Friday Sermon: A Climate of Darkness

By Babatunde Jose

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There is no leader who closes the door to someone in need, in hardship, and in poverty, but that Allah closes the gates of heaven to him when he is in need, in hardship, and in poverty.” ‘Amr ibn Murrah reported:

Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1332

Many analysts and watchers of the ‘Nigerian Drama’ have come to the inescapable conclusion that Nigeria is what it is today because its people have chosen to live in mediocrity and like Simon Kolawole said, “ we readily adjust to sub-human conditions; throwing up our hands in surrender and gleefully describe rotten banana as ‘ripening’.”

A race of docile citizens, we have become accustomed to suffering and smiling. Nothing shakes the Nigerian. Pushed to the wall, he would not push back. The most complacent people on earth, we have been described as the happiest people, despite our living in horror and bondage. We seek solace in the Quran and the Bible, some in our traditional religions when faced with the daily hardship that has been wroth on us by our irresponsible leaders and our unquestioning attitude. Not content with accepting our miserable lot, we crown our tormentors with high chieftaincies and accolades when they pass. The ‘Baba ke’ syndrome is a definition of a crazed people who have sold their birth rights, freedom and mortgaged their rights to good living. The Managing Director of AMCON recently said that the majority of recalcitrant obligors owing N5trillion are ‘big men and women’. The worrisome aspect  he said, “unlike what happened in other climes, was that these obligors still manipulated their way to emerge as members of the national assembly, ministers, chairmen and women of big organisations and pro-chancellors of universities.”

We acquiesce and joyfully participate in rigging elections, accept rigged elections and hail those responsible for our pauperization as ‘honorable’. They allocate questionable fat salaries and allowances to themselves and we accept; they then squander our patrimony in the name of ‘constituency projects’ and we also accept. For how long will we wait at the ‘gate of hell’?

In other climes people would have taken the leaders to account, not here; the land that flows with the proverbial ‘milk and honey’. For decades we have lived in perpetual darkness. What did we do, we resort to self-generation of electricity through the importation and improvisation of generators. It is said that there are more generators in Nigeria than motor vehicles.

According to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the nation had spent about N2trillion on funding legislators’ community projects since year 2000 without commensurate development at the grassroots. This money could have paid for the $5bilion Mambilla Power project which was conceived in 1980 but still a 39-year work-in-progress. Long after its conception China embarked on the Three Gorges Power project on the Yangtze River, in 1998 and it went into service in 2012. The Three Gorges Dam has been the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity (22,500 MW) since 2012. In January 1975, construction started on the Itaipu Power project on the Parana River. Jointly owned by the Paraguay and Brazilian governments, the project was completed in 1984 and in 2007 its operating capacity was expanded and today it is the world’s largest power project producing 14 Giga watts. Both projects did not take ‘thy kingdom come’ to execute. What then is wrong with us?

To transmit and distribute the little electricity that we produce is a problem; hence communities are placed under a ‘climate of darkness, some for months and others for years. My area in Apapa was once placed under darkness for 7 months because of a faulty transformer; can you imagine that? In that area, we had a cluster of 4 supermarkets, a bakery, and other shops and of course Jay Kay Pharmacy, not to talk of Guest houses, offices, residences and a petrol station. It was a harrowing and expensive experience. In the end after taking the matter to the highest level, it took just a day to replace the transformer.  This is the kind of country we run. Some communities have been left in darkness because of less serious and fixable problems.

Narrated Ma’qil, I heard the Prophet (saws) saying, “Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise.”

Yet it is said that we have spent $60 Billion on the power sector in two decades. The current power situation does not lend credence to this. If it is true, our people have not reacted to it with any protestation. Rather we continue to buy more generators. In the absence of robust and reliable data on the actual cost of purchasing fuel for generators nationwide, a report by the Good Governance Initiative, a non-governmental organisation advocating uninterrupted power supply in the country, said Nigerians spend N3.5tn on fuelling their generators annually. Equally sad is the fact that government and its agencies make provisions for generators and fuelling in their budgets.

On May 29, 2019, power generation stood at about 3,000; yet we are the largest economy in Africa, while South Africa and Egypt are trailing us. But on the single index of electricity, they are better than us. That is why our economy is weak and it contributes to our poverty problem.

Nigeria is called the second poorest power supply country in the world. Still, there could always be a bright future. The main idea is to concentrate on the renewable sources of energy which can drastically change the situation and promote better energy output for the country: And a resolve on the part of the leadership to do the needful as regards our power problem.

It is interesting to know that electricity was first produced in Lagos Nigeria in 1896, exactly 15 years after its introduction in England; it is however sad and lamentable that 123 years after, the country lives under a ‘climate of darkness’.

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever is appointed over the affairs of people in any way and he conceals benefit from them, Allah will conceal benefit from him on the Day of Resurrection.” Source: Musnad Aḥmad 21504

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

Babatunde Jose
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