IBPMNs – Give it up for Nigeria’s Century Orchestra

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This article was written two years ago, it saddens that it still remains relevant, painfully much more, till now.


generators in nigeria

The many sounds of generators emanating from every possible corner in the country have become a norm, especially in the night; what an orchestra they have since turned to, IBPMNs – I Beta Pass My Neighbours, giving us accorded decibels of “melodious” noise.

But, just recently, my neighbor’s generator got ill (again), and totally lost all her vocal cords. Reason being that, for the past few months, she had complained of constant overbearing use without rest, but all her complaints had always fell on my neighbor’s deaf ears as he had no other choice than to keep using her almost all-night each day; unbearable heat, his reason.

On many occasions had my neighbor taken her to visit an “Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) Surgeon” to repair her ailing vocal cords, but on their last visit 5 weeks ago, the Surgeon was sincere enough to tell my neighbor that his generator could no longer possess a sonorous voice no matter how extensive the repairs are, simply because she couldn’t defy aging, and the fact being that she has been relentlessly singing electricity for the past 4 years without support! Saddened and bemoaning, my neighbor brought Ptonto Dikeh back home with the irreparably torn and inflamed vocal cords to make her keep singing – he had no choice (Yeah, the generator’s name is Ptonto Dikeh).

Unfortunately, this only option of my neighbor’s has been hellish to say the least. Since then, peace had ceased. For these past 5 weeks till now, especially in the night, myself and the other neighbors have been subjected to daily rounds of horrific and terrible noise from Ptonto when she’s on, so much that anytime she finishes her renditions, it would seem as if we all just entered another planet entirely, considering the aura of palpable silence and endearing calmness that envelops the whole environment at that instant. Brethren, the noise has been unbearably excruciating…..no be here!

On one of those nights recently, while one of these episodes lasted, as I whined warily like a pregnant cat on my sofa in response to Ptonto’s gnashing, I was made sunken into this terse thought I had long forgotten, neglected, more like. That thought about the unerring inability to generate uninterrupted electricity in Nigeria.

I thought quite far and wide, and moaned about the normal Nigerian similitude of problems, but at a point, I got stuck with a very simple question. As brisk as the question was, to me, it was simply surreal.

“Sayo, seriously, why can’t we steadily generate electricity in this country really; no, wait, why really, is it that hard…?”

Thus, the question went.

nepa

I can’t even begin to list the many important uses of electricity in every aspect of 21st century life; from the day-old baby who cries and is rash-ridden due to heat, to the average youth who can’t thrive productively, the doctor who has to save a life in a lantern-lit surgical room, the young and old manufacturers who can’t yield enough to satiate demand, the overwhelmed entrepreneur, to the breadwinner whose income is drained daily by diesel, etc, we all know and feel all. This article isn’t actually about the importance of electricity, it is rather about why isn’t available despite many years of promises. Fellow Nigerian, really, why can’t we have stable light?

I reckoned that this is a very simple question requiring a simple answer. Years have rolled by, and this simple question has been repeatedly put to sitting Presidents and their many Ministers, and yes, their responses have been constantly and sadly laden with inert promises, inactive and even vapid. This article isn’t about these juicy-sounding but sour-tasting responses neither. This article is rather about that simple question, a simple problem, a simple request, and a much more simple solution. Why can’t we have light? Really, why?

We’ve all echoed corruption as the major bane, but I thought further that this “corruption shigidi” is present in almost every country, and it hasn’t stopped the stable provision of this basic commodity mostly therein. Is it that our own shigidi is just much more obstinate? Or is it the psychiatric greed of oil products’ marketers? Or saboteurs of Federal government’s power projects? Or the stubborn but hungry pipeline vandals? Or wasteful gas flaring? Why really? Or are we just God’s bastard children in whom nothing just works, even as simple as generating electricity?

To that extent, my thought traipsed, and still, I didn’t see why we can’t generate light, even in the presence of these stances above. This is because I had observed how electricity has been simply added to the fundamental trio of basic human amenities viz, food, clothing, and shelter, in the whole world, it is as simple and important as that. And if this is so, then, I thought that there must definitely be an importance-attached, generally acceptable, constantly improving and simply applicable way to provide this basic and “cannot-do-without” amenity, just as the whole world sees food, clothing and shelter as “must-haves”.

