By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
Along with food and water, one very essential basic need of man, and animals, come to think of it, is light. We thank God for day light which is available free to all living things. What would we do without it? When you think of the very poor results of our efforts in Nigeria (via PHCN) in supplying our citizens with man-made light, you can’t help but be grateful to God for His high quality light which costs us nothing, is harmless and convenient wherever we happen to be. What’s more, He doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor when making it available to us.
There’s this helpless fury in most Nigerians when they talk about the electricity situation in the country.
“Madam, just how long will we continue to suffer the consequences of the inefficiency of PHCN? I live in a suburb of Lagos, in an area that is considered low-density, and which people used to say was above power cut because we had light almost 24 hours, day in day out. That concession is gone! We had no electricity for six days recently, and this morning when it suddenly appeared, the quality was so poor that we had to go switch over to generator, to protect our appliances. We spent close to N20,000 on diesel in the six days that we had no light. That’s more than the recently announced minimum wage! It sounds outrageous, but it’s true. Scarcity of diesel pushed the price to N160 a litre! All these expenses bore a big hole in our funds, and some areas of our lives had to suffer, but we badly needed electricity because our means of livelihood depends mainly on the use of electricity. I think the government should declare a state of emergency on PHCN. Thanks. Pa Olawale.”
“Personally, I think PHCN should be disbanded totally and everything about it overhauled. All they have succeeded in doing over the years has been to change their name. The quality of the service they give to the nation is disgraceful and it continues to deteriorate. I stopped using government electricity four years ago when all my electrical appliances – airconditioners, freezers, microwave oven, etc. crashed.
When we were finally able to provide ourselves with new ones, we just had to disengage from PHCN.Yes,with the permanent use of generators, we get electricity supply at enormous costs, but we know precisely when to expect power supply and for how long. My wife and I run a small-scale industry and constant electricity supply is vital. Not everyone can afford to depend totally on the use of generators, but if we all decide to do away with the services of PHCN for a while, I’m sure they ‘ll sit up and perform better. They need our money to help pay their salaries.”
“Sister Helen, the freezer I use in selling soft drinks and frozen foods has been lying idle at the fridge technician’s shop for over three months now, waiting to be repaired. Rust has set in and I doubt if it can be restored to perform efficiently. The man used to have two small generators with which he carried out his work, but they packed up totally due to overuse. He has no money to buy new ones, and I have no money to buy a new freezer for my business. The quality of PHCN electricity is usually not strong enough for the efficient use of his tools. So, he’s idle most of the time. Yet, he has a family to feed and clothe, and various bills to pay. As for me, the cold store part of my business is gone and I now sell only provisions, waiting to be in a position to buy a new freezer. That means the sources of income of our two families is gone because our government cannot provide electricity. What a shame!”
”Madam, don’t waste your breath about the state of electricity supply in this country. Our rulers know what to do, but are not doing it because most of them benefit from the non-performance of PHCN.
”Is it the poor man who benefits from the sales of generators and petrol/diesel? We’re told that transformers have been brought into the country, but we’re not told in what communities they have been installed, and if power supply has improved in those communities. I don’t think we have a caring government at any level. Those who are running very small businesses and who need steady and good power supply to carry out their work, are really suffering. You go around in the afternoon and you see them sitting around, waiting for power to be restored. So, how do they and their families feed? How won’t criminal activities increase? – Ifeanyi, Abuja.”
“Mrs. Ovbiagele, haven’t all the rulers we’ve had so far been assuring us of better electricity supply? They come on board and nothing happens. It’s shameful that none of them, including this present administration, has been able to do anything concrete to bring us out of the quagmire. You wake up in the morning and you reach for your torch. You dare not use candles for fear of setting the house on fire. If the adults are careful, what about the little ones? Not everyone can afford a generating set. I no longer have one because the one I had about five years ago, packed up and I’ve not been able to get another one. There are so many bills to pay that one can’t spare the money to buy and run a generator. When you return home in the evening, blackness welcomes you in, and you reach for the torch that you sensibly left near the door on your way out. All these torches are produced in China and imported into the country.
”Don’t you think a caring government would tap into such a lucrative market and create jobs for her citizens by establishing factories for making torches, since providing us with constant and good quality electricity has defeated them? That would be a sensible thing to do, instead of helping to create jobs for Asians in their countries..”
“Madam, I just wonder why the individual state in Nigeria cannot tackle the issue of generating electricity for its inhabitants. It’s clear that the Federal Government can no longer efficiently go it alone. I think the experts should come together to find out what the logistics are for setting up state-controlled plants for generating electricity. The problem has dragged on for too long, and we should feel embarrassed. – Yetunde, Agege.”
We thank all those who wrote in, including those whose views could not be published due to a lack of space.