By Peter Uzoho
Nigeria’s billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Mr. Femi Otedola has handed over the completed block A of a multi-billion-naira faculty of engineering complex to Augustine University, Ilara, Epe, Lagos State, in fulfilment of his dream to add a lasting value to the institution and its students.
Otedola, who is the Chancellor of Augustine University, handed over the edifice to the school, at the inauguration and handover ceremony held yesterday, in the presence of his mother and inspirer of the project, Lady Doja Otedola; Proprietor of the institution and Archbishop of the Metropolitan Sea of Lagos, Archbishop Adewale Martins, amongst other dignitaries.
The donor also laid the foundation stone for phase 2 of the faculty complex, which he promised would be completed in not more than two years.
The school named the engineering faculty building after Lady Doja Otedola in appreciation of her passion towards the betterment of the university and its students.
In his remark at the occasion, the serial entrepreneur said he made the commitment to donate one building of the engineering faculty to the school in March 2018, but later increased his commitment to the engineering complex to N2 billion, during his mother’s 90th birthday celebration.
Otedola said, “It is with thanksgiving to God that I express my great delight for today’s ceremony for the commissioning of the first block of the engineering complex of Augustine University. I thank God that my dream of donating the first block of faculty of engineering building has become a reality.
“On the 11th of March 2018, at the fund raising dinner organised by my sister, Dame Sena Anthony, I made the commitment to donate one building of the faculty of engineering to the university. On realising that the first building is a four-building complex, during my mother’s 90th birthday celebration last year, I increased my commitment to the engineering complex to the sum of N2 billion.
“In fulfilment of this pledge, I am extremely delighted to be also turning the sod today for the commencement of building No 2 of the engineering faculty complex.
“I hope the construction period for this building will not be more than two years in view of the envisaged rapid growth of the students of the university with the admission of engineering students in the school.”
He said his dream was to support Augustine University to become the number one centre of excellence in Africa for the study of various disciplines of engineering.
Otedola, who is the Chairman of Geregu Power Plc, however, thanked the proprietor of the university for naming the engineering faculty building after his mother, saying “I’m glad that she is alive to witness this historic event in view of her unflinching commitment to the university.”
The donor expressed his appreciation to the proprietor of the university for appointing him as the chancellor of the institution, promising to support the vision of the revered Cardinal Anthony Okogie, whom he said accompanied his late father, Sir Michael Otedola to meet the late Oba of Ilara in order to obtain the present site for Augustine University to commence.
Further thanking the duo of Okogie and Martins for their continuous encouragement, Otedola also expressed his gratitude to the trio of the Board Chairman of Augustine University, Sir Steve Omojiafor; the school’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Christopher Ojetunde; former Chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Sir Egbert Imomoh; Pro-Chancellor, Augustine University, Chief Gilbert Grant; and his sister, Sena, for the roles they played as his project steering committee throughout the completion of the project.
He also thanked those who worked on the construction of the project to make the day a reality.
While extolling the university, Otedola stated that, “Augustine University upholds the noble Catholic tradition of the type of higher education which does not only achieve intellectual excellence but moral and cultural excellence in preparing the students for important leadership roles in our society.
“The vision and mission of this university should be supported by all of us.”
He said he looked forward to hosting everyone physically present at the occasion to similar ceremony in two years’ time when they would cut the tape for the inauguration of block 2 of the engineering complex.
In her prayer, Otedola’s mother asked God to bless the building and grant the students of the university knowledge and understanding and make every work of their hands to prosper.
“We pray that the Lord will bless this building. All the students that will come here, will have knowledge and understanding. Everything they lay their hands upon will prosper.
“We pray that the Lord will continue to bless the Archbishop, everybody and those people that are around here, may their ways be pleasing to God,” she prayed.
In his remark, Archbishop Martins expressed the university’s gratitude to the Otedola family, particularly the donor, for contributing in adding lasting value to the school through the building donated.
He said the Otedola family has the tradition of supporting the growth of education and the education of young people, pointing out that the late patriarch of the Otedola family played a key role in acquiring the land for the Augustine University existing today.
Martins said, “And so, as we gather today, it is the grace of God that inspired our mama, Mama Otedola, to encourage the family or to encourage in particular, her son, Mr. Olufemi Otedola, to donate this building which we commissioned today.
“Of course, the whole effort to support the building of this university and this particular project, did not begin just when mama encouraged her son, but rather, many years ago when the patriarch of the family, as we have heard earlier, gave the initial push for the acquisition of the land. What we do today is simply a continuation of a family tradition that is very committed to growth in education and growth in future lives of people.
“We thank the Lord that the inspiration through my mama, found favour in her son, such that over the past four years, the whole project began with the turning of sod.
“All the different obstacles on the way were overcome. All the different challenges with inflation, with COVID, with so many other things were overcome by the tenacity of the donor as well as the university officials – the fund raising committee and those members of the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees.
“So, we are truly grateful to God Almighty that this effort to overcome all the obstacles, continued and persevered until we are here today. On behalf of the Archdiocese of Lagos, we say thank you to the Otedola family for this addition to all that have been done before now in ensuring that we have a university of our dreams.”
He stressed that the university was not only grateful to the Otedola family because of the building as a physical infrastructure, but because of the value that lies behind it, which is education of the young and commitment to the growth and development of the country.
On behalf of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Martins pledged that the school’s authorities shall ensure that the vision behind the foundation of the institution would continue to be realised in all decisions and actions they take.