The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo has commended Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) for designating willing universities as Special Economic Zones (SEZ)
This is contained in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by Dr. Martins Odeh, Head of Corporate Communications, NEPZA.
Odeh said that the minister made the commendation when he received the Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah in his office on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister said that the initiative would reconfigure the country’s academic environment to match with global trends and competitiveness.
He said that Nigeria’s industrialisation process could become more productive when the country is able to coordinate its universities to operate as profitable industries through the free zone scheme.
“The Managing-Director of NEPZA has given a brief background of what this is all about and let me assure you that it is something that the Federal Government will be interested in.
“It is indeed a unique idea to be able to make the academic institutions have the freedom to break away from the over-dependence on government for funding.
“Once this initiative gains popularity, universities across the country will become centers of not only human capital development but of wealth creation.
“I am delighted with the strong partnership the University of Abuja has created with NEPZA and the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to pull this project through.
“You have to move fast so that we can get all things sorted out as quickly as possible. I will, however, like to assure you that you have my 100 per cent support.’’ the minister said.
On his part, Na’Allah said that the visit was a follow up to a preliminary technical session held with NEPZA recently.
The Vice Chancellor said that both parties worked assiduously in ensuring that the project was realised on time.
Na’Allah said that designating the university as a special economic zone would put an end to incessant strikes.
According to him, it will also transfer enormous wealth into the hands of all members of the university community.
He further said that the university was endowed with a number of solid minerals at commercial quantities.
The vice chancellor said that opening the campus space for external investments via the free zone concept would be a landmark achievement.
“We want the university to become the richest institution in Nigeria.
“We will open the space for tourism, estate, mining, agriculture, car production plants, dairy farms, light rail services among others.
“Our proximity to the city and the airport makes movement seamless. This is our thinking; this is our project,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Kayode, former President of ACCI and Head of the Technical Committee, expressed delight to be part of the project.
He said that ACCI sourced sufficient investors and international financial bodies that had bought into the project.
“We are expected to reconfigure the way the country’s universities are run using the University of Abuja as a pilot scheme.
“We have been to some of the great universities around the world and seen that those institutions have direct influence in the development of their host cities,’’ Kayode said.
Adesugba said that NEPZA was on the verge of showing how the university and chains of industries could jointly be operated within same location to enhance the country’s industrialisation process.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NEPZA and Ekiti Government are working on the process of establishing “Knowledge and Technology Special Economic Zone’’ in Ado Ekiti.
Adesugba said that NEPZA also received an application from Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUA) for a similar project.