• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Looking for power without power Let them fix power to gain power

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These days when you are sat in front of your television watching the news and pictures are brought to you of sittings and activities at the National Assembly, some strong emptiness envelopes you. It’s such an eerie feeling because the emptiness you feel is not because something suddenly leaves your body or your being, but it is just because of the stark nakedness that comes in that in-your-face manner. It’s a brazen attack, so to say, on your innocence.

Ok, here’s exactly what I am talking about. I am not sure anybody has carefully taken out time to count the number of seats available at both chambers of the National Assembly – the Senate and the House of Representatives. Yes, it is true that there are 109 members in the Senate and 360 members in the House of Representatives. You would expect, mathematically, to have those same numbers of seats, respectively, in the two chambers. I am not sure of the sizes of the humans that are elected these days to represent people there, but expect that by normal average human size, you should have 109 and 360 seats, respectively, in the Senate and House of Representatives.

However, it is possible for the carpenter of the furniture makers to have factored a lot of things into building the seats for the two chambers. These factors could include the proportion of people likely to be elected who might turn up at the assembly with excess flab (read obesity) and as such would find their bottom taking up two or three people’s seats instead of just their one seat; the ingenuity and foresight of the people who designed and awarded the contract who saw a need to make sure that there were additional seats to accommodate people in future when additional zones and constituencies would be added. There would be all sorts of reasons for a thought process like that, but, trust me, it would have little to do with wanting to line any pockets. Of course, this is not to say that legitimately the chambers wouldn’t have been planned with extra seats to accommodate guests and outsiders in the event that they are invited for some fanciful presentation by special dignitaries.

All this is really beside the point. Why? Well, when you are sat in front of the television and these chambers are brought before you for viewing, you’ll see the emptiness that assaults you. There would be people sitting in alright. But the scantiness of the numbers is so frightening that you start to ask: where have all the men and women we elected gone? Is this business that I am watching on television meant to be child’s play and that’s why majority of the elected members are not in attendance? Well, it’s still a nascent democracy and people are still learning the ropes. But the real reason behind what you see is that everybody is back on the hustle! Recall that four years ago they came around your neighbourhood soliciting for your support and your votes. For those who were not re-contesting, it was understandable seeing them in your face every day and listening to what they had to say, especially about representing you to the fullest. Now, watch the television, watch the news… and you’ll see that they are all back on the road. And they are not exactly giving you ‘fullest’ service, are they? Assuming that a piece of legislation that concerns you, that would impact on you, is being debated right now, where is that your representative or senator who now thinks his re-election is more important than sitting down at the National Assembly to canvass what is supposed to be your own idea about the matter on the table? Where is he or she? He’s on the road, like he did four years ago and ended up giving you poor quality representation. Like they tend to admonish these days, I will implore you to “shine your eyes”.

But what exactly are they all chasing – legislators, senators, governors (including out-going ones who are helping anointed and party candidates instead of facing their job and beginning to wind down), president? They are chasing power. Those who have tasted it don’t want to let go of it. They know what that would mean, especially in a cruel Nigeria where the Christmas or Eid-el-Kabir cards you’ll get upon leaving office tumbles drastically! Those who haven’t tasted power are so charged up because they have seen how those who have it live it up right in their faces! In this chase of power lies an irony.

Those who chase power have different responsibilities to discharge when they ‘win’ power. They really have no choice than to do this. After all, they go about during campaigns to say “I can do this. I can do that!” Politicians who know what this means work to ensure they deliver on their promises. The phony ones (majority of who you’ll find here in Nigeria) just go about the business as if it’s one big party. One big responsibility politicians owe Nigerians has to do with that which they so earnestly now seek: it is the responsibility to provide power (electricity) to the people. It aids the quality of life. It’s important in a whole lot of ways and things. But as they go about hunting and chasing for votes, with still some time left to complete the promises that they made four years ago, I find it amazing how they all have taken their eyes off the critical problem of power.

Federal politicians at the presidency have done a good thing by privatizing the power sector. But we are finding that privatizing the assets for generation and distribution is not enough to guarantee adequate power supply. Why is it that federal politicians are still holding on to transmission assets? Why are they not doing much to galvanize the gas environment so that there is investment to produce the needed gas? Privatisation of power assets does not mean that government no longer has responsibility to carry the can for what goes wrong with power. As a matter of fact, government still owns interests in these assets, in some cases even up to 40 percent. In other words, government did not sell 100 percent of these assets. Politicians are now hiding under the cloak of electioneering to stop work completely; doing nothing and watching all of us suffer. And power is something that they have completely abandoned in this election season! They should chase power with a conscience. Let them fix power to gain power!

PHILLIP ISAKPA