Jonathan’s Power Sector Reform Beckons Economic RenaissanceArticles/Opinion Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
By Kayode Ojo
It is an unfortunate reality of our times that many Nigerians have become experts at disapproving. Indeed, they are lacking in the simple yet humane act of giving credit where it is due. A major case in point is the often unreasonable denigration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) by bitter men and women of yesterday who have nothing positive to offer the nation today. They are so blinded by pettiness that even when the President takes a giant stride, such as the unprecedented emancipation of the power sector through privatisation, they cannot accept what even the deaf, the blind and the dumb would readily acknowledge is a milestone towards solving Nigeria’s major problems.
For the avoidance of doubt, let it be stated clearly that the major problems of our country arise directly from economic hardships. The man in Jigawa, like the woman in Ekiti, as well as the youth in Cross River, all suffer from not being able to achieve their full economic potential. It has been widely acknowledged that poverty and lack of opportunities for economic self-development do not know tribe, state, region, or religion. It has also been widely acknowledged that the majority of Nigerians are willing and able to work hard for their livelihood; and that they need only infrastructure and an enabling environment from the government.
In the light of the foregoing, it can be said that the recent privatisation of the power sector by the Jonathan-led Federal Government is a giant leap in the quest to create the right infrastructure base and enabling environment for Nigerians to take the reins of their economic destinies in their own hands. To break this point down to the simplest level, whether you are a welder in Sokoto, a hairdresser in Lagos, or a tailor in Ebonyi, what the privatisation of power means is that in the nearest future you are entirely responsible for meeting your customers’ needs and making the profits you desire.
This is because, once the commerce-driven benefits of the power sector privatisation kick in, telling your customer, “Oh, sorry, I couldn’t finish that job because of no light,” will no longer arise. In the near future, there will be electric power, 24/7 across the entire country, and this will be guaranteed by the economic imperative to provide service or lose customers.
Lest we forget, before the advent of Global Systems of Mobile (GSM), official statistics placed the number of telephone lines in Nigeria at just about 500,000. Today, every achaba man in Keffi, Nasarawa State; Keke NAPEP rider in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; and all the market women in Ilaro, Ogun State; are connected to the GSM network of their choice. They can talk to their family members, friends, and customers in their locations and other places, be it Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, London, Washington, or even Beijing, China. The economic benefits of this freedom to communicate with whomever people in this country wish to communicate with, whenever they wish, are innumerable in naira and kobo.
Without mincing words, it is a foreseeable vision that the privatisation of the power sector will engender even greater economic growth for virtually all Nigerians. This is because, once stability of power is achieved, the natural creativity and industriousness of Nigerians will translate into unquantifiable multiplier effects that will transform Nigeria into an economic powerhouse. And as an economic powerhouse, Nigeria will not struggle to reduce or eradicate many issues such as poverty, crime, and terrorism. After all, no prosperous youth, for example, would allow himself to be recruited to fight a senseless, unprofitable battle against his own country and fellow citizens.
As such, it is only fair to say to President Goodluck Jonathan, “on this power sector privatisation, well done, Presido!” And for those who may argue that he is only doing what he was elected to do, the simple fact is, a well-deserved word of praise should not be denied GEJ just because he has exhibited exemplary leadership and foresight in office. After all, others sat where he is now sitting and presided over the rot and decay that was the power sector which he has today revitalised. And if it is acceptable to excoriate the president even over the flimsiest issue, it should be acceptable to honour him over this major issue.
For the naysayers out there, know that there will be a period of teething problems that may seem as if there has been no improvement in the power situation. This is expected fallout of a transitioning system, which has had its ineffective way for years, without giving Nigerians the services they needed. Some diehard reactionaries—who never see anything good in the policies of the Jonathan-led Federal Government—will even fight a rearguard action, attempting in effect to hold back the hands of time. But no amount of puerile abuse or irrelevant sophistry can undo what is an outstanding achievement of the GEJ administration: unbundling and privatising the power sector for the benefit and economic growth of all Nigerians, regardless of their tribes and tongues. Moreover, once the dynamics of competitive economics between and among the new power companies come into play, the Nigerian economic renaissance will be unstoppable.
· Mr Ojo sent this piece from Lagos.
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