So, wait, the Nigerian federal government has put a plan in place to inspect generators at homes and offices in 2019, just to be sure that these gas guzzling and noisy contraptions aren’t emitting dangerous levels of Carbon monoxide, Sulphur Oxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxide (N02) into the atmosphere.

This an actual plan by a government agency, believe it or not.

According to the Director General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr Lawrence Anukam, the house to house inspection of generators has become necessary because there are so many substandard and noxious gas-spewing generators out there.

According to Leadership newspaper, “Anukam lamented that about 60 million Nigerians invested about N1.6 trillion to purchase and maintain standby generators annually according to statistics by the centre for management development”.

Anukam added that the implementation of the National Generator Emission Control Programme (NGECP) will guarantee a cleaner environment and contribute to economic growth of the country.

Man received encouragement from his friends as he lifted the power generator (Punch)
Man received encouragement from his friends as he lifted the power generator (Punch)

A few questions for Anukam and his organization would suffice at this point. Why would Nigerians invest that humongous sum of money (N1.6 trillion) on generators annually if power supply from the grid was reliable and not so pathetic? Do these people really think that we invest in generators for the fun of it? Or that we love the uncomfortable noises these generators make? Or that we love to buy petrol or diesel every other week? Or that we love the holes these generators leave in our bank accounts?

What exactly have these folks from NESREA been smoking?

Like most Nigerians, my first generator was a blue “I-better-pass-my-neighour’ variant. For the life of me, I hated the damned thing. But each time my laptop, tablet and phones needed powering, I returned to that “hate of my life” because it was the sole option. It is that way for millions of Nigerians. We don’t like the generator and all the noise and smoke it emanates. But we return to it daily because public power supply is erratic and pathetic. We buy these generators because we wouldn’t be in business without them. We are in an abusive relationship with our generators. Which is what should worry the government instead of this lame idea to make people guilty because they are depending on generators to get by.

I have invested in several generator sizes since my first “I better pass my neighbour”. Most Nigerians have as well. Due to overuse, wear and tear ensues and the generator begins to emit more smoke than it should. Is the NESREA going to arrest us all and charge us for polluting the environment for using our generators to breaking point? Would we use these generators till they can cry no more if we had stable electricity from government?

Government can actually reduce carbon emissions from generators by improving electricity supply and exploring alternative sources of cleaner energy. We are not the reason why the Nigerian living environment is so polluted and dirty.

These students invented alternative ways of powering the ubiquitous generator (TheCable)
These students invented alternative ways of powering the ubiquitous generator (TheCable)

Here’s the thing. The people in government don’t rate us. They don’t care. They rely on budgetary provisions to power their big Mikano generators all day long so they don’t even know what it feels like not to have power supply. Their big Mikano generators are maintained all year round by hired technicians and replaced immediately, so they have no idea what it means to be off power for a few hours. 

I understand that government agencies often want to give the impression that they are working, just to justify obscene budgetary provisions. Which is the only reason why Anukam and his people can think up something like this. But it makes no sense still to remind us of our sufferings this way, and worse, to punish us for it.