The University of Lagos, UNILAG, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with an indigenous auto company, Nord Motors, for practical training of willing and qualified students of the school in the act of assembling cars, repairing, servicing and maintaining automobiles.

Speaking at the MOA signing ceremony, UNILAG 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 Elite Model by bringing the government, the industry and the university together.

“What we are doing today is innovation Triple Elite Model in which we are bringing the industry to the campus. This should be the first time this type of thing will be happening in a university in Africa. This will be a great opportunity for our students in different departments to contribute to the development of automobiles in Nigeria.”

In his statement, education has gone beyond dishing out theory to the students, adding that there is an absolute need for the practical application of the studies “so that our students will be able to do their IT in and outside the university. Whatever they are able to learn, they will apply it in other areas.

“This can give rise to the evolution of having a department of automobile engineering in the University of Lagos.”

Prof Ogundipe stated that the university had in abundance 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’s council, members of staff and students as well as all the stakeholders associated with UNILAG for the feat and past achievements

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

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

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 practical experience in automaking and business.

“Our vehicles are of international standard but 40 per cent lower in prices than what is sold elsewhere,” he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Development Services) at UNILAG, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, had earlier given the background of the project.

She recalled having the CEO of Nord Motors, Mr 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 work station on our campus to enable the students to learn practically the business of automobile.

“We have put together a Memorandum of Agreement with details of how we will partner with Nord Motors to the benefit of the faculty and the students.

“Under the agreement, we have the following objects: 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; to create a situation where UNILAG can play in the value chain in the car manufacturing business in Nigeria.

; to create an opportunity to train at least 15 students annually at the University of Lagos to study and acquire automobile skills at no cost; to provide automobile services, and maintenance at the UNILAG for the staff and students at discounted prices, among other things.”

According to her, the project will be a major step toward achieving university-industry collaboration for the benefit of the country.