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52 Federal Varsities May Collapse Over Hike In Electricity Tariff, VCs Raise The Alarm 

NIGERIA: The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has warned that about 52 Federal universities may collapse in the country soon over the recent hike in electricity tariff which has increased their overhead costs.

These VCs gave the warning after the tariff hike by the Discos increased the electricity bill of the federal universities by over 300 per cent, reports The PUNCH.

Recall that the VCs had earlier last month asked the Federal Government to provide a concessionary electricity tariff rate for the universities.

They said the appeal was based on the need to alleviate the financial burden of high electricity tariffs on these institutions.

However, speaking with our correspondent on Friday, Secretary to the CVCNU, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, said if the Federal Government did not prevail on the Discos to reduce the electricity tariff, 52 federal universities might collapse soon as high overhead cost will cripple their operations.

He said the Federal Government had already funded solar power plants for about 10 out of the 62 federal universities in the country, leaving the remaining 52 institutions to rely on the Discos for electricity supply as generating power independently has proven very costly for them.

“The Federal Government has funded solar power plants in some universities like the University of Agriculture in Makurdi. They don’t depend on the Discos as they generate their own power. But there are less than 10 federal universities that have such solar power plants out of about 62 federal universities, which means 52 others do not have.

“That is why we say in the interim, they should remove us from Band A and create a discretionary band for educational establishments so that we can be paying the rates we are paying before or something slightly higher. But to pay the commercial rates that everybody is paying is not sustainable. It will cripple the operations of the universities,” the VCs spokesman stated.

“Our bills have gone by 300 per cent, which translates into an increase in overhead costs for the University Vice Chancellors. For the Federal Universities, we have written to the President to let him know that with the hike, we cannot sustain the operations of the federal institutions and something must be done.

“So, it is either they (the government) move us from Band A to another band, which will give us reduced costs, support us in our effort to move to our alternate power sources or allow us to charge at economic rate so that we can pass the cost down to the end users which are the students. The Federal Government has to sit and consider any of the options for us. But they are yet to respond to us.”

On whether increasing the allocations to the university by the Federal Government will cover up for the electricity cost, Prof Ochefu said, “Even if they increase the allocation, it will not make a big impact.

“As you have read, the situation is already affecting the students. The UNIBEN closed down today because of the students’ protest over electricity. If nothing is done urgently, university operations will grind to a halt very soon.”

Reacting to the development, a don in the University of Ibadan, Prof Francis Egbokhare, said, “I quite understand what the VC committee is talking about because the universities are not allowed to exceed a certain level of charges for fees.

“If the universities are allowed to charge on the basis of consumption, every student and lecturer will be mandated to pay for electricity used. To avoid this, the government and the universities should enter into a workable agreement.”


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