What Are Our Priorities As Nigerian Students?

In all my years as an undergraduate or alumna, I have never heard of a Nigerian student charging an incumbent or former President to court. It’s not for lack of reasons, no, several reasons abound why most of our past and present leaders should be charged to court over their negligence of the education sector. But it has never happened. Nigerian students have never felt the need to or ‘had the balls’ to charge a President to court, at least not until President Goodluck Jonathan made a Democracy Day broadcast, announcing the renaming of the University of Lagos.

In honour of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, President Jonathan said on May 29, 2012 that the institution would be renamed as Moshood Abiola University.

Minutes after the announcement was made, all hell broke loose at Unilag. The response was swift. It was as if the students were so bored, lying in wait for an opportunity to take to the streets. From an institution that has no running Student Union Government to organize street protests, the speed at which they gathered together up and spoke with one voice was amazing. The President’s announcement triggered one of the swiftest responses in the country’s history.

Who dared change the prestigious Unilag name to a razz name like Moshood Abiola University? Who tampered with the name that has garnered so much class and recognition over 50 years of existence? It was unacceptable.

And so they took to the streets, blocking major roads around the campus, carrying placards, chanting, singing, resisting the name change. On the second day, they didn’t relent, and marched to the Third Mainland Bridge, disrupting traffic on the major road for a few hours. It took the campus closure to calm the student protests down, but even then, they haven’t relented in their resistance.

Now, 10 students have brought their case before Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking for a declaration that the University of Lagos being a creation of an act of the National Assembly, cannot be governed except in accordance with the provisions of the University of Lagos Act, 1967.

They are seeking a declaration that power to change or amend the name of University of Lagos, being a corporate body having perpetual succession with common seal as provided under the University of Lagos Act 1967(as amended), belongs to the National Assembly.

They have sought the court’s order declaring that the announcement contained in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s May 29, 2012 broadcast changing the name of University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University, is unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

The students – Sunday Asaolu, Julius Ayoola, Idowu Odumosu, Seyi Olowu, Oladapo Obasa, Idowu Awopeju, Adebanjo Sunday, Femi Omotosho, Segun Ogunjobi and Aiyelabola are no doubt brave and passionate about the name of their institution.

But this gets me wondering, how about all the other pressing matters, other shortcomings in the education sector that require such radical responses from Nigerian students. How about our ill-equipped laboratories, our scanty libraries with books several generations old, our cramped and dirty hostels, our broken and insufficient furniture, our non-existent computer rooms, our outdated syllabus and teaching methods just begging for a review? We sit mute and endure this and then jump on the streets, waving placards and blocking roads because our classy name has been changed.

Every time our lecturers go on strike, we just sit on the sidelines and cheer them on, not too loudly, so that they can also hear our pleas, urging them to call off the strike. We leave all the fighting for them and then suddenly remember there is a court when our name is changed.

Before you begin to castigate, before you start to say I don’t know how it feels, yes I do. Unilag is my alma mata, and the memories of my time in this great institution are still fresh. As fresh as the fact that I haven’t even collected my certificate yet and I wonder what name would be written on it now. So, yes, I do understand how it feels and I still feel the irritation I felt when I heard the announcement.

But I can’t help but think that we have left the most important issues behind, kept mute over the falling standards of education for so long, allowed the government take us for granted and then jump to the streets, affixing our names on petitions when our name is changed. Can’t we also sign petitions to improve the standards in our institutions?

Whether Unilag remains Unilag or becomes Maulag, it is my desire that as Nigerians, not just students, we learn to speak up at the right time, for the right reasons and through the right channels.

42 Comments on What Are Our Priorities As Nigerian Students?
  • NNENNE June 6, 2012 at 12:56 am

    You are right but the government need to listen to the voice of the people too.

    • Sandi June 6, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Absolutely but for the right reasons. You don’t receive quality education, you don’t protest it. The name of University changes, and THAT you protest??? Comon, where does your priority lie??

  • Thelma June 6, 2012 at 1:05 am

    very true

  • jay June 6, 2012 at 1:15 am

    One thing that you must have observed in history so far is that certain events take place to unravel underlying issues. The change of name only acts as a trigger to a gun which has been fully loaded with all other issues you stated. Acts do not specify the standard of education we can receive or the state our learning environments should be in. However an Act empowers this particular motion! I am not an alumnus of Unilag but I understand their pain. I pray they win the case not just to retain the name of the school but to teach our president the power of democracy and not his usual autocratic approach to affairs!

  • Jero June 6, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Do your research well, there have been many instances where students have fought against atrocities committed against them.You only choose to zero on this because it makes a good write up for you! Abeg pack well jare!

