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Varsities groan under heavy electricity bill

Findings by our reporters have revealed that federal universities located in areas designated  ‘Band A’ by Electricity Distribution Companies have been groaning under heavy burden…

Findings by our reporters have revealed that federal universities located in areas designated  ‘Band A’ by Electricity Distribution Companies have been groaning under heavy burden of electricity bills.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved a 300 per cent increase in the tariff paid by Band A customers from N68/KWh to N225/kWh.

The Vice Chairman of NERC, Mr Musiliu Oseni, who announced this in Abuja, clarified that the rate increase will only affect 15% of the country’s electricity customers.

Oseni also noted that these customers, who represent 15% of the population, consume 40% of the nation’s electricity. These customers are classified under the Band A service category, and the Distribution Companies must provide a minimum of 20 hours/day measured over one week.

By the virtue of that announcement, federal universities whose locations fall within ‘Band A’ have seen their monthly electricity bill quadruple.

A recent energy audit in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, sighted by our reporter, estimated the electricity consumption of the university to be about 1,629,936 kW in a month.

When multiplied by N225, it amounted to N366/7 million electricity bill per month. In one year, the electricity bill will be N4.4 billion per annum.

When our reporter reached out to the Director, Directorate of Public Affairs of the ABU, Auwal Umar, he said: “The write-up did not emanate from the institutions; however, what is contained in the write-up is not far from the truth.”

Confirming the development, a reliable source said: “The annual electricity bill of ABU will jump from about N1.2 billion to 4.4 billion naira and the bill must be paid.

“With the new tariff, the electricity bill from April to December 2024 has tripled. It will be about N3.3 billion as against N997 million that the university envisaged for the nine months.

“The municipal charge paid for this academic session by the students to take care of electricity bills, water supply and sanitation was N15,000 per student. That amounts to about N750 million for a year for about 50 thousand students.

“If you share the bills per student, that will be N88,000 per undergraduate/postgraduate student.”

The source argued that the non-constituted university councils or the acting council (the education minister) will figure out the over-tripled electricity bill from April to December 2024 since you can’t bill the students in the middle of the session.

He said: “The message is that the new tariff will most likely affect the students’ registration fees for the next academic session. The charges from municipal services may increase by N70,000. The staff living in the quarters should also get ready for N225 per kWh bill.”

Situation is unsustainable – Unilorin VC

Also reacting to the development, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Wahab Olasupo Egbewole (SAN), has expressed concern over the recent hike in electricity tariffs imposed by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC).

The VC said the development has seriously affected the university’s budget.

In an email message sent to staff and students of the university, Egbewole said the institution’s monthly electricity bill has jumped from N70 million to N230 million monthly, a situation he described as ‘‘unsustainable’’.

The monthly value comes to an annual value of N2.7 billion for the university.

Also speaking on the development, the Senior Deputy Registrar of the University of Jos (Information and Publications), Abdullahi Abdullahi, said the increase in the tariff is seriously affecting the university in all ramifications.

He said, “The bill from the DisCO is too much for the university. Before the increase, we used to pay between N25 to 30 million every month. But today, they are asking us to pay N80 million every month.

“They claimed they have moved us to Band A. We don’t Know how they decided to put us on Band A, because to us we are not consuming what they are thinking. When have we seen 20hrs of power?”

The situation at the University of Abuja is different. Dr Habib Yakoob, spokesperson of the university, said: “We are affected by the dedicated power, which was vandalised before the review. Presently, we are still on Band B.”

Universities rethinking alternative power sources

Professor Egbewole said the university is intensifying negotiations for alternative power supply solutions, announcing that all new buildings under construction will include provisions for alternative power sources as part of their design.

The university management said it has taken energy-saving measures to reduce energy consumption on campus and mitigate the financial impact of rising tariffs on its budget.

Quoting an internal memorandum signed by the registrar, Mr Mansur Alfanla, the university said it has established a new electricity schedule. The schedule outlines specific on-and-off-peak hours for electricity supply to the Main Campus Staff Quarters, the GRA Staff Quarters, and the hostels.

Abdullahi also said: “We are not a business outfit; we are only providing educational services. So, we are in the process of utilising an alternative means.

NERC mum of situation

When contacted, the General Manager, Public Affairs, for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr Usman Arabi, did not respond to phone calls or a text message sent to him.

By Sunday Michael Ogwu, Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos) & Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna)

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