Viewpoint

April 24, 2024

Settle electricity power or die struggling

electricity

By SUNNY IKHIOYA

IT is not theory or conjecture. It is a matter of fact. Without light, there cannot be progress. Every form of development begins from there. Remove darkness by enthroning light, and this will open the people up to see ahead. Until you see the pathway clearly, you will not be able to arrive at your destination. That is the challenge confronting Nigerians. We do not seem to have a destination, from top to bottom, and that is why we keep going round in circles.  

I will propose here that we first sort out the issue of light, power and electricity, and that will be the beginning of our rannaissance, our turn around to the top. It is said that a people become what they want to become by choice. Several decades ago, Nigeria ranked higher in the development indices than China. Today, China is now a First World nation, while Nigeria has remained where we were. The way government is approaching the power issue is not the best. We have argued about the rationality of introducing subsidies to trigger economic growth and development. 

My grouse has always been on how the government handles these subsidies. If you direct it to end as a waste basket it will go in that direction but if you direct it with a clear purpose for growth and well handled and supervised in that direction, it will help the growth and development of the country. Some people do not want this country to grow as a united and prosperous country; the most unfortunate thing is that these institutions and humans are being fully supported by fellow Nigerians; that is the irony of our situation. 

The news has it that some Northern governors went to confer with the United Nations, and I ask: for what purpose? A toothless United Nations that has sat idly as weaker nations are being manipulated and brought to their knees one after the other. That is the body we are running to for solutions to our mass illiteracy, multidimensional poverty, banditry and kidnapping challenges. 

Problems that we all know the root causes; we are running abroad for solutions and the solutions will be what the World Bank and the IMF have recommended, which have never worked in the past and which will not work now. All we need to do is cut our waste and profligacy, redirect our priorities and be open to the citizens about the true position of things and we will make progress. There is no doubt that our leaders are under tremendous pressure from these foreign institutions; but a leader who wants to liberate his people must first take their interests into consideration. 

I also noticed that the World Bank officials were standing with our Power officials when they were addressing the press, like enforcers would do. We are not handling our power situation rightly. I say this because proper thought processes and planning have not been inputed into the way we tackle our electricity power challenges. Indeed, I suspect that people are deliberately sabotaging our efforts; if not, why has Nigeria remained on 4000 megawatts for decades when the demand for electricity has grown exponentially? 

We have built and installed electricity plants without factoring how gas to power them will be provided. We have built without factoring the elementary economic imperative of nearness to raw materials. We have factored our economic developments along sentimental lines of religion, ethnicity and cronyism. Interestingly, we expect to grow along that route. We have allowed foreign  and dangerous ideologies to be implanted into the minds of our largely illiterate citizenry, and the result is what we are getting now. The statistics are out: the most religious countries are the least developed today, and Nigeria is at the top of that ladder. 

It is time for our leaders to rethink. If China can do it, why not Nigeria? It is a fact that Nigerians are one of the most intelligent people in the world. Leadership must take advantage of this. Without power, there can be no development. It must be declared as an emergency in this country, and we must deemphasise the monetary and business intentions at this early stage. It must be seen as a government responsibility, just as we build roads and other infrastructures.  Government must take electricity as a social project in order to take the people out of poverty; it will enable the people to be creative, provide values and in return the people will meet their basic responsibilities of paying taxes. 

We are putting the cart before the horse. You are not supplying light, and you are expecting the people to pay more. That is why you are witnessing so many by-passes and objections to the increases in the price of power. When you make power available, you are not only helping the citizens, but government stands to benefit the most from it. 

Provide power and the people are empowered; there will be development, businesses will grow and the whole country and its people will prosper.  

According to Femi Adesina of AFDP: “Economies thrive on energy. Energy is like blood in the body of  businesses. The amount of economic growth tourism have depends on the amount of energy you have to power the economy. “  I agree with him. For Ajay Banga, President of World Bank, this is what he said about power: “Without power, people won’t have good health, good education, manufacturing. Power is the means of eliminating poverty, ensuring productivity, and growing the economy. I grew up in India, and I saw the impact that access or lack of access to power can have on the people. I saw in my own childhood how access to power can increase the quality of life of the people and all I can say is that we should look at it as a very important human right which helps people to harness their potentials“. The point need not be over stressed. We either resolve our power issue or we die struggling. 

*Ikhioya wrote via: http://www.southsouthecho.com