For too long now, Nigeria has become synonymous with epileptic power supply. Without doubt, the country harbours the most generators of all nations on earth, including brands and sizes. Today, we have graduated from epileptic supply to virtually zero supply of electricity to our citizens. No one in the government seems to be worried about the incalculable harm of these generators to public health, the environment, our psyche and the owners and neighbours of these harmful machines. But it is scandalous that a nation that sits on nearly inexhaustible quantum of oil and gas, petro-chemicals, trash, wind and sunshine is at the same time living in the darkest part of the earth.
This is mainly because of the greed, avarice, ignorance, mediocrity and partisanship of its political class and leadership. At a time the world’s water resources are fast drying up as a result of climate change, and nations are in panic mood, desparately exploring and deploying all sorts of alternative energy technologies, Nigeria’s leadership is still focused on the Kainji Dam for solution to its power quagmire. At a time even much more endowed nations in the oil and gas sectors, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE are investing heavily in renewable energy technology as a present and long-term solution, our leadership is obsessed with the moribund Egbin power (less) station for succour.
At a time the world, including the USA, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, France and other advanced and not-so advanced societies are tapping into all possible sources of energy simultaneously, we are protecting special interests in the power sector, playing dirty geo-political partisan politics while Nigeria lies prostrate on the ground.
Just last week, the President, Muhammadu Buhari went to China and entangled Nigeria in among some other messy stuff, the construction of a solar farm-based power plant, a technology that has since become virtually moribund but which China is busy replicating all over Africa, from South Africa to Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania etc. The cost and source of funding are even the more worrisome.
For a nation that has some of the most brilliant experts in the power sector in the world today, it is inexplicable that rather than declare a state of emergency in the power sector and tap these experts to come home and rescue the nation, we have lumped the power ministry together with those of works and housing in apparent emphasis of our ignorance and low priority for the power sector. Truth is that no nation, including Nigeria can develop without sufficient electricity to power its infrastructure, electricity being the bedrock on which every and any other development or project depends for sustainability.
In addition to Geothermal technology, there is an abundance of technology and funds in the renewable energy sector outside Nigeria to power the nation but for some anachronistic policies and the greed of Nigeria’s political class. It becomes even the more bizarre when you reckon with the fact that God has placed Nigeria right there at the centre of the equator which means that she can generate from renewable energy sector, twice or even thrice the amount of power that other nations can generate with the same equipment and investment. Unfortunately, even states, local governments and institutions are also folding hands, waiting for the federal government which appears today so confused and helpless in the face of the crisis.
Only God knows how many lives have been lost to the power crisis, how much financial loss we have incurred, the damage to the manufacturing sector and the economy generally, the discomfort to the people as well as what is going on in the minds of our rulers, particularly former Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola whose benchmark for determining competent administrations is provision of adequate power supply within six months but who after one year seems yet to be as to wondering if he is actually the Minister of Power, Works or Housing.
I guess whenever we come to terms with the fact that the status quo ante in Nigeria, our present politics, bitterness, vindictiveness, perception and manner of approach to our problems are unsustainable, we will turn around and make the necessary changes for the better. Nigeria needs all Nigerians, particularly its best eleven to bring her back to life.
Those Nigerians making excuses for the political class, the president and present and past administrations should hide their faces in shame. The decision to move the country forward must begin with the people and quickly enough, unless we want Nigeria to die of an imminent heart attack.
. Nwokwu wrote from USA