Inspirational and Socio-Political Blog.

Monday 26 September 2011

Increasing Nigeria’s Power Holding Capacity Through Energy Efficiency.

The world is changing very rapidly in the way it uses energy.  People do not use energy like before; it is getting more expensive to put on the light.  I am concerned about the way we use our scarcely available energy in Nigeria and wish to point out some of the ways we can be sustainable with the little we have so we can make it last a little longer.  In the midst of the overstretched energy crisis in Nigeria, there is urgent need for all Nigerians to embrace energy efficiency.  As much as I know that it is human to use as much power as we can, when and if we have the power, it is equally important we are efficient with the use and cut out any excess, which we can do without.  

The world is using various energy efficiency measures which are cheaper, cleaner and faster and Nigeria needs to wake up to the emerging energy saving trends.  These measures will put money back into the pockets and reduce pollution and in effect increase our lifespan.  With the current low energy capacity in Nigeria and most of us still using other sources of power majorly Generators; it is important we adopt these energy saving measures.  

Usage Measurement
Your meter measures the amount of electricity you use in kilowatt hours (kWh).  A kWh is the same as a unit of electricity and the value of electricity you use is determined by multiplying the number of kWh used by the price per kWh.  All household appliances are given power ratings in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).

1kW = 1000 Watts.

The higher this number, the more electricity the appliances use.  For example a 2kWh power rating fridge will use two kWh of electricity in one hour.  A 100 Watt light bulb will use 0.1kWh of electricity in an hour or 1 kWh every 10 hours. It is very important for you to understand the rating and consumption of your appliances, once you do, you can concentrate on cutting the use of the ones which cost you the most.

Ditch fairly-used Appliances
The number one way of reducing our energy usage is to limit the use of fairly-used appliances.  These fairly-used appliances are in large use in Nigeria and they consume far more electricity than new products, as much as money is the primary reason people buy used equipments, it does not make financial, economic or health sense.  Be aware that any appliance you use that has gone past 5 years of its manufacturing date tends to reduce its efficiency by about 60% and it will cost you 3 times more of its manufacturing power consumption.

Please do not be deceived by the long held belief that ‘Tokunboh’ (fairly-used) products are more efficient.  It would rather cost you more, the money you save buying the used appliances are spent powering them, it also does not make economic or health sense, bear in mind that most of those appliances are already scrapped as not fit for consumption from their source country and a lot more finding their way to Africa are purchased from the recycling plants and scrap-yards, while the rest are picked from the dump sites and on the road sides.   The dealers are aware that if sent to Africa, it would get a market, please avoid these used equipments as much as you can, do not rush to buy them, save enough before investing in your home appliances. 

We can clamour for stable electricity, but we are not helping either by using fairly-used appliances as we would be using treble the power and is one of the reasons our limited energy does not last long enough, when we have it.  Even countries of the world with more generating capacity avoid fairly-used appliances, so as to reduce cost.  Most of these equipments are also very risky for our health, emitting dangerous volatile substance as they get older.  Note that most of them were scrapped from the source country for a reason.

Check the Labels
When buying your new equipments, watch out for energy efficiency label, please do not ignore the label, this rates how efficient the appliance is on a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). It is important to buy the most efficient appliances. Ensure to check this label before buying the appliances.

There are a few handy tips for energy efficiency that should be adhered to at all times;

Fridge or Freezers
-   Don’t put your fridge or freezer next to a cooker or in direct sunlight.  Make sure air can circulate around the back.
-     Don’t leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to.
-     Never put hot food in a fridge or freezer. Let it cool first.
-    Stock up your freezer. It works most efficient when it’s tightly packed, so    fill any space with cardboard, bottles of water etc.
-   Defrost your fridge or freezer regularly and check for gaps in door seals that could let air in the door.

Lighten your Lighting Bill
Lighting probably accounts for around 20% to 25% of your electricity use. Using energy saving light bulbs is the bet way to cut your lighting bills.  Every energy saving bulb you use could save you N625.00 per year.  It’s worth starting to replace your bulbs now as inefficient light bulbs are being phased out.  Also follow the following tips.
-          Turn off the lights you don’t need, but leave enough lighting on for stairs and hallways.
-          Open curtains and blinds during the day to let in natural lights
-         Avoid leaving halogen spotlights on for a long time, they are the most expensive type of lighting.
-          Fluorescent tubes are an efficient form of lighting; they are also the best for the kitchens.
-          Use light coloured lampshades – they will emit most lights.
-          Turn off the security light during the day.
-          Fit timers and automatic sensors to lights, especially outside lightings.

