Ahmadu Bello University writes President Tinubu on high Electricity tariff

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state, have written to President Bola Tinubu, over the hike in tariff paid by Band A consumers from N68/KWh to N225/kWh.

The institution says it cannot pay the N3.6bn annual electricity bill. The bill averages N300m monthly, given the cost of N206 per kWh under the band A tariff.

Recall that the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had increased the tariff paid by Band A customers. NERC also said Band A customers are expected to receive between 20-24 hours of electricity supply daily while the subscribers under B enjoy 16 to 20 hours of power supply and those in Band C receive 12 to 16 hours daily.

The university disclosed their position in a letter addressed to Tinubu on Monday, July 1, 2024, titled, ‘An open letter to the visitor, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over the looming energy crisis In Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.’

The letter, which was signed by 40 professors from different departments of the institution, called on Tinubu to intervene, stressing that universities should be protected from the burden of commercialisation.

“We, the undersigned Nigerian citizens and academic staff of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, wish to forward a complaint over the debilitating energy crisis bedeviling Ahmadu Bello University given the centrality of electricity supply to university operations and seek your intervention for its resolution.

“We take this action out of the conviction that, as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Visitor to the university, Your Excellency is in a position to mediate over the matter, especially because the crisis aggravated with the recent high increase in electricity tariff in the country, which ABU in particular, and Nigerian public universities in general, cannot afford due to their weak financial position resulting from chronic underfunding.”

The university said due to the harsh economy, educational institutions should be safeguarded from the burden of meeting market-induced electricity pricing, especially where their capacity to do so was highly constrained.

“It is beyond dispute that Nigerian universities are not, by any law, statute, or ethical or socio-economic definition, profit-making or revenue-generating outfits. Ahmadu Bello University, for instance, with an average total annual budgetary overhead grant of N150m only, requires an astounding but unaffordable N3.6bn (monthly average of N300m) to settle its annual electricity bill, at the cost of N206/kWh per unit of the so-called band A.

“For a university that requires about seven megawatts of electricity, in addition to providing other energy costs per month, the financial implication is far beyond its capacity.

“Your Excellency, even if the market-oriented principle of ‘cost-sharing’ between the government and parents/wards is a viable option, the inability of the university to mobilise adequate financial and material support entails that it transfers the huge cost to students by hiking up fees,” the university said.

The letter in which, several educational organisations were copied explained that if the N3.6bn were to be transferred to the university’s 50,000 students, the current municipal charges alone would have to be hiked up by at least a rate of 500 per cent, saying not only was this sum impossible to pay by virtually all students but it also negated the position of the government on the matter. “You would recall, sir, that at its inception, your government expressly forbade the senators and Councils of federal universities to hike registration fees for the poor, beleaguered Nigerian students and their parents. Some of us hailed your government then as having the courage to acknowledge the suffering of the Nigerian parents and their wards. In any event, student charges are specifically meant to offset the cost of services in the learning and living campus environment and cannot be used to cover these energy costs, which justly belong to overhead grants that the government should but has not, ironically, been responsible for. “In light of the above considerations, Your Excellency, we urge you, in your capacity as the Visitor to all federal universities and the Head of State and Federal Government, to take urgent and decisive action by directing the Federal Government to cover the cost of electricity supply as part of the overhead grant to all federal universities in the country. “Alternatively, Your Excellency, considering the Federal Government’s 49 per cent ownership stake in GENCOs and DISCOs, ongoing investments in them, and its role as guarantor of social balance and security, you could instruct DISCOs to provide uninterrupted electricity supply to all Nigerian universities in exchange for tax credits.

“Alternatively, the government could mandate DISCOs to introduce a dedicated social tariff band with reduced rates that universities can afford, given their current funding constraints,” it stated.

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