Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
The federal government in conjunction with the German Energy Partnership Project yesterday in Ibadan, Oyo State, formally flagged off its independent power supply initiative to all the 40 federal universities in the country with the ground-breaking ceremony of a 10-Mega Watts Solar Power Plant at the University of Ibadan.
In attendance at the ground-breaking ceremony were dignitaries from all walks of life including the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Bernard Schlagheck; the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole who is also the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan; the incumbent Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka; as well as the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Ajeogungunniso I, among others.
Performing the ceremony on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Ajibode Extension location of the University of Ibadan, the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Gozie Anwukah, described the event as “a historic occasion in the life of the university and of our nation” adding that it is in line with the national energy policy.
“That the project is commencing at the University of Ibadan should not surprise anyone. This is where the story of university education in Nigeria started,” the minister stated adding that the fact that UI, with its huge staff and student population had necessitated a corresponding high energy requirement which is in the region of 6 to 8 Mega Watts.
The minister remarked that the federal government, in its bid to replicate the gesture to all the 40 federal universities in Nigeria, envisaged that this should be achieved through the utilisation of off-grid Independent Power Plants (IPPs) which falls under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative.
He noted: “It was in this respect that the federal government, under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, recently launched the Energising Education Programme Initiative (EEPI), a collaborative effort of the Federal Ministry of Education and Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to ensure self-sufficiency in power to all the 40 federal universities in the country.”
The EEPI is aimed at providing reliable power supply which, in turn, will promote economic growth and sustainable development in our universities, the minister further clarified.
The minister spoke further: “This is why the federal government, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), has committed itself to this project with the provision of funds. It clearly attests to government’s commitment to supporting a robust educational system. The project, when completed, will also ensure the realisation of th vision of the University of Ibadan in becoming a world-class university, in the sense that academic activities will be boosted, and ground-breaking researches can be conducted.
“For our universities to be highly rated in Africa and the world, we must have a good research infrastructure, and a provision of energy is very key in the process. The plant will also have the multiplier effect of providing electricity to neighbouring communities. Government is keenly interested in this project, and its timely completion and effective utilisation will inform an extension of the project to other Universities. We shall, therefore, be monitoring the progress of the project. It is expected that the faculties of science and technology and the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law would take advantage of his project to enhance the capacity of their staff, while embarking on further research in renewable energy resources.”
Also speaking at the event, the German ambassador Mr. Bernard Schlagheck assured that the project, which is a culmination of more than two years of negotiations involving the University of Ibadan, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the German Government would be completed and ready for inauguration within the next six months.