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Today is a beautiful day but I am stressed out with the electricity supply in my area because I would have to drag myself the extra mile to sort out my predicament like finding water, buying another gallon of petrol, figuring out how to iron school uniforms, church clothes and pouring away food, so I have to rant and vent to relief myself of some stress after barely sleeping through the night because of all the noise from generators (mine and my neighbors).

In the last week, the electricity supply in my area in Lagos, Nigeria has gone from what we call “good” here to something worse. I understand many parts of Nigeria are also affected. So, here I am today looking for “Mairuwa” the mobile water vendors to buy water and I have to dispose of food I have kept in the freezer, which has defrosted, I have to heat some others like my melon soup and okra soup on my gas cooker, just so I do not have to waste my food but over time, the quality of the soup deteriorates, so I must dispose of it (and No, I would not give someone, what I would not eat myself). I live in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, yes! I have no electricity and no water. My life is supposed to be better, possibly less stressful than people living in rural Nigeria but I am living my village life right inside the city.

That we are still in a place like this in Nigeria, where we basically cannot boast of constant electricity is something that calls for deep reflection.

We are already used to managing our poor electricity supply or “light” as we call it here, perhaps like many I am at this moment questioning the quality of my existence living in Nigeria. We have to power our lives with a petrol generator and move on with our lives like it is no big deal. In other parts of the developed world, people think of generators when there is a disaster leading to a power outage. Which in most cases, is usually fixed in good time when everything settles.

In Nigeria, our normal lives revolve around the erratic power supply, and yes! That makes us poorer, which means living here is quite expensive, as most of our income goes into providing amenities for our immediate household, and most of us cannot even afford to contribute to major street/community projects. This is a reflection of how much multi-dimensional poverty has crept into the lives of millions of Nigerians. The elite are also affected because since we all do not have light; we spend the hard-earned money that we are supposed to use for something more productive to power our life; staying in darkness is such a hard life.

All my life, I have become used to “Up NEPA” chanting. It could pass for Nigerian slang. That’s the normal thing we scream when the “light” comes on. NEPA (National Electric Power Authority) which has now been rebranded as PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) has not done much to improve electricity in Nigeria.

NEPA Neva bring to light? That is someone asking in pidgin if the power has been switched on. Or you can ask. Is there Light? On your way home or to the office. You probably have phones to charge or you are too exhausted to start dealing with switching on the generator or sleeping with the loud noise of the generator. Or maybe, you are wondering if you would iron clothes for tomorrow. It is how we live here.

A lot of corruption, unpaid bills, and all manner of stories covered in the darkness surrounding NEPA/PHCN. You don’t know what to believe with the rumors, stories, and countering going on in the news. From the dangerous, life-threatening electric wire connections from houses to poles on the streets, the unstable current that can damage appliances, and corruption surrounding the pre-paid meters distribution to the confusion/arguments on how post-paid meters are billed, with officials going around street corners looking for flats to disconnect and eventually they get off the record kickbacks from residents begging profusely not to be disconnected. With every new government in power comes a new plan that never works in the end. It is all too complicated.

Just like I earlier stated, when there is no electricity, your whole Nigerian life is stressed out. No electricity means no water, no ironing of clothes, and the food you spend money to buy in bulk and keep in the freezer with the idea of saving money basically goes to waste, armed robbers can easily operate in darkness in big cities like Lagos. Lagos is not well planned which means houses are not well spaced resulting in poor ventilation; so when there is no electricity, you must power your ventilation……you cannot even begin to imagine how hot the weather would feel like. Your life is just not exactly okay; you just drag yourself along. How we mastered enduring our “no light” life in Nigeria is the major reason people say Nigeria can only talk, no action. For the most part…sitting ducks or “Siddon look” population.

Sometimes, I imagine in my mind that there is a cabal preventing our “light” situation from improving, the elites perhaps, with so much vested interest (Millions of Naira and Dollars) in the generator business but the thing is, we are all affected. The millions in hard-earned currency, Nigerians spend to power their lives could be invested in more developmental aspects of living in Nigeria, it would reduce overhead costs and then we can argue about increasing salaries in private businesses and employing more people. The thing is, having no “light” affects our economy. The corruption surrounding the distribution of electricity in Nigeria and the mystery of white elephant projects linked to power generation makes it all complicated.

Like most Nigerians, I am here on my blog ranting over something that will not change anytime soon but my goal of relieving myself of stress has been achieved. I have said what I needed to say!

How other countries like Nigeria (both the bigger and smaller ones with fewer resources most times) have been able to manage their electricity generation and provide something as basic as electricity to their citizens makes me ashamed as a Nigerian. There is no time to “pray for Nigeria” and that kind of “God” talk like we always do, we must act. We already know what to do as leaders and as individuals, we must do better. Challenge yourself in your little corner to be better. Become tired of being frustrated as a Nigerian, become tired of taking bribes, become tired of being part of the problem of this country. If your job is to improve electricity for ordinary Nigerians, do it without looking for kickbacks. Don’t allow someone to use you as a tool to achieve their selfish aim, after all, you would still come back to a house without electricity; yourself, someone you are related to, or someone you know becomes a beneficiary of the problem you help create, we are in this together.

All the “Up NEPA” chants need to stop.

NB; As at the time of writing this on my blog, the power was restored for some minutes and then it just went back off like a flash. So, the Nigerian in me is hoping it will improve after today. Staying 4 days straight without electricity is very hard.

This article is from 2019.

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