29 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Plans to provide an alternate source of electricity supply for federal universities and hospitals across the country has come under serious scrutiny at the meeting of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
At the budget hearing recently, the Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi made it known that the media indicated that the committee was immensely concerned with the electrification of streetlights for universities, amidst other important projects seeking government attention as against the actual fact that the N10bn was earmarked for Rural Electrification Access Programme.
Similarly, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing have since made it clear that the budgeted funds are for “Rural Electrification Access Programme in Federal Universities” that is expected to “rejuvenate the education system”.
Speaking on the issue, the REA boss highlighted some reasons while the said projects could not be targeted for Federal Universities and hospitals alone.
According to her, some of the reasons are that most Federal Universities and hospital are located in the hearts of major cosmopolitan towns and do not pass to be described as “rural”.
“Also, a vast majority of rural communities as against the percentage of urban cities do not have access to electricity supply which has crippled economic activities in such communities hence led to a poor standard of living for inhabitants of such communities.
“On a comparative, it is cheaper for Federal Universities to afford their present source of electricity supply as most varsities are on dedicated lines running close to 24 hours supply as against the anticipated supply they would be getting at a more expensive cost amidst others,” she noted.
She added that, unfortunately, this proposal comes at a time when the power sector is facing critical and strangulating financial challenges in building the capacity for the sustainable electricity supply that will drive the growth of our economy.
“This constraint signifies that the sector is being deprived of adequate funding. In this view many Nigerians would have anticipated that such huge funding is used in expanding the national grid, increasing transmission capacity, sanitizing distribution networks, rather than being channeled only to Federal varsities and hospitals.
“In the same light, it would seem as if the agency (REA), is going outside of its mandate, endangering the hopes of rural dwellers for electricity that will improve their lives and creates an opportunity for wastage of funds that are desperately needed for priority projects in the sector.
“In this era of ‘Change’ as a mantra or common refrain, we must move away from politicized and ill-thought-out policies to that which holds the greatest good for greatest number of our citizens,” she added.