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Still on power


IT is said that of all the resources available in Nigeria, the one that is most plentiful is manpower. You find our professionals in all parts of the world, our doctors and medical personnel form a significant percentage of medical doctors in South Africa, America and even in Europe holding their own amongst the best.

In the area of computer technology, so much have been said about our own Phillip Emegwali. Amongst the professionals sent to certify our airport status from America the other day were Nigerians.

In the field of Nano Technology, Sanya Oni of The Nation Editorial Board reported on a Nigerian that is making waves in Singapore. In literature, we have our own Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda and others making their impact.

Why is it then difficult to apply all these brains, wisdom and professional competencies to our country Nigeria? I am saying this because the power situation of this country has assumed an “abiku” status; it is frustrating, it is draining and it is killing.

Why is power so elusive in a country with a surfeit of professionals when the solution to the problem is so simple and straight forward? Power is derived from so many sources, like the thermal, wind, solar, hydro, gas, diesel, petrol and so on.

The country is blessed in all of these; from the Niger Delta we can get petroleum, water and wind; from the Middle belt and the North, we can get solar, wind and hydro. So why are all these factors not imputed in our planning and if they are, what happens to the execution?

Now, let us come to our present situation. The Federal Government has targeted December 2009 to attain 6000 megawatts of power generation. The success of this project is dependent on the successful supply of gas from the creeks of the Niger Delta to the refineries and power stations.

To what extent have we gone to ensure the safety of our pipelines and what a good timing for the JTF to attack the militants bases? I posit that if we have factored in the impact of the militants along the pipelines, we would have devised other strategies of getting raw materials to our refineries and power stations.

The problem of power has been there before Obasanjo’s PDP government and the problem of the militants had also been there. If we are going to build new power stations, we would have taken note of the dangers in our creeks and find alternative routes of getting vital materials to our refineries and power stations.

For example, I understand that the Ghana refinery is as old as the ones we have in Nigeria and they get their crude oil from Nigeria. How do they get these materials to their refineries in Ghana? Singapore is an island with no natural resources, I am told that power flows over there for twenty four hours uninterrupted.

What I am saying is that we do not need to deface the whole landscape of Nigeria with pipelines in the name of supplying vital resources. Big tanker vessels can be stationed at points  of production at sea and after loading shipped to the various  ports like is being done with our imported fuel and diesel.

Also, fix our railway lines and make the rail the conveyor of such goods from the south to the north and so on. It is unfortunate that the destiny of a whole nation is being threatened by the inactivity of people  in position to steer our nation forward.

The wind power technology is being used at the rural level in some countries in Europe, why do we not borrow a leaf from that model? Our elites and rulers  travel and they see what obtains abroad, why they cannot translate this to Nigeria beats my imagination.

Power is taken for granted already in many countries including our neighbour Ghana and until we put it right we can never move forward. This brings me back to the question of our professionals in government.

Why do they perform so poorly when they  are in government? You hear phrases like “I will just do my own and leave,” “You cannot change the system,” amongst others.

Don’t we have men with principles that will stick to the ethics of their professions or cry  out and resign if things are not  working accordingly? Our elites and professionals need a lot  of soul searching, they have grounded this nation for their selfish interest.

For  example, why must the managing director of PHCN or our ministers for that matter operate on  generators in their offices and houses? Once ensconced in the comfort provided by the pecks of their offices, they fail to appreciate what the common man goes through. It is really sad.

I will suggest (this is not new) that the Federal Government ban the importation of all types of generators into the country and put to work the services of all our experts and professional engineers. With this action, PHCN will deliver in six months.

There should be no exception, the national and all state assemblies should direct money budgeted for generators and diesel to other pressing needs of the masses. It is important that we get this power thing right.

In summary, I have said that we try different ways to solve our present  power problem and not solely be dependent on gas powered stations. I have also posited that we cannot fully cover the safety of our entire pipelines, therefore, there is need to provide alternative means and routes to deliver materials to our respective refineries and power stations.

Finally, I stated that our leaders must be selfless and be ready to make  sacrifices. If they are deprived of the comfort of their generators, they will be more committed towards getting the power problem solved once and for all.

*Ikhiova lives in Lagos


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