One of the abiding arguments why people believe that politics and public service in Nigeria have failed, is that many politicians and those in public office are not professionals. Even those with thriving businesses and professions, abandon them, on getting to high political offices.
It is for this reason that they do everything in their powers to remain in office. For the professional politicians, they commit the most heinous crimes even to the extent of killing people, apart from the normal bribery, electoral heists and general corruption of the system to win the next elections.
For the appointees, they do everything to bribe the next appointer. It is either they jump ship and start singing the praise of the next government in power or they become irascible critics that would make the most noise, a gimmick meant to attract attention to themselves only to shift their positions, once they are settled with the next appointments.
In fact, the country is replete with those who have been in power or its corridors for as long as anyone could remember still clutching their files searching to secure either political offices or board appointments even with all the evidence of age-induced infirmities written all over them. There are examples of those who actually went to the extent of selling valuable properties to raise money to induce and outright bribe those they believe could get them appointments.
Why? In Nigeria, people equate public office with arrival. It is never, to them, an opportunity to serve, but one that grants instant and boundless opportunities either to have full access to public coffers or position of influence towards getting in the dinner table to share the public cake without limits.
That is the reason for the sadness, bitterness and general sense of loss for them and those around them out of office, as opposed to the merrymaking and stupendous joy at the point of appointment. Because they abandoned their professions or businesses, they never believe that there is anything again in the country for them. So, those that made this loss possible become instant enemies that must be pulled down at all cost.
It is against this backdrop that the recent undertaking of Prof. Chinedu Nebo, must inspire and speak to a different paradigm, one that encourages life after public office. Nebo, was at the office of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, recently.
The former Minister of Power, was there to present, what could be the solution Nigerians have been waiting for to be liberated from decades of living in darkness figuratively and literally, due to lack of, or at best, epileptic power supply situation.
Some fundamentals instantly come to the fore here. First, having been a university teacher and two-time Vice Chancellor of two federal universities, before becoming Minister, he could be said to possess the credentials to look for the next job. At least, there are many in the corridors of power today who would likely listen to him, study those credentials and make his case at the highest echelon of power.
Otherwise, he could also become a bitter critic of the government. He possesses not only enough personality and public influence to get the right attention, but the intellectual and language power to say the right things that would rock the system and lacerate the government and its officials to no ends.
Indeed, being part of the last government, which lost power, he ought also to have been equipped with the right sentiment – the bitterness of losing power to become a virulent clog in the wheel of progress, were he the ordinary Nigerian.
But not Nebo. He did neither. Nor did he take the numerous international jobs waiting for him for the picking, as he peers would have done. Instead, he retired to the quietude of his original enclave – the research room, to apply his knowledge, which he had gathered and horned over the years in the classroom as scholar, teacher and high office holder.
The result is that today, Nigerian may soon shout Eureka! For that singular disposition, a regime of 24-hour uninterrupted supply is beckoning.
He explains: “Before I ended my tenure as Federal Minister of Power, I had chanted to all who wanted to listen that the big power machines, those mighty turbines that are several hundreds of megawatts capacity may take decades to solve Nigeria’s power problems. And for that reason, we needed to do a lot of embedded generation – small scale power generators that will saturate the entire landscape of our country and help to bring about industrial revolution, by making power available at the beck and call of our people.”
The result, according to him, is the Power Seed Web (PSW) system, a system he described as not only science and technology at its best, but one that is 15 to 20 years ahead of the world.
How it works: The PSW in a layman’s perspective, according to Nebe, is designed to use the same quantity of fuel, needed to generate a small capacity generator to generate 10 times or more what ordinarily was possible. For instance, using the less than the amount of fuel needed to produce a 25kilowatts to generate 250kilowatts of power and with the possibility and potential of producing 1megawatts.
He added: “The implications are mind-boggling. Number one, homes, businesses, industries, villages, agricultural clusters, manufacturing clusters, industrial clusters, schools, hospitals, campuses, you name it, can now get electricity at much less expenses.
“Take for example, you have one of those mighty generators consuming 100litres an hour and our system will use only 20litres an hour, you save 80litres an hour and in one hour, you save 160,000 litres, in a day, maybe you run for 10hours, you save 1.6million, you can imagine the impact this will have on the society. So, the days of the big size generators are numbered, as our innovative machines can save up to 80 per cent of the fuel needed to run them.
“Next, we have also designed and tested a power ovary machine and seed, driven by 100 per cent renewable energy. In other words, we have also designed one that doesn’t need fossil fuel or any non-renewable fuel to drive. That will be the next level production of our innovation and the implications are astounding – clean, cheap electricity, produced by machines, made in Nigeria, by Nigerian engineers. And this can be used for embedded generation in every part of Nigeria.”
The beauty of the entire phenomenon is in its simple operation. Unlike the big turbine that takes the space of a whole village, this particular one could simply be vehicle-mounted in an estate, a village or industrial cluster.
Then, gone would be stories of bursting and vandalising of gas pipelines that feed electricity turbines, vandalising transmission lines and stealing cables or vandalising transformers as have been the lot of the old system.
Besides, by the time the target consumers are cut off from the national grid, more power would be freed and the surplus used to service consumers still connected to the system.
The result – Nigerians will simply return to work. With that comes smoking chimneys resulting from rolling machines in the factories, restive youths off the streets, creative minds revving up, a thriving economy and ultimately, waking the Nigerian giant. How else is public service defined?
Onu described it as a futuristic vision, the type that turned Japan into an industrial giant, when they went for the option of developing smaller cars that consumed less fuel as opposed to the American cars known for huge consumption of gasoline.
Whatever comes from Nebo’s efforts, remains to be seen. But what is evident so far, is that public office is not the only way to contribute to public service or public good. That’s the message.
Igboanugo, a journalist, lives in Abuja.