The Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, has donated students’ hostel worth N1.2 billion to Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria. The hostel consists of 10 blocks of a fully equipped complex with a capacity to comfortably house 2,160 students.
NAN also reports that the university had no additional hostel accommodation in the last 40 years until the present gesture by the foundation.
Speaking during the inauguration of the project at the ABU Phase II site, Dangote recalled that when he visited the institution as Guest Speaker of 2016 convocation ceremony, the university authority complained of accommodation constraints.
“When I came here as a Guest Speaker in 2016, the Vice-Chancellor told me that they have needs for accommodation, in fact the last accommodation they had was 37 years ago as at then.
“It is not good for us to leave a university like this without accommodation, really our intention was to accommodate the female students not boys, however, I still plead with the Vice-Chancellor to leave it for the female folk.
“Because of the luxury of this place, it is better to give it to the girls, boys can manage anywhere, may be we need to have discussion to see how we help in terms of transporting them to and fro.
“If you bring the boys here, I will really be in trouble with my daughters, you know I have only three daughters, so they will like to have the ladies here,” he said.
Dangote appealed to businessmen and wealthy Nigerians to ensure that “we continue to intervene in most of these universities, government cannot do all these things alone, there are so many other needs.”
He advocated for an increase of one per cent of corporate tax so that companies can pay additional money mainly for infrastructure in the universities.
“We have to make sure that we give back to Nigeria to show our gratitude because without Nigeria I won’t be where I am today, so we must continue to give back to the society.”
Dangote said ABU as an institution occupied a unique place in history, adding that it is named after late revered patriot, great achiever and leader, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna Sokoto.
“This institution is a product of philosophy, vision, drive and commitment of the late premier to ensure that qualified Nigerians from all tribes and religions in the early 60s were given quality tertiary education to prepare them for nation building.
“This quest culminated in building a unique university, which attracted the best of international scholars like Walter Rodney, Patrick Wilmot, Ali Muzrui and our own Dr Bala Usman who graced its portals while serving as lecturers, teachers and mentors to students.
“ABU from inception has remained a mini-Nigeria where students from all tribes and tongues congregated to become agents of change, growth and national development.
“Products of ABU went on to excel and distinguished themselves ahead of their contemporaries, serving the nation as Presidents, Vice Presidents and high calibre officials both in the public and private sectors,” he noted.
Earlier, the ABU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, appreciated Dangote for what he described as a gigantic intervention and appealed to other wealthy individuals to generously emulate his good spirit.
He said ABU is a mega-institution with the largest carrying capacity above any Nigerian university and still unable to absorb the teeming population of candidates soliciting the university as first place of choice.
“This need has compelled us to continue to open-up and restructure the space to provide more opportunities for leaning in a number of ways.
Garba identified some of the new initiatives to include establishment of Distance Learning Centres in four undergraduate programmes as BSc. Business Administration, Economics, Public Administration and Nursing Science.
He added that two postgraduate programmes in Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) with over 4,000 students already enrolled.
The V-C said the university had increased affiliation with other tertiary institutions, adding that Colleges of Education and Polytechnics continued to affiliate with ABU to offer degree programmes in diverse fields of study.
Others, according to him, are establishment of ABU Business School which had taken off as a faculty bringing Departments of Accounting, Business Administration and Economics together and opened up space for expansion as well as establishment of College of Health Sciences.