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 Energising Education Programme (EEP) of the Federal Government aimed at rejuvenating the nation’s education system by providing uninterrupted power supply to the institutions, the ministry said.
The clarification is in response to reported criticism of the N10 billion project by the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, during the budget defence by the ministry last week.
The ministry in a statement said the project was misrepresented by a Media publication as a mere ‘solar-powered streetlight project in nine universities across the country valued at N10 billion,’ while purportedly reporting the proceedings of the 2018 Budget Defence Meeting of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy attended by the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi.
At the hearing which held 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 ‘play round’ with.
In the said hearing, 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.
However,the Ministry, in the statement, said the project is far from being a “streetlight” project” and the attempt to belittle its impact is outrightly unpatriotic.
The statement reads in part:
“Far from being a “streetlight” 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.
“In 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.
“Although 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.
“The 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.
“In 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,” it added.