“Let there be light”…and there was darkness.
They say, “There’s no place like home”. After all, it’s “home, sweet home”. In the past couple of days, I’ve had enough time to ponder about the relative incorrectness of that statement.
I’ve been home for about 72 hours, and we’ve had electric power (from the national grid) for less than a total of 8 hours. Don’t bother asking whether we’ve paid our bills. We use a prepaid meter; so technically, the only thing we can owe PHED (which we don’t) is the compulsory fixed monthly maintenance fee. I wonder what they are even maintaining.
When homes in Nigeria were first connected to the national grid, there were very few electronic items owned by Nigerians. Hence, electric power became synonymous with “light”, which is what people saw whenever power was supplied. The electric lamp—incandescent and fluorescent—became the mascot of electric power.
In the 70’s Nigerians basically needed “light” to power electric lamps. Now, electronics are ubiquitous. We need light for a million equipment at home. Businesses also require power for various commercial and industrial activities. However, our national policy makers and executors have been sleeping all along. I think sleeping and stealing would give a better description.
Nigeria does not have sufficient electricity. We barely produce 4000 megawatts whereas we need about ten times that amount for a start. Thanks to the insufficiency, millions of Nigerians are without power, or at best, endure an epileptic supply. Forget about whatever figures the government is bandying about. I know that new power generation plants are being constructed, gas supply is being improved, and bla bla bla.
The fact is that whatever improvement has been achieved is not yet trickling down to the majority of the populace. I said “majority” because I know that some parts of Nigeria enjoy constant electricity. I spent the last three months in Osogbo and never worried about charging my phone or laptop because the power supply was reliable. However, within the same Osogbo, some areas don’t enjoy that luxury.
Right now, I’m back home, writing this piece on a hot afternoon, while sweating, and being threatened with more profuse sweating. With the billions spent in improving the power sector, by now the “right to personal comfort” should have been added as a fundamental human right in Nigeria. I should have the right to sleep at night without having to battle mosquitoes (ignore the absence of a bed net) nor lose my scarce body fluids to the bed sheet and pillow.
I need light! I really do. Life without a fully-charged laptop and smartphone is terrible. I’ve become a witness to that. What would become of all the e-learning activities I had planned to be involved in while awaiting mobilization by NYSC?
I’ve been home for only three days, but I doubt I can take this much longer. I may just have to run elsewhere—wherever there is light.