NIGERIA: 50 YEARS IN DARKNESS
History is the reminder of events; a bank of memory for the many faces yet unborn – Alexander Thandi Ubani
It is over 50 years since the exodus of the White men who used us to achieve their set goals. After years of domination in the name of colonization, they unwillingly left our abode for the sake of good conscience. (I think they should have stayed more to at least make our power sector effective). Through the years of abuse, exploitation, domination and control, the men who spoke as if through their noses gave up.
We thought we were in good hands when our fellow brothers took over the mantle of leadership. We fought with them for the emancipation of our people from the White men in hope for good fortune. But more than 50 years have elapsed with nothing to show for it.
We are in darkness; Nigerians have been in literal and figurative darkness in the hands of the politicians for over 50 years now. The elite – selected and elected leaders – have continued to wreck havoc on the masses with impunity and total disregard for good conscience. They have masterminded series and chains of institutionalized failures.
Rewind back to October 1st 1960, the day Nigeria gained her independence from Britain; since then, what has changed? The only visible change has been the coming and going of clueless politicians who have in one way or the other ruined the lives of our people. The dearth of infrastructural development, unavailability of social amenities, and absence of state and grass root development is a clear indication of their lackluster performance. The power sector has been the worst hit. Then we ask “Is it that the cutlass is not sharp enough or that the person wielding it does not know how to use it?” This and many more questions have begged for answers over the years.
The clueless spirit of our leaders is seen in their inability to fulfill a simple responsibility they owe to every citizen of the state – the provision of a steady power supply at an affordable rate. This right of every citizen is freely enjoyed in most civilized societies by all and sundry. The inability of our leaders to tackle this issue even in the face of billions of oil money is a broad-day-light robbery on the masses who watch helplessly as billions of Naira are stolen and diverted by the politicians for selfish use without repercussion. This disappointing episodic slaughter of conscience on the part of the political elite is a gross act of misconduct that must be met with total outcry on the part of every true Nigerian.
In today’s world, citizens of other developing nations such as South Africa, Algeria, Libya, Ghana and many more are already enjoying the dividends of good governance. Sadly, Nigerians are faced with cut-throat prices of epileptic power supply (which is not even seen for days, months and years counting). This dastardly act must be checked! The question is, “What does it cost the government to make steady the power supply? Are they that clueless, goonish and foolish enough not to restrategize or borrow the 'drawing-board' of some nations already enjoying this dividend? The insincerity on the part of our elected (selected) leaders who over the course of years have failed to orchestrate a solution to this problem is a clear indication that our enemies are within. They – the politicians – are our enemies.
A fact finding mission takes us across the trials and errors witnessed in the power sector in a bid to wrestle it from the hands of chaos.
It all began in 1951, when the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) was tasked to regulate, manage generation and supply of electricity in Nigeria; up till then, electricity supply in Nigeria was like the sighting of a mermaid in the dark. However, in 1972 borne out of a bid to provide better generation and supply of electricity, the ECN was merged with Niger Dams Authority (NDA) which had the responsibility of building and managing dams for power generation to form the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
NEPA as a government owned corporation was saddled with the sole responsibility to generate, transmit, distribute and trade electricity to all parts of Nigeria. Sadly, NEPA failed to live up to its billing; it condemned the nation to total darkness. Through years of epileptic power supply, exorbitant tariff charges, corruption and vandalization of NEPA equipment as a result of discontent from the citizens, the government deemed it fit to effect a rapid rebirth of the Power Sector.
It was as if the prayer of the masses was about to be answered. Many have complained because of the epileptic service rendered by the corrupt-minded NEPA officials who took turns to inflict us with pains. Many argued that because NEPA was a government-owned corporation, no wonder the total disregard for a positive change since government workers are known for their nonchalant and I-don’t-care attitude to duty. If it was a private-owned establishment, they would have been forced to live up to expectations. these accusations and countered accusations deafened our ears.
In March of 2005, a bill was passed into law effecting the much needed change in the Power Sector. As a rebranding technique, NEPA was changed to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the Obasanjo government. This move wrestled power supply away from government into the hands of private companies and investors. The sector was privatized; a call, many saw as a good omen.
The National Electric Regulatory Commission (NERC) serves as the regulatory body. Everyone believed this to be the last hope for the common man who over the years have witnessed institutionalized failure on the part of NEPA. They believed it to be the turning point in the Power Sector.
How have they fared over the years?
It is noteworthy to reveal that we have witnessed little or no change since the re-branding and privatization of the Power Sector. Sad to say, things have continued the same, even worse.
It seems like the Power Sector is under a jinx. The Private Companies in control of the Power Sector who are divided into 18 companies have failed to lift the curse of darkness dashed them by NEPA. Many years have counted and all they can show is a production rate of 4,500 MW of electricity which cannot even serve half of the over 160 million Nigerians.
How wicked and pathetic that the government will leave us to this nightmare to die in darkness while they go about their duties unperturbed.
Most bad of all, these private companies charge exorbitant prices even when they fall short of their responsibility to provide steady power supply. The thoughtless idea to hike VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT) at a jaw-breaking 750 Naira is a direct assault on the masses. The masses are forced to part with 750 Naira every month, use light or not. (So when you want to recharge say for a 5-month period, you have to calculate 750 x 5 separate from the money for your light. Then, if you've not exhausted the light you recharged after another 5 months, when you come for a recharge, 5 past months will be calculated with the additional months you want to buy just for VAT) How incredulous!!
