17 July 2009

Light Up Nigeria? Pt 1

On Monday, 14th of July 2009 a revolution occurred. No shots resounded, not AK 47s or mortar bombs in sight. No state of emergency declared, no martial music played on the radio. Nothing! Not an outward sign exists to herald the birth of this coup d’├ętat that started like a whisper and is gradually rising to a roar. This roar will soon become a deafening crescendo if its momentum continues to grow. Several events have taken place during the last few weeks (and months) that I have chosen not to write upon. Primarily because they had been adequately treated by more competent and experienced bloggers, or simply because I had nothing further to add (I’m not the kind to blog just for the sake of reading my own text, that’s what my diary’s for). I was most recently nearly (thisclose) tempted to write after the DRAB vs. 9ja youth debacle (my Twitter and Facebook friends will understand this reference) but Bankole Wellington (aka Banky W) wrote a very eloquent rejoinder in defense of our youth. However, Light Up Nigeria (#lightupnigeria) requires special treatment.
It’s apparent from the first paragraph (for those who do pay attention to my yammering) that once more I have jumped on my tiny little soapbox and started with my ant-like ranting, as is always the case when the words “politics” and Nigeria are mentioned in the same paragraph within earshot of me. What in the name of the gods am I on about this time (and could I get to the point already…yes, yes in my spare time I read minds too!)? I’m talking about a new movement that is gaining ground care of the Nigerian youth movement via the social networking forum Twitter.
The premise behind the movement is to primarily protest the epileptic (and near non-existent) power supply situation in the former Giant of Africa, the much abused and pillaged but still beloved land of my birth (if not my upbringing), Nigeria. The government would have you believe that we are still giants on the continent, but alas WE the people know the truth (and the rest of the World is getting the picture too). The person that started the movement’s momentum is El Dee the Don a popular musician in Nigeria apparently after he almost lost a relation during childbirth, due to…power outage. It isn’t as if that’s a new occurrence, or that power outages are not a permanent fixture in the life of the average Nigerian (actually having power is more or less a special occasion…kinda like birthdays and Christmas), but as the saying goes, a certain time arises in the life of a man where he says enough is enough! And seriously, ENOUGH is ENOUGH. With the aid of his twitter family the movement started. People started attaching the #lightupnigeria hash tag to every tweet and picture, stating their reasons why government should address the perennial power problems, within the space of two days the #lightupnigeria hash tag had reached No. 18 on the worldwide tweet topic list, and more people are joining the train. The stars came out to shine and light up the area, with celebrities such as M. I. (Jude Abaga), Banky W (Bankole Wellington), Tosyn Bucknor, Andre Henshaw, Kel (Kel Ohia) et al joining the movement and soliciting support from their tweet posses.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such zeal for anything asides from money among the youth in my country, and it’s always seemed to be a case of “e go better” with everyone sitting put in the typical “siddon look” posture, waiting for a hero to come save them. In all my ‘soapbox’ chronicles, I’ve always advocated taking personal responsibility, being the change rather than waiting for the change to happen. At last, I see it coming to pass in my lifetime.
Now for those of you not in the know you might wonder why the agitation, after all hasn’t this always been the way of the world (in Nigeria that is)? Let me take you to school briefly and give you a history, economics and political science lesson in an abridged form. Don’t get panicky when you see figures like $117 billion (is that nine or twelve zeros at the end of that?) or other such sums you only hear about on TV or see in the papers, why panic? Our government isn’t worried, so why should you be?
Nigeria has a population of approximately 140 million people (hence the Giant of Africa pseudonym (totally on account of population)) and is the 7th largest producer of crude oil in the world. We’re rich right? *buzzer goes off in response to that statement, signifying error, invalid command entered* Well according for those in the know, we are DIRT poor (not just ordinary poor) with between 75 -85% of the population living below the poverty line (personally I figure it’s more like 95%, but what do I know?). Industrial growth is near 0 and the few businesses we have relocating to friendlier hubs such as Ghana. Why? Inadequate power distribution and the high overheads incurred running generators 70% of the day. The energy demands of the country are estimated at 25000MW, the reality…the country’s current output is roughly 3900MW (of which 2400MW are self-generated!) and in the last decade roughly $16 billion (yes dollars, not naira) has been invested in the power sector and nothing has happened. In the words of the author of a study conducted on the correlation between power generation capacity and GDP:
"…the more the efforts are that have been made in the power sector, the more troubled things seem to become. The more money is spent on the sector, the more epileptic and unreliable the performance of the sector appears to ...
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Anonymous said...

let us remember that the issue of this power supply is HECTIC and MAJOR...from lack of maintenance in d past, to decayed infrastructure, to the militant bombings int he Niger Delta, to unspecific number of people wev got in nigeria, to indecisive n currupt government, and even to attitude to Nigerias and a whole......

HOWEVER it can be done. all we need is a positive step to doing the right thing. Once we see your sincere effort, FGN, we will help and cheer u along...This power issue is long coming and Nigerians and every sector in its economy has suffered or is suffering from its effects.(take a look at the Manufacturing industry)....

All we ask is a conscious and delibrate effort for CHANGE....we are starting the movement. it might not be done today; they might not even listen tommorrow, but let it be in d records that we did something about the power issue...WE SPOKE!!!

lets keep talking #lightupnigeria ...who knows, THEY MIGHT JUST LISTEN!!!


Plumbline said...

*Sighs, then gets intensely agitated* YES!!! let the REVOLUTION begin!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh! It can never be truer than this. I remember some month ago while discussion with some friends and I was talking about Nigerian Needing a REVOLUTION.

When I mentioned REVOLUTION, all of them opposed it, I tried to convinced them that it's doesn't have to be a Gunpowder, bloody kind of REVOLUTION!

Now, #lightupnigeria is like a dream come true, and a vision coming true.

Let's continue to #lightupnigeria. Very soon we'll deafen those who refuse to listen and they I'll have no choice than to listen.

Oh I gotta get back to Twirra(like the oyinbo call twitter) to do some more #lightupnigeria

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