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Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 01:50 GMT
Nigerian president purges power company
Lagos street scene
Nigerian cities suffer frequent power cuts
By Barnaby Phillips in Lagos

The Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has put a crisis committee in charge of the national electricity company, NEPA, because of what he called its woeful failure.

In the past week, Nigeria's electricity supply has totally collapsed on two occasions and most cities have experienced prolonged blackouts.

The president apologised to all Nigerians for the situation, which he said was unacceptable.

His dramatic announcement will be hugely popular across the country.

NEPA is widely reviled for what the president called "its notorious and endemic corruption".

The nine-man committee which will now run NEPA will be made up of individuals whose reputations the president could vouch for, and who will report directly to him.

'Restoring sanity' to power

Nigerians are long accustomed to living with the most sporadic of electricity supplies, at great cost to the national economy and at personal discomfort.

President Obasanjo
President Obasanjo: apology for blackouts
Factories and businesses which want a dependable energy source have to rely on expensive private generators, while urban society is effectively divided between those private households which can afford a generator and those which cannot.

When President Obasanjo took office last year he said that making NEPA work was one of his priorities.

He made sweeping changes in its management and promised to work towards its eventual privatisation, but it appears he under-estimated the scale of the problem and the power of the corrupt vested-interests within NEPA.

Now he has acted again, in his words, to restore sanity to the power supply of Nigeria.

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11 Nov 99 | Africa
Nigeria confronts corruption
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