Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has said its proposed N10 billion solar powered streetlight project in 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals is aimed at boosting effective learning, innovation and advancement, through uninterrupted power supply, to the institutions.
The project, is part of the Energizing Education Programme (EEP) of the Federal Government aimed at rejuvenating the nationâ€™s education system by providing uninterrupted power supply to the institutions, the ministry said.
It said these in response to reported criticism of the N10 billion project by the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, during the budget defense by the ministry last week.
The ministry in a statement issued Saturday, said a newspaper had misrepresented the project, as a mere â€œsolar-powered streetlight project in nine universities across the country valued at N10 billion,â€ while purportedly reporting the proceedings of the 2018 Budget Defense Meeting of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy attended by the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi.
At the hearing last week, the Committee Chairman, Senator Abaribe had said there was a better way to deploy the funds if the REA had N10 billion to â€œplay roundâ€ with.
Senator Mohammed Hassan had also queried why the REA was expending the money to provide solar power for universities, when the rural areas, which it has mandate for, are still in darkness.
The Ministry, in the statement, said the project is far from being a â€œstreetlightâ€ projectâ€ and the attempt to belittle its impact is outrightly unpatriotic.
The statement reads in part:
â€œFar from being a â€œstreetlightâ€ project, the EEP in fact seeks to rejuvenate the education system through electrifying a total of 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals, with Independent Power Plants (IPPS), which will boost effective learning, innovation and advancement through uninterrupted power supply.
â€œIn addition to helping to extend electrification to rural and underserved areas in which the institutions are located ultimately, the Programme will enable the institutions benefit from world-class training schools, for the training of students in renewable energy, as well as provide optimised security, for the safety and well being of students and staff, through the installation of streetlights on campus which is only a small component of the Project.
â€œAlthough implementation of this programme is led by the power sector, through the Rural Electrification Agency, the Vice Chancellors and the Ministry of Education have signed onto this as a critical investment in the education sector.
â€œThe deliberate attempt to water down the significant impact this Programme will have on the enhanced education of Nigerian students is outright unpatriotic as it seeks to prevent the socio-economic development of our nation.
â€œIn addition to the open and transparent coverage of the milestones attained preparatory to the take off of the Project like the Meetings and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the REA and the first set of participating tertiary institutions, the Ministry holds itself ready to provide further details to the media and any other interested entities to stem any further misrepresentation,â€ it added.