• Features
  • Updated: December 18, 2022

Street Lights: The New Critical Infrastructure For Nigeria's State Governors

 Street Lights: The New  Critical Infrastructure For Nigeria

Governor Obaseki speaking at the commissioning of a 3km streetlights project along Siluko Rd and another 3.3km streetlights along Sapele Rd, in Egor and Ikpoba-Okha LGAs respectively stated that his administration had completed the construction of 40km out of the 200km of street lights projects around the greater Benin area.

He said his government is ever committed to lighting up Edo and expanding the reach of the lighting up to other parts of the state.

Suddenly lighting up the state has become the norm for our governors in Nigeria. It is becoming a commendable feat that is worth "international ceremonies".

The gesture stirred reactions as some Nigerians frowned over the ceremony as they referenced other governors who commission standard projects in their states. 

How did we get here?

Light-up projects in Nigeria have been the unconventional responsibilities of National Assembly members.

It is always the only traceable dividend people gain from their representatives.

It is so because they hardly benefit from the unhelpful laws they make or say which laws they should make because nearly all of them do not have constituency offices. 

But in January 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan set out an operation called “Light-Up Rural Nigeria” in the Durumi community, Bwari Area Council of Abuja, with a pledge to ensure constant power supply to Nigerians using renewable energy. 

In truth, it is certainly a constructive foresight, but it has paved the way for administrative and executive normalcy Nigerians need to question.

Since GEJ’s singular action in 2014, state governments such as Oyo, Lagos, and Anambra, to mention just a few, have followed suit in recent years. 

Almost all of them have embraced this idea in remarkable fashion.

In the case of Oyo, the pacesetter state set the pace even in controversial circumstances. Governor Seyi Makinde’s brand of the light-up project comes with diesel-powered generators. 

The state government spends money on diesel instead of solar-powered lights. 

Governor Obaseki, in his own case, decided to commission a project that would not have been meant for him if we truly followed the dictates of separation of powers and true federalism in Nigeria.

While our state governments have made street lights a national honour to the point that Governor Godwin Obaseki commissioned them in his state, it should be stated that street lights as public goods​​ are the duty of local government in developed democracies. 


But Nigeria has a different fate. The state government has unapologetically pocketed the local government.

President Muhammadu Buhari said recently that he had succeeded in paying the local government what is due them. Therefore, Nigerians should hold their state governors accountable in all states of the country.

The narrative this piece pushes forward is that if Nigeria had functional local government authorities as it used to be when the country was an infant, commissioning street lights wouldn’t have been a monumental achievement. 

After leaving the deluge of critical infrastructure of national and regional concerns undone, the idea of making street lights the new dividends of democracy should be grossly condemned. 

Most of the street lights facilitated by our legislators have become dysfunctional, and the fate of these done by our state governors has no print of lasting longer than their years in office. 

Nigerian state governors should outgrow hijacking the duties of the local government authorities as our democracy and executive governance mature. 

Below are some Nigerians’ reaction to Governor Obaseki’s commissioning on Twitter:


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