Nigeria would probably have been a land flowing with more than just milk and honey had there been constant electricity to preserve our other numerous resources.
A nation that has the major sources of fuel – oil, coal, natural gas, water for hydro generation of electricity … – shouldn’t see power supply as a luxury and scream in delight when it is made available, but it is the reality in Nigeria.
Nigeria is presently at semi stand still, what with the general blackout. To make matters worse, the fuel that usually makes it possible for Nigerians to power generators and go back to being the resilient people we usually are in the face of adversity is now scarce and expensive.
Presently, communication among Nigerians, online and offline, is centered around two things; electricity and fuel.
Mrs Oyinkansola Olabisi is a trader who deals in frozen foods and her shop is located in Iba area of Lagos State. Like most businesses that rely heavily on electricity, Mrs Oyinkansola’s business has been unable to run smoothly due to the lack of power supply in the area.
“I sell frozen foods, but no light everywhere. It has been long since we had light. In fact I cannot remember the last time I saw light in this Iba. If Buhari can hear, let him hear now… It is very bad,” She lamented as she indicated her freezer which was left wide open.”
Mrs Olabisi says that she is ready to buy fuel at three hundred naira a litre if that’s what it takes to be able to run her business, but unfortunately even that is not available.
“You will queue for so many hours just to buy fuel and when it reaches your turn they will tell you there is no more fuel. Even if it’s three hundred I am ready to buy, at least let me see light to keep my fish frozen.”
In order to avoid further loss, she and other sellers have now resorted to buying frozen foods in smaller quantities that can be sold off immediately and this has reduced the profit she goes home with at the end of the day.
Still, in spite of buying in little quantities to avoid wastage, most of their goods end up getting spoiled. To combat this, as soon as they sense their goods are showing signs of spoiling, they smoke them. Smoked fish, more than frozen fish, is what you will find in Iyana-School market in Iba.
Unfortunately, not all the goods can be frozen. Unlike smoked fish, there is no demand for smoked chicken and turkey in the area so these get thrown away or, in cases when they are not so bad, are eaten by the trader and their family.
But Mrs Oyinkansola is one of the lucky ones. At least she still gets to run her business, even if on a small scale. Most other traders have had to lock up their shops pending when normalcy is restored.
Cybercafes and hair salons in the area are other businesses affected greatly by the lack of power supply and fuel scarcity.
Linxcom, a cybercafé located along the popular bus stop, Iyana-School, is one of the few cafés that was able to obtain fuel and as can be expected it was packed full with customers trying to charge their phones and other devices under the guise of getting access to the internet, meanwhile lamenting the state of affairs of the country.
One of the customers at the cybercafé is Emeka Akpala, a graphics Designer with 365 Media. His is another business that needs electricity to function and he joined other customers at the café to complain about the blackout.
“It’s putting me on a very tight schedule. I have jobs to deliver and now I’m looking incompetent. My schedule is disorganised and I’m tied down here. If I use up the fuel I have now I have nowhere else to buy more, so that’s why I’m here working from a café, to preserve the small fuel I have. Let them keep their light and give me fuel or keep their fuel and give me light. Does NNPC now give light that lack of fuel should now stop me from having light?”
Nigeria is a major oil producing nation, yet cannot provide constant electricity to her citizens. Nigerians all over the country are feeling the pinch, but it is worse for those living in highly populated states like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Residents of these cities are most often found on social media lamenting about the blackout.
Meanwhile, the NNPC Director, Ibe Kachikwu, has promised that the end of the fuel scarcity is in sight.
However, there is still no hope for when the power supply will improve.