By Tony Eluemunor
Nigeria is dying…and it is being killed by many factors. Anyone would be right to suggest that Nigeria is being killed by the diseases that are plucking off Nigerians at a fast rate as the health-care delivery.
system is still near that of the stone age—though Nigeria supplies medical doctors and nurses to even the developed countries. Worldwide, “5.4 million children under five years old died in 2017.
The fact that in those countries with the best health, child mortality
rates are 10-times lower than the global average suggests that most of these child deaths are preventable.” .
In India, the number of child deaths fell from 3.4 million to one million; In China it fell
nine-fold from 1.4 million to less than 160,000; In Bangladesh more than five-fold from over 500,000 to 100,000; In Ethiopia from 439,000 to 189,000; And in Brazil from 235,000 to 43,000.2 But, in Nigeria? It was as high as 714,000. Even in China with a population of over a billion people, only 156,000 children died.
Ask about countries where children are most likely to die and this list will crop up; Somalia, Chad, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Mali. Between 1990 and 2017 the number of children dying each year fell by 7.2 million. But then, Nigeria has for long ceased to be part of any good news that has cheered the globe. In other parts of the world, governments use policies to bring about certain outcomes that shape the socio-politico-economy. As we all know, sometimes the results are wholesome and so bring about progress and development.
But in Nigeria, the results are often pernicious and ruinous. And that brings us to today’s issue; irregular electricity supply.
Do our leaders know that as long as low and erratic electricity supply is what it serves Nigerians on a daily basis then Nigeria is being asphyxiated, yes, suffocated, to death just like a being that is denied
breathable air? In other parts of the world, governments use policies to bring about certain outcomes that shape the socio-politico-economy. As we all know, sometimes the results are wholesome and so bring about progress and development. But in Nigeria, the results are often pernicious and ruinous. And that brings us to today’s issue; irregular electricity supply.
On May 18th, I was at the Sky Memorial complex, an Abuja small business beehive by 8.30 PM, to photocopy certain things but there was little or no activity there because there was no electricity with which to power the array of photo-copier machines that dotted the place or to even light up the place.
The small-scale business men and women there had been managing on electricity-generating sets all day had closed shop that early.
I was shocked because the Sky Memorial almost never slept in the early 2000s. But in the 2020s, it is adapting to a new life, no not life, but to a slow death.
That was when I remembered what I was also going through. I was supervising a large-scale print job and I had had to depend on a diesel-guzzling 500KVA mammoth beast for electricity simply because the power from the national grid was not there. The newsprint cost has doubled from last year’s rate. So, too, the cost of diesel. I thought of the average mom and pop business owners, and my heart wept for Nigeria. She is dying.
Come May 29, next year, and the Mohammadu Buhari administration will end. That would mean another eighth years fluffed away without any improvement in the country’s electricity supply. This same problem defied all the administrations since 1999 or even since 1976—since then Nigeria has seen no improvement beyond the shameful 3,000 megawatts supply for the entire country.
A Vanguard report showed that while many small-scale businesses generate private electricity at higher cost to remain in business, others have been compelled to close shops. Mr. Uche Donald, a trader in Festac Extension, said: “I spend an average of N1, 500 daily to power my generator. For Bose Alabi, a boutique owner at Jakande estate, “I hardly consume power three hours daily.
I run a cold room, whereby power is needed 24 hours every day, but due to the insufficient power supply, I have to run my generator for 24 hours daily. In another report, “Small Businesses in Nigeria Face Downtime Amid Fuel, Electricity Shortages published on March 18, 2022, Nigerians poured out the anguish of their souls: “Weeks of scarce fuel coupled with a failing national electricity grid are hurting countless small businesses across Nigeria. Some businesses have temporarily shut down,while others reduced hours to cope with the energy shortage.
In January, Toochukwu Ohatu started a tailoring business to supplement her laundry business and make some extra cash. But barely three weeks after she set up, the business was almost grounded by the electricity issues affecting millions of Nigerians. Without power, there’s no way to run a sewing machine. Starting my tailoring business in January was a major leap for me and then we’re struck with the fuel scarcity, no power supply.”
To the inadequate electricity, Nigeria has added the burden of petrol,diesel and aviation fuel scarcity on the citizens. Not too long a ago Vanguard reported: “This week, President Muhammadu Buhari, promised citizens that the fuel and electricity issues will soon be over.” Nigerians have been hearing such promises for decades. Unfortunately, the President gave no information about the new refineries that would enhance petrol supply in the country or the new power plants that should increase the electricity generated and transmitted in Nigeria.
So, which policies did Buhari introduce in Nigeria that gave him the confidence to make such promises? Promises are made to be kept—especially when they are made by the President of a country to his fellow countrymen and women.