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The price of darkness (1)

It will be stating the obvious that Nigeria as an independent country is currently undergoing the worst electricity crisis in her history since independence in 1960.  Definitely, the paroxysms can be felt all over the country and in all facets that make for daily living and welfare. There is no gainsaying the fact that these are hard times for both country and the citizens. Incidentally, nowhere is this pain and social dislocation more acute than in the power sector, which for long has remained erratic and moribund. It is a fact that irregular electricity in the country is causing disruptions in the lives of Nigerians, which also poses a serious challenge to investment and business activities. It does not need clairvoyance to know that, electricity is pivotal to the development of any nation, given that its use is directly correlated with healthy economic growth.
Unfortunately, the worsening electricity crisis is a hallmark that has marked Nigeria, out from the crowd of other responsible countries in the world.        This sad reality is made starker by the fact that in past 17 years, more than N4 trillion has been wasted on attempts by successive administrations to provide electricity for the more than 170 million Nigerians. At end of the day, over 80 percent of that fund was pilfered by very few powerful but corrupt Nigerians. The consequence for Nigeria and Nigerians is the pervasive darkness that has enveloped the land.
Nevertheless, how did we descend to this abysmal level after having spent such huge sums ostensibly for the provision of electricity? It is even more absurd that the more the country pours money to boosting power supply, the farther it retrogresses into darkness.  The nation’s woes in the power sector began with the failure of successive military regimes to invest in power, which led to its stagnation and ruin over the years. In variably, an attempt by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration to tackle power instability led to grand corruption where more than $10 billion was wasted through corrupt means to achieve insignificant result.
Even when during the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan administration, when the power production rose from an abysmal 2,400 megawatts to nearly 5,000 megawatts, it was discovered that the distribution network were too obsolete to evacuate the power generated.   The reality is that today, rather than improve, the amount of power being generated has not only scandalously fallen, it is very different from what it was only 11months ago. Suffice to say that without adequate power supply, the engine of industry and growth would be at standstill, even as technology, production and vibrant economy would remain a mirage.
Without doubt, the consequences of lack of power to the economy is enormous, and these include high cost of running business, closure of multinational companies, prohibitive prices of goods and services due to individual investment in purchase of generators, poor investment climate amongst others.    Nigerians were elated when President Muhammadu Buhari came on board with his ‘Change’ mantra and promise to fix the power sector. Almost one year into his four-year tenure, that hope has turned a distant dream with a pervading atmosphere of hopelessness taking over the country. We believe the administration still has many opportunities to battle the dark forces responsible for the continuing darkness in the country. Can it do it?  Nigerians are waiting to see.

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