Friday, 5 September 2008

On......a light hearted matter

There is never light. The ribcage of my laptop is now visible. The poor thing has been starved of electrical current for so long. My shaver has such little strength that it can barely walk (abi na work?). The small generator at the back mocks them with a horrible vibrating laugh. It has become stocky and robust through overuse and cruelly sneers at the skeletal frames of the other domestic appliances.

Electricity in Nigeria comes in splutters like the dying gasps of a cancerous old man. You begin to grow suspicious on the few occasions that NEPA actually do their jobs and provide sustainable electricity. The other week, we had an almost uninterrupted power supply for 48 hours. I felt a bit like a call girl who had been given one million naira by a punter. On the surface you are happy, but deep down you are deeply mistrustful of what you will have to do for this ostentatious good fortune. Following the recent awoof of light, I am beginning to fear that they are planning a three month power blackout. Nationwide. This is how wary they have made me.

I was trying to open a bank account the other day and the customer service assistant asked me for a NEPA bill as proof of my address. I was immediately gripped by overwhelming hysteria and had to be escorted out of the bank premises before I managed to stop laughing. NEPA bill ke? Do these things actually exist? What exactly is one billed for? I investigated further and I actually came across one of these so called NEPA bills. They even measure electricity in real units of measure; kilowatts. I suggest that they start billing people in kilonoughts of nonentricity used. It would save them a lot of paper work if nothing else.

Dear Mr Adekunle,
You have consumed 1 million kilonoughts of nonentricity this month. Please pay your balance of zilch before 9/9/9999 and you will be assured of continued lack of electricity.
Mr Pana-Pana

Nobody seems sure of when this sustainable power supply is to be achieved. Is it 2011or is it 2020? What are people’s thoughts? Can we really have sustainable power in this country? I fear that there are too many personal agendas for this to be a foreseeable reality. What happens to the generator sellers and distributors if there is regular electricity? What happens to the diesel sellers? What happens to big oil? What happens to Femi Otedola and co? Are we to reasonably expect all these people to quietly sail off into the night and never be heard of again? The fact is that it is still in the interest of far too many people – powerful people at that – for there to be an irregular and unreliable power supply. These people are so powerful that they helped your local government chairman win his election. And your Senator. And your Governor. And yes, even your President.

I cannot imagine that there are many more countries in the world that consume more diesel per year than we do in Nigeria. In most other countries, diesel pumps have become desolate figures on the forecourts of filling stations. In Nigeria, the stuff is at such a premium that it costs us twice the price of unleaded petrol. This diesel lust is fed by the need to power our generators because NEPA (now rejigged to PHCN) apparently generates less than 3000MW of electricity a day. The goal of the present government is to quintiple this meagre total by 2010. In the increasingly unlikely event that this is achieved, it would still not be in line with most other developing nations.

Darkness has enveloped our land at night and also the thinking and ambitions of those that rule our country. Provision of sustainable electricity should be the most pressing issue on the agenda of all our rulers. It appears that it is not. NEPA, and all its incarnations, has become a byword for ineptitude and poor performance. It is a national joke. It is hard to accept the current standards when indigenes of smaller, weaker economies are basking in the dull glow of their evening light bulbs whilst millions of Nigerians continue to eat enforced candle-lit dinners. It is a sham and I can confidently proclaim that steady electrical supply would eradicate one third of Nigeria’s problems today (a half decent road network would solve another third). Let us bring sustainable electrical power back to the forefront of the national consciousness. It is no longer enough to merely fold our arms when they deprive us of electricity only to yell “UP NEPA” when it is returned to us.

On a slightly different note, we had any number of witty acronyms for NEPA - my favourite being Never Expect Power Always. Can anyone suggest an equally apt one for PHCN?


Mogaji said...

YAY! First.
PHCN: Power Hoarding Company of Nigeria.

Sorry about the battery the fluctuating voltage PHCN has unleashed on your appliances. Invest in power surge protectors. Or the back up batteries they keep the current constant. Or you could just come over to the US :-)

bumight said...

PHCN doesnt even need any more witty acronyms. why? they named them well, as the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, they are really holding on tightly to the power and you'll be damned if they let it go for more than 48 hours at a time!

Anonymous said...

PHCN - Problem Has Changed Name

adefunke said...

PHCN - Please Have Candle Nearby ...

fantasy queen said...

its so funny how it feels odd to step out of the house at night and everywheres so quite cos theres power supply and the generators are turned off...abnormal and you find yourself wishing for normal. you want to hear the comforting sounds of your gen humming.

