by Sulaiman Adesola
Nigeria’s infrastructure is presently ranked 132 of 138 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2016-17 global competitiveness index and according to the WEF’s 2016 Executive Opinion Survey, the poor supply of infrastructure is one of the biggest constraints to doing business in the country. At the grassroots level, this adversely affects communities who feel the negative impact of inadequate infrastructure, in broken schools, unmotorable roads and the lack of healthcare facilities or access to electrical power to drive the growth of businesses. With an infrastructure deficit of about $3 trillion and limited funds due to harsh economic realities, it has fallen on the goodwill of more opportune Nigerians to step in the gap and provide school buildings, health centres and other community support programs in Nigeria’s semi-urban and rural areas.
One of those who has constantly stepped up to meet the challenges of people in his community is the All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Representatives candidate for the Egbeda/Ona Ara federal constituency in Oyo. Akin Alabi is heavily involved in philanthropic works and he is the founder of Akin Alabi Foundation, a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation aimed at improving the well being of the average Nigerian. With the motto, touching lives one person at a time, the foundation has successfully implemented projects like building and donating classrooms to primary schools, sinking of boreholes in areas where there is scarcity of water, financial empowerment of widows and a free business and career building event popularly called Youth Enterprise Conference (YECO). At the fourth edition of YECO earlier in the year, the foundation empowered 52 young Nigerian entrepreneurs by supporting them with the sum of N5.2 million.
Akin Alabi started investing in the community in 2014 when he donated a block of classrooms to the Asaju Adelubi community in Egbeda Local Government Area in Oyo to aid the state in providing critical education infrastructure in rural areas. He has followed that up with investments more targeted towards developing human capacity and recently got the approval of the Oyo State Government to build an ICT Centre at Bioku Community High School, Ibadan. Born in Ibadan in 1977 to parents from Egbeda Local Government of Oyo, Akin Alabi being an ardent follower of football has made significant investments in sports development in Oyo, sponsoring the local 3SC Football Club and also creating opportunities to discover promising sportsmen at the grassroots level. He is currently building a Sports Complex at Urban Day Grammar School, Old Ife Road, Ibadan.
In a bid to create more sustainable means of providing critical services and needs to the people, Akin Alabi resigned from his role as the chief executive of Nairabet, an online betting company he had built from the scratch to join politics and contest for office and bring much needed reforms that would impact his community. In a recent interview with Tech Point, Oloye Akin Alabi (as he is called by supporters and friends) said “My father loved politics. As a young boy, I would accompany him to party meetings. So that’s how I fell in love with politics too. I have come to understand that politics is the most powerful tool you can use to impact society.
“There are other tools you can use but that is the most powerful. You can only do so much with personal wealth. While billionaires like Dangote will run away from handling capital projects like the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Benin-Ore road or Zaria road, an ordinary minister can face it head-on. That’s how powerful government is.”
According to Jenny Hodgson, executive director of the Global Fund for Community Foundations, the emergence of a new class of wealthy individuals in many developing countries has led to a rapid growth in private and family foundations which take a more holistic, long-term and flexible approach that can develop community resilience and social cohesion. Inclusive community investment initiatives like those led by Akin Alabi has shown great promise in supporting economic independence, fostering entrepreneurship and small business development which help strengthen the local economy and create opportunities within the community. This is where Akin Alabi has shown that he has what it takes to serve the interests of his people best.