The Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri has advocated the use of Consultancy Services being offered by Nigerian Universities in order to build capacities and, conserve the nation’s fast depleting foreign reserve for the development of electricity sector. He stated this at a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony between the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and the University of Benin [Uniben] for the monitoring of construction works on the Azura Power Project located in Benin, Edo State. Shehuri expressed the view that the MOU and the participation by the University of Benin will ensure that government utilizes the know-how of the academic institution, as well as, provide an avenue of knowledge transfer to undergraduate and post graduate students, in line with the Federal Government’s push for maximizing opportunities available for technology transfer, enriching the education curriculum and ensuring that the required skills and manpower are available for national development. The Minister of State urged NBET to explore ways and means of replicating similar MOUs with other institutions of higher learning across the country given the positive multiplier effects to be reaped by our educational system in particular and Nigeria, in general.
Earlier, while giving a brief on the project, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, Mr. Rumundaka Wonodi said an imperative reason for the engagement of Uniben is that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance provides additional assurance to the investors in the first project financed Independent Power Plants, Azura IPP, through a Put and Call Option Agreement (PCOA) which provides a mechanism to buy-back the power plant from the investor in the event of a termination of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Wonodi stated that NBET took a critical decision to leverage on the consulting competencies of Federal Government owned tertiary institutions to assist in monitoring the various projects through the construction phase, adding that the selection of University of Benin to provide Engineering Consultancy Services for Azura Power Project is premised on their competency, as well as proximity to the project site. On his part, the Vice Chancellor, University of Benin highlighted the injection of local content component into the development and construction of green field power plants and the provision of high level manpower training for post graduate students in the areas of power plants design, construction and project management as some of the benefits to be derived from the project monitoring by the University.