By: Ojingiri Hannah
Do you know that moment when everything is enveloped in darkness, and the mysterious silhouette of a woman hovers over you? Fear begins to take root within you, with thoughts of impending destruction you’ve yet to fathom. A sudden hum sends shivers down your spine, causing goosebumps to form on your skin. But alas, it’s all in your imagination—a world you awaken to that seeks to steal your peace. Yet you refuse to succumb to your inner turmoil until the lights come on and banish all fears. “Ah! Finally,” you exclaim. “Up NEPA!”
The respite is, however, short-lived. The joy of seeing everything in your small room and watching your favourite show on Netflix is fleeting. They toggle the power on and off as if it were a toy they were given to play with as children. At the NEPA office, they chant their slogan before restoring power, “You foolish people, we are about to turn on the light for you.” And when they shut it off again, another slogan resounds, “Back to sender, all your curses are not for us.”
They grumble about their salaries, shifting the blame to the government. But it doesn’t end there; they have a series of other slogans they use before providing electricity to the community. They move from one neighbourhood to another, extracting money even when they haven’t fulfilled their duty of delivering power. Like pests, they feed on the people, leaving them in utter darkness.
The dismal state of NEPA leaves you in a state of half-sleep half-wakefulness, and every moment spent with your gadgets requires a quick glance at the bulb. Even in your deepest slumber, as soon as your fan, which sounds like a grinding machine, kicks in without rhyme or reason, you instinctively reach for your phone, half-awake, and plug it in before aimlessly returning to your bed to resume from where you left off.
Illusion has gripped both the youth and adults alike. The moment the cry of “Up NEPA!” echoes through the area, everyone rushes to their windows to ask their neighbours the daunting question, “Is there light?” Even those whose switches are already on can’t resist the urge to ask the same silly question.
NEPA has indeed consumed the souls of Nigerians, where having electricity becomes a curse, and the curse persists even without it. Regardless of what NEPA does, they can’t seem to satisfy you. Like a never-ending cycle, the struggles of Nigerians in perpetual darkness persist.
On most weekends, adults find themselves comparing their country to others and yearning for a nation where light illuminates every corner. Perhaps then, crime rates would decrease, and businesses would thrive even more. That’s how they conclude their weekends, burdened by the state of Nigeria in their hearts. Every time the lights come on when their moods align, they express gratitude with a simple “Thank God.”
But NEPA remains unmoved; it’s their domain, and whether you rejoice when you see the light or not, they remain undeterred. Change will only come when something else replaces them—perhaps solar power.
Ojingiri Hannah has her work published on Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, Reedsy, Medium, Story mirror and TravelDailyLife.com. In her spare time she enjoys writing and reading inspirational quotes. She emerged as one of the winners of the Embracing Our Differences contest in 2019. She has written about 300 original quotes. She lives in Nigeria.