Instability in power supply despite the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Plc, has compelled Nigerians into sourcing for alternatives. The university communities are not left out. FESTUS OKOROMADU writes on the recent signing of MoU between the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and eight Nigerian universities.
The recent announcement of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Nigeria Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and eight Federal Universities and a Teaching Hospital may have come as a welcome development; this is even as many Nigerians continue to express disappointment over the performance of the various electricity distribution companies (DisCos).
According to details of the MoU, the relationship is the first phase of the Federal Government’s Energizing Education Programme aimed at providing uninterrupted electricity supply accessible to Nigerian students.
The eight universities and one teaching hospital that participating in the first phase and have signed the MoU with REA are: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi, Bayero University Kano, Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto, Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, Anambra, University of Lagos, Akoka, Federal University of Petroleum Resources Warri, Delta State, Obafemi Awolowo University and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The move according to a statement from the management of REA, is an initiative of the Federal Government’s effort to make uninterrupted electricity supply accessible to Nigerian students.
The statement further explained that the initiative is an energizing education programme that aims to provide uninterrupted power supply for 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals in Nigeria through the utilization of off grid captive power plants.
Head of special projects, rural electrification agency Mrs. Anita Otubu, said that the Federal Government was keen on ensuring that the universities are able to measure up with their international counterparts and recognizes access to power as an essential commodity to achieve that.
According to the statement, the first phase of the Programme includes nine institutions, and should be completed in 2018, benefiting over three hundred thousand students and staff.
Details of the relationship shows that Seven of the nine planned power plants (10.5MW out of a total of 26.56MW) will be fuelled by solar energy, in line with the government’s energy -mix policy.
The statement further explained that the programme will also install street lighting to enhance security measures on campuses, develop and operate training centers for student training on renewable and eventually, extend this uninterrupted power to improve quality of life and economic opportunities in the surrounding rural communities.
Expressing appreciation over the development, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed said, “We must express our gratitude to the REA, the acting president and the honourable minister of power.
While the university communities await the kick-off the project it is obvious that it will enhance research programmes and other educational pursuit.
It must be stated here that every effort must be made to ensure that the electricity to be provide should serve 24 hours so that these institutions can truly compete with their peers globally.
It is also believed that the initiative will reduce the incident of estimated bills or paying bills when electricity is not provided.