By Chioma Obinna & Elohor Okagbare
The joy of the families of Mr Ifeanyi Chukuemeka, Mrs Olayide Omowaye, and Mr Idowu Olawuyi, and 17 others knew no bound recently as they received a home power solar energy for their variousÂ businesses. In the words of one of the beneficiaries, Mr.Idowu Olawuyi, a key cutter: â€œThis day, August 15, 2009 will forever remain evergreen in my mind.
This is a day my fellow Nigerians have made my dreams come trueâ€.Â Idowu spoke gratefully thus after he wasÂ presented with a solar energy by a group of Nigerians under the auspices of Nigeria Village Square (NVS), a gesture which they said was their own contribution to on-going efforts at finding solution to the lingering epileptic power supply problem in Nigeria.
They said their action derives from the realisation that lack of adequate electricity has left Nigeria groping in the dark, a situation which has continued to hamper the countryâ€™s develoment efforts.
They also deplore the situation whereby many Nigerians rely mostly on kerosene lamps as their source of light and blamedÂ theÂ problem on the inefficiency and inability of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to generate adequate power supply in the country. For them, inadequate power supply has not only contributed to the rising costs of foods and services but have continued to make life difficult for everyone in the society.
Many Nigerians, they acknowledge, now rely mostly on power generating sets for their electricity needs, but the fact still remains that not all Nigerians who need this source of electricity can afford it no matter how cheap it is in the market.
Reports also have it that many Nigerians have lost their lives to some substandard generating sets that have flooded the country. Unfortunately, little or nothing is being done to checkmate the tragic development. The situation has also not been helped by the fact that there is little or no effort from government quarters to encourage the development of alternative power supply in the country.
Among Nigerians who have continued toÂ suffer a lot from the problem are the artisans scattered in the various communities who depend a great deal on electricity to operate their machines and earn their daily bread. It is also an open secret that the problem of electricity supply has led to the collapse of many small scale businesses in the country.
Officials of NVS said it was against the backdrop of this unenviable situation that they recently embarked on a solar power project in three different locations of Akowonjo, Ogba and Ikeja areas of Lagos. At the last count, no fewer than 20 Lagosians have benefitted from the programme.
In a chat with Vanguard Metro shortly after the formal commissioning of the project at the popular Akowonjo Modern Market in Lagos, the beneficiaries were of the view that the equipment had not only boosted their businesses but has restored confidence in their clients.
Looking back at the pre-NVS days, Mr. Olawuyi said the epileptic power supply situation then was so bad that his business was almost grounded. He added that all he could do was to pray that God should at least bless him with a small Tiger generator to enable him feed his family.
The SpokesmanÂ ofÂ NVSÂ Mr Ebi Bozeme, who disclosed plans to reach other markets in Lagos State, explained that the solar home system is basically for areas where there is no light and where the national grid cannot get to.
Bozeme said the NVS was touched by the plight of these less-privileged Nigerians who rely solely on what they make in a day for survival. He described power supply in Nigeria as a major problem that most Nigerians are facing today, noting that even though there are other solutions to the problem the most commonly available is sunshine.
He called on governments in Nigeria to step up efforts towards providing alternative to the masses since the problem of PHCN has continued to prove more difficult to fix.
His words: â€œ We have installed 20 beneficiaries in three different locations of Akonwonjo, Ogba and Ikeja. Maintenance depends on how careful the beneficiaries are using the system, but talking about the maintenance there is no problem. All they have to do during dry seasonÂ is to bring down the panel and clean the surface. It has something to do with high density of sun light. All you require is just sunâ€.
He said this was in line with NVSâ€™Â determination to provide solutions that will move the country forward.
Undergraduate dies from police bullets
Tragedy struck in Festac Town, Lagos when a 100 level Lagos State UniversityÂ Political Science undergraduate was allegedly shot dead by men of the Festac Town Police Station.
An eye witness account revealed that the deceased, simply identified as Michael Egwu was going home in company of his friend who drove a red colour Toyota Sienna Salon car towards 52 Road junction of the estate when the policemen numbering about five demanded for the particulars of the car which Egwuâ€™s friend promptly produced.
The eye witness added that the policemen were not pleased as they further allegedly asked that their palms be greased, an action that resulted in a heated argument. Tempers however rose which led to Egwu being shot twice by one of the policemen who later disappeared from the spot.
However, good Samaritans quickly rushed the badly injured Benue State- born Egwu to Ituah Hospital on 511 Road from where he was asked to be transferred to Ikeja General Hospital.
But according to sources, Egwu died on the way having lost a substantial amount of blood as a result of the gunshot wounds.
Kerosene now N100 per litre at AP
The price of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) has gone as high as N100 per litre in most African Petroleum (AP) filling stations.
This is contrary to the directives from the Federal Government that the product should be sold at only N50 per litre.
Vanguard Metro investigations revealed that while some AP Filling Stations in the town prefer to sell in drums at price ranges from between N85 and above, especially in the night, others in the outskirts would rather sell to individuals at N100 per litre, the development that has made the product to have gone beyond the reach of a common man.
When Vanguard Metro went to town last weekend, the price of kerosene was not displayed by most of the filling stations even though petroleum and diesel have their prices conspicuously displayed at the entrance of some of the filling stations.
A source close to Vanguard Metro said some managers of these filling stations usually make an arrangement to sell in bulk to retailers rather than selling in litres to the final consumers. â€œMany of them prefer a situation where they sell in drums and get their money in bulk rather than allow people to buy with peanuts. Already, a lot of people no longer buy beyond five or 10 litres when a retailer could buy as much as N200,000 and above,â€ he said
â€œI decided to stop at the AP filing station along Ishefun road and I sighed with relief when they told me the product was available. I went there with N800 thinking this would fetch me about 16 litres but left there disappointed when they told me it was N100 per litre,â€ said Mrs. Bola Ayelagbe.