Monthly Archives: May 2008

Electricity: Crisis without end (Guardian Editorial)

I am re-posting the editorial from Guardian Newspaper on my blog. The biggest problem in Nigeria is corruption without end and the biggest headache from that corruption is electricity, a crisis without end.

This is the editorial from the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper:
Guardian Editorial 12 May 2008

LONG before the onset of civil rule in 1999, the lack of electricity to power Nigeria’s development has been a much discussed subject. First, the problem was to be solved in six months, then in 18 months, then by the end of 2007, when Nigerians were assured of 10000 megawatts of electricity. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in his inaugural address in 2007, also made the provision of electricity a major priority in his seven-point agenda. He later promised to declare a state of emergency on a project which by his own admission had cost the Nigerian people $10 billion under the Obasanjo administration with nothing to show for it. By last week, power generation had fallen to an abysmal 860 MW, a quantity not even sufficient for Lagos State.

It is clear that without electricity there can be no industrial development and all those grand visions of becoming one of the world’s leading economies by 2020 cannot be realised. The harm caused by the lack of power in Nigeria is incalculable. The statistics are daunting. In Kano, for instance, it has been estimated that more than half of the city’s 400 industrial establishments have been forced to close down due to lack of power. With these closures some half a million workers have been retrenched. The Kano example is being replicated all over the country and has compounded the already tenuous security situation.

Nigerians were expecting President Yar’Adua to hit the ground running with his emergency plans. In the event, he merely constituted a committee that submitted an unpublished report to him on the power situation. Not much was heard on this subject until recently when the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) came up with a proposal that government has accepted. Under this proposal, NERC explained that the cost of electricity consumption was low and therefore a disincentive to investors. It determined that an increase of N6 to N11 or 83 per cent per kilowatt hour might lead to “correct” pricing for the commercial viability of Nigeria’s power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The cost of this increase over a period of three years with effect from July 1, 2008 will amount to N178 billion. This amount phased over three years will be borne initially by government as front-end subsidy to attract new investors. Ultimately, the Nigerian consumer will indemnify government for its losses by paying a higher tariff. This arrangement has been described as Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO). Armed with an enhanced purse, NERC feels confident that at last the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) will be able to sustain itself, repair decaying facilities and invest for expansion.

Optimistic as the NERC’s explanation may sound, it is regrettable that MYTO easily reminds us of the unsatisfactory arrangements with petroleum products where “correct” pricing had been a mirage against the backdrop of unending subsidies that inflicted pain on the consumer without achieving price stability. The galloping pump prices are the direct result of a failed policy now being mimicked, it seems, by NERC. We hope that the Nigerian electricity consumer will not similarly be driven down a bottomless pit.

The MYTO is quite unnecessary at this point; what Nigerians want is an immediate solution to the power crisis in the country. Nigerians have no electricity for domestic or commercial purposes. To begin now to warn them of an impending increase amounts to gross insensitivity and could be construed as double jeopardy in a country where individuals and businesses have had to provide alternative power at high cost to themselves. For the average Nigerian whose refrigerators have grown mould from lack of use, reminding him of an increase in tariff looks like putting the cart before the horse.

Surely the interest of government should first be to provide the electricity before charging for it. If it costs N178 billion to attract foreign investors, then so be it. What the Nigerian government ultimately charges the consumer is a separate matter of public policy that takes so many variables into account. The allusion to an increase in electricity tariff among a people in darkness is provocative. First let there be light and every other thing including tariffs can be considered.
A holistic approach to the power problem should be adopted including other sources of energy such as coal, wind and solar. Additionally, states should embark on the provision of electricity as service to their people. Older Nigerians will recall that Jos in Plateau State once had its own electricity generating company that provided uninterrupted power supply for years until it was taken over by NEPA, the precursor of PHCN.

In tackling the power problem government must be careful not to be seen to be inventing new solutions all the time. The neglected electricity infrastructure throughout the country should be rehabilitated. Selective on-going projects carried out under the umbrella of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) by competent and professional engineering firms should be completed. The nation’s electricity consumption for the next 30 years should be anticipated and a work plan drawn up to achieve this.

In commending President Yar’Adua for trying to find solutions to a rather intractable problem, may we suggest that one year down the life of his administration, the pace of handling this emergency has been disappointing. Nigerians want to see immediate, medium, and long term solutions to the problem. So far, there has been no immediate solution on the agenda. In the mean time, Nigerians continue to groan and lament the inability of their governments to come to their rescue in tackling a universal primary index of development.