PHCN...Power Holding Company of Nigeria. need i say more? they named themselves well enough.

Flowers and Poetry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flowers and Poetry said...

LOL! Pana-Pana, this NEPA palava remains the bane of our great nation, what can be done? I really want to know? it affects our lives, our comfort, our businesses, the list is endless :-(

vindication through innocence said...

LOL!- i am soooo not hating...that light issue is beyond annoying...and those generators that make more noise than 5 jubilee line trains...
PHCN- damn right...the hold the power- they dont distribute it...

Naapali said...

so why u come deceive me with the date now? I was like it can't be that my Mon atuts posted three weeks ago and my eye has just detected it. Thankfully no be so.

I imagine na Naija internet delivery make 20 days pass between post writing and showing up.

Jeremy had an interesting concept on his blog a couple of months ago about setting up a power grid using all those generators in Naija and allowing them to actually sell the power they generate to NEPA who can then distribute over their network. Something similar happens in US homes that have solar generators whose generated electricity can be sold to the local power company.

@ Mogaji
- whats with the new avatar?

bArOquE said...

welcome to our world...& when i complain they say i complain too much...join the bandwagon, buy a gen so you can switch to your stand-by NEPA when there's light...howz Lagos?

Afolabi said...

hmmn..U're finally back after how many years. How's it going, and apart from the nepa problem, how's Naija treatin you. The electricity problem makes one feel uneasy-those outside the country, makes me ask "If I should go back home, would I survive the Pana-Pana induced heat and darkness.

And A22, I haven't seen any of your well-meaning and analytical comments on my short stories.

Flowers and Poetry said...

Another comment from me, can't help it, this is so funny "enforced candle lit dinner" LMAO

30+ said...


You in Nigerian now ko?! E kpele o with the NEPA/PHCN issue.

With the vested interested of those goons, I also am of the interest that solution is not in sight just yet.

PHCN - Power Has Ceased Now

Carlang said...

Could have sworn i left a comment here.
Infact I'm half sure i did.

And so it starts.
Your reorientation into the country.

I cant wait for your next blog which undoubtedly will be about Mosquitoes.

They are PHCN's close allies you see...

theicequeen said...

yayy! welcome back mehn, you had me worried for a bit..and true talk,the light issue is tres horrible! how are we supposed to move foward when we are stuck playing this electricity issue like a broken record. tsk!

ooh, and the best PHCN translation i've heard is Problem Has Changed apt!

Waffarian said...

@naapali: I think say na me don kolo oh.

@atutu: I see you are braving the elements. Thats the spirit!

N.I.M.M.O said...

Don't worry, it shall pass. Or you will get used to it. (Whichever comes first. Wouldn't bet on which if I were you).

@Naapali: We may explore that option. Maybe what we need is just one super-humongous generator. Incidentally, I read somewhere when Femi Otedola actually suggetsed NEPA (PHCN) buying a big enough generator to serve the whole country and he will sell all his diesel to them alone.

kulutempa said...

did anyone say Problem Has Changed Name? that's my ab fave.

ablackjamesbond said...

Gave up on NEPA a long time ago. It becomes sadder when u see young children refer to generators as NEPA.


a22, where are you?


o ga oh! wissai you dey?

Ms. Catwalq said...

where u bin dey?

AlooFar said...

where is Atutu?


come back to us...

onyekanwelue said...

How are you? It's being a long time. I need to read from you.


Onyeka Nwelue

PS: I finally got a publisher. What do you think?

miz-cynic said...

i love d pls hv candle nearby n u can pretend 2 b romantic whil having candle lit dinner with ur babe

Anonymous said...

these electric ppl sef...

chizoba said...

sorry about your laptap. i was actually thinking about this few days ago. i was looking at my cousin's generator and i wondered if power problem is not deliberate, you know a business opportunity. What will happen to our 'importers'? people buy petrol for their cars and your guess is as good as mine their generators. as fo PHCN it is Problem Has Changed Hands

Jaja said...

Your computer don blow?.. or the power pack catch fire?

Update na. U sef!

TheAfroBeat said...

Atutu, how things in Naija?

princesa said...

Ha ha ha haha
This was one funny but very apt post Atutu...

Its even more ironic cos right now am in Abidjan and its refreshing to discover that in the 7 days i have been here there has not been a blackout for one second.

Wer still have a long way to go in Naija for real!

AlooFar said...

Abeg, kill the suspense!!!

MissLove said...

Nice post lol...come back n update!

guerreiranigeriana said...

...hilarious!...although also really sad...

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