The Chairman/Founder of The Address Homes Limited, Dr Bisi Onasanya, has donated a completed multi-million naira block of classrooms to Ilara community in Epe, Lagos State in furtherance of his vision to support education through his philanthropic works.
The donation of a block of six classrooms with a fully-equipped library at Ilara Model Primary School, Ilara, Epe, was made by Onasanya in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Lagos, Bowen College and Bank of Industry and was commissioned by His Royal Majesty Oba Olufolarin Olukayode Ogunsanwo, the Alara of Ilara-Epe Kingdom on Monday.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Onasanya, a former Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Bank Plc, said the gesture formed part of his efforts to support the underprivileged and contribute his quota in bridging the infrastructural deficit in Nigeria’s education sector.
Onasanya, whose company, The Address Homes Limited, leads the luxury homes market of the property industry, reckoned that the figure of children without access to education in Nigeria is still alarmingly high, a development that should trigger an alignment between the government, private sector and well-meaning Nigerians to address the gap.
“I have always believed that as individuals we should always remember where we are coming from. Society has been kind to some of us and we should give thanks to God; in addition to that, we must give back to that society.
“There is an event that I never shared but remains indelible in my memory. I attended St. Paul Primary School in Idi Oro, Mushin, Lagos, a public school, I remember that on my very first day in school, there was a very rowdy session because people were struggling to get enlisted. I am not sure my mum will remember this incident, the head of the school then, because of the rowdiness and the first come, first serve arrangement, actually slapped my mother. I was six years old, that was in 1967, I can never forget and it made me resolute that no child should be made to go through a situation like that to access education and no child should be disadvantaged as a result of the status of his parents.
“The UNICEF standardization report showed that only 61 percent of children between ages 6 and 11 are in school; this is a dangerous situation and I just thought that no child should be denied basic and quality education, no child should be made to walk up to a mile before he or she could access quality education and I think this is a big opportunity to achieve what I have always wanted to do which is making education easy and accessible to every child,” said Onasanya who recently bagged an honourary doctorate degree in finance from the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti.
Meanwhile, the outgoing President of the Rotary Club of Lagos, Joseph Aikhigbe, recalled how Onasanya promptly acceded to their request for the construction of the classrooms which underlined the property mogul’s commitment to the upliftment of education in Nigeria.
“Education is a powerful agent of change, it stabilises lives and livelihood and drives long-term economic growth. It is every child’s right to have access to quality and basic education. We thank Dr Bisi Onasanya; we approached him on this laudable project and he showed his commitment and kept his word. It is difficult to find people like him, he only told us it is done, and today we are commissioning the project. We laid the foundation on September 29, 2022, and today the edifice is standing before us,” he said.
An elated Oba Ogunsanwo said he immediately approved the land for the construction of the project because it aligned with his vision for the kingdom. He said Dr Onasanya’s kind gestures would go a long way in solidifying education in his domain.
“When I ascended the throne, I said attention to education will be one of the bedrock of what we do and my three years of ascension have been dedicated to educating our children because they are not only our tomorrow, they are our today, if you train a child, you are educating a nation. We thank God to have bestowed this edifice on the people of Ilara Kingdom through Dr Bisi Onasanya. We also thank Bowen College for providing the furniture and the Bank of Industry for the e-library as well as the physical library. We can’t thank you enough and may God reward you,” said Oba Ogunsanwo, who is the Vice Chairman of Lagos State Council of Obas.
One of the major highlights of the event was the bestowment of the chieftaincy title of Akinrogun and Yeye Akinrogun of Ilara Kingdom on Dr Onasanya and his wife, Helen, by Oba Ogunsanwo.
Many royal fathers within Lagos and beyond graced the well-attended event. Other dignitaries at the ceremony include the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Abayomi Abolaji; the Chairman of Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, Wahab Olawale Alawiye-King and property merchant, Otunba Yemi Lawal, among others.