Something very funny happened yesterday. Well not so funny for some people. Everyone (non-Nigerians inclusive), probably knows how bad the light situation is in Nigeria. Just a brief history. The national electrical body for Nigeria was formerly known as NEPA (National Electric Power Authority), but became PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) some 8 years ago. The reason for the name change as with almost everything in Nigeria, I don't know and I really don't care to. Whether it was in the bid to deceive the populace that with the name change would come better/ improvement in the lighting situation, or that some other group wanted to take over and decided to change the name? No idea. Come to think of it, I thought I heard that it was because NEPA was going to be privatized. The thing is, the problem became worse.
Back then, when I was younger, the nickname for NEPA was "Never Expect Power Always". When the power is restored after hours of darkness, the whole neighborhood yells "UP NEPA!!!". (We still do, even with the name change). As the name became PHCN, it was nicknamed "Problem Has Changed Name". Others said according to their new name, they were now holding on to the power and not giving it to the people. Funny right? If you've had the opportunity to travel out of the country, you'll find that as you prepare for landing, (especially at night), a look outside your window shows you a well-lit city below. On your way back to Nigeria, It's total darkness that you find. With spots of lighting (those ones I usually regard as the people lucky enough to own a generator.
Anyway, to the events that transpired early hours of yesterday, the reason I decided to write this post. Let me just say first of all, that describing the light conditions in the last one month as epileptic would be putting it very nicely. It has been almost non-existent. This was after they said they were planning and actually privatized the company. (Hold on a minute, I thought we already did that? Oh well, Nigeria!) So bad to the extent that we hadn't seen a wink of light in the last 4 days. So, I was busy on the internet (typing on my blog of course), and we were using the generator as a source of power, when I heard the commotion outside. As an "amebo" (gossip), I went to the balcony to take a peek. Lo and behold! the young men in the neighborhood were carrying placards and leaves and sticks in a semi- peaceful demonstration, headed for the PHCN office.
Fast forward 30 minutes later and another commotion, a bit more than the first stirred the quiet again. This time when I looked unto the street, the men were in a very heated fight with some of the PHCN officials. My guess from the scene I saw was that they were already on their way back when they saw and attacked the officials on their way back from wherever. As the fight went on, the law enforcement agency (police) had to intervene and stop the fight. Further enquiries revealed that these same young had gone on a more peaceful demonstration to plead for light. And they were given only a few hours of it. I think I remember that day.
Now to the funny part of the story. I was sent on an errand minutes into the whole show (which is why I didn't get a picture of the fight, or maybe I was so engrossed in the scene, I totally forgot to take a picture). Anyhow, by the time I came back home a few hours later, The power had been restored. They didn't turn it off again until much later into the night and they brought it back a few hours later.
My thought is this;
- Did they have to wait for a demonstration (peaceful or not)?
- Did the life of some of their officials have to be put on the line for no just course?
My conclusion? We, Nigerians never want to learn or do anything (even our regular jobs) unless we are forced to do it. God help us!!! Wise up Naija!