Cut the cost of Cooking
-     When cooking vegetables, use just enough water to cover the food. Always put a lid on your pan.
-     Always use the right size of pan for your cooking ring.
-     Cut food into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking time.
-     Avoid repeatedly opening the oven door while you are cooking or baking.
-    Your microwave uses a lot less energy than your oven. Some fresh food can be cooked in the microwave in a fraction of time and for a fraction of the cost.
-   Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need, but make sure you cover the element if you use an electric kettle.
-     Defrost food in the fridge overnight rather than using the microwave.

Launder for Less
-     Always put a full load of washing into your washing machine or tumble dryer.
-     Save energy by washing at lower temperatures. Washing at 30°C can save around 40%.
-     Always dry your washing outside if the weather is right.
-     If you use a tumble dryer, spin your clothes first. They’ll dry in the tumble dryer more quickly.
-    Plan your ironing so you don’t have to keep changing the temperature. Start with clothes that need a cooler setting. Finish with clothes that need the hottest setting.

Standby for more Savings

Avoid leaving any electrical items on standby, i.e. do not use your Microwave as the clock.  Are you aware that some household electrical appliances switched to standby use up to 90% of the energy they use when switched on? In some households, leaving items such as TVs, DVD players and hi-fis on standby is the equivalent of leaving a 100W light bulb on all year round.  So turn off all appliances from the wall socket when not in use to save power and money.  These are some of our options if we want to increase our power holding capacity.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Mental Illness in Nigeria: The Stigmatization and Ignorance.

Nigerians belief in gods and spirits, they belief people can be possessed by good spirit and this will bring out good-luck and productivity. They equally belief that people can be possessed by evil spirits, which are the reasons for the numerous human problems. If you are going through a rather difficult situation, then the evil gods must be at work, they reason you have offended the gods or have been cursed by some wicked spirit; this often lead to condemnation and scorn of those affected. There is the belief that every human problem has spiritual side to it and top among those believed to be possessed by very evil and dangerous spirit are those with mental illness.

Mental health victims are regularly stigmatized, scorned and neglected, they are seen everywhere in Nigeria as being unfortunate, sinistral and possessed by evil powers and not fit to be classed as normal human beings. Most of the people suffering mental illness are often shackled, locked up and beaten. A lot of these victims are everywhere on the streets of Nigeria, in their own little-confused world, cut out from others and rated as being obsessed with evil spirits that must be ignored and done away with. They are regularly beaten and no one wants to come near them or offer any assistance. When the victims are hungry and go to people for assistance, they are often ignored and the people they go to are advised to register for spiritual cleansing and deliverance in the various religious places so they can be cleansed of the evil spirits that have just visited them.

The mental health victims are often taken to traditional herbalists, spiritualists, witch-doctors and other religious places where is believed that the priests can consult the gods to drive away the evil spirit they’ve been bewitched with. In these places, the mental patients are subjected to the worst human treatment because of the belief that they are possessed by evil spirits, they are given bad food, concoctions made from various incogitable herbs and spices and they are made to sleep outside on the floor in the worst of weathers, while others are incarcerated in dark, lonely, damp, cells with no lights. There is the belief that the victims are not capable of doing their own reasoning and only will reason if beaten. Some of these priests turn the victims into beggars taking them around the streets in shackles, begging alms and making money out of them. It could not get worse and these have gone on for so long in Nigeria’s various communities, because everybody considers it acceptable.

The families of the victims in Nigeria are not helping equally; they simply want to get rid of what they consider as embarrassment and are fast to dump the victims in these despicable places to cover their shame. Many do not go back to see their mentally ill relations again and these are the reasons the victims are treated like criminals.

I wish to point out clearly that mental health victims are not possessed by any spirit as we all belief. Mental illness is a common problem; about 1 in 3 people the world over are affected by this diagnosis. People having mental illness are just casualties experiencing problems with the way they think, behave or feel. Victims of mental illness can still lead productive and fulfilling lives with appropriate support and right treatments. They are not to be written off as we do in Nigeria. Some of them need drugs and other medical treatments, while others only need our support and advice to foster their full recovery. Mental illness is just like any other sickness, is not often the victims fault and is not something to be ashamed of.

Mental illness does not just develop in people; it is often the accumulation of emotional breakdowns through loss, panic attacks, phobias, heartbreaks, and anxiety. It could also be due to lack of self confidence, stress, depression, schizophrenia and loneliness. There are many more reasons people could be mentally ill. It is important we get a quick help once we get ourselves into any of these problems, as difficult as it may seems, most of us suffer one mental health problem or the other, but it is how we deal with them that determines how far we go. Nigerians are quick to conclude that only those who are completely cut out are mentally ill, but most of us are one way or the other mentally ill and regularly needs help. The mental health victims should not be stigmatized, and they can recover fully and get over their worst, though some may relapse from time to time due to vulnerability, but many will emerge from the experience feeling stronger and wiser.

