Home Opinion OYO 101: Adelabu— Water Don Pass Garri? | Muftau Gbadegesin

OYO 101: Adelabu— Water Don Pass Garri? | Muftau Gbadegesin


The Minister of Power, Oloye Bayo Adelabu, is probably the most ‘hated’ government official at the moment. The reasons it turned out, are not far-fetched. Amidst blistering heat, the inability of his Ministry to ensure an ‘adequate’ supply of electricity has only made matters worse. Added to this is the Minister’s insistent and persistent call for the removal of electricity subsidies.

“The recent power disruptions across Nigeria stem from the inability of major players in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) to settle old and current debts, causing a broken system where Gascos withhold gas supply to Gencos,” the Minister said at a Press Conference. Curious to know what led to that broken system and wonder what role the Minister played in stemming the tide.

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First off, the stakeholders didn’t wake up one day to break down the system. The breakdown aka disruption of the system has been a careful, gradual, and systemic exercise. Like Nigeria itself, the destruction of the power sector didn’t start today. It has always been a work in progress with successive administrations making it worse than before. But to be fair, the current Minister of Power may not have an idea what game is being played with his name – with that large-scale disruption, I wager that the Minister has been blackmailed by power sector cabals and saboteurs into submission.

In the August 19, 2023 column titled ‘Can Adelabu Clear the ‘Penkelemesi’ In the Power Sector?’. I observed that Adelabu’s nomination and eventual appointment was a right peg in a square hole and that he will struggle to deliver in his new assignment. Incidentally, I equally noted that he is merely joining the long list of former Ministers of Power who had nothing to do with Power.

I said he has joined the former Governor of old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, in addition to former Cross Rivers State governor, Liyel Imoke, and perhaps, Babatunde Fashola, SAN as well. I reported that Fashola’s underwhelming performance as the Minister of Power led to the decoupling of the Ministries under his belt. For Fashola to have flunked in Power sector reform shows the extent to which saboteurs will go to frustrate anyone willing to fix the rot and give Nigerians what they have craved for years. For Fashola, just like Adelabu, we can simply say that ‘Water passed their respective Gaari’.

When Nigerians say ‘water don pass gari, dis life no balance, and matter don pass be careful’, they are merely expressing thoughts rooted in widening inequality gap, and hardship in the land while providing real-time context at why issues should not be seen as mere happenstances. In a way, Water don pass garri and co are apt and perfect descriptions of Nigeria’s numerous contradictions. Regardless of the hardship and suffering in the land, these descriptions are only the staples of the poor who do not have the wherewithal to augment their income or save themselves from the biting and excruciating socioeconomic hardship in the land.

But how on earth did water pass Garri? Maybe you miscalculated or mismanaged both the water and the garri. Maybe you didn’t pay attention and got carried away by the rising specter of hunger and starvation. If you’d shine your eyes, there would be no way water would pass Garri. Or better still, if water indeed passes garri, perhaps, it is time to add more garri. Quite instructively, Nigeria has become a land of hungry men with potbellies. It is a land of contradictions and contraventions. “Anyone who claims to understand Nigeria is either deluded or a liar” was how Richard Bourne put it in his book ‘Nigeria, A New History of a Turbulent Century.

Back to the Minister of Power. Instead of finding a solution to the perennial and persistent power problem in the country – Adebayo Adelabu has been busy blowing grammars mixed with technical jargons.

“It has become very difficult to sustain subsidies on electricity in the country” Oloye Adelabu disclosed at a press conference in Abuja. He explained that the indebtedness of the country’s power sector to electricity-generating companies (GenCos) and the gas companies (Gascos) has risen to over N3 trillion.

Wondering why much of Nigeria hasn’t enjoyed constant, regular, and uninterrupted power supply since Independence when Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia have achieved their 100% targets of providing electricity across their countries. For neighboring countries like Ghana, Senegal, and Ivory Coast, to have ensured most of their countries enjoyed power supply is enough to shame Nigerian leaders. But how do you shame shameless people?

Like the Boy on a Swing, a poem written in Apartheid South Africa by Oswald Mishali, you may also ask: Why is it difficult for Nigeria to generate and distribute energy that will be sufficient for her people? What would it take to fix electricity in Nigeria? But make no mistake, Nigeria is a country of ironies and paradoxes, big in population but little in plans. Big for nothing? Apparently. And her failure at competing with countries like Egypt and Co underscores her big-for-nothing label. Heartbreaking that the various challenges confronting the power sector in Nigeria have, ironically, defied all solutions.

In a way, the forces of darkness have captured the throat of the sector. Numerous diagnoses of the problems continued to suffer setbacks. Outside look-in, one is tempted to think the challenges have political and technical undertones but recent development has shown the problems run deeper than that. Politics will not change the narrative nor fix the the technical glitches.

Dare I say Nigeria’s lack of stable power supply is also rooted in a global conspiracy to keep the country in perpetual darkness. Currently, Nigeria’s capacity to generate electricity stands precariously at 8,000 Mega Watts. Unfortunately, the country has no means to exhaust this. Despite having a generating capacity of 22,000 megawatts, the country’s power generation has only peaked at 4,594.6 MW as of November 2022, noted Nairametrics. Take South Africa. With a population of 59.39 million people, the Rainbow Country can generate 58,095 megawatts of electricity from all sources.

In effect, Nigeria has always been a country of huge potential but that’s where it ends. Huge potential and then incompetent and ineptitude leaders. For Oloye Bayo Adelabu, the scorecard of his performance is not smiling. But what can he do to prevent water from passing his garri? Be on the side of the people.

OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850.

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