[Opinion] This country has 130million governments!

Please pardon my hitting you with such an out-of-this-world title. For
I can wager my quid that there is no country on earth with as little
as five governments not to talk of having as much as 130million
governments. Impossible. Such doesn’t exist. Countries are generally
known to be run by one, not two governments.

One may say, there are countries whose population are in tens of
millions, so what is he talking about? If a country is 23million in
population who then will constitute the remaining 107million
governments? Even if there was, what would such a country be like?

Now, here is what it would be like: the citizens will be entitled to
one or more governments depending on the population. They will
apparently be in charge of their affairs, providing for themselves
amenities that a central government should ordinarily provide for
them. It would be a case of everybody for himself and the country for
us all. Go no further, I now know a country in that cast.

And the country that comes to mind is Nigeria.

The title of this piece would have been: This country has 130million
local governments, but most people know that we have past that stage
as some individuals provide for themselves facilities a local
government won’t provide for its people. Someone argued that a local
government is basically what every well-to-do family in the country
have become to itself. Therefore, the would-have-been title has come
to be a cliché. As of this moment, families and individuals with the
wherewithal have progressed into becoming a federal government unto
themselves.

One of the facts pointing to this is that Nigerians are now generating
their own electricity. We had known electricity generation and
distribution as a preserve of the Federal Government. But Nigerians
are now shouldering that responsibility. That is what our ‘government’
has forced us to do. If this smacks of being good-for-nothing, you
decide.

This composition is inspired by a study released last week which
revealed that about 81 per cent or 130million Nigerians, out of the
about 160million Nigerians, generate their own electricity through
alternative sources to compensate for irregular power supply. The
actuality was arrived at after a series of Power Sector Polls
conducted by NOI Polls Limited for the second quarter of 2013.

I hope you won’t let your imagination overwork your brain by trying to
count the number of Nigerians that can build and maintain a power
station. No, they do not go that far. They simply get themselves the
“I pass my neighbour” generating sets you know, and life goes on from
there. This has led to the generation of over 6000 Mega Watts of
electricity as against the meagre 2,866.4Mega Watts currently produced
by the Nigerian government.

Speaking at the Nigerian Institute of Management(NIM) Inaugural
lecture that held sometime in March this year, the Vice-chancellor of
UniLag- Professor Rahaman Bello said, “An estimated 6,000MW is
generated via individual and corporate outfits to meet their minimum
demands for electricity.” Note that this 6,000MW is just for business
outfits. When you add the ones Nigerians generate for their domestic
use, then would you better understand which is the real government.

However, I have an issue with the NOI Polls report. The report, to me,
is punctured by a gaffe they shouldn’t have allowed. No, it has
nothing to do with the statistics, my issue lies with their use of
language in presenting their findings. Many Nigerians will agree with
me that NOI erred by describing that generating apparatus 130million
Nigerians rely upon as the alternative source.

It is, rather, the other way round. Many business establishments and
homes see PHCN’s power supply as the alternative, while the energy
they derive from generating sets becomes the major source. Even the
submission of Professor Bello, just like nous, lends credence to this.
For a source that produces 6,000MW is the major source while the one
that brings about 2,866.4MW will at best be the recourse. Please let’s
forgive NOI, after all, to err is human and to forgive is divine.

But, with a setting where generating sets become the major source, it
then means we live at the mercies of the plants. I’m talking about the
hazards we contend with on account of generating sets.

To start with, try to create a mental picture of the cacophony of
sound that 130million generating sets will generate in a country and
you would behold an extremely noisy country. When you’re done with
that imagination, think about the fumes from generating sets as it
affect our health and earth and you’d understand how much the
institution we call government loves everybody.

Talking about how much they love us. In spite of our trying to
complement their ineptitude by contributing our over 6,000MW to the
national grid, they still want to impoverish us. How? By the move of
National Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) to make it mandatory
for electricity consumers to pay a fixed charge of between N700 and
N800 monthly, up from N500, for electricity supply that may not have
been supplied. Where is the love?

To make matters worst, they said the over 100 per cent increment takes
immediate effect, poor service delivery notwithstanding. Hear the NERC
boss- Sam Amadi, “the tariff must increase despite shortfalls in
service delivery.” How insensitive can authorities be in a democracy?
Perhaps, it wouldn’t have been so spiteful if he had left out the
shortfall in service delivery part.

By that statement, it’s as if they are telling us that “we know we are
cheating on you but what can you do?” A dare for us to catch them if
we can. Even if the Multi Year Tariff Order(MYTO) permitted them to
periodically increase electricity tariff per kilo watt, couldn’t they
have spared us the agony of making the increment at this time when
service delivery from their end is abysmal. Only in Nigeria!

Are they so out of patience that they couldn’t wait to have the crisis
in the power sector fixed before pauperizing us with their outrageous
electricity tariff? This only goes to show how hypocritical our
leaders can be. You’ll always hear them admonish us to be forbearing
with them while they tackle our energy challenges, yet they themselves
aren’t patient with same.

It seems they don’t believe the situation will improve hence their
haste in increasing electricity tariff without a commensurate
improvement in service delivery. This position is made more plausible
by the fact that they, as insiders, know a lot about the situation
than we outsiders know. It’s possible they have seen a cul-de-sac in
the energy crisis biting the country.

We have been greeted by all manner of stories on why our energy crisis
persists. We have been told of system collapse, inadequate water in
the dams, shortage of gas supply to thermal stations and theft or
vandalism of power equipment as reasons for our poor electricity
output. We have also heard of the presence of demons and mafia as
reasons for persistent blackouts in most parts of the country.

This question always props up in my head whenever we are given
reasons, rather, justification for our being kept in darkness- why are
same reasons not affecting countries that are enjoying interrupted
power supply? For instance, excessive vegetation along transmission
highways was also given as one of the factors robbing us of constant
electricity, why isn’t this story peddled in South Africa?

The most unfortunate part is that countries whose citizens take
electricity for granted don’t spend as much as we do in providing and
maintaining their energy infrastructure. With the humongous sums spent
and being spent by the Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan
administrations, it’s a shame we just have 2,866.4MW of electricity to
show for it.

I’m sure the money these administrations spent surpasses the
cumulative amount spent by Nigerians on buying and maintaining the
generating sets that have yielded over 6,000MW.

Only that we don’t manufacture the plants here in Nigeria, else the
money used in procuring them would have remained in our economy. As it
stands, any generating set that we buy creates extra jobs in the
foreign country where it was produced that obviously has a government.

Those ruining(sorry running) Nigeria should let the country have one
government. For only then would many other things fall in place.

Written by:
Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
Editor-in-Chief,
wazobiapost.com
ug.ugovester@gmail.com
@ugsylvester

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