For the Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos , Dr. Wale Babalakin, nothing compares to love.
Not just love for the opposite sex but love of a mum that meant more than billions in his bank account.
The wealthy businessman could not hide his emotion last Tuesday and wept not just like a baby, but almost so uncontrollably that some people around too will not be able to hold back tears.
It was at the opening ceremony of the Policy Meeting organised by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board with policy makers across the country’s higher institutions.
The programme was held at the Bola Babalakin Auditorium, built by Wale Babalakin to serve as a centre to boost educational development. Because the event marked the inauguration of the 2,400-capacity facility, Babalakin had to speak on what inspired him to build the facility that marvelled everyone present – including the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the Minister of Education, Malam Adam Adamu.
It was in the process of doing so, when he had to acknowledge some of the people that strengthened his resolve to realise the dream, that he was touched beyond words. After noting the role played by his father, he remembered his mother, Alhaja Ramat Babalakin, who passed on 14 year ago. At that point, Babalakin launched into tears as he read the generous paragraphs dedicated to the mum.
He said, “Today as I do every day, I remember my mother, Ramat Ibironke Babalakin, a virtuous woman who supported my father unequivocally in their 54 years of marriage before she passed on 14 years ago. She was a woman of enormous courage. A pioneer in her own right as she set up her hospital in 1967 when it was almost unimaginable for a woman to own such an establishment.
“I remember when I was embattled during the construction of the airport terminal known now as MMA 2. My darling mother, after fasting for so many days, most unusually knocked on the door of my room. When I opened the door she said to me in her pet name for me, ‘Olatokunbo, this project that appears so massive is only big in the imagination of human beings. To Allah, it is a very small project. By the grace of the almighty Allah you will complete this project on time.” That was all the impetus I needed to complete the project.”
Since the rich also cry, Babalakin kept interjecting the sentences with sobs, although he and his late mum were also generously celebrated with applause by the audience.
The auditorium, which is not only larger than the international conference centre in Abuja, and many other top facilities of the type, it also flaunts the kind of layout and spacing that are unique. For instance, the space between each role is so wide that those sitting need not stand up for whoever is walking in front of them, just as other passages and the stage are temptingly wide. Well, this may not be a surprise as the auditorium, alongside other facilities in the resort Babalakin is developing , sit on about four-kilometer land strategically nestling by the Gbongan junction/overhead bridge that now welcomes people to the ancient town.
The significance of the resort made it attract many sons and daughters of the area to the event – including the Olufi of Gbongan, whom Babalakin also saluted for the passion he invested in the facility.
According to him, he decided to dedicate the centre to the cause of education because he believes that it (education) is the pillar of development of any society.
The businessman, who also acknowledged the role played by his wife, Idiat, said, “This project was motivated by the desire to provide an environment conducive to serious intellectual work. It is our fervent belief that Nigeria will only achieve its full potential when the aggregate of our intellectual capacity is developed and harnessed appropriately. We cannot achieve our full potential if we do not reward competence and hard work and simultaneously punish bad behavior. We hope that, as JAMB has done , other serious institutions will now take advantage of these facilities which are suitable for the sort of large-scale intellectual gathering we are having here today.
“We must also state very clearly that the best way to develop infrastructure in Nigeria is to support and enhance those who have the vision and imagination to create projects and see them to completion. This is a far cheaper and reliable way to achieve results rather than spending scarce government resources on projects that never appear to come to an end.”
He also attracted applause to his 92-year-old father, who was also present, saying, “This hall is named after him for many reasons including his unquestionable integrity, his great leadership of this town for the past 50 years, his love for education and his relentless desire to ensure that there is justice for all.”