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Varsities groan under crazy electricity bills

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FG spends over N50bn monthly on electricity — Minister…Why we disconnected erring varsities —Eko DISCO

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 bills, checks by Vanguard have revealed.

It was also gathered that some 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 to pay their electricity bills and the development is threatening the 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.

At the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Eko DISCO billed the institution N84 million 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 gathered that the authorities of the University of Ibadan, UI, the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, and the University of Calabar among others have had a serious faceoff with DISCOs in their areas over the same issue.

The situation is unbearable—UNILAG VC

Describing the situation as unbearable, the Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe said: “When students now come on campus and they begin to use a lot of things, only God knows how much they will bill 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?

READ ALSO: NERC directs DisCos, MAPs to fast-track meter provision

“If a university is now spending about N1 billion a year on electricity, what will now be left to provide other infrastructure? We need a constant power supply to do administrative work, keep certain things in the laboratories and even run online teaching.”

 Why we disconnected erring varsities—Eko DISCO

Reacting to the development, spokesman for Eko DISCO, Mr. Godwin Idemudia, said LASU was disconnected because it owed past and current bills.

He said: “LASU is disconnected due to non-payment of current and outstanding bills for some months.

“As for UNILAG, the issue of crazy bills 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.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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