Have you noticed that you have lost something? Have you realized that what you have lost has been missing for a very long time? There is a saying that “what you have never had, you will not miss.” Unfortunately, what we are missing, we have sometimes had, and that is where the problem lies.

Have you noticed that you have lost something? Have you realized that what you have lost has been missing for a very long time? There is a saying that “what you have never had, you will not miss.” Unfortunately, what we are missing, we have sometimes had, and that is where the problem Unfortunately, what we are missing, we have sometimes had, and that is where the problem lies. Our big brother came home from a long journey, and from his big mysterious bag of wonders, he handed out tiny candy sticks of electricity. We all danced around with glee, completely enamoured with this sparkling new toy. We were told that we could always keep it, so long as we paid our bills for it. We all agreed, and readily signed on, and that is where the fairy tale ended. Majority of us paid our light bills consistently, but we soon found out that this was not a guarantee that we could always have power. For whatever reason you might have, inconsistent payment sentenced you to a perpetual life in the twilight zone (hello darkness). Whichever way you swing, you lose, and what’s more, big brother expected us to be grateful for the little we did get. This is a very tired old story, that we have all rehashed at some point, but wait a minute here, where is the anger and outrage over our stole power? Does the Nigerian have a limit to what he/she will stomach? Is the acceptance of mediocrity a part of the Nigerian D.N.A.? Who or what is really responsible for the anaemic power supply in Nigeria? We are told that we have a built in capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts, as opposed to the 40,000 megawatts we actually need. Is it that the power supply companies did not envisage the population explosion of the 80s, even though we had epileptic or no power at all even in the 1970s. The civil servants claim that the equipment they have to work with are old, and badly maintained. I suppose that is the fault of all of us gullible consumers. After all, the technicians were sitting in their work stations, vandalizing the machine parts with their collaborating street touts, hoping for juicy replacement contracts, when we tried to distract them with our incessant demands for regular power. We just can’t seem to appreciate the fact that they are hard at work, can we? Entire neighbourhoods have been forced to pay power tolls, so that they can be given transformers, electric poles and cables. These, I suppose can be seen as our own investment in the privatization exercise currently booming in Nigeria. If you were unable to buy Nitel and Nicon Noga Hilton through subscribing to Transcorp shares, you might as well own a slice of the Power Holding Companies by supplying them with the equipment they should have bought for themselves in the first place.

Is there a possibility that the staff of PHCN might actually own some of the companies that either supply or maintain these equipments, which will make a proper investigation of shoddily done jobs almost impossible? Of course, I hear that the problem of exorbitant bills being sent to empty flats, and uncompleted buildings will soon end, with the introduction of pre-paid meters. Our hearts are thudding in trepidation, the hole made by the G.S.M. phone cards in our pockets, seems to be in danger of getting larger. Who exactly are these people, who import and sell us the power generating sets most of us can’t do without? Have they formed a serious lobbying cartel that makes sure that our power source remains an embarrassing anaemic patient? Someone said the other day, that they are more like our guardian angels, saving us from a life of perpetual darkness. That may be true, but come on, if you were in their shoes, would you want power generation to improve? Nobody wants to lose a 40-year old gravy wagon that never dries up. What about this impending privatization of the power industry, who will benefit the most from it? We can split hairs, wondering if our fat cat politicians, past and present, will turn around as has been the case, and buy up the power industry with the monies they looted from our national and state treasuries. That however, is not the major point of concern right now. What the average Nigerian on the street wants to know is;
a)    Will the coming privatization make power supply constant?
b)    Will the tariff be like the G.S.M telephony or the International Airline Ticket costs?

It is an open secret that Nigeria notoriously pays the highest ever bills worldwide, once the latest gadget finds its way to us. Never mind the fact that almost all of us have to live on less than one dollar or was it one Euro a day. Why did this government leave the power sector reformation until the very last days of their tenure? Is it so that if anything goes wrong, they wouldn’t be there to clean up the mess, or did they need the relative successes of the reforms in the telecommunication and banking sector to buoy up their confidence before tackling the giant that is power? We are groping around in the dark looking for the power to truly industrialize. To consistently watch our favourite programmes on TV, to combat the sometimes unbearable heat, and for the middle-class (whoever they are) to seriously consider making their lives easier by using washing machines, all electric cookers etc. The power to reasonably expect that gadgets in hospitals will work, especially when your daughter has been scheduled for that life saving surgery. There we go again, asking for more than we should, placing ourselves above our stations, stressing out the poor hard working government. Ungrateful little complainers all of us!

– Maureen

EnergyNews
Leave a reply