I NO FIT FIND KEROSENE BUY

by Nwachukwu Egbunike

For the past four weeks, I have not been able to buy Kerosene (alias DPK). Don’t ask me what I have resorted to in its absence, because perhaps my landlord may read this and summon me for a drilling. To compound matters, there are very few service stations that sell the product. And as you can imagine, the line is not only amazingly long, the price is also in the high heavens. Yet there is supposed to be a government that claims it was (s)elected to provide us with the good things of life. Of course, I intend to go for a thanksgiving service to celebrate the availability of petrol; how dare I complain.

In the jungle where I live, PHCN has been very gracious with us. They seem to have sworn an oath never to provide us with electricity. Yet, they are very prompt to send in their bills with the warning that it must be settled within two weeks. In all frankness, I am sick and tired of the inaction of this government. When will she wake up to her responsibilities? For how long shall we wait before we are granted the “privilege” of uninterrupted power supply? Will professional bodies always embark on strike action before their demands are met? Now it’s the Nigerian Union of Teachers, God knows which group will down tools again. Will this government ever solve the Niger Delta eyesore? I need answers….

It may sound simplistic but I can safely assume that I speak the mind of most Nigerians, who are eager to expect results. Its over one year now and all we are made to hear from the media spin doctors of this administration is that Yar’Adua is the messiah of due process. In as much as I admire the president’s credibility, that alone, is not sufficient to run a country as diverse and difficult as ours. It is not adequate to inform us about the unending plans to declare a state of emergency in the power sector, we have heard enough, now we want solutions.

For the past two weeks, my workplace had the misfortune to run out of diesel to power the generator. My colleagues in the maintenance unit have been telling whoever cares to listen about the daily ordeal they go through in order to provide power for the office. It has been a disaster trying to purchase the precious oil. All of a sudden, the pump price has increased from N100 to N155/ litre. The gist around town is that the major importer of diesel is on a self imposed strike. For heaven sake, people are suffering and there seems to be no end in sight.

In the midst of all these kasala, the body language from Abuja have not even addressed any of these realities, instead its all about probes, investigations, etc. This country has witnessed series of unending investigations. In Abacha’s time, we hailed him for tackling corruption in the banking industry, with his Failed Bank Tribunals. Apparently, Abacha failed woefully when Obasanjo mounted the saddle. The latter even referred to the former as An Animal called Man. Baba Iyabo started a whole string of reforms that with hindsight has left us all confused. Presently it’s difficult to conclude if the supposed gains of these reforms were in the interest of the common good. Again, we are in the nick of another round of probes by the National Assembly: the power sector, FCT land allocations (reversals and revocations), the Niger Delta Summit and so on. When, for the umpteenth time, will all these probes and policy summersaults transform into action?

Please don’t tell me that I am impatient; I am also no longer interested in the refrain that things will soon be better or that “it’s well”. In as much as I believe in God, I’m beginning to resent the attitude of expecting Him to solve the problems created by our incompetence. Public officials have not only lost the sense of shame but go further to use the name of God in vain. A lecturer in one of our universities recounted her experience lately. She had dutifully marked the examination scripts of a postgraduate class. One of her students, called to find out his exam score, she told him that he failed. The guy came to her office the next day to plead that she passes him. The lecturer bluntly refused, but to her amazement, the student even begged her to pass him ‘in the name of Jesus’. With that she practically kicked the fellow out of her office.

Yar’Adua should realise that he will not rule this country for eternity. Yes, he has three more years to go – of course we know he will find the means to go for a second term – he better rise up to his responsibilities. He will be remembered for what he was able to achieve. If he is able to grant us power to light our bulbs, stoves and cars, then he would have engraved his name in gold. If not, all this grammar about due process will be like “a tale… full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. As I was saying, I no fit find kerosene buy.

Republished in The Guardian on July 14, 2008

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