Electricity tariff increase and the universities’ coping challenges

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By Shehu Bashir Esq.

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*Photo: A Nigerian university campus*

All over the world, universities are not just a place for learning, they are undoubtedly the foremost institutions for research, innovation and inventions.

Most industrialized countries have become what they have become today because they often make use of research outcomes from the citadel to advance their course and productions.

Infact, most companies often fund academic research projects from where they tap, to use same to develop and advance their productions, thereby ensuring that they continue to exist. The study that led to the invention of electronic vehicles came from an academic.

Coming back to Nigeria, considering the rate at which electricity tariff is increasing and thereby increasingly making it difficult for the university authorities to meet up with energy needs as a result of inability to pay electricity bills, I think it is time for the Nigerian universities to come up with a very strong robust alternative means of energy to help the universities (and other institutions of learning) survive the harsh environment.

I know for a fact that there are hundreds of fantastic, brilliant and successful academics who have excelled and still excelling in their field – in science and engineering. I am very certain that there are more than enough intellectual resources who can put things together to upgrade the theoretical studies to full equipment fabrication.

Therefore, it is my humble suggestion that the entire university community, all the stakeholders, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, the Academic Staff Union, especially, should come up with pragmatic research studies to advance and self-produce all that may be needed in tools and equipment to make available alternative source of power supply. I want to believe those countries where these solar panels are produced, their engineers are not better than our Nigerian engineers.

I recognize the fact that there are limitations to making this possible and one shortcoming is funding and sponsorship. However, I think ASUU in conjunction with CVC should go all out to engage with the business communities, private investors, to enter into MoU with these private entities, to come to agreement on this.

With steady assurance of deliverables, and without compromising on financial integrity, I am sure Nigeria universities can do wonders.

It is particularly soothing to observe that most Nigerian universities have more than enough land space to install any electricity generating equipment. Infact, there is almost nothing that should hinder the success of this idea, except for funding.

Technology has advanced beyond theoretical teaching. Therefore, advance equipment fabrication should not be our challenge with all the scientists and engineers we have around. It will be a collaboration of many stakeholders to make this a reality. If politics is separated from service delivery intent, we might be going for a new order in energy management system within the universities.

It is particularly embarrassing that the current electricity service providers would be “harassing” the body of intellectuals who are also capable of providing same service for themselves and beyond.

The professors of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, civil engineering, etc are our best bet now. This is the time to call the bluff of the private service providers, to create enduring and cheaper alternative source of energy, for the entire Nigerian universities.

I recall that during the COVID pandemic, many university professors came up with a lot of helpful scientific suggestions which helped in mitigating the surge then.

I am very confident they can do the same in this circumstance. All that is required is commitment, sincerity and passion for growth. The survival of the university system should not be threatened by anything at all. Not even by this all important need. The university system is the chief learning pot, nothing should break the pot from continuous usage.

The future of a nation is at stake when the education system is under threat. Unavailability of electricity in our universities is a threat to the education system.

University is the highest provider of education, it should not be reduced to the bottom. We must therefore find alternative to what is challenging us so that we can continue to secure the future of our education system.

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