I don’t feel like I'm in Lagos anymore. I mean, it has been over a week since I got back from my little trip to the East and electricity has been regular!
Of course, I have no idea whether a break in electricity supply occurs in the hours in-between the time I leave for work in the morning and the time I return, but the fact remains that I always find the now-familiar sight of my security bulb illuminating the entrance to my apartment every night I get home.
For the first time since its purchase three years ago I now know how effective my favourite home appliance, my refrigerator, is as it wastes little time in freezing all of its contents beyond the point of recognition, especially my favourite cans of beer.
Not that I'm complaining. I dare not complain, not after all these years of unsteady power supply from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, who are still infamously referred to as NEPA by the populace, even though it has been ages since they officially ceased to be known as the National Electric Power Authority – or as we were so fond of calling them years back, “Never Expect Power At-all.”
And although the electricity tariff has more than tripled in the past one year, no thanks to the Federal Government’s attempt at making the PHCN more attractive to potential foreign investors, I dare not complain, not because I know that my protest will only fall on deaf ears, but because I know for a fact that my situation is so much better than that of my next-door neighbour, Ademola.
Why do I say so? Because I still use the outdated, analogue electricity meter; the type that was introduced by NEPA sometime in the 80s, while Ademola has in his apartment the modern pre-paid meter!
While I now get to pay as ‘little’ as five thousand naira monthly for my electricity usage, Ademola spends close to twice that amount purchasing recharge cards to enjoy the same service, sometimes for even less than a month.
And unlike me, who can afford to leave my refrigerator running all-day long, even at the risk of getting my cans of beer frozen, Ademola cannot afford such a luxury and has developed the daily habit of switching off all his home appliances, even his security lights, before leaving home for work.
He’s even developed the habit of having dinner under candlelight, especially when his girlfriend of the past three years, Anita, comes over, and won’t admit that it’s all part of his little effort at saving some money on his electricity bill.
Ademola kept insisting that the candle light dinners are just his own little way of keeping the fire alive in his relationship with the gorgeous Anita.
But the true reason was unearthed two nights ago when I went into his apartment at the midway point of the Everton-Manchester United game, in the hope of hastily grabbing one or two cold cans of beer to keep me company ahead of the second half, as I had run out of supply. (And before anyone reading this calls me an alcoholic, I must state that the idea of watching a game of football on my own is not appealing, so I often have friends around).
However, to my shock, there was no electricity in Ademola’s apartment.
Believing that the electricity went out between the time I opened the door to Ademola’s apartment and the time I stepped in, I thought PHCN had reverted back to their old ways only to be informed by my neighbour that he had, hours earlier, ran out of units for his pre-paid meter and was now in darkness pending when he gets to recharge, that is if he ever gets to do that, as the process was beginning to hit his finances big time!
Of course I was relieved as I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get my generator set to work, as it was in the habit of stalling when not used for a day or two. And it has been well over a week since I last attempted to switch it on.
In fact, I had not heard the loathsome drone of generators in my neighbourhood since I got back from my trip but as I stepped out of Ademola’s apartment, accompanied by my little canned friends, I readied myself for the familiar experience as my neighbour prepared to switch on his noisy generator.
But not before disclosing that he would commence the process of switching back to the analogue meter ASAP; that he shouldn’t have been in a haste to procure the pre-paid meter.
That was when it immediately dawned on me that I had also, a few months earlier, initiated the process of getting a pre-paid meter of my own, precisely six months ago when I doled out around twenty-five thousand naira to the PHCN.
Of course, like thousands of other PHCN customers, I am yet to get delivery of my pre-paid meter but having witnessed first-hand my neighbour’s ordeal, especially with the new electricity tariffs, I have suddenly developed cold feet as I suspect my days of drinking chilled cans of beer in the comfort of my home may be drawing to a close.
On second thoughts, though, I'm really glad there are lots of beer parlours in my neighbourhood. Really glad!
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