Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said the commercial agriculture programme of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), will boost agribusiness in Ekiti State and Nigeria in general.
The continental financial institution also commended the 400-bed, multisystem Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital for giving hope to the country that the trend of medical tourism abroad will reduce, considering the equipment and quality of medical personnel available in the modern health facility.
AfDB Senior Director, Nigeria Department, Mr Ebrima Faal, spoke at ABUAD on Saturday during a courtesy visit to the university’s founder, Chief Afe Babalola.
The bank’s President, Dr Akinwumi. Adesina, had during a visit to the university in 2017, agreed to the university’s request for the granting of $40 million loan for more infrastructure development in the university.
Faal said that the multi sectoral farm and multi system hospital investments of ABUAD and experts in diverse fields in the university will help in the smooth take off of the knowledge hub being proposed by Governor Kayode Fayemi in the state.
“We are meeting the state government on the creation of a knowledge hub and how we can support transportation, agriculture and agro based processing industries in Ekiti,” Faal said.
“ABUAD has done exceedingly well in the area of agriculture. When you talk of a better agro based zone that can boost economy, ABUAD is laying a good foundation.
“With your multifceted investments and exploits in academics, you are not only a leading university in Africa, but ABUAD is now the anchor of development in Ekiti .The institution is key to the Ekiti and southwest economy,” he said.
“AfDB is proud of ABUAD’s achievements. One would wonder how a university that was established nine years ago could dominate virtually every sector in Nigeria. The feat that you have achieved makes it much more easier for us to do business with you.”
Commending the bank for its strong development focus on the African continent, Babalola said the AfDB fund given to the university was judiciously spent to equip the hospital t world class status.
Babalola, however, regretted that the university ought to have begun work on the proposed Industrial Park, comprising 121 units of industries, but for a court action filed by the former owner of the land where the investment was to take off.
“When we conceptualised to build this hospital, we came to you for funding . But when the money didn’t come in time, we sourced for money elsewhere to begin the physical structures. When you eventually released your fund, we found it useful. We used it to purchase state of the art equipment that are not available in any hospital here,” Babalola said.
The founder mentioned that that lack of a airport facility in Ekiti is makes the state not easily accessible to investors, thereby, affecting the institution.
“Try and go round our university and see what we have done with your money. We used the money to equip the 400 bed multi system hospital. Here, we gave quality a priority. In fact, we are the first to begin mechatronics in Africa.
“Let me also reemphasise that for you to do business with us or Ekiti government, you need access.
“The road linking Lagos with Lokoja was constructed by Royal Niger Company before I was born and has not been improved upon and that is why we need an airport in this state.”
He said the coast is now clear for the commencement of work on the Industrial Park that will be located on 700 acres of land, since the court had dismissed the suit challenging the allocation of the government’s plot to ABUAD.
Knowing the centrality of electricity to any industry, Babalola stated that the university has sponsored two Independent Power Projects (IPP) to provide reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply to the ABUAD Industrial Park and other facilities.