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As it is clearly written in Psalm 121, the question in all lips about our electricity conundrum is ‘From whence cometh our help’? This is because, the situation has become totally hopeless and it is has gone beyond the DISCOs, the usual suspects in this matter. We blame the DISCOs because they relate directly with us. After all, it is the face that is close to the palm that receives a slap, just like the tree at the roadside receives countless matchet-cuts from restless passersby while only the person whose feet step into the stream is likely to be drowned! ( I am in a proverbs mode today).
More than 5 years ago, I was so exasperated about this electricity affair that I had to ask the DISCOS,‘when should we start dancing? Or rather giving the stories flying around here and there, shall we ever dance?’ (DISCOs; when shall we start dancing; Ik Muo, BusinessDay, 11/2/14). As it was 5 years+ ago, so it is today: disconcerting stories are still flying around, making it doubtful if we would be on the dancing floor in this generation. Join me to browse the media space on recent electricity related stories. Here we go: ‘Power grid suffers total collapse; TCN may expel Discos’( 1/7/19). That was the 8 total collapse in 2019 and ‘The government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria, which manages the grid, blamed electricity distribution companies for the system failure, which it said occurred at 9.10 am’on Sunday, 30/6/19. During the last collapse in May, the TCN said it might have been caused by the failure of the generator in one of the facilities! So, TCN uses generators? The more you seek, the less you find!
Then, this one: ‘The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), explains reasons for cutting off power supply during rainfall, saying it does so to save lives, properties and to protect its equipment’( 30/6/19). At least the Abuja big men are lucky to receive explanations. Where we, the ordinary citizens reside, they cut the damn-thing with reckless abandon and without any explanations whatsoever. This also makes it clear that in other to improve power supply, we should banish rainfalls but the electricity generators will then tell you that poor rainfall is adversely affecting power supply!
Let’s move on: ‘Despite 208 Electricity Line Items In 2018 Budget, A Nigerian Community Lives In Darkness’: this is due to the bizarre procurement process in which MDAs are empowered to procure and install electrical infrastructure ‘The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has seven transformer related line items. The Federal Ministry of Education was given eight, seven of which have no identified location. IN the Federal Ministry of Health, there was a project to deliver a 300 KVA transformer to an unnamed location. The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, which is chiefly concerned with shaping public opinion about the government, is empowered to provide one transformer. Even the Ministry of Labour and Employment…’ has its own share! Then: ‘A prolonged blackout looms in parts of Lagos and Enugu states as the TCN suspended some facilities of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company and the Ikeja Electricity Distribution PLC from the national grid’ .(27/6/19). Late last year,(20/12/18, The Daily Trust commented on the endless blame-game over the electricity shortage across the country ‘when government accused the Discos of low investment in their networks’. Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing Mustapha Shehuri said that” Generation capacity has improved; transmission has improved; but the distribution companies are not taking power from the transmission company.” Two days previously( 18/12/18), it was reported that‘THERE is palpable fear by electricity generation companies, GENCOs, that output may not improve in 2019. They had expected to see a working template from government for improved activities but which has not been made available’. On 1/5/19, Professor Adesoji Adesina,during the2019 First Award Winners’ Lecture of the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) at the University of Lagos said ‘it may take 2,000 years for Nigeria to get steady electricity’. However, mercifully, theElectricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria have said it will take about $100 billion – approximately N36 trillion, worth of investment in Nigeria’s power sector over a period of 20 years for the country to enjoy stable electricity supply.(23/6/19). Twenty whole years! Meanwhile, ‘the nation’s power generation dropped to 3,390.7 megawatts on 1/7/19 as seven plants, including three built under the National Integrated Power Project, sat idle’ while on 17/5/19, ‘Zimbabwe’s Minister Of Power(was)Sacked Over 8-hour Outage’ Daily( 17/5/19). Just 8 hours? Has anybody been rebuked, ordinary rebuke, over woeful electricity matters, even when power outage disrupted presidential functions?
You have seen why Nigerians now resort to Psalm 121. I know that God is all knowing, all powerful all capable and VERY compassionate but I don’t know whether you have received this message which I have received several times, even this week: God cannot do for you what you can do for yourself! I don’t know whether this has any Biblical roots but it is good that we bear it in mind as we continue to ponder on this national calamity( next week).
Other matters: BOS…Too early in the day
I don’t know about others, but my major challenge in this column-writing business is that most often, there are so many issues begging for attention that even a daily column would not be enough. I am not a fan of the political class, irrespective of party affiliation, because they are all birds of the same feather, propelled by gluttonous avariciousness. My views on the recent elections that brought the BOS of Lagos, among others into power, are in the open sphere. But I was VERY glad on 20/5/19 when he, as a governor-elect, declared publicly that he would end the Apapa gridlock within 60 days. Within me, I said: here goes a man who has his plans worked out and who is sure-footed. Despite the order from Abuja on the Apapa gridlock and the fact that trailer parks built by Ambode were almost ready, I believed it was a bold and enviable paradigm in governance. I took a mental note to write on that statement and its strategic implications for Lagos governance in the next four years. However, there was a shocking and embarrassing volte-face from the same BOS, who has become a full-fledged governor. On 19/6/19, exactly one month after the First BOS Declaration, he did the Second BOS declaration, where he denied the former, stressing that he promised to review the gridlock, not end it! And while the first declaration was on the cozy grounds of Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, the second one was from the Rocky Mountains of Abuja. What is this review all about and why should it take him 60 whole days just to do an ordinary review? Why did he not deny the 60-day quit notice to Apapa traffic madness when it was first made by the press, which is now accused of putting words into his mouth? Anyway, our people say that if a bird discharged 20 droppings within one second of perching, then it would be a deluge when it settles down to real business. I hope this will not be the pattern of promise reversals and denials in the next 4 years. And that reminds me about how he and his principal rode roughshod over Ambode. I have no sympathy for ‘Ambo’ because as our people would say, the snake usually goes down through the route it went up. The force that threw him up also threw him down. However, our people also warn the second wife to always remember that the cane with which the first wife was flogged is still behind the oga’s chair. And when you worship an insatiable god, the god will, after taking everything from you, come for you! And a god that ask a man to gratify him sexually, actually wants the man’s head. That was in those days because these days, ‘man de chop man’!