Fela Kuti
Fela Kuti

It is now two decades that Afrobeat legend and king of African Music Fela Anikulapo Kuti died but his legacies live on.

In order to ensure that future generations of Nigerians continue to recognise that a “prophet” once walked the land, it is important to show how Fela, through his music, described many of the things we are witnessing today in a prophetic career spanning over three decades.

The confusion in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and the general mood of the larger Nigerian society was well captured in Fela’s “Confusion Break Bone” where he opined that the consequence of a lack of an independent regulator to look after the different stakeholders in the Power Sector will lead to policy somersaults, chaos, illiquidity, distrust, fraud, corruption, estimated billing, collusion and many other vices which characterise the NESI with seeming no way out today. The greatest disservice to the NESI was allowing non-Power System Engineers to be in charge of the Power Sector for the past decade. Only until recently have Engineers been put in the right number in the Commission (NERC) that regulates the activities of stakeholders in the Power Sector. The idea of not putting square pegs in square holes should have naturally been foreign to Nigeria, but over the years, politicisation of everything, the celebration of mediocrity and the quota system misnomer has led us to this disaster or “pafuka” as Fela puts it.

The power sector is at crossroad asking for investment in the network by the operators at the same time introducing the eligible customers within the same network. Crossroad is when you ask for Unity, Restructuring, and Separation at the same time. Fela Anikulapo Kuti captured it nicely in his 1975 “Confusion Break Bone” album when he says:

“I sing about one street for Lagos, called “Oju Elegba”, I take am compare how Nigeria be, one crossroad in center town, larudu regbeke, regbeke lau, lau, lau, lau. For “Oju Elegba”, moto dey come from East (calls from every section of the country in this case), moto dey come from West, moto dey come from North, moto dey come from South, and police man no dey for center, na confusion be dat ee-oh.”

Fela continues, “my people dey say Nigeria done dey, but me as I see am, I know say Nigeria go-go down, how country go dey make money, make people of country no see money?” Yes, it is not inconceivable that Nigerians should enjoy uninterrupted power supply free of charge as a social service judging by how much people steal and even stash in their farms, other rooms and cupboards with increasing number doing so with impunity.

“When I say confusion, everything out of-e control, when everything out of-e control-e go be say, e “pafuka”-oh” as Fela described it suggests that the confusion in the Power Sector will soon lead to the unwanted situation where the GenCos and DisCos will declare a Force Majeure and hand over the Power Sector to an unprepared government as they cannot continue to wallow in debt doing business in Nigeria except if a radical reconfiguration of the NESI takes place. For now, many-a-decision taken in the NESI amounts to opposing and counteracting ventures. Given 701billion Naira subsidy to generate more electricity into a very lossy transmission network will lead to the same consequence – illiquidity. Not addressing the aggregate technical, commercial, and collection losses (ATC&C) in the electricity value chain and injecting subsidy is ridiculous, myopic and a means to loot money to say the least. It’s like pouring water into a basket and this is happening because those leading the power sector are not Power Engineers.
To be continued……….

By Idowu Oyebanjo