WHILE Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, still continues in its strategic plans to return academic stability and social peace on campus, the management, under the leadership of Professor Michael Faborode, has not relented in its efforts to look inward for more funds to complement federal government subvention to the institution.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Faborode highlighted some of the business outfits the university has been able to resuscitate to profitability level, courtesy of the entire staff of the university.
Some of the ventures include: Conference Centre and Guest House Limited, OAU Bookshop Ltd.; OAU Press Ltd, OAU Petrol Ltd; University Consultancy Services Ltd” University Transport System Ltd, OAU Reforestation Project, and so on.
In a chat with Education Tribune recently, Professor Faborode stated that all the OAU ventures were now corporate entities, endowed with experienced managers and ultra modern working facilities to provide quality tangible and intangible services at commercial level to the nation.
His words: “It is common knowledge that university system in Nigeria is facing a lot of challenges, especially on funding, and part of our efforts to address the issue in the university is to look for how we could resuscitate all the collapsing ventures in the university. So, after series of deliberations over the issue by the council, it was resolved to consult business experts from the industrial sector to give us what could be done to re-engineer the ventures. This development informed the consolidation of our ventures which gave birth to OAU Investment Company.
“The first implication is that, it has streamlined the administration system, reduced overhead cost and brought about efficiency.
“The story of each of the ventures is very interesting. For instance, the bookshop, one will expect the bookshop to stock the books that every student from primary school to postgraduate level, would need, and there must be a link between the bookshop and the University Press to produce and publish books on behalf of the lecturers for students.
“Before now, our press could not boast of any printing equipment to produce even exercise books for our students not to talk of staff publication, and other printing works. But now our bookshop and the press have been revived with capacity to serve the campus and the society at large.
“In those days, OAU Consultancy Limited and our Geological work service was the talk of town and were second to none in the country. The centre did a lot of consultancy works in Niger Delta area and in Ondo State. In the environmental study area, our contributions in Niger Delta in survey was very significant.
“Now, I make bold to say that the renewed OAU ventures have been yielding reasonable profits and dividend for the university.
“It will interest you that the university has not injected much funds, to revive the ventures, we only made use of the residual funds and assets for their take off. And now that each of the venture is stabilising, efforts will be made to approach banks for loan facilities for expansion.
“In this regard, the university is creating an enabling business environment for every one of our business outfits to compete favourably with other allied companies in the country. “
Speaking about the proposed bottled water project in the university, he said; “This is another interesting project going on in the university. The idea emanated from a philanthropist, an alumnus who wants to support the university in its fund raising campaign through investment.
“This university has a lot of goodwill within and outside the country it has not explored.
“So, as part of our efforts to get in touch with the university alumni, we have set up a body known as OAU Advancement Office, saddled with the responsibility to link the university with the society with the hope of improving the fortunes of the institution, in terms of fund raising, or inviting well meaning Nigerians within the country and in diaspora, to invest in the universality developmental programmes.
“Mr. Ademola. Aladekomo , an alumnus of the university is the brain behind the bottled water project. He has been part of the generation that is willing to support the development of the university.
He is constructing a standard bottled water company for the university, and he has volunteered to put up the building, equip it with all the necessary machines to produce high quality battled water and run it for three months before handling it over to the university after training the university staff to manage it.
“By the special grace of God, the new university bottled water will be inaugurated during the convocation. This proposed bottled water will pose a challenge to other bottled water companies in the country, in terms of quality control assurance, as we have the personnel and laboratory facilities to run high quality bottled water venture,”
Talking about the university’s economic and social responsibilities to the society, he said: “ A university cannot exist as an island. Gone are the days when university was an isolated institution . Rather, a university must exist to make impact on its immediate environment, nationally and globally. A university must show example of good governance and good conduct, whatever a university does should be exemplary to lead the society.
“Moreover, we are building town and gown relationship. There must be a cordial relationship between the university and the public. We have just established a committee to perfect it.
“One other venture that the public will benefit from us is our reforestation project. The world is now coming to the realisation of climate change and global warming.
You may not believe that our Institute of Environmental Studies was established in 1982, when the world was not talking about climatic change and environment impact. This means that the founding fathers of OAU had looked beyond their time about climatic change tendency.
“Environmental equilibrium is very important, as such preservation of our environment is a serious issue that we must not hold with levity in this country. Obafemi Awolowo University has embraced reforestation from the word go, by planting nurseries and trees. You will see that OAU is turning out to be a leading green university in Nigeria.
“Reforestation programme is the solution to the climatic change and desert encroachment in the north and Obafemi Awolowo University can be of help to these problems.
“In this regard, our deforestation programme was set up to serve the country, and we are producing trees and nurseries to sell to as many states as possible in the country. We have vast plantation of trees and such as palm tree, electric poles etc. at a commercial level.
“We have about 11,700 hectares of land, and we are exploring them to good use. We are raising some of the plants that have the tendency go into extinction to preserve them.
“Moreover, we are exploring solar energy and also we have the potential to generate hydropower electricity for the campus and even supply our adjoining communities.