going to dissect the intricacies of this scheme’s folly like the fact Dr. Bakare Tunde does not know that 1990 till now is 26 years and not 14, or that after 26 years (or 14 as you wish), Major Abacha is hanging somewhere lacking gravity and is still ‘in good humour’ as the letter claims. I am not going to poke holes into the story.
My major concern is the fact that this is coming at a time when Nigeria is trying to rebrand and save face amidst a tainted global image. At a time when we are flooding Twitter with#NigeriansAreNotCriminals, somebody is somewhere fabricating the most incredible tales of Nigerian spacemanship to fleece foreigners to the detriment of the already battered Nigerian image.
Apparently, this scam has been around for a very long time now, counting over 6 years and beyond. Three years ago, the National Space Research and Development Agency (NSRDA) said 2015 was the year they would produce the first Nigerian astronaut in space and 2015 came and went, we did not hear anything from them, maybe this year again then?
Astronaut in space or not, somebody was actually doing their homework and studying the terrain. The news apparently made the scammers dredge up the astronaut story, dust it up and look for new magas. An uninitiated mark would be conned because looking the story up on Google would lend it some credence with the NSRDA story somewhere in the background as backing.
Thanks to a brave woman, there is a Nigerian flag in the North Pole and Mountain Kilimanjaro of course. There is a good representation of Nigeria everywhere. But everybody take note, we are NOT in space yet. We will get there someday soon. NSRDA said 2015, maybe 2016? Or sometime in the nearest future, we are just not there now. Please just leave Air Force Major Tunde Abacha to hang in space and keep taking selfies, we would be in contact with him on Instagram. And tell everybody to tell everybody, spread the word.