During the inauguration of an Independent Power Project (IPP) and foundation laying of eight projects at the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), its founder, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), reiterated his vision about building an institution of first choice and global pride in the nearest future, Deputy Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU reports.
Thirteen years ago, the site of the university was a big forest inhabited by animals. Today, it has become a centre of teaching, research and development, and a pride to Ekitiland.
Since its inception, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Ekiti State, has been growing in leaps and bounds. Many university administrators believe that it has become a reference point and role model to many private tertiary institutions.
The reasons are not far-fetched. Its founder, Afe Babalola(SAN), Aare of Ado-Ekiti, is a stickler for excellence.Thus, apart from grooming many youths on the twin bases of character and learning, the university has also made a difference through its direct contributions to the socio-economic development of the country.
However, ABUAD may not be for the poor or indigent. Like most private schools, it is expensive. Yet, it is evident that the eminent lawyer is not running the school for profit-making.The learning environment and facilities justify the tuition fees.
The institution’s 400-bed multi-system teaching hospital is the talk of the town. It is among the best in Africa. Also, ABUAAD Farm is contributing it quota to food security. Yet, the most significant feature of the university, as disclosed by its authority, is that ABUAAD is “going industrial,” through its classic emphasis on entrepreneurship training and a shift from book learning to practical skill acquisition across technical disciplines.
All these feats are in consonance with the vision of its founder, who has always reiterated his resolve to build a world class institution.
On Monday, the university made history, following the launch of a multi-billion industrial park with an Independent Power Project(IPP) on the campus. The project will generate 2.5 megawatts, according to Babalola, who described it as the first in any private university in the country.
The Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, described the project as a no mean accomplishment. She said it would offer the prospect of uninterrupted electricity supply for research, learning and scientific advancement at the institution.
Power outage often affect teaching and learning in many public universities where students also suffer from shortage of educational infrastructure.
Olarinde said ABUAD decided to end the nightmare by taking the bull by the horn. “ABUAD decided to venture into this multi-billion naira venture because Nigeria is experiencing the worst phase in power generation and distribution.These have in turn affected the quantum of power available to the citizenry, including the university,” she explained.
The university don added: “The most agonising part of it all is that despite the fact that power is not available, there is an unjustifiable increase in tariff.”
The vice chancellor said that as a solution-oriented university, ABUAD cannot afford to be in darkness, stressing thata the institution cannot sit idly and watch research and innovation being stifled by epileptic and unreliable supply of electricity.
Apart from the inauguration of the park and that of the IPP, the foundation of eight other projects were laid at the mega ceremonies on the campus chaired by the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Victor Koladejo.
Dignitaries at the Alfa Belford Hall, ABUAD, were Governor Kayode Fayemi, former Governor Segun Oni, COREN President Mrs Magaret Oguntade, NCCIMA chief Hajia Saratu Ilyta Aliu, President of Medical and Dental Association of Nigeria Prof Abba Waziri, former Ekiti State University Vice Chancellor Prof. Israel Orubuloye, Alaaye of Efon Kingdom Oba Emmanuel Aladejare, Owa Ajero of Ijero, Oba Adewole, Mrs Bukola Adeniran, wife of the pro-chancellor, former commissioner Femi Ige, scholars, other monarchs, friends of the institution and students.
The foundation of the Herbal Drug Production Factory, Intravenous Fluid Manufacturing Factory, Rice Processing Factory, Poundo Yam Factory, Cassava Factory, Pepper Drying and Processing Factory, Bottle Recycling Factory, FESTO Facts Centre and MDF/HDF Wood Processing Factory.
The foundation of the Intravenous Fluid Manufacturing Factory was laid by Prof. Abba Waziri of the Medical and Dental Association of Nigeria. Laying the foundation of Poundo Yam Factory, the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti, Oba Adewole, hailed Babalola’s vision. “We can have pounded yam all year round,” he said.
The Alaaye of Efon Kingdom, Oba Emmanuel Aladejare, laid the foundation of the Pepper Drying and Processing Factory. Laying that of Bottle Recycling Factory, Ekiti State Governor Fayemi said Babalola’s ideas were worthy of commendation.
The Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a former Minister of Education, who laid the foundation of the cassava factory, donated his library to the university.
To the delight of the university community, one of its products, multi-award winning Miss Mary Adeola Adeyemo, an Oxford-bound ABUAD first class Law graduate, who was offered admission for a PhD programme in Oxford University, England, was presented to the audience.
offered admission for a PhD programme in Oxford University, England, was presented to the audience.
Adeyemo was the cynosure of all eyes. She was accompanied by her mother. Smiles lit the faces of both mother and daughter as eminent persons in the hall offered their best wishes to the egg head.
Hailing the young lawyer and scholar, Olarinde, who read her citation and her letter of admission from Oxford University, described her as a great ambassador of the school and a role model for her generation.
