Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Federalism at work

In textbooks about US government and politics, the states are often described as policy proving grounds. New ideas get tried out in states, and if they work well, the policies are copied by other states and sometimes the national government.

Could it be that something similar is happening in the Nigerian state of Kwara? (Thanks again to Imnakoya for bringing this story to my attention.)

Constant Light in Kwara

"Constant “light” - the Nigerian euphemism for electric supply, is the most valuable upgrade... Nigeria needs at this time for obvious reasons.

"[I]t is uplifting to read how kwara State went about taking care of business, locally...

"Among his peers, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the state Governor [right], demonstrates an uncommon out-of-the-box mentality to governance...

"Kwara power project is the first and the only one to be completed. It’s been in operation since January 2009."

Imnakoya cited a report from the newspaper, Daily Trust:

One month of non-stop power supply: How is Kwara doing it?

"Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara State, is a city that is usually counted among Nigeria’s sleepiest because of its low level of economic and social activity. But it is now stirring to life... in front of business centres, hotels, supermarkets, workshops and offices there are no more irritating noises coming from the small buzzing generators that used to supply electricity round the clock, holding up to the world Nigeria’s ridiculous failure to supply enough power to meet both its domestic and industrial needs. In Ilorin the noise these days is to be found indoors in welding workshops, furniture workshops, barbing salons, business centres and grain mills. The buzz all around is ‘light, light, light’.

"‘Light’, which has become the local euphemism for electricity supply has been steady for four weeks now and this has infused a new found productivity...

"What the Kwara State government built was not a power generating plant which is the buzz in the top tier of government at the moment but it simply built a transmission station on a 2.5 hectares of land at Ganmo that could better utilize and maximise the available power that is been generated by the existing generating stations but wasted because of inadequate power infrastructures. Now, the state capital and the towns and villages in the state heave a sigh of relief for this simple foresight...

"But nowhere is the impact more significant than in small scale industries. The South Africa-born General Manager of Kwara Technix, a joint venture business between the Kwara state government and a South African furniture manufacturer, Mr. Frank Cross says the recent improvement in electricity supply in the state has reduced significantly the company’s expenditure on diesel to fuel generators...

"But the recent success in Ilorin goes beyond the state and says much about the Federal Government’s approach to provide the nation with electricity. It is beginning to look like states waiting for the magical Seven-Point Agenda to connect them with constant and regular electricity will have to abandon their lethargy and act to help themselves..."

What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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