16th May, 2012
As the Federal Government prepares to increase electricity tariff next month, Nigerians may have to brace up to face the hardship the action may impose on them even though they have never really enjoyed electricity in the last 15 years or more.
Industries that used public electricity supply in the past have moved out of the country and the few ones still operating keep increasing the prices of the goods and services whenever government policies force them to do so.
Government agencies do not pay electricity bills and the public are forced to pay through the nose for electricity not supplied. Though government introduced the pre-paid meter, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, authorities have continued to hoard them because those who use these meters can no longer be threatened with disconnection, yet the authorities have not deemed it fit to flood the country with the pre-paid meters, preferring instead to allow a few louts to feed fat on hapless Nigerians.
Instead of looking for ways to improve electricity supply to jump-start the economy, government is increasing tariff.
Unbundling the Power Holding Company of Nigeria has solved very little problem. Maybe selling off the 17 companies created by the unbundling will make a difference, though we still believe the centralisation of electricity supply is not helping anybody.
Since democracy was restored in 1999, the government has been building power plants and millions of dollars have gone down the drain with very little to show for it.
Why has the generation of electricity become rocket science for Nigeria? Why has what smaller countries take for granted become the biggest problem of Nigeria?
If South Africa, a country Nigeria dwarfs in terms of wealth, opportunities and human resources, can generate well above what it needs and even exports part of it to her neighbours, why has Nigeria failed to fix the power sector?
Like the oil subsidy business and other seemingly intractable problems, we believe a cabal is behind the electricity generation and supply problem in Nigeria. As past governments glossed over the problem, electricity generator merchants moved in and have made sure the country continues to rely on them to run its economy. But for how long will this continue?
The Federal Government should stop taking Nigerians for a ride by asking them to pay for darkness in the guise of increasing electricity tariff. It says it is subsidising electricity with over N50 billion and we wonder who is enjoying the subsidy when there’s hardly power supply across the country.
We believe the Federal authorities need to do a rethink about those enjoying that so-called subsidy. We all know where these leakages are taking place but surprisingly, nobody wants to say the truth.
How many political appointees, government agencies, military and paramilitary authorities pay electricity bills?
The Federal Government should get its priorities right and stop treating the citizens with contempt. If we don’t know how to solve a problem, let’s ask others to help us out; electricity generation and supply is not rocket science.