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FALSE: Only Two Nigerian Federal Universities Are Running On Renewable Energy, Not Seven!

Photo Credit: Kingston University 4 mins read

CLAIM: Minister of Environment, Nigeria – Mohammed Mahmood – said 7 Nigerian federal universities are running strictly on renewable energy; as reported.

FALSE: Only 2 universities and not 7 utilize sustainable power output. This is evident from the statement by the Communication’s Manager of the Rural Electrification Agency and the organization’s website.

Full Text: 

This happened at the Climate Action Summit held in New York from 21st -23rd September as reported by TheCable. The Minister of environment, Mohammed Mahmood speaking at the Climate Action Summit, said 7 Nigerian federal universities are being powered strictly by renewable energy. The minister said this while giving some insight into efforts by the Federal Government to reduce carbon emission.

…Currently, we have seven federal universities that are being powered strictly by renewable energy, and we have another 30 coming on board.”

Mr Mohammed Mahmood

The Climate Action Summit is a sub-event of the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). UNGA annually brings together all member states of the United Nations to discuss general prevalent issues. During the annual general assembly, there are breakout sessions to look at topical issues around the world.  

Succinctly, rather than mention the 7 universities, he added that 30 more universities would soon be joining the list of universities running on renewable energy.  

Energising Education Programme: Nigeria’s answer to global warming & carbon emissions.

The increase in global temperature has mostly been attributed to human activities of polluting the environment. This has greatly concerned nations and humanitarian groups. This is the reason issues on global warming and climate change are topical issues at global fora; with the just-concluded summit as a key example.

It is said that if climate change and global warming are left unchecked, it will cause adverse effects on livelihoods. This is true for a country like Nigeria- plagued with consistent gas flaring in the South, desertification in the North and nationwide dependence on fossil fuel-powered generators that increase greenhouse emissions.

This is the reason the powering of universities via renewable energy is lauded. It’s projected impact on the livelihood of the populace buttresses its importance.

ENTER THE EEP! The Energising Education Programme (EEP) is a federal government initiative. The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is the body that hosts the EEP. The mandate is to provide sustainable power to 37 federal universities and 7 teaching hospitals i.e. with renewable energy. President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 approved the EEP.

Verification:

Firstly, we contacted the Communication Manager of the Rural Electrification Agency, Mr Abubakar Ahmed. We requested from him the list of federal universities running strictly on renewable energy. 

He provided an explanation, saying:

“Under Phase 1 of the Energizing Education Programme, 7 out of 9 universities will be receiving power from a solar hybrid power plant, which has a combination of PV panels, battery storage and backup diesel generators. Under Phase 2, a further 7 will also benefit from the same type of power solution. Please note that currently, two projects under Phase 1 have been commissioned and are currently supplying power to the universities (BUK- Kano and FUNAI- Ebonyi). The others under Phase 1 are currently under construction, while the seven Projects under Phase 2 are currently at the development stage.”

Mr Abubakar Ahmed

This is different from the Minister’s statement during the Summit!

Thereafter, we contacted the Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Environment in a bid to get better clarification. He promised to get back the next day. We subsequently sent a WhatsApp message; he did not acknowledge it or respond to the enquiry.

Next, we contacted a student of Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State. Ijeoma Micheal attested to renewable energy means being the power source for the campus facilities. Dr Isyaku Umar Yarube (lecturer at Bayero University, Kano) also confirmed its campus’ utilization of solar power plant. He added that the campus- New Campus, is the institution’s biggest campus and the project powers all the school’s facilities in that campus.   

Finally, we checked their site to reconcile both statements and found out the following: The EEP has been scheduled in phases to improve efficiency. The federal government via the issuance of the first green bond funds Phase 1. Phase 1 features the development of an independent solar hybrid power plant for power generation in participating universities. It will also see the upgrade of existing power distribution infrastructure to accommodate the new power plant. Finally, this phase will also feature the establishment of a world-class training centre for all things renewable energy.

List of Universities Under Phase 1- EEP

Phase 1 brings solar hybrid power plants to 7 out of the 9 universities. The remainder are to utilize gas-fired power plants. These institutions include:

  • Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi (Solar Power Plant);
  • Bayero University, Kano (Solar Power Plant- commissioned);
  • Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue (Solar Power Plant);
  • Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun, Delta (Solar Power Plant):
  • FUNAYI. Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi (Solar Power Plant- commissioned);
  • Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra (Solar Power Plant);
  • Obafemi Awolowo University/teaching Hospital, Osun (Gas-Fired Power Plant);
  • University of Lagos (Gas-Fired Power Plant);
  • Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (Solar Power Plant).

Clearly, it is evident that the first statement from the Minister is false. He (intentionally or not) misconstrued information regarding the number of universities scheduled for Phase 1 and those already commissioned. 

Conclusion: 

Only 2 universities and not 7 utilize sustainable power output. This is evident from the statement by the Communication’s Manager of the Rural Electrification Agency. More so, information available on their site as well as the testimonies from residents in the campuses corroborate this position. Consequently, we rate this claim FALSE.    

Gbenga Samuel Salau is a graduate of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan. While in the University, he was a campus journalist reporting for the Independence Hall and Faculty of Arts Press Clubs, with the pen name SSG. As a campus journalist, he won the following awards; Independence Hall Press Best News writer; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best News Reporter/Writer; First Runner-up, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism; Association of Faculty of Arts Students’ Press Best Reporter; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Political Writer; Winner, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism, and University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Interviewer.
 He rose to be the editor-in-chief of Association of faculty of Arts Press Clubs. He joined The Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria after graduation. And as a reporter, he has covered events and attended conferences, workshops within and outside Nigeria. In 2014, he won the Promasidor Quill Award Best Report on Nutrition and DAME Business Reporting category. In the 2015 edition of the Promasidor Quill Award, he won the best Report on Nutrition and Brand Advocate Categories.
       In 2016, he was the first runner up in the NB Reporter of the Year and SERAs Award for CSR Reporting, aside winning the Print Journalist of the year award at the 2016 Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA). In 2018, he was second runner-up in the Lagos Reporting Category of DAME.     Gbenga Salau loves travelling, reading, and listening to songs with good lyrics no matter the genre.

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