The founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, on Saturday canvassed support of development partners, governments and well-meaning Ekiti stakeholders for the realisation of the Ekiti airport project.
Babalola said the landlocked nature of the state, the appalling state of the old federal roads and the need for accessibility for sundry development needs had compelled the urgent need of an airport in the state.
The senior advocate, who spoke in Ado Ekiti while receiving a delegation of the African Development Bank, led by its Director, Nigeria Country Department, Mr Ebrima Faal, said access was necessary for the university’s growth, including its industrial park, multi-system hospital and agricultural enterprise farm.
He said, “I approached the Federal Government to approve an airport for Ekiti State which was approved by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan along with those in Gombe, Asaba and Bayelsa. Unfortunately, ours was abandoned while the other three are now in operation.
“With the facilities in ABUAD, Ekiti and ABUAD need an airport now. With all these in mind, with AfDB, Ekiti State Government and other Ekiti stakeholders as well as the generality of Nigerians, this can become a reality,” Babalola said.
The ABUAD founder, who said full operations would soon begin at the institution’s industrial park, said, “It is the Industrial Park owned by Stanford University that turned Silicon Valley to one of the richest industrial hubs in the United States. ABUAD has a 500-acre Industrial Park, which is similar to that of Stanford, which has 700 acres.
“With its 121 industries in the heart of the proposed Knowledge City, ABUAD is poised to make use of its first class mechatronics engineering to turn it to the wealthiest and most industrialised area in this part of the world.”
The AfDB Director, Faal, said ABUAD’s multi sectoral farm and multi system hospital investment and experts in diverse fields in the university would help in the smooth take-off of the knowledge hub being proposed by Governor Kayode Fayemi in the state.
He said, “We are meeting the state government on the creation of the knowledge hub and how we can support transportation, agriculture and agro-based processing industries in Ekiti. ABUAD has done exceedingly well in the area of agriculture. When you talk of better agro-based zone that can boost economy, ABUAD is laying a good foundation.
“With your multi-faceted 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 Ekiti and the South-West economy.
“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 easier for us to do business with you.”