By Adesina Wahab
When Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, decided to start the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, in 2009, some people thought it would just only help to add more people to the list of university professors the state has.
Ekiti is reputed to have produced the highest number of professors in the country.
However, 12 years down the lane, ABUAD has not only become the second biggest employer of labour in Ekiti State (second only to the state government), it is also the biggest tax payer to the government.
Still not relenting, the university is pioneering the setting up of an Industrial Park in the country at the initial cost of N50 billion.
This is significant for a state that is dubbed a ‘civil service state’, with almost zero industrial base.
With poor power supply been a major challenge for industries in the country, Aare Babalola had secured.a ready source of power for the Park and the university with the setting up of an Independent Power Project, IPP.
The 5 Megawatts project has taken off with the inauguration on the first phase of 2 5 megawatts, the second phase is to be added in few months’ time. To know the significance of the project, one needs to consider the words of the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, while inaugurating the project.
“This is a significant milestone in the state. The Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, only supplies the whole state with 8 Megawatts of electricity daily.
“Now, Aare Babalola is sourcing 5 Megawatts on his own, the state is also working to get an IPP to generate 5 Megawatts and that means when all is done, we would be generating 10 Megawatts, which is more than the supply from BEDC.
“Also, Baba discussed this issue of the IPP with me about five years ago, I can see why it has taken much time, as after two years of discussions with the company that will do the state’s IPP for us, we have only been able to reach agreement to go ahead with the project,” he said.
Fayemi, while emphasising the great impact the university has made and is making in the state, described it as a state within a state.
“When one considers what is on ground here, the university, the first class facilities, the teaching hospital, the ABUAD Farm, the IPP, the Industrial Park and many more, one can describe ABUAD as a state within a state.
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“I was somewhere recently and I was introduced as the governor of the state where ABUAD is located, even though I am the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum.
“Aare Afe Babalola is an uncommon gift to Ekiti State, Nigeria and the whole world. No amount of encomiums and adulation will be enough to appreciate him.
“He has promised to support the state in the Knowledge Zone we are setting up. He has also promised to build the terminal building of the airport we are working on.
“There is no Ekiti person who can afford not to support what Baba is doing for the progress of Ekiti State,” he said.
How ABUAD started
Aare Babalola, while speaking on the occasion, gave the reasons for the setting up of the university. “As you are all aware, during my tenure as the Pro-Chancellor and the Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos, my vision was to reform education in that university.
“Many of the infrastructure projects and achievements we recorded during that period have been lauded globally and they remain a reference point till date, including my being adjudged twice as the best Pro-Chancellor in Nigeria.
“These achievements and recognition spurred me to establish Afe Babalola University in 2009. Since 2009, we have vigorously pursued the rapid development of world class infrastructure that will be conducive for learning, research, agricultural education, and Enterprise development.
“Rather than just awarding certificates, our vision to produce a new generation of skilled graduates and “technopreneurs” with functional technological, entrepreneurial skills and exemplary character needed to solve several of the key challenges facing our country today.”
The Industrial Park
According to Babalola, the Industrial Park is expected to provide the much-needed research hub that would facilitate enterprise development, industry partnership, and socio-economic opportunities for Ekiti State and Nigeria as a whole.
The factories would be essential components of the ABUAD Research Park.
The Park is starting off with Herbal Product Factory, Recycling Factory, FESTO Facts Centre, MDF/HDF Wood Factory, Intravenous Infusion Production Plant, Rice Processing Factory, Yam (Poundo) Factory, Cassava Processing Factory, and Pepper Drying Factory.
The Chairman of the occasion, Oba Victor Kiladejo, the Osemawe of Ondo, praised Babalola for his foresight and doggedness.
“I have been an admirer of Aare Afe Babalola for over 40 years when I was working as a medical doctor in Ado-Ekiti. He has been a man of great courage and who has can do spirit worthy of emulation,” he said.
The National President of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, Professor Abba Waziri of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, Engineer Margaret Oguntara of COREN, Mr Emmanuel Adewumi of the African Development Bank, AfDB among others poured encomiums on Babalola for the project.
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