Nigeria’s 16bn Power Saga

May 31, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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Prince Charles Dickson



Light no dey…the matter pass N16bn



The 16bn Power Saga; Obj, Buhari generate more heat than electricity, this headline by Blueprint Newspaper sums it all up, in the same week that we were told it would take 15 years to solve the nation’s metering problem.


Then I ask…who exactly did this to us, are our ancestors just collecting kola and aromatic schnapps and not doing anything about our situation.




When question drop for mouth,

Question go start to run,

When answer drop for mouth,

Answer go run after am,


When answer jam question for road

Another thing go shele o, uh


Why you mash my leg for ground?

You no see my leg for road?


Question don drop for mouth,

Question don start to run,


Why you put your leg for road?

You no see say I dey come?


Answer don drop for mouth,

Answer don start to run,

Fela Anikulapo Kuti in Question Jam Answer



Ibrahim is the JEDC marketer allotted to me. He’s a good lad. JEDC stands for Jos Electricity Distribution Company but they largely distribute darkness and bills. Ibru brought this bill that had 12k and I went into a Nigerian frenzy…why, how, when, what, which and where; explain, was it the bill for the year or if we had stopped paying the bills.


I know that the consumption had decreased for a while, there were now fewer persons at home, less time spent, I could not understand the ‘astronomical’ increase for a service that hasn’t been there in the first instance or at best been dancing disco when available.


So, after both looking at the bill properly we saw the error and the bill was actually 5k and still at that, all I needed to do was a mental calculation to arrive at the fact that for an entire month I have seen barely cumulatively ten days of electricity.


It’s almost a year now, I have yet to see the analog prepaid meter that has if anything defaced many parts of Jos hanging dirty on poles.


All this Obj and Buhari amala talk could be classified as collateral pain if after all there is power, but instead we are fed with the political gimmick of “…there is power for an average of 16 hours across major Nigerian cities” by Fashola the power minister, just like the then Ngozi Iweala, Madam Minister for Finance.


While Nigerians pay for services not delivered, it is ironic that only both men, and other government officials experience uninterrupted electricity.


Most Nigerians applaud the fact that PHCN is dead, but many a Nigerian now craves for its resurrection, as the new DISCOS, at best have failed in the electric dance.


Whether it is $16bn or N1, we are still in the NNPC said “there is no gas, we have supplied, and they did not pay”, era. Despite the best of efforts, most Nigerians do not understand the whole privatization, unbundling or fondling of power by those concerned.


We are an impatient nation but is this electricity matter not one that should have been done and dusted, why is it we still suffer high current—electric gadgets bear the brunt, no one is held liable, and then low current—you can barely see, so there is electricity but it cannot power a bulb.


The Transmission company people are doing loads of hard work but truly it amounts to nothing when there are many questions and no answers, I agree that we are a difficult people, it is probably only in Nigeria that PHCN owes NNPC for fuel supplied, and NNPC has not paid for electricity supplied and state houses owe utility bills, while citizens that have not paid bills in years have power as long as there is power to spare.


I know it is the same nation that after the fatia, Lord’s prayer and phrases like Alhamdullilah, and Hallelujah, one must have under the breath said “Up NEPA” or muttered “Thank God there is light.” Especially coming back home and that house that serves as light post shows you a flicker of light, some of us even call home to ask if there is light, rather than ask if everyone is safe.


I do not need lecture us on, the benefits derivable to the Nigerian economy in the event we sort out our electricity palaver.


I must state solution does not lie in Chinese, World Bank loans or Private Partnership but upon a strong political will by both leadership and those governed.


Jibrin Ibrahim said, “Our political leaders make promises that they can’t keep, largely because we don’t have a culture of accountability”. And Chris Kwaja sums it up…The reality today is the both the country and its citizens suffer from an elite capture of the state and its institutions. For many of the institutions, they become weak because they are at the mercy of strong men and women. They are the centrifugal forces that sustain the sceptre of poverty, inequality and unemployment. For an average citizen that is a victim of these vices, the very notion of what and what is expected of such a state in the context of a “social compact” to provide and protect is a utopia. The collective will and action of the people in demanding for good government is the key…


Meanwhile, at the office, we had cumulatively two hours of electricity, and it came in a space of 8 occasions the light was DISCO light, off and on.


We may be on track, but really if this is the track, then, in Amauche Ude’s words we will keep making or recycling same mistakes. Will there truly be light soon–only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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