The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in rebuilding and reinvigorating infrastructure in tertiary institutions across the country.
Mohammed made the call on Tuesday at the unveiling of the refurbished and equipped Lecture Theatres at the Faculty of Science at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
It was reported that the refurbishing and equipping of the lecture theatres were the initiative of a Platform Capital, a private firm.
Represented by Mr Buki Ponle, the Managing Director of our reporter, the minister said inspite of the best efforts of government, there is still a discernible infrastructure gap across the nation’s tertiary institutions, including universities.
According to the minister, many structures and facilities on campuses are today in decay due to neglect over the years.
“This much, President Muhammadu Buhari, stressed at the 33rd Convocation Ceremony of the University of Calabar.
“The president advised Nigerian universities to find creative ways of exploiting the existing Public-Private Partnership policy to meaningfully bridge the infrastructure gaps existing on their campuses.
“Platform Capital has singled itself out for commendation by this initiative of refurbishing, renovating, refitting and equipping AJOSE, BOOA and BOOB Lecture Theatres as well as White House, Faculty of Science,” he said.
The minister described the refurbishing of the lecture theatres by the organisation at a time of grave economic challenge as a heartening development between a university community and a good corporate citizen.
He commended the management and staff of Platform Capital for embarking on the project and seeing it through to completion for the overall benefit of the university community.
“It is especially heartwarming that the project was funded, redesigned, project-managed and delivered by Platform Capital.
“This is a pointer to the limitless opportunities offered by close collaboration between government and the private sector to drive growth and development across sectors and institutions in the country.
“Platform Capital is indeed truly true to its core values—–” To be our brother’s keeper, to be loyal, authentic, build capacity and knowledge,” the minister said.
Mohammed also called on other players in the private sector to drive corporate social responsibility initiatives which would impact positively on host communities.
The minister further commended the university’s Council and Management for working in unison with Platform Capital in bringing the project to fruition.
The minister, however, urged the management of the university and the students to ensure adequate and proper maintenance of the facilities.
“The story of initiating and sustaining public infrastructure in the country over the years has been an unedifying one with projects built with humongous sums left to rot away due to lack of maintenance.
“We must change this unhappy narrative and one way to do this is for beneficiaries to take ownership of such projects.
“My charge, therefore, to members of the Obafemi Awolowo University community, particularly the students, is to take ownership of these structures and ensure they do not return to the decrepit state they were before the intervention by Platform Capital,” he said.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, commended the Chairman of Platform Capital, Dr Akintoye Akindele, for the initiative.
“I do not know how to thank Dr Akindele for all he has done or what he is going to do for his alma mater, but it is certain that his love and labour shall not be in vain,” he said.
Ogunbodede also urged stakeholders in the education sector to emulate Akindele by supporting the university in any way they deem fit.
“I humbly appeal to the government at all tiers to invest more funds in the education sector so that other aspects of our socioeconomic life would be rejuvenated,” he said.
Also speaking, Akindele said the initiative of refurbishing the lecture theatres was borne out of his desire to give back to the society.
Akindele, who is an alumnus of the university, said that majority of those in his set in the university benefitted from free education and must now give back to the society.
“To him who much is given, much is expected. Majority of us benefitted from free education and now is the time for us to give back.
“I am glad to have the privilege of giving back to the society,” he said.
The Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, on his part, commended the management of Platform Capital for renovating the lecture theatres.
Abolarin also called on other private organisations to support government in rebuilding infrastructure in tertiary institutions across the country.
Also speaking, the President of Great Ife Alumni, Mr Wale Olaleye, who commended Akindele for being passionate about the development of the institution, urged other stakeholders in the education sector to emulate the good gesture.
Olaleye said that the efforts of the university management and the government could not be over-emphasised in uplifting the state of university across the country.
He said the association would continue to pay its “debt” in uplifting infrastructure in the university.