Right now, electricity is on as I write, it’s been on since 7.30am without blinking, but I already know almighty PHCN will strike once its 4.30, not to be seen again till 6.30-7-30am tomorrow. Predictable right? Anyway I’ve used the opportunity to fully charge my phones, power-bank, rechargeable lamp and laptop, waiting for the impending dark hours.
By 7.30pm, when I’m sure it’s fully dark, I will as usual push my reading table to the balcony where I’ll sit quietly and write tomorrow’s blog post while enjoying the sweet, cool breeze, meanwhile my charged up batteries are already running low. Once done, I type my notes then watch a little movie on the laptop or do whatever else takes my fancy and by 10-11pm with all batteries spent, I’ll have to go plug my phones and power-bank at my neighbour’s place downstairs to be retrieved in the morning and as usual, the cycle resumes.
The sorry part of this narrative is that I’m no different from the typical Nigerian out there; there are some who are not as “lucky” as I am to have up to 8-9 hours of light a day, lucky in the sense that I’m having this much light because PHCN will usually do this trick once it’s the end of the month and they are about to send out bills.
However , what binds us together is not just the lack of electricity but also the ingenious ways we’ve devised to cope with the situation. What are these ingenuous ways one may ask? The usual suspects of course being generators, tin lamps made with used beverage tins usually used in the night markets, candles and kerosene lanterns, the last two of-course are slowly becoming extinct thanks to China’s rechargeable lamps. Most popular and inexpensive option still remains sitting out to gist with family and neighbours till you’re ready to retire for the night.
Apart from these, there is the emergence of Inverters which gives a semblance of electricity without the noise and fumes of generators but we are having to deal with the economic implications of this option knowing it doesn’t come easy financially, how many of us can in actual sense afford it? if you manage to scratch up funds and buy one, owning one itself comes with a whole set of challenges, from batteries with short lifespan and the not so small amount it would need to replace the batteries should it kaput to the fact that you would still need some source of power be it generator or PHCN to charge it should you not have light for a long stretch of time.
At the end of the day, realistically the task of holding and providing electricity has been entrusted in the hands of the citizens by a system that has failed to meet this basic need not taking into consideration the economic burden on it’s people.
Believe me, its 5.20pm as I’m rounding up this piece and PHCN just took my light. We sure would make good soothsayers in this country.