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Powerful lies: Familiar stories on blackouts

The great masses of the people ..will more easily fall victim to a great lie than to a small one”, Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945, German Chancellor. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 130).

“Privatisation of electricity distribution in the country will come into effect next January, Power and Steel Minister, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu said yesterday. DAILY TIMES, November 10, 1995.

Hitler, one of history’s most horrible leaders and arguably the worst in the last century, discovered one secret which all bad rulers share. They run governments which lie to the people all the time. In fact, lying is the centre piece of government policy for such rulers.

Fortunately, no Nigerian leader had come close to Hitler, perhaps because none of our leaders had a propaganda chief as inventive as Joseph Goebbels, 1897-1945. But, even though lacking in the genius for releasing whoppers, our leaders have tried to deceive us virtually all the time.

Perhaps, on no single matter had Nigerians been told more lies, than on power generation, distribution and supply. And, they have all been great lies. The statement credited to Abacha’s Minister of Power and Steel was dug up from a thick file which had been maintained on the power sector in Nigeria since 1994.

Reading further, the Daily Times report revealed that the reasons why the Federal government wanted to privatise the power sector at the time were the same advanced by the Obasanjo administration in 2001, the Yar’Adua government in 2009 and now the authorities under Jonathan in 2011 till date. There is no need to list all of them. Only one important reason overrides all the rest – inability of government to guarantee supply of gas to those power plants designed to use gas.

Bearing in mind that Abacha’s was a military and draconian regime, which had more powers to deal with saboteurs than any other since then, it is noteworthy that even that government admitted its impotence in this regard. Yet, without an iron-cast guarantee with respect to the regular and uninterrupted supply of gas, privatization will not solve our problem in the future.

Instead of making this confession, past and present governments have continued to deceive Nigerians that they were/are capable of providing regular and increasing supply of power over time. They have failed miserably and they will continue to fail as long as those gas pipelines remain as vulnerable as they are now.

As the reader can see; for almost twenty years, Nigeria had made very little progress on power – including the three years Jonathan had been in government. That is the truth. Apart from using different words, the underlying attitude had remained the same as the following examples will illustrate.

When Dr Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education challenged the government to explain what it did with $43 billion in external reserves, it met in 2007, one response came from Dr Reuben Abati, Senior Special Adviser to the President and a Ph. D holder. Writing under the title HYPOCRISY OF YESTERDAYS MEN, Abati, among other things, asked the former Minister to disclose how several billion was spent when she was Minister.

Furthermore, he went on to claim that the Jonathan administration, which began in 2010, met power distribution at under 2,000MW, and had increased it to 4520MW as at the time our erudite scholar was sending copies of that article to the media. It was intellectual dishonesty at its worst.

Even, the worst undergraduate in any of our universities can see that Abati’s response failed to address the simple question: how was $43 billion spent? Furthermore, the President’s spokesman left the impression that 4520MW was being distributed steadily everyday when in fact that shameful feat was achieved for only a few days, and since then it had been the familiar story of less than 4000MW distributed every day – a target reached before Yar’Adua departed this world.


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