Since 1960, Nigeria has accomplished impressive developmental feats. We have retained our place as the largest economy in Africa in terms of nominal GDP and accounted for 73% of total West African imports. However, our dear country continues to face a rather devastating issue: we still lack electricity.
As a matter of fact, several countries which lag far behind Nigeria in development rankings enjoy more electricity access. According to a report by the World Bank, Cameroon and Uganda surpass Nigeria with 57% and 74% of the population having access to electricity respectively. In Nigeria, only 55.5% of the population has access to electricity. All seen, Nigeria is suffering from energy poverty.
Another fact that makes our lack of electricity so appalling is our abundance of natural and diverse energy resources. Nigeria takes advantage of her large deposits of coal and fossil fuels, but leaves significant nuclear and wind energy potential largely untapped. All of this shows that every Nigerian citizen should enjoy constant access to electricity. As we have seen, however, this is not the case.
According to Minister of Power, Raji Fashola, Nigeria only enjoys half of its full power capacity. Reasons for this include broken gas pipelines and poor planning of evacuation and supply. Fashola also calls for more investment in Nigeria’s power sector. Even though these reasons play a large role in energy poverty, there is a more significant factor at play. The main reason we are still in the dark after 58 years of independence is tied to the Nigerian mind-set on the issue.
The lack of electricity has obvious myriad of drawbacks. First of all, it puts a further strain on already tenuous fuel resources. It also results in damage to personal effects and hampers infrastructure and industrial growth.
But the unfortunate fact is that Nigerians have become complacent to the lack of electricity. Think about how accustomed we have become to the sound of sirens blaring to announce the return of power and sudden power outages at several intervals within a single hour. Energy poverty is regrettably accepted as a feature of daily life in Nigeria.
As a people, we no longer care. We have surrendered in the fight for constant electricity. According to Raji Fashola, even ministries, departments and agencies of government formations owe power bills. My people, we can and must do better. Instead of complacently accepting the dire state of affairs, we must push for a further diversification of Nigeria’s energy sources and improved energy governance.
To this end, we the people must make the federal government answer for its failures on the issue. By changing our mind-set, we may see Nigeria emerge from the darkness of energy poverty and surpass her maximum potential in more ways than one. May God bless our country, Nigeria.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.