The ‘Up NEPA’ Masquerade

Posted: December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
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By Prince Charles Dickson

One who hears and repeats a curse of the king is really cursing the king

A few years ago, the Bureau for Public Enterprise BPE sold NITEL the nations elephant telecom company to a building in Switzerland, it was a building housing a church, all the dance and drama. We soon let go. Just a reminder it was called PENTESCOPE. Only this year, the father of a white cloth wearing former Honourable bought the NITEL house…The NITEL story remains a tales by moonlight, plenty lies, half truths, misinformation, propaganda, a pot pourri of sorts. 

How about the Steel Rolling Mill in Jos, Plateau, it was ‘racketeered’ in that sweet sounding word privatization. The likes of Andy, and his cohorts bought all the assets, renamed it Zuma, today the only functional thing is the housing estate. The factory and machines have been vandalized. 

There was that drama of Daily Times, publishers of that ole time newspaper.  Before I go far, a former Managing Director of the once pride of publishing told me “Charlie, Daily Times is like a big elephant, everybody comes and cuts his/her own and goes away.”

You need to appreciate that statement in context, at a time in point Daily Times had properties virtually everywhere Nigeria had a presence in the world. All that changed as all that was left of the elephant was sold to some clowns and the rest is history. 

Today, my admonition is on our power sector, I am sure you are wondering the ‘…masquerade’. As we round up the year, I recount 27 promises from over a dozen public official. That the power supply would get better, and indeed on some odd occasions I and many Nigerians have enjoyed more than 8hours of electricity. But don’t forget, it was not the norm, it was an exception. The President, his aides, and ministers made these pledges. 

It is an interesting masquerade, recall a top aide, who blamed witches for power outages. Have we not since forgotten the Minister who resigned and the controversies. 

And then the many Chinese loans taken, yet we are on the same track, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria has been sold and the drama has only begun. But if you know Nigerians and Nigeria, it is only a repeat episode, nothing new. 

Most of the new owners have simply bought PHCN properties for peanuts. Owners that have no required expertise, distribution companies aptly called DISCOs that see the venture as new ‘oil wells’. 

Looking at the best effort of government or the DISCOs, I simply recall those days when we read, there is this novel by Adaora Ulasi, Many things We don’t understand. It is a book I read many donkey years ago. What captivated me then, was not just in the story but that title. 

Yes I am talking about PHCN, former NEPA, onetime ECN, for those old enough to remember. Now Distribution Companies, the power sector and these Discos are just a repeat episode–things we never may understand. It’s an ‘Up NEPA’ Masquerade, nothing new, yet when it comes out it engages our fancy, our fears, and enthusiasm. 

Like why we can’t get 18hours electricity in a nation with so much resources both human and financial. Like how do we expect to get the desired megawatts with generating and transmission points that are run ala Luggard. 

How do we get electricity when a third of consumers don’t pay bills, infact stranger than fiction some state government houses owe several millions in bills. 

I kindly ask us to reflect as the year end, what matters to us. As a nation, as a people, both the led, leaders and those who are in the business of dealing with us–what are our values, what drives this nation and her people?

What is the Nigerian dream, as we gravitate towards the centenary, there are complains, grumbling, disaffection and conflicts. 

To some its Goodluck Jonathan, to others, it is the institutions, others blame the opposition, the opposition blames government. The people blame the leaders, the leaders blame leaders. 

What is the Ijaw nation’s dream, is all the political-economy of the SouthWest about the Tinubu Monarchy, and in the North, is it not a betrayal republic, one of a people that has let itself and people down and then as usual lie to its people.

Let us share this fable as I conclude: A master was strolling through a field of wheat when a disciple came up to him and asked, “I can’t tell which is the true path. What’s the secret?”

“What does that ring on your right hand mean?” – asked the master.

“My father gave it to me before dying.”

“Well, give it to me.”

The disciple obeyed, and the master tossed the ring into the middle of the field of wheat.

“Now what?” – shouted the disciple.

“Now I have to stop doing everything I was doing to look for the ring! It’s important to me!”

The ring is the masquerade, it is important to us, but it can be thrown away, and indeed it has been discarded many times. We stop everything we are doing to look for it, but we don’t even know why, yet it is important. 

Nigeria, Nigerians, don’t understand many things, we are a repeat episode, yet we desperately desire change. We have watched as university teachers’ union stayed on strike and five months counting. We have seen these same strikes in the past. Meetings, meetings, agreements, and broken promises. All repeat episodes, all masquerades. 

Finally these three things: 1) Masquerades are often from the community, the same people you eat, play, work and discuss with. Yet, they hide their faces and scare you, poke fun at you, and chase you…

2) A repeat episode, many a time, you have watched it, you know what to expect, how it will end, what happened. Yet, you are still addicted to it, like the yearly masquerade you want to see it again, even when you are being fooled.  

3) Many things we don’t understand–because we choose not to. Like the power masquerade, good governance masquerade, and corruption masquerade, ethnic card masquerade and more–Are we ready to shed the deceit, and get it right, only time will tell.

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