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High electricity tariff may cripple Nigerian universities, VC warns

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UNILAG. Photo: REDCHETTAH

Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has warned that the suspension of the nine-month-old strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may not be enough to guarantee a smooth academic session in the nation’s institutions.
 
Ogundipe, who was recently reinstated after his face-off with erstwhile governing council chairman of the institution, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), warned of a possible blackout in many of the higher institutions over the hike in electricity tariff by power distribution companies.

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Prof Ogundipe, who stated this at a forum with journalists recently, said UNILAG used to pay monthly charges of N61 million when academic and non-academic activities were in full capacity recently paid N62 million for the month of November 2020.

He said: “During the total lockdown when there were no activities apart from home use for workers living on campus, we were paying N32 million on a monthly basis. But now without the students on campus, we were charged N62 million for November. This implies that the amount may double when students are back on campus and activities resume fully. How can we afford that?”

The vice-chancellor said he checked other universities and found out that the situation is the same, saying there is hardly any university that can afford to pay such exorbitant charges in the country.

“And to complement this, we spent N45 million on diesel for three months. What is our subvention? How much do we generate? What does our personnel cost? This is a peep into the challenges confronting the Nigerian university system, yet we have to compete with institutions where basic amenities and workers’ welfare are necessities and not luxury,” Ogundipe added. 

On efforts to reconcile aggrieved parties and restore peace on campus, Ogundipe said there would be a quarterly meeting with the various unions to brief them on the various activities of his administration.

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