If you are a Nigerian of certain age, your first recognisable word is likely to be NEPA (Nigeria Electricity Power Authority), you were likely to know more than your fair share of information regarding NEPA even at a tender age of 12months. This is because by the time a small child born in Nigeria is a few days old, s/he would have heard her parents/siblings/neighbours screaming praises or curses on NEPA at various time of a given day depending on the situation.
Yes, in Nigeria, we praise and curse those in charge of providing electricity simultaneously because they are in our faces every given second of the day. By the way, we don’t shout out their names because it is a free service, we did because we were disappointed that they didn’t maintain their side of the bargain, we were promised electricity that were never delivered, and of course this is Nigeria, we still get monthly bills. We yell, we curse but it was just ariwo oja (market noises) to their ears. And ultimately like many other social injustices in Nigeria, we got used to it. We were used to the broken system so much that reality of how life could have been any different is blur to us.
NEPA changed its name! As if the name is what the Nigerians have problem with. They could have changed the name to Digbolugi for all I cared. The message that did not get to those in charge was that the nation, by this I mean the common people did not care about their name and in truth we liked the name NEPA for it is memorable (you would think their brand manager would know that) but all that was asked and has been for as long as I could remember was that we want electricity that is dependable.
If we don’t care about the present and future of our own country nobody, I mean nobody will. Why do we expect others, I mean foreign companies exporting generators to Nigeria to give any thoughts about our health, environmental impacts or the cost of acquiring a generator set when our own leaders could not be bothered? Charity begins at home. If they think the small amount of bribery they receive in order to make sure that generators of different sizes and makes enter into the country is much more important than being their own brothers and sisters keepers, then who else could or would care?
And, no matter the amount of bribery they receive in millions of $s, it is still small in the grand scheme of the price we all pay for daily.
It is only in Nigeria that our leaders have absolutely no foresights, it is a no brainer to see this. I used to think people in authority were wise and make informed decisions. Now, electricity is supposedly run by the government and of course it is more like rotating the bosses in just one household. All they need is to send their children to any school, s/he will come back and take over the job from daddy or mommy and most likely to follow whatever s/he being told to do. What strikes me odd is the fact that why can’t someone see the relationship between lack of stable electricity supply and many other problems we face in the country? Low employment rate, lack of competition, inefficiency across all sectors and cost of goods and services?
Or they actually did see all these but are too gullible due to the bribery they’d received – we are all losers.
Now the saying I better pass my neighbour has become a well recognised slogan among Nigerians, that was not accident, in fact it was part of the plan. They knew that Nigerians loved to feel the sense of being better than the neighbours, as long as that is achieved, we are happy or pretend to be.