By Emmanuel Edeki
THE inability of the Federal government toÂ meet the 6,000 megawatts target it set for itself early last year, has once again cast doubt about governmentâ€™s sincerity aboutÂ solving the power problem in the country.
Early last year, the Yar’Adua administration promised Nigerians, that come December 2009,the nation would generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity, a development that was expected to improve power supplyÂ slightly in the country.
However in December last year,government claimed it could not meet the target, citing unavailability of gas among other reasons. Though the 6,000 megawatts was meant to be a little addition of powerÂ toÂ the national grid, and could notÂ guarantee constant power, Nigerians were expecting it. It was therefore a disappointment to many that the target could not be met.
The disappointment on the 6,000 megawatts, adds to a long list of failed promises fromÂ the Federal government on power over the years. In the days of the military, successive military Heads of State, promised Nigerians on coming to power, that they would improve the dismalÂ power situation. However, their tenures often ended without power improving.
Their civilian counterparts have also not fared any better. TheÂ Obasanjo regime, that took over from the military, also promised Nigerians that they wouldÂ Â solve theÂ Â powerÂ problem. But they too did not make any appreciable impact on the power problem. PresidentÂ UmaruÂ Yar’ Adua while campaigning for office, promised to declare a state of emergency in the power sectorÂ if elected. This has not materialised, two years after.
The availability of reliable power supply, is one need, Nigerians have been asking of their government, for a very long time.
Somehow, successive governments have failed to meetÂ Â this need.This need for power, is not misplaced. In our 21st century world of computers,television and machines,lack of power is certainly a problem. These devises work with light,without which nothingÂ meaningful can be achieved. This much has been written and said in the media to no avail.
The lack of electricity in Nigeria, has increasedÂ the use of generators, that has caused countless domestic accidents.It has caused unemployment as theÂ cost of doing business is high, and companies that cannot cope close down. Criminals use the coverÂ of darkness to perpetrate all kinds of crimes.People cannot recreate themselves, because they do not have light to do so.All of these, have made the country an uncomfortable place to live in.
The National Assembly it seems cannot doÂ muchÂ in the matter. last year, the House of Representatives, sought to probe the power sector, when it was revealed that $16 billionÂ had been spent in trying to provide power in the country with nothing to show for it. That probe ended inÂ a fiasco, as nothing good came out of it.
Some concerned people, have suggested that the non performingÂ parastatals be privatised, but government has not heeded that advice.
In the more advanced societies, when politicians do not keep to their promises, the electorate refuse to re-elect them into power. This realisation, thatÂ they mayÂ lose re-election ifÂ they deceive the people, or do notÂ perform well in office, makes these politiciansÂ to be circumspect about what they say during their campaigns and what they do in office.
So in most cases,they try to deliver on their promises.This isÂ however not the caseÂ in Nigeria. The absence of a credible electoralÂ Â process has ensured that politicians, get away with their deceit each time. Nigerians are no doubtÂ helpless.
In the circumstances therefore, the people willÂ continue to live on hope. TheÂ Â hopeÂ that one day, a leaderÂ Â would come, who will not only listen to the people, but do whatÂ they want.
Incidentally, the Vice President, Dr .Goodluck Johnathan, has just been empowered asÂ acting president of the federation,by a joint resolution of the National Assembly after the long absence of President Yar’Adua on health grounds.
In his first speech to the nation Dr. Goodluck Johnathan,just like others before him, promised to tackle power, infrastructure, security and generation of employment.
Said he: “Our march towards 20-2020 is irreversible. Therefore we see a need to prioritise on a few ofÂ the critical areas which continue to plague our efforts at engendering meaningful economic growth and development”.
Nigerians have heard these promises before. It is only hoped that this time around, the Acting president will live up to his words and solve the power problem once and for all.
Mr. Edeki is a staff of Vanguard Newspaper.