God Save Us From Darkness!
Nigeria, a country with the largest economy in Africa and the most populous black nation in the world with about two hundred million citizens, by 1999, the beginning of civilian rule, was generating 1750 megawatts of electricity which by 2016 had risen to a paltry 4,000 megawatts with 2.75 trillion naira (Ministry of Power) thrown at power generation. International statistics say there should be one megawatt of power per one million people! We had the National Electric Power Authority which became the PHCN and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. Now electricity distribution has been privatised. In Eastern Nigeria the providers are the EEDC, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, and in Lagos it is the Eko Electricity Distribution Company and there are others serving other parts of the country. What all these bodies, government or private, have in common is that they ripped off and continue ripping off citizens of Nigeria charging what is popularly known as `crazy bills’ unrelated to actual consumption! The government having got tired of duping its own citizens sold off distribution to private predators to continue what government had been doing, ripping off hapless citizens.
In my earlier post, THE PUBLIC COW, I made a brief mention of my struggle with electricity supply in my home town, Ndike, where I spent September and October 2016. In August 2015 the EEDC staff had a run-in with some citizens of Ndike who accused them of vandalizing their own installations. The matter ended up with the police and the all-powerful EEDC cut off the whole town from supply. So, by the time I reached Ndike we had been off power supply for one year and two months. By the time the EEDC took over from PHCN and came to my house to campaign for payment in 2013 I was said to have owed N55,000.00. The sad thing was that it was my country home which I seldom visited since I was living in Lagos and paying bills to EKDC. So who was consuming the electricity?
But in October 2016 at the EEDC office I was shown `my bill’ which was now N103,000.00! How crazy can they get? Now Christmas is near and I want to go and spend a week or two at home. I am told that EEDC is about to reconnect the town provided a sizeable proportion of their crazy bills would have been paid by the middle of the December! So if citizens do not pay the extortion money there would be no electricity for Christmas for the measly number of hours they are able to supply light each day. Some days of course no light would be supplied. In the midst of this confusion EEDC is distributing application forms for pre-paid meters to be installed. You pay N50,000.00 now and wait for six weeks for installation!
So, I am back in Lagos relieved that at least for some hours each day I have electricity supply, not continuous, mind you, but never at night. By seven or eight in the evening religiously I have to put on my Chinese generator. Each week therefore, despite recharging my electricity meter regularly I spend at least N9,000.00 fuelling my generator. Then, exactly two weeks ago light went off permanently. There followed the usual visits to EKDC to plead for restoration. The reply was that the mallams have vandalised the supply by cutting off thick armoured cables to sell the copper inside for trinkets, something that happens often at the approach of festivities like Christmas, Easter or Sallah! They, the FESTAC Branch of EKDC, have applied to head office and are awaiting supply of the missing items. So I have to resort to my generator not just at night but anytime during the day I want electricity! It has been costing me an extra N5,000.00 a week.
So this is my story on electricity in this country of ours. I am told that some people have happier tales to tell. But this is a country making noise about joining the elite industrialised countries of the world. They have such rubbish visions as what they call Vision 20-20 by which time they would have arrived!  Where can this country get without steady power supply? Industries have abandoned the public supply for the ubiquitous generators. Artisans, electricians and such cadre of citizens cannot function.
And who are the main beneficiaries of this state of affairs? They are the Chinese, the Japanese and the Koreans who make toy generators to suit even the poorest citizen. Others are the Europeans and the Americans who provide the larger generators for industries, commercial houses and private residences for those who can afford them. Of course we cannot forget the rich Nigerians who make loads of money importing them for sale and government officials who for financial gain make sure the effort to generate enough power comes to nought! 

To make matters worse we have plunged into recession. Nobody knows when we will get out of it. Experts even predict years. So the suffering continues – no light, no water, roads in a mess, the government owing all and sundry and seemingly confused in this dysfunctional society. This is where we are after sixty-six years of ruling ourselves. God have mercy on us.

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