Related story: Obasanjo denies power corruption

British Airways and Nigerian Passengers (The Guardian Editorial)

The Guardian Editorial 9th May 2008.

LINK: British Airways and Nigerian Passengers

THE British Airways’ decision to evict over 100 Nigerian passengers from a Lagos-bound flight from London on March 27 is understandably causing a furore, and appropriately, the contempt and arrogance displayed by the management of the airline has been condemned by aggrieved Nigerians. The circumstances surrounding the incident were embarrassing and the response of the airline was somewhat high-handed. In this regard, we fully endorse President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s displeasure, and his directive that the incident should be investigated.

On March 27, Nigerians aboard a Lagos-bound British Airways flight from London, had reportedly protested the maltreatment of one of their compatriots who was being deported and was on the same flight. The miffed passengers, including one Ayodeji Omotade, who had served as spokesperson, were later ordered out of the plane. The British Airways in a press statement says it had to “offload the passengers”… in consultation with, and on the advice of the United Kingdom (UK) Police…”

And the reason for this decision, classified as “a rare occurrence,” was “to ensure the safety of our passengers, aircraft and crew”. British Airways justifies its reaction on the ground that its crew members “were subjected to verbal abuse and physical assault”. Mr. Omotade who was reportedly singled out had his luggage seized for days, he was banned from flying British Airways “for life”; he was arrested by the police and was later arraigned in court.

Since the incident occurred, on March 27, British Airways in the face of rising public outrage and criticism, maintained a disdainful silence until May 2, when it issued a press statement, through a media consultant. This official response arrived more than a month late, and over a week after both President Umaru Yar’Adua and the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren had both expressed serious concerns.

The president, even from his sick bed, had reportedly directed the Minister of State for Transportation (Aviation) Mr. Felix Hyatt to investigate the incident, stressing that ‘under no circumstance will his administration tolerate the subjection of Nigerian passengers to less than acceptable international standards of treatment”.

Government’s response was not swift enough, but it was well-advised. The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since held meetings with the British High Commissioner over the matter. We share the view that the Nigerian government should be ready always, to defend the rights of Nigerians and to seek explanations as it is doing. Airlines seem to have developed a habit of treating Nigerian passengers shabbily.

Besides the President’s directive, Nigerians in Diaspora have been collecting protest signatures against British Airways, there is also a widespread campaign on the internet involving Nigerians who want the airlines sanctioned. A UK-based non-governmental organisation, Africans United Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) has decided to deny British Airways its patronage, in addition to encouraging its business partners to do the same. The levity with which British Airways has so far handled this matter is most strange, certainly it violates the ethics of community relations in business. The NCAA had demanded that within three days, i.e. by Monday, April 28, the airline should indicate a plan to compensate the passengers. Has it complied? Possibly not, for the matter was ignored in its press statement.

British Airways makes brisk business on its Nigeria-UK routes, (some would even say it is its most lucrative); it would have been wiser to handle this incident with greater sensitivity. But the airline is not alone in its alleged mistreatment of Nigerian passengers, even if what happened on March 27 was an isolated case. Recently, in Lagos, Delta Airlines reportedly ordered some of its passengers to disembark at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport for reasons that are still the subject of controversy between the airline and the concerned passengers. It is, however, quite possible that some passengers on the British Airways flight in question had over-reacted in seeking to protect their compatriot who was being deported. Some of our compatriots tend to be too dramatic in asserting their rights, and in many situations abroad, this has been the catalyst for undeserved humiliation.

Nonetheless, their rights to freely express themselves should not have been undermined to the extent of treating them with such disrespect. It is just as well that Omotade has taken his case to court. Persons who are similarly aggrieved may seek legal redress.

This incident occurred in March. Why is it that, but for President Yar’Adua’s recent directive, neither the Nigerian High Commission in the UK nor the Ministry in charge of aviation noticed or commented on it? Obviously, some persons had failed in their duty to Nigeria and her citizens.

When all is said and done, the incident should provide British Airways an opportunity to review its customer relations/communications processes and seek to make amends where necessary.

Boycott British Airways from May 15th

(As published on the Nigerian Village Square ).

Read full Story HERE

4 717 Nigerians sign Petition Against British Airways

By Adeola Aderounmu.

It is very certain now that BA has definitely lost some customers. 3, 916 Nigerians have signed the petition at The Nigerian Village Square

Not everyone of these people fly BA but add these numbers to families, friends and relations, the message is clear-BA MUST APOLOGISE.

That useless and worthless message released in Nigeria by “somebody” is rubbish. That is not an apology. That one is Absolute nonsense. It’s not worth this page, lai lai!!!