Nigeria will remain perpetually poor if we fail to produce rather than consume— Afe Babalola

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Legal luminary and Elder Statesman, Aare Afe Babalola has said that Nigeria will remain perpetually poor it fails to produce rather than consume more.

Babalola made this known over the weekend in Ado-Ekiti, while performing the dual role of declaring open, the maiden edition of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) Industrial Park Trade Fair, in conjunction with the state chapter of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, (NSE), and later, while receiving the executives of the Akure Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA), who came to present to him, the Icon Award for Excellence.

Babalola warned that the country might continue in stagnation, for as long as the incurable attitude of indiscipline, poor work attitude, lack of vision and patriotism are tolerated.

He called Nigerians and its leaders to be genuinely ready and willing to change the narrative, for the country to grow while describing the industrial park as a technology hub, designed to bridge the gap between research and industry, as well as provide employment opportunities for many jobless graduates and youths.

He also expressed regrets over rising incidences of some Courts, now in the habit of fragrantly delivering contradictory judgments, on same subject matter, asking members of the NBA nationwide to urgently convey a meeting, and rise to the occasion, to put a stop to further dent and embarrassment such abnormality was daily causing the legal profession.

“It is true Nigeria today, is in the doldrums. That however does not mean we should throw patriotism and national interest into the mud. This is because to me, Nigeria can still become like USA of this world, or other great countries alike.

“But the bitter truth is that Nigeria can not suddenly become a USA with the way we do things continually and still expect different results. Nigeria is such a rich country, blessed with resources, good weather, friendly climate and money.

“Unfortunately however, aside many other obvious factors, the very point where we began to get things wrong is that Nigeria is a nation that consume more than it produces, and the bitter truth here is that, any country that does that, will remain perpetually poor.

“As a leader by example, even at my age, I abhor laziness and complacency. I do work for 18 hours daily. I do not buy food, I grow them in the farm, I do not buy pepper, tomatoes, chicken or fish, I produce them. How many Nigerians does that?

“As a result, ABUAD was conceived by me, not only as an innovative institution to change things for the better, but also as a deliberate way of giving back to the society, what I did not get, on a platter of gold.

“Even though I did not have the opportunity of going beyond conventional primary School, neither did I have opportunity of conventional, class studies of secondary or university education, I struggled on my own, out of strong determination to succeed, coupled with uncommon commitment, to get myself educated at both secondary level, and later university of London, all through correspondence studies.

“But I thank God today that in all, God has rewarded my dedication, and endowed me with something extra: the ability to work hard, to achieve desired results.

He therefore urged Nigerians to embrace hard work, honesty and faith in the country, to achieve greatness.

He expressed confidence that the country would be great again, only if leaders and the citizens can start emulating some of the principles that ABUAD had imbibed over the few years of it’s establishment.

“I make bold to say that our performance gives us the hope in this country that Nigeria can achieve what we have achieved, if we all agree to change the old ways of doing things.

“Nigeria can be greater. With hard work, the way we are doing things here, with hard work, honesty and faith, Nigeria can be better and get out of doldrums. I believe that hardship breeds determination, determination breeds faith, and faith never fails.” he said.

In his remarks, the NBA Akure, Ondo State Branch Chairman, Banjo Ayenakin, who described Babalola as a trailblazer and exceptional icon, commended him for being a most generous and versatile Nigerian.

He said: “If we have a few more of your type in this country, the story will change for the better. If we all work and lift individuals and groups, the way Baba Afe Babalola is doing on regular basis, across tribes, cultures and political divide, even at his age, and at the expense of his hard earned resources, there will be no much problems of any sort for anyone in this country.”

Also speaking, at the industrial park maiden trade fair, Chairman, Ekiti chapter of the NSE, Prof. Oluwasegun Aluko, expressed gratitude to Babalola for establishing the park, which he said was designed to accommodate124 cottage industries, and thereby give a boost to use of locally explored raw materials.

The Vice Chancellor of ABUAD, Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, in her welcome address at the events, commended Babalola for deploying his hard-earned resources in championing the needed revolution in the education sector with the establishment of both the University, and the industrial park, among others.

According to Olarinde, ABUAD was recently ranked the best Nigerian University for the third consecutive time, 4th in Africa and 142th in the world, as recently published in the 2024 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

Besides, she said the university also ranked first globally for SDG 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy, Outreach Programmes scoring 98%, and Stewardship Programmes with 98.2%.

She said though only about 15 years old, ABUAD’s accomplishments in Law, Medicine, Engineering, the Sciences and Social and Management Sciences in the past few years of its existence, had put the university on the international grid of world-class institutions.