Open Letter to the president

For the most part, Nigerian presidents are figureheads. They all come and go with nothing to show for their terms in office.
We would love to track accomplishments of our Presidents, so credit can be given where credit is due.

Open Letter to the president

Postby Richard Akindele » Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:55 pm

Dear President Yar'Adua,

Time is a precious commodity, as it waits for no man, and once lost, it can never be recovered. For that reason, it's important to be tactful in one's plans.

You asked for people's votes, in exchange for bringing change to the status quo in Nigeria. You have so far gone past the halfway mark in your administration. Research and surveys show that Nigerians are just as miserable today as the day that you assumed office. Your promise to the Nigerian people was that your term in office would not be business as usual.

To your credit, when you were governor of Katsina state, you were more or less inactive during the first half of your term. Over the second term however, you put the pedal to the metal and instituted beneficial changes. Nigerians are currently waiting, fingers crossed, hoping that your promise during the campaigns was not just the same old political gimmickry to gain power.

A promise is a debt. I hope you're the noble type who pays his debt.

What legacy are you prepared to leave behind when your term is up? What do you want to be remembered by? It's hardly a thing of pride to be known as just another president who did not make a dent, and who therefore is soon forgotten.

Murtala Ramat Mohammed spent a measly six months in office, but left an indelible mark following the ground breaking things he did in that short period of time. Another one of your predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo was able to get rid of the nation's huge national debt. These presidents will forever get credit for doing these things. What do you want to get credit for?

The people of Nigeria prayed that you'd turn out to be a transformative leader. The one that finally fixes the nation's problems. Are you up to that task?

It is understandable that you cannot fix every problem, as these problems have roots in decades of mismanagement. But what are you prepared to fix?

As we speak, Ghana is proposing to sell electric power to Nigeria. Yes, we're talking about the same Ghana that has never sold a drop of oil. But somehow it manages to keep the lights on for its people, and still have some power to spare.

Do the people of the nation of Ghana have two heads? Why is Ghana able to run things so much more efficiently than Nigeria can? What is John Evans Atta Mills doing that Umaru Musa Yar-Adua isn't?

Sir, power and energy happens to be one of your seven point agenda. The state of power supply in Nigeria today hasn't improved, rather it's worsened. Even the FCT, Abuja only gets so many hours of electricity daily. What a parade of shame this is.

The nation's current power output is 2,000MW, compared to 174,000MW that we should be producing by international standards. Even by South Africa's standards, we should be generating at least 63,000MW.

How does a nation like Nigeria that requires upwards of 60,000MW power, manage with a measly 2,000MW? Well, the answer is obvious, rationing. The privileged and affluent areas of the country enjoy power supply, at the expense of the poor who live in perpetual darkness.

Your other promises: Food security, Transport sector, Land reforms, Security, Education, have so far not seen any change. Rather, they are getting worse.

Energy is the bedrock of every endeavour. If you can take care of the energy sector, every other promise you made would not be too far behind. To the extent that power supply remains inadequate, the nation is doomed to continue toiling in perpetual poverty.

I won't write a letter to the president about problems, without proposing viable solutions.

While nothing is easy in Nigeria, even for the president, the issue of energy is one that can be solved without much difficulty. The American state of Nevada built a 64MW solar system known as Solar One Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). The solar plant is located on 140 hectares of land near Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Solar One happens to be one of the world's largest CSP plants. This project cost a mere $262m.

Nigeria currently has an OPEC oil production quota of 2.33 million barrels/day. At today's crude oil prices of $70/barrel, it means Nigeria is taking in roughly $163 million dollars daily, seven days a week.

In other words, a mere two-day oil revenue would pay for a Solar One project in Nigeria. Would Nigeria collapse if it did not spend two days worth of oil revenues? How about we trim our budget, and face the issue of energy squarely first. Until we sow a seed, we can't expect to reap anything.

If we built the equivalent of Solar One in each of the nation's 36 states, including Abuja, we would end up with at least 2,400MW of power production capacity. That almost triples our current capacity. Such a project would require just two months of oil revenues, and it would be producing clean energy for the next 50 years and beyond.

Viable solutions exist to Nigeria's problems. Is your excellency up to the challenge? It's easy not to do anything about problems, since doing something takes guts, and determination against all odds. What are you prepared to do for your country?

Would you like to be known as the president that finally solved Nigeria's electricity problem? I certainly hope so. The nation is counting on you sir.

Richard Akindele
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Postby fw12 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:48 pm

This is a powerful piece. It's full of solutions for the nations problems. I particularly agree with the part about building solar generators in every state. Ordinary Nigerians are very smart, considering all the good ideas they present.

With as much money as Nigeria makes from oil, when is the man on the street going to benefit from it? Saudi Arabians earn money from oil, and spend it on their citizens.

If a two-month oil revenue is all it takes to triple our current 2,000MW power generating capacity, it's a tiny price to pay. After all, oil prices used to be twice the current price level, and we found a way to adjust when prices fell. The same can be done to dial back on our spending, just to build some power generators.

In addition to solar, we also need to look into geo-thermal, wind, possibly nuclear forms of energy.

Every aspect of our nation needs energy as the article noted. So solving the energy problem in the country is the single most important move Nigeria could make right now. The president that successfully tackles the energy problem is going to gain people's approval.
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