By Olaitan Ajiboye
I remember growing up in Kainji and living in (senior camp) NEPA estate, where we enjoyed constant and uninterrupted power supply. During my stay in NEPA estates of Lagos Thermal Station, Egbin, I experienced constant supply of electricity. The power supply there was unlimited. I honestly did not know if there were people who would go for several hours or days without electricity.
The assumption I made would be seen as ignorance; however, it was due to my young age. The reason, the Power Holding Company staff quarters, enjoy these uninterrupted power supply was because they have to benefit from their primary responsibility. Although I doubt if it is still the same story today in those staff quarters.
The poor state of power supply is troublesome; you would consent with me that, it is an inconvenience to most people. The erratic state of electricity is unspeakable. The people have been reduced to such level that they always have to express their gratitude anytime the power was restored by screaming ‘up NEPA’!This has got me thinking; why are all these problems not being fixed? Why does the government fail to provide the basic necessary infrastructure for the people to enjoy?It has become the norm to have private power generators in homes in Nigeria; this is constantly referred to as ‘I pass my neighbour.’
Nigerians provide for themselves what the government is supposed to provide. This is the case for most infrastructures such as roads. Some inhabitants have taken it upon themselves to tarring the road leading to their homes, and dig boreholes to provide water. However, this is only applicable to residents who have the resources to do so. Taking responsibility to improve the infrastructure does not exempt them from paying the electricity and water bills. If you are not buoyant capable of providing all these for yourself as a Nigerian, life continues to be frustrating.
You would wonder what the government’s responsibilities are when they have virtually ‘pushed’ their responsibilities back to the people they govern. What are they doing with the generated revenue?
Taking the electricity as my subject of discussion, I thought, why does the government administration at state or federal level fail to take it upon itself to making sure they sort out our deplorable, pitiful, pathetic and sorry state of power supply? I do not think we need any miracles to sort this out, it only requires determination of the head of government to do that.
During the rule of President Olusegun Obasanjo, he promised to increase the megawatts of power generated by the Power Holding Company by appointing the late Chief Bola Ige (SAN) as the Minister of Power and Steel. Even though the late Bola Ige failed to achieve this, he was frustrated by some mafia in the same industry. No improvement was recorded. And the same story applies to other administrations.
Despite the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan went further to privatise the Power generation and distribution company, which I personally applauded, there have not been any significant improvements recorded. The power supply has deteriorated.
Having a personal power generator is good, at least you could turn on your generator whenever ‘NEPA strikes.’ But you see, apart from the noise pollution, the fumes from the generator are very dangerous. According to Dr.Olatunji Ekemode, a toxicologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), “Generator fumes can be deadly when inhaled, as carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the body tissues. When oxygen is displaced in the body, it prevents blood from carrying out its functions, including transporting oxygen around the body. This situation can lead to death” he said.
So it suffices to say government’s failure to provide public and general power supply, and allowing its citizens to fend for alternative by them is indirectly endorsing death of it citizens. Even if they do not die immediately; as a result, of the fumes inhaled, over time it will affect them and eventually lead to sicknesses and death! So the government should be held liable.
One of the best gifts any President could present to Nigerians right now, apart from security of lives and property, is constant and uninterrupted power supply. I am aware it will have an influence on private generator businesses, but you cannot favour the micro over the macro population. The people need to have a safe and uninterrupted means of power supply; they deserve the best services.
I could not agree more with Mr. Musa D. Abdullahi; electric power supply is the bedrock of national development; its economic impact is enormous. It reduces the cost of production for manufacturing companies.A reduction in the cost of production would mean a reduction in prices of goods and services. There would be an increase in investments in the country from multinational companies. More so, stable power supply would provide job for the unemployed graduates. It would also, to some extent, reduce the demand of petrol thus reducing the price of petrol in the market. The list is endless and thus my emphasis on the need for a constant supply of power.The government needs to focus on how to restore market equilibrium of power. This will ensure that the demands of people are met, and the supply is constant.
Olaitan Ajiboye is on Twitter: @Mayjorh