Celebrating Golden Jubilee Without Power Supply


On the 1st of October, 2010, Nigeria celebrated its 50th independence anniversary in  Abuja and in other state capitals without electricity supply in many parts of Lagos  State. At Orile Iganmu for instance, there was no light throughout the day. The  power supply in the area is usually erratic but on that day we all hoped that no  matter what happened, there would be light for the celebration. But our hope  transformed to despair as there was no electricity supply from morning till night.

Few Nigerians that have power generating sets turned them on while a good number  went to restaurants to watch the events on TV live after paying some token. The day  was declared a public holiday by the Federal Government to allow Nigerians stay at  home and enjoy the memorable day. But how could they have enjoyed the celebration  without light?

One of the major problems bedeviling this country is lack of adequate power supply  which has defied solution from our leaders in the past years. In his presidential  election campaign and when he assumed power in 1999, former President Olusegun  Obasanjo had promised Nigerians uninterrupted power supply. Unfortunately,  throughout his eight years in power, he failed on his promises in spite of spending  billions of naira on the sector. The reason he failed is that such funds have often  diverted into private pockets. If not, why can’t Nigeria provide adequate power  supply to its citizens at 50?

The 2007 presidential election which was shoddily organised by former chairman of  Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu, brought  Umaru Yar’Adua to power as president. Like his predecessor, he promised Nigerians  heaven on earth by providing adequate power supply. In fact, electricity was one of  his seven points agenda. Till the time he was officially declared dead by the  Federal Government on Wednesday 5 May 2010 after a protracted ailment, he failed to  fulfill his promises.

Goodluck Jonathan was later sworn-in as the President and Commander in chief of the  armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Chief Justice of the  Federation, Justice Alloysius Katsina-Alu in Abuja on the same day former President  Umaru Yar’Adua was declared dead. In his broadcast to the nation, Jonathan promised  several reforms, among of them are good governance, electoral reforms, fight against  corruption, free and fair election and uninterrupted power supply. Right now he is  walking surely but steadily the path of his predecessors. Already, he has spent  billions of naira on electricity. Although it is too early to pass judgement on him  as to whether he will succeed or not, so far there is nothing to show for his  efforts as the situation is getting worse by day.

It was reported by some of our dailies sometime ago that the Power Holding Company  of Nigeria will be scrapped by the Federal Government and private investors would  take over, while some stakeholders said otherwise. At the time of this write up, in  fact, the situation looks very confusing as we don’t know exactly where the Federal  Government is heading to regarding solving the unending problem of electricity  supply in the country. Whatever the situation may be, what an average Nigerian wants  is to leave home in the morning and return in the evening, open his a fridge and  take cool water inside it to drink.

It is said that a fool at 40 is a fool for ever. I would rather say that a fool at  50 is a fool for ever. A man that is 50 years old is expected  to complete his  study, get married, have children to live a responsible life. His parents will not  be happy with him if such a man failed in his responsibility. Similarly, Nigerians  are not happy as our leaders have failed in their responsibilities to provide  regular electricity in the country.

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When we talk of Ghana, those who make things work there are not angels but persons  like you and I. If Ghanaians have succeeded it is because of their dedication to  duty and the love their leaders have for their fatherland. Here the situation is  different. In Nigeria, billions of naira was spent on energy sector by our leaders  without any positive result as the self acclaimed giant of Africa is without regular  supply of electricity at its golden jubilee celebration. What a shame!

Small countries like Togo, Benin Republic and Ivory Coast where there is regular  power supply are making mockery of Nigeria as a country of humming generators. Who  is to blame for this shameful situation? Our leaders of course. The survival of our  manufacturing sector is at stake and many of them have relocated their factories to  Ghana.

I would also like to state here categorically that apart from problems of power  supply, nothing good is working in Nigeria. Our roads are in dilapidated conditions  and have become death traps to motorists and road users alike. Unemployment is also  a huge problem now, with jobless youths taking to kidnapping, armed robbery and  other violent crimes.

The question that readily come to mind is: Who will fix things in Nigeria? To me the  answer is 2011.  In 2011 elections no politician will expect any cheap votes from  Nigerians like in the previous years. The reason is that Nigerians of yesterday are  not Nigerians of today. Nigerians of today are more conscious and enlightened than  before. Our leaders will be making a great mistake if they think otherwise.  Uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria is a must. 2011 is a year of decision. May God  spare our lives till then.

•Sunday Suleman writes from Lagos.

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