The Powerful Truth About The Power Paralysis

Electricity remains one of the major parameters with which to judge a nation’s socio-economic advancement. A nation condemned to a power paralysis (perennial darkness)cannot be said to have been a serious player in any field in a world that has gone nuclear. Nigeria is a Giant in Africa with the feet of a clay because of the prevalence of darkness in our national space. This persistent conundrum has robbed the nation of achieving its full potentials as destined for her by sheer providence.

Why has NEPA and now PHCN consistently failed to power the nation? Why has it become possible for our nation to remain in undeserving darkness over the decades? Solutions has been advanced but they have just remained nothing but empty rethorics or at best politics. Commentators have over time proffered solutions but nothing has changed for the better. It is only in Nigeria perhaps that after suffering power cuts for days people rejoice whenever power is restored hailing NEPA for conveniently restoring power which in most cases are half-currents or unsteady full currents.

When I was still a kid in the village my mother used to sing a song whenever during the Christmas holidays the rich from the cities in the village came back home and powered their homes with generators. At such occasions she would sing: “electirik o, electirik o, oku ndi nwere ego ji afu uzo oh!” (Electricity, electricity, the light with which the rich sees!) Then I was wondering when richness would come my family’s way so that we could equally enjoy electricity like our rich neighbours and brothers.

And then unlike now my mother never knew that under normal circumstances the government through its agency NEPA owed us a duty to supply us with electricity with us paying for the services. Now my mother and I know better. But a lot of our compatriots, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers especially in the hinterland still live their lives in absolute crushing natural darkness. For these unfortunate Nigerians NEPA or PHCN only exists in the big cities and never in their consciousness.

When on May 29 last year President Umar Yar’Adua was invested with power at the Eagles Square in Abuja signifying a new dawn of rule of law and due process in place of impunity and omnipotence perpetuated by the Baba of immorality and corruption, Olusegun Obasanjo, he made a solemn pledge to declare an emergency in the energy sector that has defied every solution. Eight months on nothing is happening in that critical sector; power has continued to elude greater majority of Nigerians damaging electrical appliances at homes in the event of half-current or fluctuating power provision.

However the powerful truth about the power paralysis came from the President himself penultimate week while playing host to ‘Madam Due Process’, the World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, former diligent Minister of Education in Abuja. According to President Yar’Adua the Obasanjo administration wasted over US$10 billion in the energy crisis from 1999 to 2007 without any positive result! Ten billion dollars thrown away and yet the nation still gropes in the dark? Good God! With such huge foreign hard currency a virgin nation without any power infrastructure on the ground could have successfully electrified a whole landscape!

According to reports President Yar’Adua declared that even if huge funds meant for the energy sector do come in he would ‘quarantine’ or “warehouse” same until further notice
because sinking more money into the problematic sector does not make sense when the trillions his depraved predecessor threw carelessly towards rehabilitating the sector yielded no dividend. “So we are exercising caution to ensure that any further funds to the sector would translate into production and delivery of energy to the ordinary Nigerian.”

Pray, how did Obasanjo spend the whopping amount being gracelessly credited to his regime? Who were the beneficiaries in the power contracts? Wilbros of America and Siemens of Germany? A lot of investigation needs to be undertaken in order to situate the culprits in this national criminal collusion to perpetuate darkness in the homes of Nigerians! The power puzzle is one that must be resolved by the Yar’Adua administration if it ever hopes to achieve anything tangible and win over the goodwill of Nigerians, legitimacy or not.

Besides it is an established fact that there is an unpatriotic profiteering mafia holding the nation’s power possibilities hostage. These include the importers of generators and the square pegs in round holes working PHCN down. Those importing generators do not envisage any change soon in the comatose power reality and they lobby hard for the status quo to remain. The situation reminds one of the rich elements, luxurious bus owners in Anambra State who always work against any move to establish an airport anywhere near Onitsha and Anambra state in general which could ‘kill’ their transportation business.

President Yar’Adua, if he is serious about tackling the power mess, needs to consult with the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, who told the bewildered nation sometime ago how the late ‘Cicero’ Bola Ige, when he was the Minister of Power, confided in him of how a bossy monster in the high heirarchy of PHCN with presidential connection was the major obstacle in the way to resolving the power paralysis. They both visited the incestuous former president Obasanjo with a specific demand to relieve the monster of his position but OBJ refused for reasons known only to himself.

The Nigerian power crisis calls for desperate measures to make whole again. Unfortunately it appears the President with legitimate crisis swirling around his office does not possess the capacity or political will to do the right thing. Yet the truth remains immutable and self-evident that unless and until the energy problem is resolved Nigeria will continue to sing unserious songs of development.

Becoming one of the top economies by the year 2020 (as being parroted by politicians) will then remain a mirage when the year 2020 comes and still finds us struggling with elementary power supply. That is about the powerful truth about the power paralysis.

Written by
SOC Okenwa
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