Home Opinion OYO101: ADELABU— When Will this Generational ‘UP NEPA’ Chant Stop?| Muftau Gbadegesin

OYO101: ADELABU— When Will this Generational ‘UP NEPA’ Chant Stop?| Muftau Gbadegesin

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The Minister of Power, Oloye Bayo Adelabu, has apologized for lashing out at Nigerians over poor energy management.

I hope Nigerians, especially our people from Oyo state, forgive and overlook his Freudian slip. Given that apology, I believe the minister has realized his mistakes and will subsequently act accordingly. In days that followed the minister’s vituperation, many otherwise cool-headed and easy-going observers quickly joined the band of critics and cynics. By the way, what BAND do you think those critics belonged to?

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Plus, how best do you describe kicking someone who is down already? The flurry of condemnation that followed Oloye Adelabu’s ‘AC-Freezer’ sermon must have surprised and shocked him. Instead of sticking to his prepared speech, he decided to dash off by telling Nigerians some home truth. Quite amusingly, the truth, it turns out, is not the truth Nigerians want to hear. And as they say, ‘There is your truth, my truth, and the Truth.’ The fact is that Nigerians are angry at many things, the sudden hike in electricity tariff being one.

Perhaps the Minister’s press conference, an avenue to calm fraying nerves and address critical issues, quickly congealed into an arena for an intellectual dogfight – if you watch the video, you will hear the murmur that rented the air the moment that terse statement was uttered. While some influencers tried to downplay the minister’s jibe, they were instead flogged in their whitewashing game. Frankly, I am not interested in the minister and the energy management brouhaha. What I am indeed interested in is what the ministry and minister are doing to restore light in a country where darkness has permeated much of its landscape – don’t mind the confusion the minister and the ministry have created to disrupt the conversation around that vital sector of the economy.

‘Up NEPA’, Lol

Trust Nigerians. When the defunct National Electric Power Authority failed to end the perennial and persistent darkness in the country, it was ironically dubbed ‘Never Expect Power Always.’ And when the company morphed into PHCN, Nigerians berated the name change, saying the company would hold more power than it would release. True to that assumption, PHCN indeed held more power than it gave to the people.

Then, in 2013, Nigerians woke up to the news of DISCOs, GENCOS, GASCOs, and so on. DISCOs for distribution companies, GENCOs for generating companies, and Gascos for gas suppliers. Of all these critical value chains, only DISCOs were handed down to private enterprises. Think of IBEDC, AEDC, IEDC, BEDC, etc. Unfortunately, the privatization of the distribution chain hasn’t transformed the sector’s fortune for good. More interested in the money but less motivated to do the dirty work of revamping the infrastructure.

Like a typical Nigerian in a ‘band E’ environment, I grew up chanting the ‘Up NEPA’ mantra whenever power is restored at home – and I am not alone in this mass choir. As a rural boy, the ‘Up NEPA’ chant is etched into our skulls from time immemorial. Sometimes, you can’t even tell when you start to join the chorus; you only know that you say it automatically and auto-magisterially. Many years down the lane, the persistent power cuts, blackouts, and grid collapses have worsened. And under Minister Adelabu, power supply, based on my little experience, has never reached this depressing point in history.

As a content creator, I can tell you Oloye Adelabu may likely go down in history as the most inconsequential minister of power unless something drastic is done to restore people’s confidence and bring about a steady, stable, frequent, and regular power supply. You may have seen on social media how most Nigerians who migrated abroad often find it difficult to shed that ‘Up NEPA’ chant from themselves once a power cut is fixed in those countries. Like the rest of their countrymen, they have internalized that mantra. Only after they’ve acclimatized to their new environment would they become healed of that verbal virus ultimately.

‘Adelabu, end this chant’

This is a challenge. In my column welcoming Oloye Adelabu into the critical ministry of power, I asked a rhetorical question: Can Adelabu end the penkelemesi in the power sector? In Nigeria, is there any other economic sector troubled by multidimensional and multifaceted peculiar messes than the power sector? Adelabu’s grandfather, Adegoke Adelabu, was nicknamed Penkelemesi. History has it that the colonial masters, tired of that Ibadan politician, decided to describe him in the punchiest way possible: a peculiar mess. Quickly, a peculiar mess spread across like wildfire: the white men have described Adegoke as a peculiar mess. Translated to Yoruba, we have Penkelemesi. In retrospect, the minister must have realized the situation he met on the ground is better than what is obtainable now. He needs to own up, chin up, and take full responsibility for this total blackout.

‘Minister Fashola’

Babatunde Fashola, SAN is a clever man. For four years as minister of power, he avoided cutting controversy. But long before he was appointed, he had stirred quite an expectation around fixing the rot in the sector. He had jokingly said his party, the APC, would resolve the crisis of perennial blackout in one fell swoop. He categorically gave a timeline of when Nigerians in the cities and villages will start to enjoy regular power supply: six months. After four years of setbacks, Minister Fashola was forced to eat his vomit: the power crisis in Nigeria is deep-seated and chaotic. Oloye Adelabu has made more enemies than friends in less than a year. The minister may survey his performance among Nigerians to test this hypothesis. The truth is the truth. The mismatch between the minister’s area of competence and his assigned portfolio hasn’t helped matters as well. And this is a cavity many of his critics and traducers are banking on.

For the first time in decades, Adelabu stands on the threshold of history: will he end this generational ‘UP NEPA’ chant once and for all? Time will tell.

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

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