By B. PaulPipAr Chima
Introduction and Overview of the Bill
Before my ink bleeds, I will like to point out what Femi Fani-Kayode wrote on his Twitter page.
He wrote, “The Senator that sponsored the Bill to ban generators in Nigeria & send those that sell or use them to jail must be insane. He ought to be tied up, placed in a straight jacket, put in a strong sack filled with weights & dropped in the deepest & darkest part of the Atlantic Ocean.”
I dissociate myself from this assertion by Kayode as it appears too extreme and puerile in my view. However, such a statement and a host of others like that flooded in the social media space goes to exhibit the “depth of hatred” and uncomfortability Nigerians have for this particular bill introduced by Senator Bima Enagi, which has passed its first reading in the Senate on its way to becoming a law.
In essence, the bill seeks to “prohibit/ban the importation of generating sets to curb the menace of environmental (air) pollution and to facilitate the development of the power sector” provides ten years imprisonment for any person who sells generator sets. Those exempted from its provisions are those who will obtain and be granted permission from the relevant governmental authority stipulated therein and those who use generators for medical purposes, airports, railway stations/services, elevators (lifts), escalators, research institutions and facilities that require 24 hours electric power supply.
This write-up shall dissect issues regarding the bill and analyse the current Nigerian milieu in regards to power/light supply.
The Current State of Power Supply in Nigeria
We need no glorified statistics to inform us of the current state of epileptic supply of light/power in the Nigerian polity. Nigerians, each and every day, lament the poor supply of light/power needed to sustain businesses or store items in the fridge. Power/light is something so fundamental in the Nigerian polity that it has often been said that if power/light supply should increase, then most businesses will boom. But currently, seeing an increment in the way power/light is supplied is a guess good as seeing a river in the Sahara desert.
We hear via radios and televisions how the supply of power/light in Nigeria gets worsen as each day passes by – we hear and see groups of persons protesting to the holding companies due to lack of electricity; so, in tidiness to curb this epileptic power supply, Nigerians utilise generators for their businesses.
In the first instance, if there be a reasonable supply of electricity, no businessman will be happy to be in perpetual use of generator sets, considering the amount of money spent on fuel and repairs of generators, for his business. As we can see, generator is the main source of light/power to the average Nigerian businessman or woman. If there be no such thing as a generator, one roams around “wonderness” as to how businesses that rely on light will be able to survive in this somewhat described “shit-hole” country.
It will not be false to say that in every 20 Nigerian, not less than 15 have a generator in his/her house. Even the past celebrated Christmas and New Year, there was no power/light supplied in many. Imagine such days as Christmas and New Year which comes only once in every year having no light for celebration – most people had to celebrate these holidays with their generator sets. In all honesty, the supply of light in the average Nigerian household is as poor as Lazarus in the Bible. More need not be said about this as it brings bad memories.
Why Generators Are Used In Nigeria
Generators are used in the Nigerian polity to cater for the epileptic supply of light/power by the power holding companies. Generators have substituted the “AC power supply” and it is doing a good job. It follows logically, that if there be more light/power supplies for houses and businesses, there would be no need, on the average, for the acquiring and powering of generators. The contrary is that, if the power supply is poor, in other to meet-up for business needs and comfort needs, Nigerians will have to do with generators as this is the present suitable option available.
If Generators are Banned without Increase in Power Supply
There is only one reasonable conclusion that we can reach if generator use is banned and power/light supply is not improved to meet business needs. Such conclusion is that, Nigeria will become a deeper “shit-hole”.
Before thoughts on generators ban should be conjured, the issue of power supply needs to be addressed. The rise in the supply of power ought to be the main focus of Senator Bima Enagi who introduced the “generators ban” bill. If power supply be up-surged, Nigerians need not be told to do away with generator sets – no average man will enjoy spending money on fuel and generator repairs. It is commonsensical that no average man will go ahead to switch on his generator thereby burning his’ fuel and other materials when there is power/light.
I recommend, instead of the generator ban, the improvement of electricity in the country. Nigeria is not ripe for the imprisoning of hustlers for using generators when a better means is not available.
To me, the banning of generator is undemocratic. Such a law does not and will not accord with the Nigerian polity as far the present state of electricity supply is in infancy. Democratic laws are laws that accord with the people, democratic laws are laws that the majority of the populace will be willing to support. Laws that more than 90% of the populace frown against will not enjoy popularity.
It discombobulates me that in a country, such as ours, where there is often no light and where people survive with generators, a law maker will be audacious to introducing a bill to ban the use of generators. Bills like this call into question the sanity of some of our leaders.
Postulating the law as a way of curbing environmental pollution is non-sequitur and a fallacy at its basic level – as it is not just generators that contribute to environmental pollution/degradation. If environmental reasons are the main reason, then cars emitting carbon dioxide should be banned as well; big tippers and their likes should be banned as well; all these contribute to environmental pollution.
From inference, it seems like Senator Bima Enagi who introduced this bill never consulted his constituents before making such ridiculous bill. If he had, such bill cannot survive blinks for two seconds!
As a Senator representing a constituency, it is proper to carry along the people who voted you in if you were voted in, when it comes to introducing a bill in order to see what they think about it and if they endorse it. Doing such makes the notion of democracy proud.
As a Senator you are not there to represent your feelings or your family members only, but also the feelings of the people who voted you. You cannot have a bad night and then decide to introduce something outrageous. It is disdainful and disgraceful.
Trying to ban generator will not work in Nigeria, when the power supply is poor. How do common sense and subjective conscience see the notion of imprisoning a fellow man for 10 years just because he used a generator? Laws are made for man, not man for laws! Laws are to keep up with the times!
There are many issues to solve rather than thinking of banning the use of generators! Herdsmen are on a frolic killing people in andcities, and what is being done about such?
We should be guided!
Chima is of 300 Level, Faculty of Law, Uniben