The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Dr Wale Babalakin, has called on individuals and corporate bodies to invest in tourism to boost the nation’s economy.
Babalakin made this call at the newly constructed 4000-seater Bola Babalakin Auditorium Gbongan in Osun State, where the 2018 Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Policy Meeting of Tertiary Institutions was held.
He said his decision to put up the resort and the auditorium was motivated by a desire to provide an environment conducive to serious intellectual works.
“It is our fervent believe that Nigeria can only achieve its full potential when the aggregate of our intellectual capacity is developed and harnessed appropriately.
“We cannot achieve our full potential if we do not reward competence and hard work and simultaneously punish bad behaviour,” the Pro-Chancellor said.
He appealed to wealthy Nigerians to invest in rural communities, just as he encouraged notable institutions to take advantage of the initiative which many have described as one of the most elaborate and comfortable auditorium, suitable for such large-scale intellectual gathering.
Asked why he did not put such an edifice in major cities, Babalakin said “I can imagine the barrage of questions that Nigerians must have posed to JAMB officials when it informed them that its Annual Summit was going to hold in Gbongan.
“I heard that some participants exclaimed saying Gbo….. what?’
“But by the end of the programme, all and sundry would have found out that hosting this summit in Gbongan was the most appropriate decision.
“For the past three days, the top executives of JAMB have been residing in the residential wing of this Resort.
“They have been harassing me to make a statement about the project. I refused to say a word.”
Babalakin said he gave out the hall to JAMB free of charge, adding that no one ever visited the resort without making positive confessions.
He said that the best way to develop infrastructures in Nigeria was for the government to support and encourage those who have the vision to create projects and see them to completion.
Commenting on the cancellation of Lagos-Ibadan express road project by the last administration, he said supporting individuals to create or develop projects was a far cheaper and reliable way to achieve results rather than spending scarce government resources on projects.
“Government has no business in doing business but to create enabling environment for citizens with great vision and impetus to boost the economy.
“If the ill-advised move that led President Jonathan led-government to interfere with the Lagos–Ibadan road project had not happened, the road would have been completed in 2014.
“It would have been an eight-lane highway with seven overhead bridges and thought-out facilities at a cost not exceeding N112 billion.
“Today we are faced with an unending project with indeterminable costs and maximum inconvenience to road users.
“We must collectively put an end to this way of doing business,” he said.
Babalakin lauded the effort of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State who, despite meagre resources, embarked on various projects that impact on the lives of citizens, particularly, the Trumpet (Chief Bisi Akande) Bridge that coincidentally landed at the entrance of the auditorium.
He also thanked the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and the JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, for their determination to improve the nation’s education sector.
From Adeyinka Aremu, Osogbo