Despite Nigeria’s oil wealth, the country has been wallowing in economic downturn culminating in harrowing recession and colossal loss of jobs among the populace, all because of dearth of industries, while most of the existing industries are either moribund or unviable.
This development has made Aare Afe Babalola to take up the challenge as he has done in the education sector through the establishment of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) which has remained the fastest growing private university in Africa.
This time around, the founder has approached the Africa, Development Bank (AfDB) to assist in making his intention a reality and in partnership with the Bank, Afe has flagged off 121 units industrial park in ABUAD to drive industrial development in Ekiti and environs.
The founder of ABUAD and the President of the AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the new initiative will help in generating revenues and pioneer industrial revolution in the country.
Adesina disclosed that the park was part of the projects that will be jointly financed by the two institutions out of the AfDB’s $40m loan to ABUAD, which was granted in 2017.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, in his speech at the foundation laying ceremony, warned that the country is sitting on a keg of gun powder over the palpable failure to address poor industrial development in Nigeria.
Oba Ogunwusi said that the high level of youth unemployment and underutilization of the abundant human resources in the country have been affecting economy and hindering the nation from actualizing growth in all facets.
Speaking at the official flagging off of the park in ABUAD, Oba Ogunwusi pointed out that it was dangerous for Nigeria ‘s future to remain a consumer nation without commensurate manufacturing moves to take care of the system.
The monarch declared: “Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder by the way our population was growing very fast . We are producing graduates yearly without opportunities for jobs, this is dangerous.
“That is why I commend the ABUAD’s founder, Chief Babalola on this initiative. Virtually all Nigerians now patronize foreign goods including clothing materials and food we eat. As we are seated here, if we examine ourselves closely, we will realize that over 80 per cent of us had either eaten foreign foods this morning or presently wearing foreign clothes.
“We don’t produce as we consume. It is high time we started using home made goods and encourage our youth to believe in our country.We have no reason not to develop industrially in Nigeria. We have the labour in abundance, both skilled and unskilled but we have failed to realize that a nation can only grow when it takes care of its consumption , production and investment, where Nigeria has failed”.
An obviously elated Aare Afe Babalola said his vision and mission for ABUAD, his 21st Century University which commenced Academic works on January 4th, 2010 but now has more than 8000 students would not have been fully accomplished without the ultramodern 400-bed Multi System Hospital which was commissioned on 20th October 2017 and the ABUAD Industrial Park whose sod was turned.
Director of Technological Development in ABUAD and the man saddled with management of the project, Prof. Adeyemi Adegbemisipo said the Industrial Park would address the missing link in terms of skill acquisition in Nigeria’s educational system.
Corporate Affairs Manager of ABUAD, Mr. Tunde Olofintila said the Industrial Research Park is designed to translate into viable products the research efforts of the university through the establishment of various industries in a dedicated park with provision for all necessary infrastructural facilities such as energy, staff housing and security amongst others.
Olofintila added that the park will take off with a 5.67 Megawatts of Gas turbine-driven Power Plant which will be provided by ABUAD Plant Limited, a joint venture between ABUAD and CADMIUM.
Nigerians are anxiously waiting for the seed of the industrial revolution which has been planted at ABUAD, to blossom and spread to other parts of the country.
By Gbenga Sodeinde, Ado Ekiti