Generators are nuisance but ban not the solution
In the wake of reactions to the proposed bill to prohibit/ban the importation, sale and use of generators in Nigeria, LUCKY UKPERI seeks the views of Dr. Anthony Obemeata of the Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan on the social implication of the use of generators as well as such a bill on Nigerians.
The power situation in the country is a source of concern to many Nigerians. What would you say about the light situation in your area?
The light situation in Ibadan is bad, especially where I stay. Over the years we have been hoping. Nigerians have been hoping that things would be better. Successive governments have been promising Nigerians that they would provide constant light. But this is one area we have been greatly disappointed because there has been no improvement. Even to the extent that the government has privatised some parts of National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) in a bid to make things work. I don’t think things have actually improved.
Year in, year out, we are in the same situation. Sometimes, occasionally, things may appear good but by the time you raise your mouth in praising [the electricity distribution company] that it’s improving, the situation changes. This makes it to be like taking one step forward, two steps backward. So, this is the situation we are, which I think is still bad in terms of power generation in the country.
Generators have become the major source of power generations by Nigerians. Does this have any social implication?
I won’t say the use of generators is the best but, given the circumstances, people would have to survive, live their lives and keep things going. In the absence of nothing, people have to make use of the generators.
Even though, at times, these generators are really nuisance in the noise level and the pollution level which they generate, the noise and environmental effect is horrible. I remember some time ago in Agbowo Complex, even around the Students Union Building in the university, the noise level was indescribable.
Today, even within the faculties in the University of Ibadan environment, once some departments put on their generators, you cannot work; you cannot read peacefully in your office because of the noise everywhere.
So, generators are not the best in anyway but in the absence of regular power it is just an option as there is nothing we can do about that.
A ‘Generating Sets (Prohibition/Ban) Bill 2020’ went through the first reading at the Senate on Wednesday. If passed into law, importers and sellers of generators are liable to 10 year jail term. Can this solve the power problem in the country?
My first reaction to this bill is that it doesn’t make any sense. However, I wouldn’t be quick to jump to that conclusion yet because I don’t know what is behind the proposal. Perhaps, the senator sponsoring the bill has more information possibly about government’s plans, though it should be something concrete as plans will not be enough, to improve on electricity generation and distribution. Maybe, there is going to be a hundred per cent overhaul or changes in the generation and distribution of power. Then, may be the bill will make sense. Not until then will it seem to make sense at all for anybody to say they are going to ban the importation and sale of generators.
How would be people live their lives? How would most people who engage in production in their businesses produce goods without generators? There are many things the people need electricity for which they cannot do if the use of generator is prohibited.
Those who want to ban the importation of generators or prohibit the use of generators by Nigerians with the penalty of being imprisoned would be telling the people that for them to do their work, to provide services for people, they will go to jail because of their tool for work. Generators have become one of the tools people use to do their work. I don’t think it really makes sense until things are put in place to solve the power problem.
The sponsor of the bill stated that the prohibition/ban on the importation, sales and use of generating sets is meant to curb environmental pollution in the country. Is this not enough reason for the bill to be passed into law?
There are still more questions to be asked of the sponsor even by other members of the house who he is proposing the bill to and are listening to him. We need to know what specifically informed the bill and the alternatives available if the prohibition and ban is to happen.
Probably, in his own area, generators have been disturbing him where he lives, or he has lost somebody through explosion or something, because he can’t wake up suddenly and say the use of generators should be banned without looking at the usefulness of generators in this situation of epileptic power supply or the practicality of such an action.
I don’t think laws are to be made because it suits those who make them. The whole picture should be looked at before coming up with this type of bill and I don’t think the people will listen to him on the bill.