I admire Lagos State as it remains the best managed state in Nigeria. In many areas, Lagos is peerless. But it seems that the problem of Nigeria has also infected Lagos: Governor Ambode has donated 120 generators to the Police. I would have expected the governor to donate solar power systems over generators. Possibly, other states that look unto Lagos for vision will pick up better ideas. Unfortunately, another money to the generator mafia.
The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday handed over 120 new 5KVA generating sets to the Lagos State Police Command to power all police formations across the state, with a pledge of continuous support to security agencies to ensure optimal performance.
Responding, the State’s Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal thanked Governor Ambode for the gesture, saying that the generating sets could not have come at a better time. While assuring that the generating sets would be put to optimal use, Mr Edgal said that the facility would go a long way to ensuring that the divisional and area commands are well lit to enable them effectively enforce the laws of the land.
“Power is very essential. Our communication gadgets, especially phones need to be charged. You cannot function anywhere, you can’t take complaints, you can’t give directives to field officers when there is no power. These generating sets are very valuable to us,” Mr. Edgal said.
As noted in the press release, these generators will ensure that the Police do its work. You cannot fault the governor as he wants to keep the state safe. Running Police stations with generators is what Nigeria has become. A governor donates generators and calls a press conference for the world to see him giving generators to the Police. Yes, that is in Lagos, Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence, and it is 2017. Why not? The Police need to charge the phones and run their computers.
This is not to blame His Excellency. The problem of power is beyond his office. It was far easier as an opposition party. APC has shown that it is a child of PDP. They are all the same. All the micro-grids and small power cells are yet to come, at scale. During the election, the Vice President came to U.S. and gave a great talk on power. Some people questioned him on the feasibility of piping gases with trucks. The people that understood the business (I know nothing of it) were clear that it would be hard to make profits doing so. APC said it was possible. We are still waiting for light. It is very unfortunate.
But PDP would not have been better. They are all the same. They speak to get jobs and after that, no one cares. We will all forget, they reason, as we will continue to vote the same people back. Forget their parties. Otherwise, any leader would have known that fixing power will put his face on the Nigerian currency. That is the biggest challenge in our economy today. Men come to work, to fix cars, but they turn to singers waiting for light to come. Women come to work, to braid hair, but quickly become prayer warriors to bring the light.
In the old Nigeria, a governor would have mandated the head of the distribution company to make sure that the power lines linking all the police stations have electricity. So magically everyone on the same lines with the Police will have light. But that was old Nigeria. It may not have been the best way of running a country. But today, the challenges are institutionalized. Even the Police cannot get light. And there is nothing they can do about it. The governor can only consult with the head of the distribution company, but cannot do much.
And you cannot blame the distribution company because it has its own grievances. So we are in a vicious circle that needs leadership for the issues to be resolved.
Nigerian government has to make good, and go back, and increase electricity tariff as agreed pre-privatization. The citizens do not have to pay this extra fee. Government can decide to write the discos cheques yearly. After all, it tricked the investors to invest based on the tariff. That the court struck and reversed the tariff is irrelevant. Investors did not sign any agreement with the court. That was the condition precedent and where it was voided, the discos have the rights not to deliver electricity. It makes no sense for them to be doing so losing money.
The problem is beyond distribution. The issue is that today’s tariff is so bad that it is better not distributing. Government knows that and that was why the tariff was raised to attract investors. But the court struck it out after they have invested. The investors will be naive to pump more money into a system like that.
Congratulations to both the Police and Lagos State. Now, the Police have the lights and can go ahead to do the work. The governor must be commended for this. The Police are not under his direct funding domain but he wants to see Lagos running. He is right to donate generators. But I wish he gave solar power systems. As a governor, and considering the structure of the Nigerian electricity sector, he has limited options to power 120 police stations, immediately. Indeed, generators are so beautiful; they power Africa’s largest economy.