Certainly, it is right to call for the help of NERC. It must stand up to its duties and come to the party by acting on our behalf. Right till this moment, power failure have continued to be a menace too big for our leaders to tackle. Their effort amounts to nothing but shame!!
It is a shame that while the majority of Nigerians languish in total darkness every night, the political elite sit in well lit mansions strategizing on how to loot the nation’s treasury.
Now, I am calling on you Nigerians to come and find a solution. Will you not come? Chai! There is god ooo!!
By and large, the burden is on the citizens who experience a bulk of the hardship thrust upon them by those in authority. Rather than alleviate the sufferings of the masses, the government and its agencies create means to extort, harass and exploit the masses in order to make more money. The excessive charges, bills and tolls are many of the government’s exploitory means which does not in any way serve the cause of the common man.
The inability of our leaders to provide basic infrastructure amidst excess wealth is a pointer to this fact. The wickedness, cluelessness, shamelessness, hopelessness and abuse of power on the part of the elite shows the depth of their misplaced identity.
How Nigerians still happily get deceived with some cups of rice and cheap naira notes for votes still baffles me. When citizens of other nations boast of political awareness and social responsibility, Nigerians in the 21st century still reside in the courtyard of oblivion to be deceived and be blown about like chaff.
No wonder, some people are of the opinion that they – masses – are the architect of their own misfortune. The inability of the masses to stage a revolution against the elitist class to hush this rampant misapplication of power and abuse of office has resulted in their being taken for granted. Sad as it may be, the solution to the problems seem far-fetched.
In summary, the repeated and misguided tantrum calculated against our people by our leaders must stop! Instead of allowing them the liberty to exploit their own people, it is duty-placed on them to alleviate rather than multiply the problems of the people.
It is a shame on the part of the elite – our leaders – that after years of underdevelopment, suffering, and ‘wuru-wuru’, they still bribe the electorates with petty money and cups of rice in exchange for votes. It is glaringly clear to all observers that our elected (selected) leaders have not our interest at heart; this is obvious in the policies they have formulated and implemented over the years. Their ineptitude and nonchalant attitude on critical matters that are supposed to salvage the cause of the common man is a clear pointer to their recklessness in service. How we wonder then that after over 50 years of self-rule, no past let alone present government could muster the boldness to at least make power failure a thing of the past? Gutless hypocrites!
Instead of investing their time in creative and meaningful ventures, the elite plan and strategize on the latest avenues to loot the nation’s treasury in a bid to save for their unborn children. They ride in siren-blaring expensive and exotic cars ready to knock, manhandle and kill the same masses that elected (selected) them via cups of rice, tin tomatoes and petty naira notes.
The high-rate of corruption on the part of our elected leaders shows how smeared their consciences have become. Many cases of corruption go unattended with the toothless Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) playing to the gallery. It is obvious to all that our leaders have long planned to kill rather than save us.
No wonder our president was proud to say “There is no corruption but mere stealing” that is why politicians exploit power for their own personal gain; they steal knowing quite well that no one dares hold them accountable. Stealing and corruption are same and evil!
How unkind of these loafers to condescend so low as to sell their own people for ill-gotten riches. Each government come with promises that become far-fetched and empty immediately they claim the mantle of leadership. They and their cohorts use the masses for their show of superiority: beating, flogging, reckless driving and show of superior power is their in-thing. The police have become agents of oppression used to intimidate and harass people. Over 50 years since independence, one would assume we do have grown. In the literal context, when a person is 50 years and still does not know his left from his right, the person is considered a fool forever.
In that sense, Nigeria is a failed state. It is duty-bound on the masses to stage an all out attack on all those elected (selected) to govern them. The era of corruption, inability to provide social amenities, election rigging, physical and violent fist cups between (shameless) legislators, killing and kidnapping of political rivals, bribery, abduction of chibok girls, bombing of innocent citizens, hiking of PMS price without recourse to its bad effect on the masses, purchase of bulletproof cars and hiring of private jets with taxpayers' money for personal purposes while the poor languish in penury are acts that must be totally wiped from the system.
In this 21st century, the people must show signs of enlightenment and do away with those orchestrating this rippling foul fart. They must repel all unnecessary domination meant to force pain down their throats. They must be resolute and avoid taking cups of rice and petty cash for votes.
But how can they live up to this billing when the elite have structured things in a way that poverty rules the land? Poverty is the nemesis of my people; no wonder then that the politicians ride them at will.
In an egalitarian society, all are considered equal. Therefore, all citizens in a state must speak out with one voice against their oppressors. Let the sycophants and saboteurs become silent!
The excesses of those in leadership positions must be halted to forestall a total eclipse of good. Yes! Go tell the dolts – our leaders – that their inability to stage a simple task of making power supply consistent is the bane of our development. This assembly of calamitous blunders has no space in our common aspiration.
Then we ask, “What positives have we witnessed since the removal of the FUEL SUBSIDY and the hike of PMS Price for petrol?
It is clear even to a blind man that our leaders are a bunch of insincere liars, thieves, saboteurs, junk-heads, sycophants, dullards and clueless messengers of evil.
Their opposition to the removal of immunity clause and imposition of capital punishment on corrupt officials says more of their intentions. The sad news is that we are yet to face the reality of our present predicament. We must stand up and say no to their excesses! After all, no be only them waka come!!
It is sad to note that only a few people in government (If there is any at all) would stand to it that a handshake is a contract and man’s word is his bond – not our leaders. They will stab you in the back while smiling to the ruthlessness of their spilled guts. Too bad!
Daily Post Nigera
A piece of creative writing by
A Poet, Playwright, Writer and Thespian