By Dada Ahmed
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has expressed readiness to support partnership between the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the University of Abuja for the infrastructural and business development of the university’s permanent site.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, the NEPZA Managing Director revealed this during the inauguration of the committee that would midwife the process leading to the execution of the project on Tuesday in Abuja, in a statement signed by Martins Odeh, the Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA on Wednesday.
Recall that the ACCI and the management of the university led by its Vice Chancellor, Prof. AdulRasheed Na’Allah signed a Memorandum of Understanding to re-model the campus into a self-sustaining tourism, learning and business destinations.
The committee is to develop a plan for turning the university into a privately-driven tourism attraction. It is also to develop plan programme in mining and the development of the institution’s film village.
The terms of reference further mandated the committee to propose a second framework for research, intervention and collaboration with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on environmental management, tourism and railway engineering among others.
The ACCI is expected to, therefore, mobilise the private sector to provide the proposed infrastructure that includes world-class lecture theaters; quality hostels; film village; light-railway; manufacturing and servicing industries; hotels, hospitals, modified road networks, golf course/ sporting facilities among others.
The NEPZA boss, who is the chairman of the committee, said the proposed development layout would undoubtedly redirect the way and manner universities were managed in the country.
Adesugba, who is also the Second Deputy President of ACCI explained that the project when executed would change the landscape of the university, adding that the ivory tower would become an industrial hub that maintained its serene ambiance for teaching, learning and research.
“We will also be using the Free Trade Zone approaches in order to attract both foreign and local direct investments into this proposed adorable and profitable ecosystem.
“It is an understatement to say that the university’s location remains strategic and attractive to investors. In fact, this site which harbours undulating rocks and three rivers provides the required serenity for tourism.
Its’ proximity to the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, and to the city center makes it a choice destination for tourists, foreign students and investors.
“For us in NEPZA, we will not shy away from supporting schemes that would positively impact on the country’s industrialization process, creating employment and providing revenues for the government.
“It is in this light that we would in the long run work towards linking the airport and its environs now earmarked as free trade zone with the university to give the country a world-class free zone that would boost economic activities.
Prof. Na’Allah, while inaugurating the committee explained that the concerted efforts was an attempt at repositioning the university community to truly perform its role as the emancipator of the country’s development process.
The V-C said the era of waiting for the government to solely fund the university was gradually coming to an end, adding that the university had discovered a point of equilibrium where education and commerce met for mutual benefit.
He noted that the university was on the verge of introducing Railway Engineering and Geology into its numerous courses, adding that the impact of these two disciplines would be practically felt as the proposed landscape would provide light-train services and mining of solid minerals for commercial purposes.