6 February 2013

Nigeria: Amanpour Likens Super Bowl Outage to Nigerian Situation

CNN's Chief International Correspondent and anchor of Amanpour, a nightly foreign affairs programme on CNN International, Christiane Amanpour, on Monday night cynically likened a 35-minute blackout at Super Bowl to a regular feature in Nigeria.

She, however, said her submission was the position of Nigerians who had reacted to the development immediately news of the blackout hit the airwaves by reaching out to the CNN.

As millions of viewers watched Sunday's Super Bowl during the third quarter in New Orleans, the United States, there was a power outage at the Super Dome midway through the game for about 35 minutes. When electricity supply was eventually restored, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the 49ers.

But while Americans reportedly waited 35 minutes for the Super Bowl's lights to come on, Amanpour, on her show, thought "Nigerians just chuckled," adding: "They know all too well the problem of power outages: Nigeria has been plagued by rolling blackouts that last hours, sometimes even days."

Amanpour who rushed to the social media to collate views allegedly from Nigerians on the situation presented the following comments: "Power outage at the Super Bowl on Sunday: Suddenly, Nigeria doesn't look as dark anymore," tweeted one Nigerian.

"If they had the Super Bowl in Nigeria, the power coming back on would be the real surprise," another tweeted.

Playing back a few seconds of her interview with President Goodluck Jonathan a fortnight ago, where Jonathan said electricity supply was relatively stable in the country, Amanpour claimed an Open Mic opened in Lagos to sample views contradicted the president's position.

Jonathan had told Amanpour: "That is one area that Nigerians are quite pleased with the government; that commitment to improve power is working."

But Amanpour said during her programme that many Nigerian viewers later tweeted messages to express their continued frustrations about having to rely on back-up generators for power, hence the Open Mic to ascertain the true situation of things.

In the Open Mic series conducted by CNN after Amanpour's interview, some people said to be Nigerians, dismissed the president's claims and insisted they still relied on generators for electricity.

"We left a microphone in a public place and recorded Nigerians expressing their frustrations with their notoriously unreliable power supply," Amanpour further noted.

But THISDAY checks revealed that while the level of power stability in the country may be nothing compared to what obtains even in some neighbouring countries; the present supply of electricity has shown an improvement on what used to be and so represents a plus for the Jonathan administration.

In Lagos for instance, when THISDAY sampled opinions, a greater percentage of residents admitted to experiencing stable power, which now runs for days, adding that even when it goes off, it is for just a few minutes.

Asked what they thought about the views expressed by other Nigerians on CNN, a certain resident of Lagos who preferred anonymity said: "Maybe they still live in the former Nigeria. The fact that you don't like somebody is no justification to deny him his credit. The present administration has improved on power and I think it should be acknowledged as such."

Indeed, the opinion about the power situation is a mixed bag of impression. While some acknowledge a marginal improvement and note that the transformation is in a work-in-progress mode, others dismiss it.

Here are some comments posted on Amanpour's website by readers believed to be Nigerians.

"Well all I can say is that Rome wasn't built in a day. Some parts of Nigeria still experience epileptic power supply while some don't. Some parts even don't see light at all due to the decay in the grid lines that have hung there for as far back as when Queen Elizabeth came to Nigeria. I live in Ikeja and power there has really improved, and it's an improvement process that is gradually spreading across other parts of Lagos. I enjoy at

Another reader wrote that, "On the issue of power generation. The president is trying and I have my points. I recently relocated to a new area and I received reports that there has been stoppage of electricity supply for over a year. I picked up my laptop and logged on to http://www.power.gov.ng and lodged a complaint through the e-mail, sms, and also placed a call to the electricity distribution company in the region. Believe me, the electricity supply was connected and I received a phone call from the presidential task force on power asking for my feedback concerning the supply of electricity, which was affirmative. I have helped a community through the good works of Mr. President."

But another reader simply identified as Elijah blurted that, "I was so disappointed with Mr. President's speech on Boko Haram, electricity and corruption. Before he came into power, he (Mr. President) promised Nigerians stable electricity, which Amanpour has testified to, but for good three years now, nothing has been done. You mentioned some states in Nigeria that can smile with the condition of electricity like Lagos, Abuja...

That's a big lie, I live in Lagos, I work on the island, electricity is very poor in these areas."

Another reader, Trevae Oloye, also wrote:, "I can really appreciate President Goodluck Jonathan for his honesty about the electricity and crude oil problems in his country. I was in Nigeria for four months last year up to and after the oil strike. Nigeria has really tried to make progress since my first trip there in 1974. So, I pray Goodluck Jonathan is able to see his way through updating the electricity shortages."

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