By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Lack of power supply in federal universities and university teaching hospitals in Nigeria has been cited as a barrier to learning, institutional operations and student residency And considering the role of education in economic growth and socio-economic development in Nigeria, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing resolved to embark on projects that will provide reliable, sustainable and affordable power to our tertiary institutions. One of such projects is the Energizing Education Programme (EEP) designed to implement the energy access and sufficiency action point of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP) and it is also incorporated into the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved Power Sector Reform Programme (PSRP).
The decision to seek a sustainable solution to this problem was also informed by the need to alleviate the burden of enormous costs borne by the universities in self-power generation which includes but not limited to the high capital expenditure on diesel run generators and the need to ensure Nigeria adheres to her obligations under the Paris Agreement, through the promotion of renewable and cleaner energy technology, towards reduction of hazardous emissions.
The overall goals and objectives of the EEP include the following:
- *To provide off grid captive power plants for 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals, across the six (6) geopolitical zones;
- *Provide street lights to ensure safety for students, staff and visitors of the institutions;
- *Rehabilitate, strengthen and extend the existing distribution networks;
- *Develop and operate training centres to train and certify students in courses related to renewable energy; and
- *Distribute power to surrounding communities in the second tier of each phase as a strategy for rural electrification, subsequently resulting in an increase of economic activity within those communities and general well being.
The EEP Phase 1 Projects will be financed by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Gas-fired plants have been recommended for 2 of the Phase 1 Universities/projects, whilst solar hybrids have been recommended for the remaining 7.
Across the North and middle belt of Nigeria, there is adequate sun yield (the amount of energy provided by sunlight), which is most ideal for solar technology solutions. Furthermore, the universities in these locations offer the land sizes needed to deploy the necessary solutions.
As a result, the Solar Hybrid solutions were recommended for Northern universities as they offer the most enabling environment for solar technology.
In the South of Nigeria, the sun yield is also very low and will not able to satisfy the energy requirement of 8MW of energy for a plant.
The minimum land size required for a plant is roughly 5,000 sqm per 1MW, space that the University of Lagos, for instance is not able to provide. Considering the large space of land and high number of solar panels required to service an 8MW power plant, it would not be practical to deploy solar solutions to these universities and as a result, gas-fired plants are the preferred solution due to the availability.
The universities are: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University –Gubi Campus, Bauchi, Solar Hybrid (0.50 MW); Bayero University–New Campus, (3.00); Usuman Danfodiyo University–Main Campus, Sokoto, (2.00 MW); Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, (3.50MW).
Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi, (1.00 MW); Nnamdi Azikwe University-Awka Campus, Anambra, (2.00); Federal University of Petroleum, Delta (0.50MW)
Obafemi Awolowo University and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Osun (8.03); University of Lagos, (8.03);
Captive Power Permits
Already, the REA has obtained captive power permits for in accordance with NERC Permits for Captive Power Generation Regulations 2008. The permits were obtained in November , last year, setting the stage for the implementation.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
reports have also been developed and approved by the Ministry of Environment.
It was learnt that A Certificate of No Objection to Award Contracts has been issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement for Phase 1 of the EEP.
The issue of sustainability is considered very key to the projects. It is not only important that the projects are not abandoned, but are effectively built, operated and maintained using highly skilled and experienced personnel, as well as, state of the art technology.
Consequently, a provision for one (1) year Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the Projects, has been incorporated. This 1 year O& M forms part of the ten (10) year O&M plan that has been developed for the projects. It is expected that the EPC Contractor will also undertake the O&M for the remaining 9 years of the O&M plan, to ensure seamless operation and maintenance of each projects, to avoid finger pointing/transfer of blame between contractors in the event an issue arises with the operation of the technology, which could potentially result in the halt or delay in services.
The EEP is in line with fulfillment of the social contract and government responsibility to its citizens, and will positively affect the education, health, power, law enforcement and finance sectors of the country. An uninterrupted power supply to the universities and Teaching Hospitals will result in effective learning; Innovation and advancement; institutional operations, security on campuses; improve student residency and quality of life, as well as, create small, medium, and even large scale businesses on campuses.
The programme will equally free up energy on the grid which could be better channeled towards improving supply to deficient areas. In addition, the universities will enjoy clean after eliminating air and noise pollution from diesel and petrol generators. The Energy Audit conducted preparatory to the EEP indicated 1,068 generators currently provide alternative power sources for the universities.
It is expected to improve the global status/ ranking of Nigerian Universities.
NANS threatens to occupy NASS over alleged plot to scuttle EEP
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has expressed its displeasure over alleged plot by some members of the National Assembly to scuttle the implementation of the project.
Late last year, NANS President, Comrade Kadiri Aruna, addressed newsmen in Abuja, and threatened to mobilize his members to occupy the National Assembly, should legislators try to stand in its way.
He said: “In the last few years, since the commencement of the total commercialization of tertiary education in Nigeria, NANS and all her structures, especially the Student Union Governments have been in constant engagement against the managements of different schools and different governments in order to save education and helpless indigent and socio-economically disadvantaged students.
“In this struggle, we have lost our Comrades to road accidents, murder by unscrupulous operatives of security agencies and other forms of deaths, including unresolved disappearances of student
“And due to the constant engagement of the leadership of the Nigerian Students with the Federal Government, it graciously introduced the Energizing Education Programme (EEP) in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
“Curiously the information at the disposal of the leadership of NANS is that some powerful unpatriotic cabal are set to sabotage the programme under the spurious claim that their constituencies have no electricity and as such, tertiary institutions of learning should not have.
“Our question is: are these tertiary institutions situated in Cameroun, Niger, Chad or Benin Republic? The truth is that they are demanding the contract for the job or a truncation of the programme,” he said.
Aruna, said even though the programme would be done in phases, “it is one of the best ways of solving the power problem and making our tertiary institutions, real Centres of Excellence”.
He said it was inconceivable that any group of Nigerians, especially legislators could for any reason vow to truncate this programme simply because their businesses or selfish interest is not served.
“Consequently, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) shall be occupying the National Assembly on her resumption in January, and would remain there until the students and Nigerians, especially parents who bear the burden of school fees and other problems associated with service delivery to their children and wards receive the assurance of the National Assembly that this timely intervention called EEP is not truncated.