BY MIKE OCHONMA.
In what can be described as the first in Africa, the University of Lagos has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NORD Automobiles Limited to set up an automotive assembly plant on campus.
The signing of the MoU is a bold step in the right direction which is able to further intensify the university’s quest to equip students with all the necessary skills before graduation, Oluwatoyin Ogunleye said. , Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
Ogundipe said it would also boost automotive research and development among staff, adding that any nation seeking development must look inward.
“This is the first time that a university has hosted an automotive company on its campus in Africa. So what this means for us is that they will start assembling the car in this university in Lagos, taking into account the economic situation in this country,” he said.
Ogundipe said he was delighted that with the arrival of the car factory, engineering students at the university could gain first-hand experience, but also students of architecture, finance, marketing, as well as those in creative arts.
The VC said that in the process, some students who do well may also be employed at NORD Automobiles upon graduation, which will expose them internationally in the field of automotive engineering. It will help academic staff in the area of research, perhaps in the area of energy or fuel consumption, and will also be a source of pride for the university, the community and the country as a whole.
Oluwatobi Ajayi, managing director of NORD Automobiles Limited, said he was delighted with the development, noting that it was his small way of contributing to the development of the country.
According to him, there is the need to continuously encourage young people, especially students in higher education institutions, by making them realize that they have a future especially in engineering.
The NORD boss said that in two months the company will set up the assembly plant, as well as a state-of-the-art showroom, which will be commissioned by the vice-chancellor.
“I have always believed in Nigeria and the great talents and natural resources therein. I will never stop doing whatever it takes to make Nigeria a pride before the world. unite to make Nigeria a producer country and not a consumer country,” he said.
Ajayi said one of the things needed in this regard is to start with school, catch them young and equip them, noting that engineering is essential for nation building and the economy.
“We cannot simply continue to import what we are capable of producing on our own. We have to create jobs, make our own cars and that’s what gave me the idea to approach the university, the academy, to see how we can encourage our students to create a future for themselves and to work together towards a better Nigeria,” he noted.
Obinna Chukwu, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services) of the University of Lagos, described the collaboration as a great joy.
He noted that the signing of a memorandum of understanding between NORD Motors, an indigenous automotive company, and UNILAG was a giant step that had brought joy to both students, staff, management and council. .
Chukwu admitted that the relationship was based on the fact that NORD would open an assembly plant at the university.
He said the assembly plant would not only produce vehicles on campus, but also boast a showroom. Describing the initiative as a bold move in entrepreneurship, he said it would also have an impact on research and development and other areas.
“First, our students will be able to get first-hand knowledge in a car assembly plant. They will also have the opportunity to take advantage of all the supply chain logistics that come with automotive production,” Chukwu said.
“Secondly, it’s not just about engineering, there are many other branches, administration, finance and others that would benefit students. This exhibition is therefore very important.
“Thirdly, when we were talking with the general manager of the company, we said that we had to upgrade to a newer model. And for you to upgrade to a newer model, in the past, we used to travel to Germany to meet with experts who would sit down and get a design concept for a new model.
“This development of the new NORD car model, A3 in particular, for example, will now be trained at the University of Lagos. This means involving staff members and our students. You can see this will go a long way in moving us forward in our quest to at least do something in the automotive field,” he said.
The University of Lagos started such a move a long time ago, under the leadership of the late Ayodele Awojobi, a professor and genius engineer. He designed a low-directional armored vehicle called Autonov. Autonov 1, 2 and 3 are still available at the Faculty of Engineering. The vehicle has the unique characteristic of being driven forwards and backwards.
At its last call, UNILAG also presented what it called its own electric vehicle designed in a way to help SMEs, as well as those with micro-enterprises on campus, to enable them to move around using the vehicle.