A constant burden on my living experience in Nigeria for over 20 years has been the inefficient power supply; I won’t be surprised if this was the case before I was born. As a result of the inefficiency in this sector, Nigerians have resulted in the use of generators to power their homes, offices, stores, everywhere, which has resulted in massive noise pollution – another constant burden.
It is hard to believe that the government in the past 56 years have not proffered a solution to this national embarrassment. Lately, there has been lots of talk by Nigerian leaders on the need to revive the economy through locally produced products. How feasible is that without the provision of constant power?
Growing up, whenever ‘NEPA’ ‘brought the light’, we shouted ‘UP NEPA’, and when ‘they took It’, there were hisses and curses at NEPA. NEPA (National Electric Power Authority) used to be the institution in charge of generation and distribution of power in Nigeria before it became PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria). NEPA was privatised to bring an end to the constant power cuts experienced, but little has changed, if not gotten worse. The real problem lies with our power generating capacity.
Nigeria is endowed with about 5 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves – 9th highest in the world, and could potentially power the whole of Africa alone according to Kandeh Yumkella, the former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for ALL. South Africa generates about 44,000 megawatts of electricity, 40,000 megawatts is available in New York City alone. Spain generates about 68,000 megawatts of energy, a country of about 46 million people. Yet, Nigeria, a nation of over 170 million people struggles to even generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity.
It begs the question, why has Nigeria failed to tackle this fundamental problem, the most basic of all necessities to its citizenry? Some say that there is a bigger conspiracy that the fellows at the corridors of power – senators, governors, ministers, and so on, have generator importation businesses and efficient power generation in Nigeria would be detrimental to them. I oppose this viewpoint, and I believe or would like to believe our leaders are smarter than we give them credit for. Surely, with the economic woes and the dramatic drop of the Naira, they are experiencing ‘bad business’ even in that business.
Others say it’s currently the militancy in the South-South who have sabotaged government plans to improve electricity by blowing up pipelines. Our power output woes predate the militant insurgency; therefore, the problem is more deeply rooted. I believe it has stemmed out of a litany of administrative and structural inefficiency since independence and lack of patriotism by the leaders, officials and even the citizens.
The government must realise that Nigeria would NEVER be self-sufficient; not even an export leader, if regular power supply is not provided. Our exports are low because the ease of doing business in Nigeria is low, ranked according to the World Bank as 169 out of 190 countries. A major cause of this is the unavailability of power.
Frankly, I am not a fan of generators; the noise, the fuel purchase, everything pertaining to it I detest. An abnormality has become normality in Nigeria. Such that generators resume duties once it gets dark in all homes. Countless cases of robberies and killings have occurred in neighbourhoods due to the lack of serenity at night. We the Nigerian youth have to take charge because nothing is given to us in this part of the world. It churns my stomach to think that power outages would still be in existence in this country in the next 20 years.
Darkness is a terrible thing, and even scripture says ‘that in the beginning, the earth was without form and darkness was all over it. Then God created light, and he himself saw that it was good’. So why can’t we ensure for ourselves what is good? I have had the privilege to live in the best and the worst places economically in Nigeria, and one profound thing I realised is that no one can function without power. In the worst places, the poor lowly citizens sit outside doing nothing productive in the darkness except chatting or complaining, hoping for light to come – to make their night just a bit better. This lack of productivity from a large stratum of the population is a bad indicator for the nation.
We must be fully prepared for the days ahead. In this extremely modern world, electricity is as important as the air we breathe. If we are to have a shot at being a great nation, we need to act. We need to remind our leaders that we are not docile, and they have a responsibility to us. Therefore, we must protest the inefficient power supply in Nigeria. The power of protest cannot be over-emphasised. What future and legacy can this current generation, set down for the next generation?
This is an article to reawaken us all. To remind us of whom we are and what we deserve. We are Nigerians! Smart, intelligent, versatile, productive, creative folks (the list is endless) and we would not be short-changed. We need to wake-up and shine our eyes if we ever want 24hrs power supply.
Written by: Adetayo Adesola