It looked like it was never going to happen, but it did. Finally, on the 1st of November, 2013 Nigeria’s behemoth of inefficiency was handed over to various investors.
I know it’s still early to measure the difference from what used to obtain and what’s obtainable now, but the fact that today holds more hope than yesterday, is enough to bring some joy to Nigerians who’ve borne decades of darkness in stoic silence.
From the days of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, ECN to the National Electricity Power Authority, NEPA to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN the fortunes of Nigeria consistently dipped in the quantum of power available to them. At the time, it was handed over to investors, the power company had become an embarrassment!
The embarrassment they’ve become is what I think is behind the support (though cautious) this move by the government currently enjoys by Nigerians, even when it’s clear that they’ll be paying through their noses for some power soon.
Many have contended that it’s wrong to handover an important sector like power over to private investors, citing National Security as part of the reasons, especially when one considers that the Ethiopian government with the help of the Chinese are building Africa’s biggest dam over the Nile, and the South African government in conjunction with the French are building Africa’s biggest solar power generating apparatus over the expanse of their arid land. These are laudable, but lets not forget that this is the same Nigeria where government has proved their incapacity to maintain the refineries (and indeed any other government business owing to the massive corruption amongst politicians and civil servants) , talk more build new ones, stating the impossibility of doing such at a time, the Nigerienes accomplished the so called impossible feat in two years with help from the Chinese, and are now supplying parts of the Northern part of Nigeria with some of their excess petroleum products.
Obviously, those calling for the continued management of power by the Nigerian government are the ones currently benefiting from the status quo. Can these ones compare the replicas of huge generating sets powered by gas built allover Nigeria, generating just enough power to light a single household in the United States, to the massive power infrastructure being undertaken in the countries I’ve mentioned above?
It’s the hope of teeming Nigerians that the days of what power generation and transmission used to represent under the old order will give way to a new order that will pander more to satisfying the yearnings of the people who’ll be paying for this service.
I hope we’ll see the end of paying for services never rendered, of staying in line to pay for “crazy” bills allocated us by corrupt, ladder-carrying ET’s looking for the next house to disconnect from the grid.
It’s instructive to note that only 40% of the former staff of the PHCN got retained. Many feel that that percentage is even on a high side considering the fact that most of these staffers do really nothing, most aren’t even qualified to be there in the first place. Have you ever wondered how it is that the number of staffers increase though there was no time in recent years PHCN embarked on any form of recruitment?
Doesn’t it look like people just walk in to the company, sit-in with the rest of the staff a few days, next they help haul ladders during the many disconnection rounds, they next claim they are “casuals”, and before you say PH-, their name shows up in the nominal role, just because they’ve family or a relative up there. I’ve seen many of their likes at the PHCN offices loitering around with no particular office or behind any desk. They’re the lackies that get sent out to negotiate deals with customers willing to reconnect their electricity without paying their bills, or those wanting to have their “crazy bills” slashed by a third, a half or outrightly, to collect illegal fees to repair old transformers or install new transformers in areas beset with power challenges, even when those transformers had been provided by government but have been stashed away in storage or warehouses owned by the “Ogas At The Top”.
The stench in the defunct PHCN stinks to the high heavens, and the only beneficiary of their wickedness were the same people they were meant to serve, even when they were going to be disengaged without their entitlements being fully paid, the only people they felt should suffer were the same people whose sympathy
they courted by promising a national blackout (which most Nigerians were already experiencing anyway).
Now that their era’s gone, I hope that things will be done differently. Anything from the shit that NEPA and PHCN represented will definitely be a welcome development, regardless of the cost maybe.
There’s no gainsaying the fact that most of the developmental challenges plaguing Nigeria today will begin to give way, once the power sector is once again set on the path of progress.
This surely is one path to progress but I’ll like to see my first electricity bill, under a privatised power company though, before I move my cautious optimism to full optimism, but I’m quite sure, that most Nigerians wouldn’t mind paying a li’l bit more for power if the services they get are som’n to write home about.