This Week

Afe Babalola canvasses need for Ekiti airport

The founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University in Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, has urged the Federal Government to revisit the airport project it planned to establish in Ekiti State.

Babalola, who spoke at the weekend at ABUAD’s fifth convocation, regretted the state of the federal road to the institution.

The eminent lawyer has been repairing the road in the last eight years.

He regretted that the Ekiti airport project had been stalled by politics while other states, whose similar projects were approved, had either made theirs operational or got them to various stages of completion.

Twenty-one-year old Ahwin Kevin Akporode, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was the best graduating student with a Cumulative Gross point Average (CGPA) of 5 points among 869 graduates.

An American philanthropist and President of Project CURE, a humanitarian organisation, Dr. Williams Douglas Jackson, as well as a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, were conferred with honorary doctorate degrees.

While Jackson got an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree, Okebukola got honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Making a case for the airport, Babalola said: “I apologise for the bad roads, which you had to go through to get to ABUAD. As a matter of fact, the federal road from the town to this place is so bad that the university has been responsible for its repairs and maintenance for the last eight years.

“Yet, our university is the only one that can boast of having students from all 36 states. Thank you for your perseverance.

“It is for this reason we have been pleading with the Federal Government to revisit the airport, which was approved for this state with Bayelsa, Delta and Gombe in 2007.

“Whereas the other three states have completed their airports, that of Ekiti State was politically aborted because of the then Governor Kayode Fayemi, who said the airport was not his priority even though the Federal Government had allocated N680 million for its take-off.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I plead with all of you today to please plead with the Federal Government to revisit the airport project.”

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, urged the Federal Government to set up a special fund to cater for private universities.

He said: “With what Chief Babalola has done in this university, nothing is too big for the Federal Government to do for a private university of this stature.

“This university is an exemplar in learning and character. It is moulding Nigeria’s future leaders in the best fashion. I believe it won’t be out of place for the Federal Government to give special intervention funds to private universities.”

Ahwin attributed his feat to ideals he imbibed from his parents and Babalola.

He said: “I owe this achievement to my parents. My father’s strict military background and my mother’s guide as a teacher helped me a lot.

“When I got to ABUAD, I also applied the aphorism of our founder, which is: industry, determination, learning and character. All these helped me a lot.”