One of the worst nightmares of anyone living or doing business in this country is the erratic power supply that we all have to deal with. We have been living with these for several years and we still have this situation unsolved because of the greed of a few people. Electricity is a very simple issue and I still do not understand why my dear country has made a big deal out of it or rather choosing to politicize the solution to erratic power supply. We only hear about billions leaving the government account but we can’t trace the journey of those billions as though they have the wings to fly on their own. I recently saw a newspaper report where the government of the day in 1989 promised that there will be constantly power supply. In 1999 when the civilian government took over, we got the same promises. We have had this very promise repeated in 2003, 2007, 2011 and some are beginning to make the same promises again but only refraining from giving a definite time now.
So many young businesses in Nigeria are dying not because the owners of the business do not know what to do or how to plan themselves but they have to spend almost all the money they make on trying to power their offices. There are some businesses that can do without electricity but there are so many that cannot. The welder relies absolutely on electricity to work. The barber on the street needs electricity to work. The bakers can bake faster if there is light for them to use electric oven rather than using the ones designed with bricks and doing everything manually. Most offices cannot run when there is no light because they cannot power on their computer systems. Even those who use their laptops to work have the grace of two or three hours to work and our dear friend, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, might still be holding power for another 5 hours or though out the day. If you have the light restored in a few hours or in one day you would even be glad. I did not know how bad the light situation was until I moved to my present location.
I almost pray on daily basis to have light in my house. Having black outs for 2 to 3 days is a regular occurrence. Sometimes there is no light for a whole week or even two to three weeks. Sometimes in April, we experienced the height of it all. The light was gone for one whole month without blinking for a second! I thought that was the worst until I got to hear about someone whose house is just a few meters away from mine and they have not had light in their area for more than four months. At some point the company’s name was National Electric Power Auhority (NEPA) Plc. Some Nigerians changed the abbreviation to Never Expect Power Always Please Light Candle. Later the name was officially changed to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Plc and Nigerians humourously changed the name to Problem Has Changed Name.
How do you expect to build an economy in a place where there is no light? For me as a writer, there is no work when there is no light! When I started writing I used to write everything with my pen and then transfer to a computer later but things have changed. The permeation of computer systems and tablets these days have made things a lot easier. It will be double and unnecessary work to first write with your hands and to think about transferring to a computer later. That should not even happen in these days of blogging! A friend recently mentioned that she spends as much as one hundred and sixty five thousand naira every month to power the bungalow office that she uses! That is enough money to pay the salaries of four to five office assistant in the country at the moment. There are several issues that the absence of light is causing and I can go on and one to talk about them. Unfortunately that is not why I am writing this.
When the problem of electricity has been solved, Nigerians will have a better life. Companies will spend less on electricity and they probably will think more about employing people. For some time the government has been talking about selling the power company and some are resisting the sale. There are two parties doing that. Those who know that the electricity problem of the country will be solved and they will lose out (because they are either importers of generators or one way or the other making a lot of money from the problem) and those who thinking that over the years the government has been insincere and cannot be trusted again are the people opposing the sale of the power company. Finally the company has been sold but that is still not what we want. Nigerians do not really care who runs the company if there is electricity for us to use twenty four hours though some people will prefer to have the government run it so they can pay so little.
It used to be a dream to have telephones in every house in this country. Now it is no longer a dream because there are several people who have more than one mobile phone at the moment. Just as we were able to surmount the challenge of telecommunications in this country, I see the lights coming on, staying and refusing to go again! I look forward to telling my daughter about the days when we never had lights! I want to relate to her how she was born in a very big catholic hospital that will only turn on their generating set around 7pm and turn it off at 11pm leaving us to our fate with Power Holding Company for the rest of the night and a serious kong fu with our invisible singing friends – mosquitoes. The presence of light will make a lot of people spend less. We can buy more food stuff in bulk and store away in refrigerators. I know people who do not have to cook very often because they cook and put their food in refrigerators. They only bring out allow to defrost and then warm or cook to eat.
If for anything, I want to thank the power holding company for allowing me use their light to at least type this article and really look forward to that day when the light will be turn on and never to be turned off again!
(The light was taken immediately after I wrote this article. I added this from my tablet.)