The publication, Business World recently reported that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) plans to ban the importation of generators. Now, for anyone who knows Nigeria, lived in Nigeria or has been to Nigeria, generators are a way of life for those who can afford them. The sound of generators whirring at all hours to deliver electricity is likely more prevalent today than the sound emitted from the deadly anopheles mosquito which freely delivers malaria.
The potential ban is supposedly tied to the failure of generator manufacturers to attach 'optimizers' to the units. These 'optimizers' make generators more efficient and limit the environmental burden they create via pollution which is equally harmful to individuals.
Although it is a good things that the FGN is concerned with the effects of pollution, this government must also consider the consequences of a potential ban. Banning the importation of generators is not a solution for the problem of Nigeria's epileptic power supply and other contributing factors that keep the nation in darkness. Besides, if this administration (or any, frankly) is truly worried about the environment, then it seems the gas flaring in the Niger Delta would be the primary issue to tackle considering the delay in addressing that issue over the years.
Not enough is currently done to ease the process of doing business in Nigeria, as evidenced by the number of large scale employers that have fled the country - Michelin, Coca Cola (which shut the nation's only concentrate factory) and many more), not to talk of what small business owners go through (as discussed by Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi, a business owner). Businesses already spend over N1 trillion on generator costs and generate 28,000MW of electricity. Consequently, a generator importation ban will simply construe an additional burden on business owners, driving up business costs and in turn creating an increase in prices for everything. All along the supply chain, for any product sold in the country, energy costs have been factored into the final price the buyer eventually pays. Depriving many of these business owners - big and small - only complicates their lives and in turn, complicates the lives of the end user - the average Nigerian citizen, whether or not they can afford a generator and the diesel needed to run it.
Furthermore, in a country where the head of the Central Bank indicated that it will "print more Naira", depriving businesses and individuals from buying generators - a user-generated solution to a problem - could also increase inflation. Higher levels of inflation are not a problem any country needs to deal with particularly given the current global economic slowdown. The ban might hurt Femi Otedola, a billionaire whose company has a monopoly over the supply of diesel, but, the greater consequences will be truly felt by the average citizen.
The FGN should instead focus on tackling the problems that lead to the need for generators - POWER SUPPLY. The unfortunate reality is that Nigeria exports electricity as far away as Ghana but cannot handle the delivery of electricity to the majority of its citizens. PHCN recently declared that it will achieve its 6000MW target in December (a target which still is embarrassing in this day and age and for a country with the resources like Nigeria). Additionally, creating incentives for Nigerians and businesses to use alternative energy sources such as solar power would equally address pollution concerns. If it was easier and cheaper to produce and purchase solar energy products, people would obviously employ that means of power generation over traditional diesel generators. The key is to focus on solutions, not fringe issues that will not benefit the masses.
- Aso Rock (where the President and his family lives) MUST NOT BUY/USE DIESEL & GENERATORS until at least 100,000MW of energy can be produced by the nation's electricity installations.
- The offices of Nigeria's National Assembly (the inhabitants of which refused to debate the results of the 2008 Power probes) MUST NOT BUY/USE DIESEL & GENERATORS.
- All Federal Government ministries, agencies, and other bureacratic offices MUST NOT BUY/USE DIESEL & GENERATORS.
- Any proxy of the government that receives federal government funds or monies from the excess crude fund MUST NOT BUY/USE DIESEL & GENERATORS (this would technically include state government buildings which house state government staff, living quarters for state officials and their families.
- Extend the PHCN-generator ban to the residences of high-ranking officials.
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