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.