THE Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) has thrown the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, Yaba, Lagos into darkness over an unpaid debt of about N200 million it billed the university for electricity consumption.
The university authorities, however, said that the institution has dutifully never failed to settle its electricity bill on a monthly basis, claiming it has paid up to June 2021. According to the authorities, the university, which has now resorted to generators to power some areas, rationing the supply between the administrative area and staff quarters, has paid a total of N1.123 billion in electricity tariff to EKEDC in the last 17 months from January last year.
Confirming this development to Sunday Tribune in an interview, the university’s spokesperson, Mrs Nonye Oguama, lamented that the electricity bill being served each month on the university by EKEDC keeps rising each day.
She said the university could not just cope with meeting up with the exorbitant monthly bill because of its other financial obligations as a social service and not a commercial purpose institution. She argued that EKEDC ought to have factored in this position in billing the university, declaring that she could not categorically say for now when the university would be able to resolve the matter as there is no money.
Also speaking vice-chancellor of the university, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, confirmed that the university from January 2020 to June 2021 had paid N1.123 billion in electricity tariff. Ogundipe said the whopping sum, which could not be disconnected from the high electricity tariff in the country and estimated billings, was paid from the institution’s internally generated revenues on a monthly basis, adding that it was draining the purse of the university.
Giving a breakdown of the electricity bills paid by the university in the last 17 months, Professor Ogundipe said the “N51 million was paid in January 2020; N50 million in February: N58 million in March and N62 million in April,” of the same year.
The amount, he said, dropped to N26 million in May 2020 during the general lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and further dropped to N21 million in June, but went up to N24 million in July; N25 million in August and N26 million in September.
“So, in October, when activities started coming up again, we had N56 million bill and it dropped again in November to N29 million before it skyrocketed to N81 million in December when the electricity tariff was increased generally in the country by the power distribution company.
“Since then, [EKEDC] has been bringing huge bill every month; N84 million in January; N79 million in February and it rose to N85 million in March when our students started coming back to hostels; N88 million in April and jumped up to as high as N181 million in May and came down again to N118 million in June,” he said.
“So, in the period covering 17 months, we paid a sum of N1.123 billion on electricity and the amount is just too high for the university to cope with,” Ogundipe stressed, adding that the bills are just too high for the university to maintain.
“Even companies that are making a profit cannot find it easy to be coughing up such a huge amount of money for electricity every month”