Failure is not failure, neither is waste wasted, if it sweeps away illusion and lights the road to a better future – H. G. Wells (1866 – 1946).
There is currently a growing trend in global economy which nations that are serious about moving forward would do well to embrace and cultivate. It has its origin in the Jewish scriptures, with particular reference to the story of Onan (Genesis 38) involving the wasting away of valued seeds, out of mean selfishness. Onan did not get away with his Prank and so, a valuable economic lesson is provided, namely, that tears, agonies, poverty, etc, do not come by accident.
Efficient and effective distribution of electric power is a major challenge in Nigeria and the consequences of such failure stare us on the face daily. But the larger problem is not the generation or distribution of electricity but abuses and non-conservation of electricity by consumers. There are shocking research findings on how Nigerian consumers abuse and waste energy, especially in public institutions. Where electricity supply is available and regular, fans and several other electric appliances can remain working for twenty-four hours, whether they are being used or not.
The common-sense or discipline of a putting off and disconnecting energy supply when not needed is alien to Nigerian consumers. Such uncharitable habit and lapses have resulted in fire outbreak in several places. Perhaps, with wide use of pre-paid electric metres consumers may learn the value of energy conservation by putting off appliances when their services are not needed. Those who do not pay for the services which they enjoy tend to be more care-free with available energy.
The economic hard times which Nigerians are going through currently should serve as a lesson, so that people can learn to ask why things happen the ways they do. Through tears and pains, it may be possible to learn, appreciate, value and conserve what we waste daily. What lessons are Nigerians picking up from what is happening to them daily? Until a major change takes place along this line, the nation would hardly move forward.
Energy conservation culture should be embraced and applied in every activity outside a responsible use of electric power. For example, many Nigerians do not appreciate the truth that talking is an energy-sapping activity, and that good health can be promoted by conserving the energy spent in unnecessary talks. Is it not true that many people talk too much and carelessly too? Obviously, talkativeness goes along with a frivolous lifestyle, because, talking reduces deep reflection and psychic sensing of events. Frivolous people talk much.
As a means of relief from frustrations and hard times, amative activity is the easiest and quickest remedy that many people resort to. The result is not only the expending of vital energy but also population explosion. The time is over-due for Nigerians to see the need to reduce the sources of personal stress, one of which is large family size. With regards to population issue, it is obvious that quality rather than number makes a more national economic sense. Tension depletes personal energy.
The value of experiencing tears, agonies and frustration arising from past errors lies in the opportunity that such experiences provide, to map out a better future. It is never too late to learn, neither is it too late to make a change, if the will to do so is there. The starting point to effect such change and new orientation, is to embrace and apply the energy conservation culture. This is an orientation which must start and can best be managed from the point of every individual, himself.
All forms of spending, ranging from money to everything else, come within where the energy conservation culture must be put into practice. Any valuable asset which requires some personal energy to acquire, should be regarded as an investment or possession which should not be given away or wasted. The culture or habit of demanding or taking anything from another person, without giving an equivalent value in return, must be done away with. That parasitic culture must stop!
To consume electrical energy without paying for the service or to waste it because it is readily available, is a part of the parasitic culture that does no good. In any private or public transaction where there is an inequilibrium, the result would always bring sad consequences, sooner or later. A part of the move to restore equilibrium in the society would involve putting energy conservation culture in practice. Wasting of resources is a vital issue Nigerians must address.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.