EXCRUCIATING FUEL & POWER SHORTAGES: WHEN WILL THE CHANGE HAPPEN?

Since this year, we have been facing worsening energy crisis. But in the last two weeks or so, the problem assumed excruciating dimensions. In the many years of Nigeria's unmitigated Nigeria's energy crisis, many people who could not get electricity power, depended on hydrocarbon fuels to fire their generators. But in the current escalation, we do not have electric power and we can not find petroleum products to operate our generators, especially the small and micro operators and most households who use petrol fired generators. It has never been this terrible, except in brief periods of National strikes.

What is most disconcerting is that the present government in Abuja came to power promising change and the suffering Nigerians are asking : when will this change happen?. All we hear is that NNPC is being restructured or reorganized. Sometimes we hear that it will be broken into 30 companies and latter we hear it will broken into 7 companies. Then the House of Representatives charges that it is unlawful to break up NNPC without their approval and Kachikwu retreats into reorganization not restructuring. While all this is happening, the main problem with fuel shortages in Nigeria is not being addressed. Last week, after ignoring the almost total power failure in Nigeria for weeks, the federal government spoke through its spokesman- Lai Mohammed . They offered an apology. The type of excuse-laden apologies we have heard severally in the past: "maintenance by the Nigeria Gas Company affected supply of gas to power stations....the vandalization of the Forcados export pipelines forced oil companies to shut down, making it impossible for them to produce gas... then workers at the Ikeja Disco who were protesting....apparently colluded with the National Transmission Station in Osogbo to shut down transmission". Story!

My late Ghanian Friend, John Tetteh called Such long and winding story passed as excuses 'cock & bull' story. It is similar to what we have heard in the past such as the one that blamed power shortages on the presence of snakes in the turbines in Kainji Dam. The only real difference in the government's excuse-laden apology this time was that they did not blame the past government for the current energy crisis. I thank God that they have discontinued with that worn out cliche and seem to now accept responsibility though they still passed the blame to other people. But the question remains unanswered. When will the people of Nigeria see the promised change in the quality of their lives? It is civilized to offer apologies but it is better to solve problems.
Solving the problems of energy shortages in our Country is certainly not that easy and so also that of getting the economy growing again at decent rates that will create jobs and reduce the growing poverty. I was downcast when I saw that the 4th Quarter 2015 GDP growth at 2.11% was not better than the previous quarters, Infact it was the worst despite the apparent rise in economic transactions during the Christmas and holiday season. The truth is that none of these essentially economic problems can be solved by a magic wand, nor by propaganda. The tragedy is that during the campaigns, Nigerians were given the impression that these problems would be solved over night. Now 9 months into the new administration, I do not know how many Nigerians or sectors of the economy that can say that things have improved for them, except perhaps some of those who have been appointed to new political and administrative positions. Only perhaps.

To be true, my real worry is that except in the effort to bring those who are alleged to have abused their offices to account through the EFCC and the courts, and perhaps some effort to block revenue leakages, no one can say for sure what else is happening. Bringing alleged offenders to Justice and blocking leakages are quite noble and for which we commend the government. I am wondering if we can not apply the same zeal to address other issues plaguing the economy. What is happening to Privatization of the Petroleum sector? What is happening to the PIB or has the reorganization or restructuring of NNPC by Kachikwu supplanted that? When are we going to deregulate the down stream oil operations? We may have stopped subsidy but if prices recover as we have seen in the last week, subsidy will return except we free up the market- liberalize supply and allow market to determine price.Are we at the end of the Power sector reform and Privatization? Have we given up on the issue of appropriate pricing mechanism for the Naira against the dollar in order to attract foreign investments and bring in dollars into Nigeria? What of the Industrial revolution policy introduced by the last government?. I was pleased when the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Okey Enelamah made good comments about that policy. So how much time is required to study it and restart its implementation? Why is the Ministry of Agriculture not willing to continue the Agriculture Transformation Agenda( ATA) which was applauded by many domestic and international reviewers, an achievement that helped to propel the former Agriculture Minister Dr Akinwunmi Adesina to the Headship of the African Development Bank ( ADB). Must we jettison a successful programme because it was started by another regime? Is government and governance not a continuum? Why abandon or change what is working?

It seems that it is taking this government too long to show discernible results and I am afraid that it may soon run out of its store of goodwill . It is better we told the President the truth. These past two weeks, many Nigerians slept in the filling stations and many have gone broke buying expensive fuel to fire generators day and night. Many Nigerians are hurting and they do not seem to feel that the government is responding fast enough to their myriads of  problems. Yes, some of the current problems and challenges preceded the present government but they were hired by Nigerians to fix them, because they claimed they were capable of doing so. Traveling around the World and attending global conferences and summits is good but Nigerians need to see how that changes things for them- brings regular electric power, makes fuel  readily available at competitive pricing, creates more jobs and allows their businesses to grow, enables them to send their children to school- home or abroad with minimum stress, and have regular meals( square or rectangular). In reality, some of these things can actually be sorted out essentially by enacting new policies or twicking some old policies.

Human beings measure progress by where they are today against where they were yesterday. According to my understanding , People desire progress and if they can not get it,  they would prefer to be left where they were than to be taken to a worse situation.They can not just keep waiting and hoping or keep suffering and smiling .Nine months is the time it takes to conceive a baby and bring it to life. It is not a short time. Ask any mother!
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR



  
  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

IS THE NMA A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION OR A TRADE UNION?

PERPETUATION IN OFFICE: BUHARI ACTS TYPICAL

RACISM, ETHNICITY AND TRIBALISM .... What's the difference?