- December 29, 2014
- Posted by: itmanager
- Category: Speeches
SHORT ADDRESS DELIVERED BY CHIEF AFE BABALOLA, OFR, SAN AT THE OFFICIAL TURNING OF THE SOD OF THE AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO-EKITI ON WEDNESDAY THE 1ST DAY OF OCTOBER, 2008 AT THE SITE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Today, Wednesday the 1st day of October, 2008, history is being made here in Ado-Ekiti. Today, Ekiti State clocks twelve years since its creation in 1996.
Today, the first sod of the AfeBabalola University, Ado-Ekiti is being turned by His Excellency, Engr. Segun Oni, the Executive Governor of Ekiti State.
Let me thank those who took time to visit this place before now and took time to pray for the success of this venture. Some of them are:
- Rev Father Ogidan, the Vicar-in-Charge of the Catholic Church in Ado-Ekiti
- Arch Bishop Abe of the Anglican Communion
- Pastor S.K. Abiara from Agbala-Itura, Ibadan
- The Chief Imam of Ado-Ekiti
- The E11 led by BabafemiOjudu, Esq from Lagos
- The Dynamic Club
- EgbeOdo-Ado Improvement Union
- High Chiefs and Ewi’s Chiefs
- Numerous friends and well wishers
I am delighted and eternally grateful for your special interest in this project and your special prayers for its success. Words can not be enough to express my gratitude.
WHY AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY
Many people have asked me and my lawyers at different times places why I am involved in this type of project again. “Just why is Chief Afe Babalola establishing a university and at this time in his life? Does he know the cost of establishing a university? Where is the money coming from?
Interestingly enough, some of these people concerned are herein present.
Ladies and gentlemen, time will not permit me to answer all the questions as fully as I would have loved to do. But permit me to first give two or three reasons why I have embarked on this gigantic project.
But for education, I would not be where I am today. Just as I stated in my autobiography – “Impossibility Made Possible” launched on 11th July, 2008 at Ibadan (many of your were there including our amiable Governor – I still thank you all), I did not want to go to school. I preferred and enjoyed the simple and happy life of the farm. I wanted to succeed my father as a big time farmer. Definitely going to school was not part of my ambition.
However, education has transformed me. But for education, most of you would not have known me. My clients all over the world would not have heard of me. I know and appreciate the value of education hence my desire to extend same to my people.
Furthermore, my joy surely does not lie in unbridled acquisition of wealth and keeping same for the benefit of myself and my immediate family. No. I believe that full happiness is only achieved when one makes others happy. That is my philosophy in life and I have no apology for it.
This explains why I struggled so much in the 80s and championed the establishment of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti – just opposite us over there. The polytechnic turned out to be the harbinger of the present University of Ado-Ekiti. Bu establishing a university in Ado-Ekiti, I would be able to bring greater happiness to my people than I have done hitherto.
After my sojourn at the University of Lagos as the Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council (during which UNILAG became the best university and I was declared the best Pro Chancellor of Nigerian Universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2005 and 2006. One thing I know is that our education requires a total revolution. This becomes necessary against the backdrop of so many ills bedeviling our universities like – incessant strike actions, monumental indiscipline and cultism to mention just a few. No wonder the general belief that “A kiisiseobalaagun” (there is no point in working hard as a government employee) finds easy expression in the general attitude of our people – even at the university level of government’s work.
The greatest universities in the world like Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford to mention just a few were established by private bodies or initiatives. They succeeded because they had focus, objectives, determination and above all, discipline was strictly enforced. In other words, the dreams of the founders were realized. We want to do the same thing.
SOURCE OF MY MONEY
It will cost over N25 Billion to establish a world class university. The fears of those who wondered where I would get such a huge amount of money is justified. But those who followed my achievements in University of Lagos would recall that my clients, well-wishers and friends donated buildings, equipments, professorial chairs and endowments worth billions of Naira. You would agree that I can replicate it here in Ado-Ekiti again.
To start with I intend to sell some of my properties and shares and mortgage others in order to take off and establish a University properly so called.
LOCATION OF THE UNIVERSITY
When the issue of the establishment of the University cropped up, many options came to the fore.
