Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hold The Power For As Long As You Like!!! Part 1

The Problem
Our sole power utility company has struggled over the years to provide constant electric power but have failed woefully. Nigeria Electric Power Authority (NEPA) generated and distributed electricity through few hydro-electric dams scattered around the country. Like most government run outfits, NEPA could hardly meet the demands of the people, with poor management, its dilapidated infrastructure and an ever increasing demand by the populace, all indices pointed southwards…and it came to be referred to as NEPA - Never Expect Power Always.

Government has recognized the fact that power (amongst others things) was the main problem that has hindered technological development in the country. Power accounts for a huge chunk of expenses of every business in the country and adds to the cost of the product or service. Even small scale businesses are not exempt from the problem. When communication service providers were asked to lower their tariff, they sighted power provision as the main reason why Nigerians pay the highest tariff in the world.

This problem is further compounded by the cost of refined petroleum products. Though Nigeria is the 5th largest oil producer in the world, we still import refined products. The cause of the problem suggests that no doubt a few people have enriched themselves in the importation of generators, refined oil products and the continued mismanagement of the relevant institutions that should correct these problems. That is a story for another day.

Only recently, NEPA was privatized, reborn and renamed PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) but like the proverbial old wine in new wine skin, the problems still persist.

Major multinationals like Michelin, Deawoo Motors & Phyzer, have relocated to neighboring countries, in search of more energy. Though government has sunk huge sums of money into the power sector, we are yet to see the results. The administration of Olusegun Obasanjo spent ……billions, with nothing to show for it. The present administration of Musa Yar-adua is prosecuting corrupt administrators of the fund – we are waiting to see the outcome.

CNN once aired “My Favorite Gadget” as a segment of their technology watch program, and their Nigerian bureau fielded their power generation set as their favorite. They spoke my mind, I wonder where we will be without our generators.


Like every other service in Nigeria, you have to solve it yourself. If the water taps don’t run, you sink a bore hole in your house. If the police won’t provide security, you create your own – or consult God or Babalawo (whichever you find more accessible). If the government won’t build your street, you pour gravel, periwinkle shells, stones etc to pave the road. To a large extent I think therein lies our problem as a nation, in the west, people come together (Class act) to force the local authorities to perform. But in Nigeria we say “Leave them!” “God will punish them!!” “Don’t mind them!!!” Our politicians know too well that nobody will stand up to hold them accountable – so the looting continues. You ask “what can we do? “

That’s a story for another day.

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