By Haleemat Bello
It is an established fact that electricity in Nigeria is not regular; any attempt directed towards its stability is a welcome idea. The country is regarded one of the poorest in terms power supply in the world. This erratic power supply has forced many Nigerians to depend mainly on generators for the survival of their businesses. Many public and private organisations and even small scale businesses in Nigeria use generators as sources of electricity.
Recently, a bill was introduced with the title: “A bill for an act to prohibit the importation of generating sets to curb the menace of environmental (air) pollution and to facilitate the development of the power sector.’’ The bill if passed into law is meant to control environmental pollution which is one of the biggest challenges facing third world nations today.
No doubt that the fumes from generators are harmful to the body and cause health hazards. Many families have been reported to have died from generator fumes. Not only that, the noise emitted from these generators is harmful and hazardous to human health. For example, it can affect the lungs, cause asthma, and many other health-related and social challenges.
The bill which was introduced by Senator Bima Enagi from Niger State has passed the first reading on the floor of Nigerian senate. The bill seeks to ban all persons who power their homes or businesses with generating sets. Part of the content of the bill states that, “anybody caught selling or using generator will be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.” However, the bill seems to exempt emergency services providers who need 24-hour and power supply for their services and operational functions such as hospitals, airports, railway stations, elevator and escalators. Those exempted will, however, obtain approval from the Minister of Power in the country.
From available statistics, Nigeria currently generates less than 5,000 megawatts which is a far cry in meeting electricity demand of the country; and this has rendered some places in Nigeria without power supply. Since many Nigerians use of electricity to run their businesses, if the bill is passed into law, it will most probably have negative impacts on a lot of businesses and this will eventually lead to their collapse and by extension affect their sources of livelihood. A lot of Nigerians will also be thrown out of job; thereby creating social problems for the country like armed robbery, prostitution and other social vices.
This writer, therefore, believes that the ban of generators in Nigeria is not apt at this point in time. The government should first provide 24-hour power supply so that businesses won’t suffer unnecessarily from the ban of generators. It is not only generator that causes environmental pollution; smokes from vehicles and industrial machines can also generate pollution which is harmful to the body. Meanwhile, if the ban becomes inevitable, government will be forced to provide and ensure constant, regular power supply for the citizens. Importantly, government’s efforts to industrialise and create job opportunities for the teeming youths who are eager to be self-employed may be realised in the long run.