Lagos – because of its attractiveness in terms of availability of work force, centre of commerce etc.
Ibadan – my base where some people had already given free land for the project.
Ado-Ekiti – my home towm
But I chose my hometown even in spite of the obvious disadvantages.
HIS EXCELLENCY – GOVERNOR ONI
His Excellency, Engr. Segun Oni, the Executive Governor of Ekiti State is a good man by any standard. A well educated man and a great lover of education, he threw his full weight behind the development of education within his short tenure to the extent that not less than two universities (including this one) have come into existence – all in a spate of one year!
His Excellency had earlier invited people from far and near who wanted to establish universities to come to Ekiti State with the assurance of free land.
For this project, he has never for once hidden his admiration for the project. Sir, I am very grateful. May the good Lord continue to be with you. Amen. I also register my gratitude to members of his cabinet and his able lieutenants for their full cooperation.
I must thank specially the Honourable Commissioner for Lands and Housing and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands for their maximum cooperation. Same goes for Surveyors etc.
In line with its motto and core values of Industry, Service and Integrity, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti is billed to be a model indeed. It will be a university to beat in Nigeria. It will be a world class university.
We have jettisoned the idea of starting with rented apartments – the usual practice. Rather we settled for this permanent site once and for all. I just don’t believe in starting this type of project in rented buildings. Sometimes the way a project is begun ultimately affects its fortunes – either for good or bad.
I am of the opinion that if the Universities of Ibadan, Lagos, Ife, Ahmadu Bello University had relied heavily on rented apartments, perhaps they might not attain the heights they have accomplished today.
To the glory of God Almighty, with intensive work on this site in the last six weeks, the university is about taking shape with identifiable roads, locations of classrooms, hostels, cafeteria etc.
The university will operate collegiate system. And we are starting with two Colleges. Each of the College buildings will have sixteen wings, big enough facilities to accommodate as many departments as possible.
There shall be two big hostels to start with – each with a capacity to accommodate 1,200 students and a cafeteria big enough to accommodate 500 students at a time.
The School, I must state, shall be fully residential.
The purpose of establishing this institution is clearly not pecuniary. No. If accumulation of wealth had been my goal, surely, I know the appropriate direction of serious investment I could have turned to. Indeed, universities all over the world are not profitable ventures. They are charitable establishments.
There shall be code of conduct for both the lecturers and the students. Discipline will not be compromised at all. This is the only way to avoid the vices that have for long bedeviled our tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Contract of employment shall be ppersonalised to avoid strikes. There shall be no room for cultism or strike. Discipline including dress code shall be enforced strictly.
In a nutshell, the core values of the university are:
- Excellence and Scholarship in academic and sports
- Equal opportunity for the children of the rich and poor
- Social relevance
- Effective Code of Ethics for lecturers, staff and students to mention just a few.
May I seize this opportunity to solicit for the maximum cooperation of our people. We are not asking for donations now. Many people have even made pledges – especially on July 11th 2008 at Ibadan. We are determined to first put structures on ground and let everyone know that we mean business.
After obtaining our license, the commissioning proper will take place. By that time, contributions of any kind will be welcome.
Permit to appeal to everyone herein present (and others unavoidably absent) to start thinking of what they would donate. It could be buildings, equipments etc. And your names shall be immortalized even on the respective buildings donated.
We are determined to make this institution a mini-Harvard in Nigeria. As you are aware Harvard has endowment of over $5.2Billion Dollars in its account.
By the special grace of God, the buildings we are erecting shall be second to none.
I want to use this medium to appeal to all Ekitis regardless of political affiliations to let us unite. Those of us who fought for the creation of the State did so under an atmosphere of unity. We put corporate interest above individual or politically based interest hence Ekiti State is a reality today. It is the only way to develop. We cannot afford anything less.
This is not a speech-making day. I will therefore not take your time unnecessarily.
Finally, I want to thank Prof. Israel Orubuloye who has been wonderful in his commitment to the success of this project.
Once more, I thank you all for honouring me.
God will honour you too.
“A dele bare, Arinakore, A koyaibi”
God bless you all.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR,CON,SAN,LL.D