By Adesina Wahab
As individuals are accusing electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, of giving them high electricity bills, popularly called ‘crazy bills’, educational institutions in the country are also reeling under the yoke of such bill, checks by Vanguard have revealed.
In fact, some of the tertiary institutions, mostly government-owned, are either disconnected or have been disconnected at one point or the other from the national grid by DISCOs in their localities.
With inadequate subventions from the government, the affected universities, polytechnics and others are finding it difficult paying their electricity bills and the development is threatening cordial relationship between the schools and the power companies, as well as making the smooth running of the schools difficult.
For instance, the Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, as at the time of this report, has been disconnected by Eko DISCO because the huge bill it gave the university has not been paid.
It was gathered that from an average of about N8 million monthly bill, the power firm raised LASU’s bill to N23 million.
The sum is for the main campus in Ojo which is even not residential for staff and students.
The school has campuses in Epe and Ikeja.
The development led to students and staff complaining about the situation not being conducive for learning and teaching, as power generating sets are now being used.
Based on that, the management on Saturday issued a statement assuring workers and students that everything necessary was being done to ensure adequate power supply on campus.
Payment of the N23 million bill is beyond the approval limits of the Vice-Chancellor and the Governing Council is also hampered by lack of funds.
Recall that recent attempts to increase tuition fees were resisted by the students at the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Eko DISCO gave the school N84 million bill for January 2021, N74 million for February and N88 million for March, totalling N242 million for the first quarter of the year.
This is as the students in the school are yet to resume in their hostels.
It was learnt that the authorities of the University of Ibadan, UI, the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, and the University of Calabar among others have had serious faceoff with DISCOs in their areas over the same issue.
Commenting on the development in a recent chat, the Vice Chancellor, UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, described the situation as unbearable.
“When students now come on campus and they begin to use a lot of things, only God knows how much bill they would give to us. It is not that the power supply is for 24 hours daily, we still have to use generators and fuel them. If we add the over N80 million monthly bill to the money for fuelling generators and maintaining them, won’t we be talking of about N100 million a month.
“If a university is now spending about N1 billion a year on electricity, what will now be left to provide other infrastructure? We need constant power supply to do administrative work, keep certain things in the laboratories and even run online teaching,” he said.
However, commenting on the development, the spokesman for Eko DISCO, Mr Godwin Idemudia, said LASU was disconnected because it was owing past and current bills.
“LASU is disconnected due to non-payment of current and outstanding bills for some months.
“As for UNILAG, the issue of crazy bill you talked about is something we no longer encourage in our company. If UNILAG is in doubt about the bill given to them, the appropriate thing is to come forward with the bill and it would be looked into by both parties and at the end of the day the matter would be resolved amicably.
“Eko DISCO is ever ready to satisfy our valued customers. Without our customers out there, we cannot be in business,” he explained.