Academic activities at the University of Benin have been suspended indefinitely following an announcement from the school’s Public Relations Officer, Doctor Benedicta Ehanire.

Why did this happen?

On July 3, 2024, Uniben students seized the Benin -Ore highway to protest a power outage and lack of water in their hostels and campuses. The university has been struggling with power cuts, thanks to a new  200% increase in its monthly electricity bill — from 80 million to ₦200-280 million. This new energy cost came after the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) cut the university’s power supply over a ₦300 million debt, forcing the university to work with power generators.

The students say they took to the street because light now comes up for only an hour a day, compared to the 20 – 22 hours they usually got. As a result, studying without electricity has become unbearable for them.

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The university statement, announcing the closure, states that the university’s senate considered the students’ demand for 24-hour electricity and stable water supply in their hostels and the two campuses unrealistic. It instructed all students to leave the school hostels immediately. Academic and non-academic staff on primary duties are unaffected.

Power outages aren’t limited to Uniben alone. In a report by Punch, rising energy costs are crushing Nigerian universities. 

“Some of the institutions have been disconnected from the national grid owing to millions of unpaid electricity bills to DISCOS while others who are still connected are currently grappling with huge amounts of debts running into millions of naira.”

The College of Medicine, University of Lagos, is struggling with its migration to Band A, which has increased energy costs to ₦253 million. The University of Ilorin’s electricity bill jumped from ₦70 million to ₦230 million. Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) disconnected the power supply at the Aliko Dangote University of Science and Technology due to a ₦248 million unpaid debt. The University of Jos has an electricity bill debt close to ₦126 million.

For Uniben, this isn’t the first time it’d shut down over students’ protests. In 2021, the university closed for 24 hours following a protest over a ₦20,000 late registration fee.

What Nigerians are saying 

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