It was in February that CNN’s famous TV host, Christiane Amanpour, parodied the power outage in the country when she compared it with a blackout that occurred at the largest sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl.
The 35-minute blackout at the event watched by over 100 million people in 180 countries trended on Twitter and Amanpour hyped it more with her comparison on her show after she interviewed President Jonathan on CNN. The President’s claim that more megawatts of electricity had been generated was rubbished when CNN went on the streets of Lagos to ask people if power supply had truly improved in their areas. The answers were, of course, unpleasant.
What some people may not realise is that power has improved in some areas. A few friends with whom I discussed said it has in their areas. There have been issues in my area about PHCN workers collecting money from some people to give them light more often. What this means is that some people will suffer as power supply is usually rotated where I live. It was five days on, one day off, but now it has been reduced to three days on, one day off. It’s not that the three days power is stable; at times it could be out for three hours or more.
Before then, power was very good in my suburb and we were the envy of friends who visited us. That was three years ago. But now the situation has deteriorated. Even on days when we were supposed to have light, it would become a toy in the hands of the PHCN officer on duty. It would come on and off. Someone told me a street adjacent to hers at Mafoluku usually has light. “Light would be staring at us in the houses adjacent to ours and we won’t have light,” she had told me. “Several times we had gone to bed without power. We were told by PHCN officers that we should do what those who have light do – bribe them.”
I had an interesting experience last December which I have to share. It was the custom in my area for there to be power outage on December 25. I had told everyone at home that we would have a ‘dark’ Christmas as PHCN would seize power. I was right. A few hours after dawn, there was no electricity. Hence I decided to call someone who works at PHCN office in my area. Promptly, he said he would come to the office and look into the problem, not without a promise from me to give him a Christmas gift, of course. He fixed the ‘problem’ and I gave him his Christmas gift.
There is a joke on Twitter now that some people are forced to sleep in their cars at night. “Darling, please go and wake the children. The gen is faulty. Tonight they’ll sleep in the Range, you and I will manage the Cayenne,” tweeted Tolu Ogunlesi a few days ago. “We should find a suitable name for it (i.e., hanging-out in parked car – ‘Hopemobile’ – AC on, phone charging, radio-surfing). Moto-tourism? I wonder if the rest of the world knows that Nigerians regularly go and sit in their parked cars to enjoy air-conditioning and phone-charging.”
Maybe more power is being generated as President Jonathan said, but some unscrupulous PHCN workers may be making gain from it by removing some people from the grid and connecting those who bribed them. Now that the Transmission Company of Nigeria has been inaugurated, we hope something good happens soon so that Amanpour will not have to do another episode of her show on Nigerians sleeping in their cars!