Most Nigerians have gone through a lot of stress over the years caused by bad and clueless leadership. We have experienced the worst poverty anywhere, and the loss of our loved ones through tragic deaths, inadequate infrastructures that keeps life going and many more problems. All these contribute to mental breakdown and inability to lead a reasonable life often leading to depression and consequent mental illness. We need to be more receptive and supportive of ourselves through these trying periods. In 2007, WHO estimated that about 20% of Nigerians suffer mental illness, at the present age that figure probably must have doubled.

Let us change our views about mental illness, it is just another natural process we all go through, we all get sick in bad conditions, we get head aches, body aches, malaria and even cancer. Most of these other diseases are worse than some of the mental health conditions and anyone could experience it and recover from it like any other diseases. It is not an affliction from any bad spirit. Let us treat mental health sufferers with respect and not shun them. Some of them are only going through a lot at the time and with our support they can come back stronger.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Nigeria, Our House of Anesthesia. By Jide Olubiyi

A Rejoinder to the piece I Give up on Nigeria By Abiola Olaifa.

My first instinct should have been to commend your style of writing, but for fear that I might by so doing trivialize the grave issues your writing raised, I shall steer clear of praising your writing for the time being.  And now to the title, a few years ago I might have declared how unnecessarily pessimistic your title was. Or I might have feigned cluelessness and asked you for what you in your opinion thought the way out was.  But now I believe we all are past such attitude of anesthesia.  We all know what should be done; no one needs a doctoral degree to figure that out.

The ills of our society have never at any time defied defining, which also means we have all along been aware of what should be done ...for instance to make living a little less degrading and a little more human. We simply are not doing it. As you rightly pointed out each man does everything for himself and his family.  He digs himself a well, he fills the 'hell' connecting his homestead to the remaining slum of a society to make it more motorable for his 4th-hand car, he is the vigilante of his street,... in short he is the remainder of the semblance of government in his own experience.  At the head in the Rocks (Aso) the lucky opportunists run a different kind of family business.

But we all know what is right, what is deserving of our humanity however vague that sense of our basic human and national right is.  But then our religions teach us to accept the government we have as having divine support.  We pray for them for wisdom and health and they busy themselves digging private wells into the remainder of our resources. Religions again tell us our prayers aren't enough, we should include a little bit of fasting.  So the poor man live his life fasting (his national service) and the politician his feasting (his national service???) with cries and mourning and deaths trailing the path of his action and inaction. It's a way of life our fathers got used to. The way of life we inherited. The way of living we consider normal.

But until the religious preachers start preaching the right side of the holy books we as citizens of this raped nation will keep believing the right way to be patriotic is by praising the loot-fattened public officers/politicians and by granting them right of way to the future of our children. And why do I keep mentioning religion? Anyone who grew up in Nigeria will immediately understand how this foundation is the spring of our national life. How our sense of rightness has been redefined inside our religious palaces.  How the harbinger of our woes receive endorsement inside our religious palaces, and we the congregation celebrate them as chosen of God to lead us into the promise land. How the 'chosen of God' rise up from the altar of approval, climb the Rock of Aso, loot and loot, and sleep and sleep, while the preachers children and the congregation of the children of Nigeria get robbed, and raped, and murdered first in their fatherland, then everywhere across the globe... And the chosen of God continue unhindered.  After he has run down the economy he again returns to the altar of approval and again we clap and raise him a prayer of approval.  For he is chosen of God.

Oh Nigerians, who has bewitched us!

The foundation is falling in several places.  We have inherited a culture of indolence that breeds corruption.  The students progress on the back of 'Orijo', the civil servants spend the working hours sleeping, or making small talks, a doctor leaves a pack of gauze inside mummy Akin's stomach, the policeman robs under the mid-day sun at gunpoint collecting N20 from the driver who also volunteers a grin and a joke to entertain the robber, the IG sits on his stomach pathologically extending. "Up NEPA", adults rejoiced as kids, power has been restored for 7 hours in a week and at the end of the month the toiling Nigeria scavenges every nook to pay for the electricity he never used.

At the end of 4 years, the ruler that divides us is again brought out from behind our collective amnesia and dusted... We must vote the man from my part of the country into office regardless of the fact that he doesn't even qualify to run his own family.  I wouldn't entrust my pet into his hands to manage (had a pet) for he has no clue how to manage anything.  But he's my man and that settles it.  At the end of 4 years the Churches and Mosques again sing their fast that God will send a savior (as long he's from my tribe, he's a saviour, rigging or not)...

Who has bewitched us!

