History was made recently at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), as it signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with an indigenous auto company, Nord Motors, for practical training of its students in the act of car assembling, repairs, service and maintenance.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the council chambers of the university, the vice chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said it was the first time such type of collaboration between the university and an automobile company in Nigeria would be sealed.

He described it as a ‘triple helix model’ involving the government, industry and university.

Ogundipe said the collaboration is to further intensify the university’s quest to equip students with necessary skills before graduation.

Besides, he said the move would also stimulate research and development activities in the area of automobile among members of staff, adding that any nation with the quest for development must look inwards.

Ogundipe said: “What we are doing here is an innovation, we are bringing the industry to the campus. This is the first time this type of thing will be happening in the university in Africa. This will be a great opportunity for our students in different departments to contribute to the development of automobile in Nigeria.”

According to him, education has gone beyond dishing out theory to students, adding that there is an absolute need for the practical application of the studies, so, that students will be able to do their industrial attachment in the university. Whatever they are able to learn, they will apply it in other areas,” he said.

The vice chancellor noted that the development could give rise to the birth of department of automobile engineering in the institution.

He said the university had experts in relevant departments to support the project in the area of research and cognitive development.

He commended the Nord team for the initiative and congratulated the university council, members of staff and students, as well as stakeholders associated with the institution for the feat and past achievements.

The Chief Executive of Nord Motors, Mr Oluwatobi Ajayi, said the initiative could be the beginning of industrial revolution in Nigeria, where students would not only see how vehicles are made but also be part of the production process.

“By this time in two months, you will be seeing a beautiful showroom and a working assembly plant on UNILAG campus,” Ajayi said.

He stressed that Nigerians need to show the world that “we are not just consumers of good things but creators of good things.”

Ajayi said having worked in some of the biggest auto industries in the world before starting the Nord Company, he felt compelled to give the best to the country and allow willing young Nigerians to get the practical experience about auto business.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development Services, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, had earlier given the background of the project.

She recalled having Ajayi as one of the judges at an innovative engineering event with potential investors at the UNILAG last year, where he expressed interest in the quality of presentations that the students who pitched put forward.

She said: “from there, we started to talk. We said we would like our students studying mechanical engineering to come as interns to Nord Motors to have hands-on experience.

“Nord, in its reply, said if we do not mind, they could put up a workstation on our campus to enable the students learn practically the business of automobile. We have put together a Memorandum of Agreement with details of how we will partner the automobile firm to the benefit of the faculty and students.

“Under the agreement, we have the following objectives: to facilitate and develop a platform for willing and qualified students of UNILAG in the act of manufacturing and assembling of cars in conjunction with Nord Motors; create a skill development drive of resolving unemployment crisis among youths that are employable to develop a career way with Nord Motors; create a situation where UNILAG can play in the value chain in the car manufacturing business in Nigeria, create an opportunity to train at least 15 students yearly in the university to study and acquire automobile skills at no cost; provide automobile services, and maintenance at UNILAG for staff and students at discounted prices, among others.”