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For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Socialist Democracy March - April 2005


NEPA BLACKOUT: No Solution Within The System

By: Bosah Chinedu


It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that NEPA's endemic problem, like every other sector cannot be resolved by this regime and any Nigerian who thinks otherwise, given the pro-rich, anti-poor and the neo-colonial policy of the Obasanjo led-government should be expecting milk from a he-goat.


In 1999, the commander-in-chief himself promised "uninterrupted power supply" with the then minister of power and steel, Chief Bola Ige who tried to become a super magician by giving Nigerians six months by which NEPA would have been revived. Late Chief Ige was shuffled out of the Power And Steel Ministry and coming on board was the present Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu, under whose stewardship N3 billion from Power and Steel Ministry meant for NEPA got missing and he could not explain its whereabouts.


Since the inception of this present government, over N400 billion has been voted into the Ministry of Power and Steel. Also, $18 million (N2.4 billion) World Bank loan to NEPA was secured late last year, yet nothing positive has been noticed.


Just recently, precisely on Thursday, February 18, 2005, most part of the country was thrown into darkness over what was tagged "NEPA system collapse". We must not forget that Obasanjo led government has a history of moving the goal post from one place to another. Quoting from The Punch Newspaper article of Tuesday March 8, 2005 credited to Azubuike, on the government promises to revamp NEPA: "NEPA promises regular supply by 2001 - The Punch August 28, 2000". "We are on top of the situation, by the middle of the year, power supply will begin to improve, and by the end of the year, we will meet the target (4,000 megawatts) set for us - Senator Liyel Imoke, former NEPA Technical Board Chairman, March 30, 2001". "We have no doubt that the funds requested will provide this nation with the lasting solution to our persistent power supply problems - Dr. Olusegun Agagu, former Minister of Power and Steel, August 20, 2002. (An estimated N200 billion was later released to NEPA that same year)". Therefore, the fantastic promise of the Obasanjo government over revitalization of NEPA, that power generation will be increased from less than 3000mw to 5500mw by the end of 2004 is a ruse. Recently, we have been told by the Minister of Power and Steel, Liyel Imoke that the 5500mw has fallen down to 3000mw which was attributed to system collapse due to instability to shortfall of rainfall.


Year-in, year-out, NEPA services have become epileptic. This has necessitated protests and demonstrations in different communities to NEPA offices. One of such peaceful protests and demonstrations was carried out by members of "Nosamu, Orodu and Goriola community" of Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government in Lagos State. One of the problems that sparked off the December 17 community mass protest was the 300KVA moribund transformer which can no longer serve the three streets (Nosamu, Orodu and Goriola) adequately for one month without developing major fault, which will take NEPA officials another 3 weeks or more to repair.


Outrageous estimated bills were brought to residents and also NEPA brought bills for the 4 months - July to November 2004 periods when there was no electricity at all due to the complete breakdown of the moribund transformers. Parts of the communities' demands have been: one, NEPA should withdraw the 4 months bill; two, NEPA should install a 1000KVA functional transformers and three, adequate funding of NEPA and no to privatisation of NEPA.


In the series of meetings, DSM members in the communities who intervened and gave leadership to the struggle had explained that the struggle should go further than winning immediate concessions. Though, it is always better to compel the enemy to retreat than to hide oneself without a fight, the working class and the masses should link every particular struggle to the general with the view not to only make the enemies to retreat but to struggle to take the mantle of leadership politically.




We have heard bourgeois commentators and bureaucratic argument for privatisation as the only way out. If one would ask, what happened to Enron energy giant, Societe Generale Bank, and Pamalat, just to mention a few? Are these big corporations not private companies? Well, over 200 privately owned and run companies have collapsed in the last one decade in this country.


What we have in a capitalist run economy like Nigeria is that political leadership and power is usurped either through the barrel of gun or massively rigged elections. Bureaucrats and those in government houses wreck havoc on this publicly owned corporations by massive embezzlement of public fund and sabotage.


The missing thing for any publicly owned corporation including NEPA is workers democratic management and control. Ultimately, the only remedy is for the commanding height of the economy to be nationalized with the democratic control and management by the workers. Anything short of this is capitalist anarchy.



Socialist Democracy March - April 2005