Until we make the matters of our land our individual priority we are only joking. It is sad but true, that we have exactly the leaders we deserve. Democracy was never meant to function outside the active participation of the citizens. In our model of democracy, the citizens sleep and pray that God we catch the thieves that we in the first place invited to rob us.

I really wish more people will respond like you have done, Abiola, to these problems and say it's

NOW enough.

Jide Olubiyi is Guest Scientist (PHD) at Forschungszentrum, Julich

Sunday 4 September 2011

I Give Up On Nigeria - Part 2

I have received several responses after publishing the first part of this piece (I give up On Nigeria- Part 1), many left comments and a lot more emailed me privately to express their disgust for the country they loved so much, but have been repeatedly let down by its leadership and level of development.  As a result of which many had left and many more are still leaving to other countries so as to forget about the problems in Nigeria.  So many vowed not to return to Nigeria ever again and many others said there is still hope and I do not have to give up yet.

I am glad that the first part of this piece have generated as much response from people as it did, this goes to show that irrespective of where we are and what we are and the evil that our past leaders have done, Nigerians still clearly have the interest of the country at hearts.

Nigerians started travelling abroad in the 1950's, at the time it was majorly for education and most of those going abroad then were sponsored through government scholarship or their parents.  Nigerians like knowledge and spend enormous amount of money in search of it, they travel wide, going to the best universities in the world, spending millions in hard currencies, in order to be tutored by the best teachers in the world and gain the best professional qualifications.

Many even borrow money to study abroad, some families give up all they have to send their wards to those expensive schools all over the world.  This to me is good; any money spent on learning is not a waste.  What bothers me however is that only very few come back home with their new-status, to work in developing the country they have left behind, they simply loose hope about Nigeria once they get to their new country where things work.  They prefer to milk the cow they have not helped in grooming, but fail to realise that those countries did not get to that level in one day; they have put so many human efforts into it.  

Most Nigerian students that have gone abroad to study prefer to stay in their new found land when they complete their programmes; they can see things working and they work out ways to get permanent residence through any available means.  By doing this, we have the best Nigerian professionals helping their host countries to develop, leaving our countries in the hands of corrupt, confused and clueless individuals.  However, many of this Nigerian graduates who refused to come back home where sponsored by scholarship from our system, they would rather not go back to the mess at home, but stay in their new adopted country and point accusing finger at the leadership back home.  These decades of neglect is what has got us to where we are today.

We all stand ‘far far away’, from Europe to the Middle East, Asia to Australia, America to the Antarctica; and point accusing fingers at our under-performing leaders, while we all ignore the fact that it is our fault that things have got so bad.  Many Nigerian have located to what they consider as better lives abroad and clearly abandon their land. Our best brains are scattered everywhere abroad and we have committed our nation to rogues and thieves who have shown us that they are experts in manipulating the country and sieving the resources to their personal gain.  We have all abandoned our country for too long, committing our resources to the best rascals and this is now starring us all in the face. We can continue to clamour for a better Nigeria, but change doesn’t just happen, we have to make it happen. No one will change Nigeria for us, if we all continue to stay or run abroad, who will do it for us.  Nobody leave their home with their door open and expect to come back home to meet things better than they have left it.

 The desperation to move abroad has reached a dangerous peak.  Nigeria was better for it before the door was opened for us to go abroad, we were all in the country together and we all worked for the development of the country,  at the time, every new graduates has a job ready once they graduate, companies where springing up, they even offer official cars and houses. The public schools were run by happy teachers and the students were all happy to go to school, there was so much discipline in our schools, our parents had good jobs and business and we always had food to eat.  We went to parks on the weekends and daddies stop over at Leventis Stores to get snacks home on Friday evenings.  Family, friends and neighbours all came together on weekends to eat and dine; there was love and deep respect for our lives.  The demarcation between the rich and poor was very slim. These lifestyles sadly have been thrown out of the window. It is more like a jungle now and it is survival of the fittest. We all now live in our different cages and very suspicious of ourselves, we are all now very manipulative and looking for ways to out-play one another. The relationship ladders have broken down completely.

 Many who might want to come back home would rather spend the best of their productive years abroad before coming back home, they come back to meet the country worse than what they have left.  We have subjected our country to corrupt and greedy individuals for a long time that the country is in such a mess, and it would take a lot of hard work to clean the mess.  Let us free our current leaders, we are expecting too much from them, they only run the country; they are not the business men and women we need, let us bring home all the innovation we have learnt abroad and help to create jobs and better country.  A lot of us are doing very well where we are; let us bring the wealth home to develop our land. We need to come back home, be involved now and play our part in the transformation process in our little ways and in no long time, we can be back to our once happy country.