Billionaire businessman and Chairman of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola, has donated a multimillion-naira complex to the Augustine University’s engineering faculty.
This was made known yesterday at a sod-turning ceremony to mark the first day of construction for the university’s faculty of engineering’s complex in Epe, Lagos State.
On hand for the occasion were the Proprietor of the institution and the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins; Otedola’s octogenarian mother, Lady Doja Otedola; the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the university, Sir Steve Omojafor; the Vice-Chancellor of Augustine University, Prof. Steve Afolami; a member of the fundraising committee, Chief Sena Anthony, among other dignitaries.
They all commended Otedola and his family for the financial assistance and otherwise they had rendered to the university from its conception to date.
Speaking during the event, Otedola said, like his father, he was passionate about education and development of the country.
“My father was very passionate about a university being built in Epe because he was very passionate about education. Rather than spend my money on building more houses or buying a jet for myself, I decided to spend the money to support this laudable cause by the Lagos Catholic archdiocese through the Augustine University,” the oil magnate told journalists.
Speaking about the importance of the building, Martins noted: “With this engineering faculty, we’re delighted that it’s taking off because it is one area that we think with the kind of technological development that Nigeria needs we can begin to find the realisation within that faculty – that’s not to say that the arts and the social sciences are not making contributions. We have had those contributions for many years. We are truly delighted that we have this beginning.”
He recounted how he was encouraged by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to donate towards the completion of the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja and the former president’s rejection of his desire to make a private donation.
“I went to his office; he had arranged for a press briefing and I said, ‘Please, let’s make this a private affair.’ But he insisted that he needed to make this public so that when the Dangotes and the Adenugas saw me contribute towards the building of the church they also would be encouraged to make similar donations.
“So, it is with this project – I want all my friends to know – because the hand of God is in it. It is a worthy cause. My mother persistently encouraged me to support the Augustine University project. Subsequently, I decided to build an engineering faculty for the university – which would be my home – for the glory of God. I can assure you that this project will be completed in good time,” Otedola explained.
The university which began operation in 2015, is already running at least eight courses subscribed to by 200 students up to 400-level.
Expressing their delight regarding the donation by Otedola, Afolami, Omojafor and Anthony stated that the business mogul had once again set a fine example for other philanthropists.
Sharing their sentiments, the billionaire’s mother, Lady Otedola, stated: “I think I’m the happiest person today and I’m sure I’ll always be happy. It is always on record that this Augustine University was meant to be built at Odo-Ragunsin. Sometime in 1994 my late husband, Sir Michael Otedola, was approached to make financial donation to them. He was able to help get this large parcel of land for the university through the supports of the then-Alara of blessed memory.