Universities risk disconnection amidst soaring energy costs

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Nigerian universities are currently facing severe crises due to the skyrocketing cost of electricity in the country. Several institutions have been disconnected from the national grid due to unpaid electricity bills amounting to millions of naira, while others remain connected but are struggling with enormous debts.

The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), ordered an immediate increase in electricity tariffs starting from Wednesday, April 3rd. Despite promises of an average daily electricity supply of 20 hours for Band A customers, many complain they receive far less.

In January, NERC announced that the government would subsidize electricity to the tune of N1.6 trillion for 2024. NERC Chairperson Sanusi Garba explained that the new tariffs are designed to cover investors’ operating costs, but they have placed a heavy burden on consumers, including universities.

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**Universities Struggle Under Soaring Energy Costs**

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The College of Medicine, University of Lagos, is grappling with its migration to Band A, which has significantly increased its energy costs. A circular from the institution revealed that its power supply has been cut off due to a massive bill of N252,631,305.52 from Eko Electric Distribution Company (EKEDC) for June 2024. Despite efforts to negotiate a reduction and partial payments, the college was disconnected on June 25th, 2024.

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Similarly, Aliko Dangote University of Science and Technology in Wudil, Kano State, has been plunged into darkness after Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) disconnected its power supply over an outstanding bill of over N248 million. The disconnection has disrupted academic activities, and despite paying N20 million as part of its monthly subvention, the university remains without power.

The University of Jos has also been disconnected by Jos Electricity Distribution Company due to debts amounting to N126 million. Additionally, the University of Benin (UNIBEN) faced disconnection over an unpaid electricity debt of N300 million. The immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, highlighted that the new tariff rates have escalated UNIBEN’s monthly electricity bill from N80 million to N280 million, exacerbating the financial strain.

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These mounting electricity costs have placed Nigerian universities in a precarious position, impacting their operations and academic programs. The situation underscores the need for a sustainable solution to the energy crisis affecting higher education institutions across the country.

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