Friday, February 08, 2013

Roadmap to Stable Electricity in Nigeria

Our side of the estate had been without electricity for three days and being a responsible citizen, I drove down to the government-owned power company, PHCN to report the situation. Before I continue, I think I should use this opportunity to state that we do enjoy excellent PHCN-customer relations in Gwarinpa, Abuja compared to what obtains in Lagos. I have never had to bribe, coax or induce any PHCN officer since I moved to the area. I remember the first time I went to make a complaint, I simply had to join a line and when it got to my turn, I told the woman at the table that we had been without electricity for 24 hours. Surprisingly, she didn’t insult me in return; she didn’t even have that horrible contour some old female civil servants display on their faces when they are not in the mood to work. She referred me to their engineer who took down the complaint and the situation was properly resolved before midnight.

Back in Lagos, we had to come up with all kinds of tricks to get PHCN, then NEPA to do their job or prevent them from doing what they know to do best - cutting the line from the pole. We sometimes feed them or call our younger cousins to entertain them with dance and my brother should have won the AMAA (African Oscars) for his perfect act of dressing like a ‘big’ man and stomping into their office shouting, where is your oga?

Now back to the story at the beginning of this post. After stating we had been without electricity for three days, I was directed to a Senior Engineer’s office in the back building. When I got into his office, I relayed my complaint again. On hearing what I had to say, he threw his head back, scratched his hair and picked up his phone. He instructed the person on the other end to switch the connection plug from another area to ours (this is my layman’s watered down interpretation of the engineering terms he used).

I was shocked to note that incidents of power cuts were just the handiwork of a man that switched off the supply and it was clear that in between their game of switching on and off, they had forgotten to restore supply to our area.

As I left PHCN’s office that day, I could not stop pondering on the existing arrangement of electricity distribution. So, a man sitting by the switches determines in his mind that Lekki should have electricity, then, he switches Lekki on. Again, he decides Ajegunle should not have electricity, so he switches it off. It’s just a foolish, silly game that has no place in the 21st century. What assumptions, preconditions and considerations do they use to determine which area should have or be without electricity.

I will like to use this medium to recommend that PHCN be mandated to develop a distribution model and make it public. The model should show allocation of power supply to all areas across the country in percentages. This will allow automatic determination of the specific amount due to each area in cases of increase or decrease in power generation. Information on the basis for allocation should also be provided e.g Value X is allocated to Aso Rock because it is the seat of Presidency.

From this model, a timetable can be generated to show the numbers of hours of electricity each area should expect per day and through an interactive platform on PHCN’s website, people can choose the time when they want to enjoy the supply e.g. an area allocated 4hours of power supply per day can decide on 2p.m to 6p.m. The timetable should be displayed on PHCN’s website and any alteration to it should be announced.

I will be glad if you can add your contribution to this proposed recommendation and who knows we might come up with so good a document that we can submit to the Presidency, Ministry of Power and/or PHCN.

Let’s do it! The New Nigeria we seek is within our reach!


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