By Jaye Gaskia
According to the recently released 2014 Progress Report by the Africa Progress Panel on the condition of electricity and power generation in Africa; ' The total power generation for all of Sub-Saharan Africa minus South Africa is 28 GigaWatts [GW], an amount just about equivalent to Argentina's total power generation capacity'. The report further lamented concerning Africa's largest economy: - Nigeria, that 'Power generation in Nigeria has never exceeded 4,500MWs, while Power supply deficit for the country stands at 166,400MWs'. It further said that 'about half of world's population without access to electricity live in Sub-Saharan Africa'.
Now on the eve of a general election, with the elections barely 4 months away, one expect that the national political space will be dominated by political discourses about the political and economic as well as social development and fate of the country. One would expect politicians, aspirants as well as incumbents, and their political parties; ruling and opposition, to have been engaged in a robust debate about what should constitute the priority for national development, and what policies would be needed to address those issues.
Given the centrality of power availability to economic development, given the centrality of the cost of having to generate one's power to the rising and unsustainable cost of doing business in Nigeria; what Nigerians would like to know is what will be done in the next four years to tackle this power and electricity problem? What we demand from aspirants as well as incumbents is a detailed plan and strategy of how this will be done and what level of measurable progress should be expected at the end of four years. This plan must be a strategic plan, with projections, and including a funding and investment plan. How will the money and funds be raised? How can we address the appalling paradox of a giant walking on Liliputian legs, of Africa's largest economy powered by 4,500MWs less than a tenth of the power generated by its distant second, South Africa?
Our task must be threefold: in the short term, that is towards 2015; we should intervene to influence the discourse and the outcome; in the medium term, that is between 2015 and 2019, our duty is to build a movement power enough politically to become the real opposition; and our task in the long term, that is towards 2019 general elections and beyond, is to ensure that this mass political alternative challenges the ruling class electorally for power and is in a position to win the general elections.
So enough of all the circuses around the declaration of presidential aspirants and rallies being staged to beg people including the incumbent to come and Rule us; what we demand from them are answers. How will this single most significant problem which is the bane of our national development going to be tackled? How can we make this stupendous economic growth become inclusive, and generate real jobs? What will the candidates do to reduce this inhumane gap between the rich and the poor, one of the widest such gaps in the world? In Nigeria, the richest top 10% own 41% of national wealth compared to the paltry 4% of national wealth owned by the bottom 20%! What economic programs will be implemented to drastically redistribute wealth and bridge this gap?
We at Protest To Power Movement [P2PM], these are the questions we want answered with convincing details by the aspirants and incumbents at all levels.
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(JayeGaskia is National Coordinator, Protest To Power Movement & Co-convener, Say No Campaign [SNC])