UNIBEN Shuts Down Indefinitely Amidst Student Protests Over Power Outages

By Jemimah Wellington, JKNMedia Reporter

THE UNIVERSITY of Benin (UNIBEN) shut down academic activities indefinitely on Thursday, responding to escalating student protests over prolonged power outages on campus.

UNIBEN’s Public Relations Officer, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire, attributed the decision to the students’ unwavering demands, which the institution’s Senate deemed unrealistic.

On Wednesday, students took to the streets, blocking the busy Benin-Ore Highway to protest weeks of power outages.

With only two weeks left until their first semester exams, the students voiced frustration over the impact of the electricity issues on their preparation.

They also demanded a reduction in transport fares by the UNIBEN shuttle service, which had recently increased.

Mounting Electricity Bill Debt

The academy experienced a blackout after the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) disconnected its power supply due to unresolved disputes over electricity billing.

The monthly bill reportedly surged from around N80 million to between N200 and N280 million, leading the university to rely on power generators and ration electricity across its campuses and hostels.

Despite the heavy rainfall on Wednesday, the protesting students remained resolute, insisting on continued demonstrations until their demands were met.

They also expressed dissatisfaction with the administration’s handling of the power issue and called for immediate solutions.

In the official notice of closure, Ehanire described the students’ demand for continuous electricity as impractical and announced the indefinite suspension of academic activities.

The institution also ordered students to vacate their hostels immediately while clarifying that non-teaching staff and those on essential duties would not be affected by the shutdown.

The protests significantly disrupted commuters on the Benin-Lagos Highway, forcing many to abandon their journeys or walk long distances.

Also, the university’s management expressed concern over the impact of BEDC’s actions, highlighting the sudden and substantial increase in electricity charges as a primary challenge.

Several students reported that load-shedding due to the reliance on generators led to significantly reduced power supply in hostels, with some receiving as little as one hour of electricity per day.

They further argued that this situation severely hindered their academic activities and preparation for exams.

The university’s administration assured it will continue to seek a resolution to the power supply issues amid addressing the students’ demands.

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