As I thought on, I remembered that a friend once affirmed that this power palsy in Nigeria is majorly hinged on the greed of oil-products marketers. The myth upheld amidst these marketers is that the continual sale of their two(2) main products, automotive gas oil (diesel) and premium motor spirit (petrol), is directly dependent on instability/lack of electricity, and so, the more they directly or indirectly fund a sabotage of power projects and supply, the more their purses grow fat. I then wondered, can’t they just adhere to plying their trade on the much more lucrative transport and export sectors; must it be generators?!!! Should a myth like these exist among men? Oh greed!

At a point, as I lay on that sofa, my thoughts graduated into a form of hallucination, a soliloquy, a trance-like state. I envisioned all I could say if I had the chance to have a chat with the Presidency about this ever-lingering power problem;

“President Jonathan, save the platitudes, just give me light, give us light”.

“Oooh, Honorable Minister, stop the grammar diarrhea, just give us electricity”.

“Sirs, it is a very simple request, grant it”.

 

“I know of China, where 6,000 megawatts of electricity have been continually produced monthly since 2008 till date and added to their national grid; so, how the heck are we stuck with a meager average total of 3,500 megawatts? Please bros, it is very simple, give us light”.

“I know of Gatwick airport in England, where 50,000 megawatts is used just to run the airport alone, so, Baba Jona, give us light, it is simple, it must be simple!”

“I’ve never been to Ghana oh, our dear neighbor, but it is famously said that even they too boast years of uninterrupted power supply; ah! seriously? It must be very simple, so dear President, do it too, no promises, be ‘brave’, just give us stable electricity – you can do it”.

“For God’s sake, it isn’t terrorism, it isn’t 2015, it is not Boko Haram, not Amaechi, not APC, not Amanpour; it is just simple generation of uninterrupted electricity, give us!”

“We know all the cover plays, the cover ploys, the cover-ups, half-truths, true lies, connivance, the sunkere-fakere projects, gbajensimi approaches, pampala-boo-lo-oya privatization; only God knows the number of confusion-breaki-bone committees that have been endlessly set-up on power generation since independence till now, yet, Ptonto still sings, still, no light. So, we know all, that all na wash.”

“But you know what dear President, we don’t care, we forgive you for making us wait, and wait again, and wait always on farcical promises, all in vain”.

“So sir, now at least, as a deserved respite, you can just employ any of these generally acceptable simple solutions to grant our simple request, to solve this noisome pestilence”

“Okay, please, we aren’t demanding it as a tax-payers’ right anymore, now we beseech, we beg, we plead, give us light.  It is a simple process, don’t set up committees, don’t discuss it again at the on-going national conference (heard there’s another sub-committee on power there again, same as in the Senate, house of reps, and so on); sir, don’t just keep ‘committee-ing’ it, rather, commit to it simply, and give it”.

A drop of sweat that felt like the moon-walking of an insect rolled down from my hair through my neck, to wake me from this jonesing journey to Jonathan.

Well, as Ptonto kept on her nagging whining, I came to the true realization that almost every neighborhood has its own respective Ptontos, one, two, three, or even a legion of these ptonto-like sounding generators that keep giving a cacophony of unabashed humming due to overburdened use, and thus, subjecting such neighborhoods to daily rounds of horror.

Another sad truth is that most of us actually start to sleep truly and rest rightly, only after this horrific orchestra winds down, most times deep into the night.
Pity. Shame. Pity.

I pondered further that if a 4-week bout with noise could make me sink into this deep thought about my country’s lack of stable electricity and its noisome consequences, I feared the day I’d remember the environmental hazard/global warming/pollution consequence, or the health consequence, or the financial implication consequence, or most sadly, the lethal consequence (the generator fumes have killed many and continues to)… the consequences get sadly endless.

Moments later, Ptonto eventually rounded off her rendition when fuel finished in her tank (as usual), then, that palpable aura of balance and wave of calm restored immediately, I looked up, and it was 2 a.m already.

I had to snap out of my already distant thought, it was time to go put off my own generator too and sleep finally. Yeah, I also have a 7-month old generator, he is male and his name is “still” John Legend. As I approached him, I besought him dearly that he too shouldn’t become a a Ptonto or a TerryzG in any later or sooner future (I had feared, thinking, “if this Ptonto was once a Celine Dion, melo melo…..”).
But in response, my John Legend gave a sarcastic grimace, and as I leaned close to him, he whispered to my ear saying, “…off me make I rest, work surely dey again tomorrow abeg, and as per becoming TerryzG anytime soon, boss, as things stand, it is an inevitability”.

That night, I slept overcast.

nepa

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