For her feats, ABUAD gave her a 124,000 dollars (N84million) scholarship for her three year doctoral programme.
Babalola said:”We have listened to her citation as read by the vice chancellor. Miss Adeyemo had won 20 awards. Her admission to Oxford for PhD without doing LLM is her 21st award.”
Adeyemo thanked ABUAD and Oxford for the honour and opportunity, promising not to let the institutions down.
She lamented the death of her elder brother, who would have accompanied her, but for the tragedy. To immortalise him, she told reporters that she had instituted an award for the best law student in a particular course.
For Aare Babalola, it was also a day of honour. He received the “NACCIMA at 60″ and ‘Nigeria at 60″ Excellence Award in the Practice of Law and Outstanding Contributions to Education in Nigeria.”
Explaining his choice for the honour, Hajia Aliu said Babalola is an exemplary employer, who has never relented in creating more job opportunities for youths.
To Mrs. Aliu, ABUAD has been bridging the gap between the town and gown, impacting on its immediate environment and surroundings.
The audience viewed the documentary on the technological innovations and feats of the university. These innovations include rice designer, chicken plucker, oil preser, oil rig!, bio-digester, maize shelter, addictive printer, waste picking machine and meat mincer.
Others include electric garri fryer, inspection done, maize shelling machine, plastic recycling machine, dust extractor, candle melting machine , paint mixer, wood lathe machine and smart clinic.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar, and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) who sent goodwill messages, said other men of means should emote the founder. The Sultan lauded Babalola’s vision and enjoined him to always sustain the tempo of excellence.
Akeredolu said Babalola had erected legacies at the bar and in the field of education.
Oba Kiladejo praised the legal luminary and educationist for his contributions to the law profession, development of education and other philanthropies.
He said God has endowed him with a rare energy at old age, which made him to look like an energetic youth.
The monarch also thanked Adeniran for donating his library to the institution for the advancement of teaching learning and research.
Oba Kiladejo, whose last born also attended the institution, added: “He is a finisher in the colony of starters. Whatever he starts, he finishes. He is a man of honour and excellence. He had achieved all that could be achieved in life and still decided to established a university.
“I also thank you, Aare, for setting up the teaching hospital. He is competing favourably with Ekiti State in terms of IPP. Whatever you lay your hand upon will continue to be blessed.”
Donating his library to ABUAD, Adeniran described Aare Babalola as a man of great accomplishment, whose vision is to make the institution a centre of world excellence.
The former minister also lauded the founder’s patriotism, saying that, apart from being the greatest investor in Ekiti State, he decided to establish the university in his home state.
In his speech entitled: “The value of choice,” Adeniran, a political scientist, lent his voice to the clamour for restructuring, saying that it is desirable.
He maintained that true federalism is non-negotiable in a highly heterogeneous country like Nigeria.
Fayemi showered encomions on Babalola, who he described as a rare gift to Ekiti and Nigeria.
He said Babalola is the highest private tax payer in Ekiti and a man endowed with courage and capability.
Fayemi said he was amazed by the audacity of his imagination and capacity for task accomplishment.
He added: “We have laid the foundation of nine projects today. If we calculate the cost, one could be dampened. For him, it is not about the cost of project, but the benefits. ABUAD is fast becoming a state within a state as manifested by the presence of the best hospital and IPP on campus. He has challenged those of us in government.”
Fayemi disclosed that the state is planning a 5.5 megawatss of electricity to halt the power outage, assuring that the Ekiti Free Trade Zone and the proposed airport, which are dear to Babalola, would be accomplished in his lifetime.
Noting that ABUAD has become a role model for other institutions in Ekiti and beyond, the governor, who also rejoiced with Miss Adeyemo, promised to work out a financial assistance for her doctoral studies.
Fayemi said he wished that the promising lawyer and scholar, who is from Fiditi, Oyo State, were from Ekiti State.
In his goodwill message, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), observed that Babalola had made great impact in the law profession and education, urging Nigerians to learn from his footsteps.
Hale and hearty, 93-year-old Babalola, who was accompanied by his wife, Yeye Aare Modupe, said ABUAD “is going industrial,” adding that it will continue to partner NACCIMA.
Babalola told the story of his upbringing, saying that although he stopped his education in primary six, he still became very successful in life.
He said God assisted him to turn a big forest inhabited by animals to a promising university in Nigeria.
Flaunting the achievements of the university, Babalola said:””Education is power. Nothing can give you power than education.”
Babalola recalled his exploits in university administration, recalling that he agreed to serve as the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on the ground that he would not collect salary.
He said he served meritoriously, winning the best Pro-Chancellor award twice.
Babalola recalled that students of the miracle centre at UMTE level gave a lot of problems to the university system in the country.
At 93, Babalola is not tired of adding value. He has built a legacy that will outlast him. The challenge that will face the eminent lawyer is succession. He will need to groom competent successor as chancellor who will continue to drive the vision and sustain the achievements