Africa’s foremost businessman and Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has made another critical intervention in the education sector when he donated fully equipped 2,160 bed space hostel complex to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria at the weekend.
The students’ halls of residence comprising 10 blocks of 360 rooms built at the sum of N1.2 billion came after similar gestures to Bayero University, Kano and University of Ibadan, where the business mogul donated multi-billion naira business school complexes respectively as part of his contribution to the education development in the country.
The new students’ hall of residence was inaugurated as part of activities marking the 41st convocation ceremony of the university, during which the university reciprocated the act of philanthropy by conferring on him and the renowned labour leader, Hassan Sumonu, honorary Doctorate Degree. Also 15,787 graduating students were awarded various degrees.
In his remarks, Dangote explained that he was moved to build the structure having realised that the student population at the universities have recorded significant increase without a corresponding growth in terms of infrastructure. He regretted that the situation has remained a subsisting and growing major challenge as Nigerian public universities continue to grapple with underfunding.
“Thus, I will like to use this opportunity to enjoin the federal government to consider allocating special funds to the universities to enable them to improve on research and upgrade their infrastructure. Such special intervention has become imperative given the perennial funding challenges facing our universities,” he stated.
Dangote stated that the federal government alone cannot shoulder the entire burden of funding tertiary education due to competing needs of other sectors that also demand priority attention. This he said is where Public Private Partnership (PPP) can and should come in to fill the gap.
He enjoined the private sector to adopt a new approach towards supporting the federal government in tackling the funding deficit in higher institutions.
“I strongly believe the private sector must go beyond just the payment of the two per cent education levy and be ready to join hands with the state and federal governments in expanded funding for tertiary education in Nigeria. This will ensure that our institutions of higher learning are positioned to produce graduates who can transform this nation.
“If there are two things that I am passionate about, they are education and entrepreneurship. I believe they go hand in hand. Some years ago, as Chairman of the National Committee on Job Creation, my committee strived to fashion out strategies for integrating entrepreneurship into our national educational curriculum, in line with what obtains in the western world.”
While expressing his gratitude on the award conferred on him, Dangote described ABU as “an institution famed for its incredibly thorough academic tradition, the quality of faculty, and the enriching experiences of life within its walls. Today, the university has lived to its billing as a melting pot for ideologies by honouring a renowned socialist and champion of employees’ rights, Sunmonu and myself, for being a leading capitalist and investor in employment generating enterprises.”
Dangote added: “It is also with a deep sense of fulfilment that today’s occasion is also being used for the inauguration of 10 blocks of student hostels which consists of 360 fully equipped rooms with capacity for housing 2,160 students, built at a cost of N1.2 billion donated by the Aliko Dangote Foundation to Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria.
While commending him, Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State, who officially opened the hostel, said Dangote’s philanthropic spirit should be emulated by others who have been blessed by God.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, who expressed delight at the magnitude of the structures, said the university is the largest in West Africa and described the Aliko Dangote hostel project as a big relief, saying that inadequate accommodation is one of the nightmares of the university.