Roland Digieneni & Flora Asieri report
Current estimates indicate that only 41% of homes across Nigeria have a consistent supply of electricity [source: energyglobal.com]. Radar reporter – Roland Digieneni, reporting from Bayelsa State, explains that both historical measures and present day policies under the current administration, have dramactically improved the situation in his home State.
In parts of Bayelsa State steady electrical flow “warms the hearts” of citizens
The importance of electricity in the ‘life of a nation’ need not be over emphasised, and more so in the Niger Delta where most of the region had been in perpetual darkness over the years, writes Roland Digieneni.
Electricity is a big issue in the Niger Delta and the entire Nigerian nation in general. In fact, it is the lack of this basic amenity among others that fuelled the violent agitations that gave way to militancy in the Niger Delta. In particular, the Electrification Programme embarked upon by Chief Melford Okilo, the then Governor of Old Rivers State was a great success. The Imiringi Gas Turbine Project (the 1st of its kind) was all the tonic needed to warm the hearts of the citizens and the outcome of the ‘1983 general elections was a landslide victory in his second tenure.
“I no longer spend on fuelling my generator set”
At the Swali Ultra Modern Market which deals on frozen foods, Mrs. Grace Idubamo – a trader – commented on the current supply of power to her community. “I am happy that these days I no longer spend on fuelling my generator set. In fact, for the first time in two weeks I’ve not put my generator set on!” In appreciation of the steady power supply situation in the Yenagoa Metropolis, she quickly added – “I wish this trend continues even after the elections.”
Mr. Wenis Owei, a businessman come politician, had this to say on the matter. “The infrastructure this government has put in place in electricity generation & distribution is a milestone achievement that will impact positively on the lives of the citizens. This is the reason we adopt him as sole Presidential candidate of our party, Alliance for Democracy (AD)”. Also commenting on the improved power supply situation in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, was Mr. Lawson, a barbing saloon owner – who said, “if this present power supply situation is sustained, my business will survive and I’ll be ever grateful to this government.”
“I think what this government has done in infrastructural development of the power sector is unprecedented, as is evident in the improved electricity supply nation wide in recent times. There is need for continuity to consolidate on the gains of democracy.”
“Expect Landlords to bill you heavily”
Flora Asieri, Rivers State resident reporter showed sympathy for those who do not have a steady electrical supply.
“Actually, there is adequate power supply in the area I reside, Oroazi under Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State. But I know of some areas like in Ada George, Chinda that suffer epileptic power supply. This has its own effect on the people and their businesses. For those who reside in areas where light is adequate, they pay exorbitant rates for house rent, shop or office space. According to Jay Jay, a Housing agent, “it is federal light, so expect landlords to bill you heavily”.”
“For those without light, they have to go through the rigours of getting fuel for their generator sets. As it stands, fuel prices have gone up a notch from 87 Naira per litre to 105 Naira per litre.”
“In addition, not only are the fumes emitting from the generator adversely affecting our health and environment, it is also a very irritating source of noise pollution. We have had electricity issues before now and are managing to pull through. The elections will come and go with or without electricity. Almost everyone has a power backup in the form of a generator set.”
Wokoma Kwani, Rivers State resident, added, “the problems of electricity in my town? Personally I don’t think there will be problems [during the elections], because in a way we’ve adapted to getting light once in a while.”