  • durst June 6, 2012 at 1:31 am

    tru talk man buh u knw it getz 2 a stage wher by toes r being stepped on n boundary lines r being crossed/broken…UNILAG z a vewi important brand 2 d studentz of dat institution n itz high time govt needz 2 start listening 2 voices of d people….d 1 billion naira dat wld b used in rebrandin dat name cld aswell b diverted in2 d dillapidated n outstandard libraries as u v rightly pointed out…many finz needz 2 bdone apart 4rm name change…a standard library cld b built n den honoured 2 d l8 MKO Abiola’s name…dat 1 go make sense wella
    Y didnt he name d aso villa/d presidential villa 2 d l8 politician n bizz mugul n it becomes d MKO Abiola villa because dat was wher he was preveented 4rm gettin in2 wen he won dat election in ’93…NONSENSE!!!

  • Beta June 6, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I think the actions of these students will be a precedent. If they are successful in court, other students of like passion like theirs will definitely see the courts as a place where their voices can be heard. Then maybe we’ll start seeing more causes like this in court championed by undergraduates. But if the UNILAG10 lose this case, :(

  • chika June 6, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Dear writer, I’d want to assume u finished from UNILAG in 2011 and thus are aware of the protest march of students of the College of medicine from our campus in Idi-Araba to the main campus in Akoka over the erratic electricity supply in MEDILAG and also the general state of disrepair of our hostels, lecture halls and facilitiies. This happened in March, 2011. I will therefore disagree with you when you say Nigerian (Unilag) students do not know the right time and reasons to speak up. The real issue for most people (like me) is not the name change in itself, it is the fact that in the midst of the raging confusion in which this country finds herself, number 1 on the priority list of our president is a name change…for political reasons if I may add. Is he not aware of the already fallen standards of education in this country? Hardly a week passes that we dnt hear of at least 1 bombing somewhere in Nigeria, infact we dnt cry for victims anymore, terrorism is something we have accepted n learnt to live with. In the midst of all this, the most important and urgent action is a name change? I weep.

    • fairweatherfriend(not) June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      How is that his number 1 priority??

  • igbo canadian June 6, 2012 at 2:07 am

    This post says it all! This is truly the voice of reason. Pls get your priorities right people! There are more pressing issues

  • S Tee June 6, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Hallelujah !!! FINALLY… Someone who shares my sentiments on this issue. At a recent gathering with friends, I shared very similar opinions to the ones of the writer and I was almost mobbed by the angry crowd who taught I must be insane to be speaking those words out loud. The question really is “what are our priorities?” I keep telling people, if the name was one English name that sounded very westernised and “posh”, there wouldn’t be so much outcry as there is now. My questions to people is ” Does the name change do any more damage to the standard of education the institution provides other than the fact that it makes it sound razz?” I mean, I’m not exactly in support of the change but really people, it’s not the end of the world. There have been more radical changes or issues in the University that would have severe damage done to it but you don’t see them cause so much uproar as this has caused.
    University of Ife was changed ti Obafemi Awololowo University in 1987! Big deal! Ogun State University was changed to Olabisi Onabanjo University in 2001! Again kini big deal! Everyone and their dog were so quick to start moaning about it on their BB, facebook and twitter…half of them were people who couldn’t really give a toss about the matter.
    Again, I’m not particularly for the name change but really, there are more Pressing issues! I’m tired of seeing Nigerians jump on the bandwagon on issues without having to stop, think and form their own opinions.
    About time we get our priorities straight mehn…

  • S Tee June 6, 2012 at 2:17 am

    * angry mob who thought…
    * My question to people is… Excuse all the typos. :-)

  • Pokahi June 6, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Like Jero, do some research please! Students have fought against atrocities numerous times. Why do some Nigerians talk/write without looking at the whole picture? it’s quite troubling…please do some thorough research or better yet do not write about issues that you have not analyzed critically. Please!

  • frank June 6, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Its called “A Presidential Fiat” Read it up n understand. Maulag students shld accept the truth, d president can and he did. Much ado bout nothing.

  • purplepearl June 6, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Lets see the outcome of the case, I see myself Laughing out loud. C’mon ppl lets invest our energy on relevant things….SMH

  • partyrider June 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Protest that your lecturers aren’t coming to class,that you labs are not up to standard,protest that you aren’t getting quality education..But NO priorities have been misplaced.
    like i said before,if the name was a ‘fresh’ or ‘posh’ name,we wont be having this discussion. its a shame really.
    enough said.

  • saphya June 6, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The thing is some of these students are not fighting the procedure employed in changing the name, but the name change itself. And then i ask,if the name was changed to Herbert Macaulay University of Lagos,would there be much noise?

  • Gidi June 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

    These kids lost me the moment they blocked the 3rd mainland bridge.
    That was the height of lawlessness. If it was NURTW, i would understand but university students?
    I just gave up.

  • Brittany June 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Adeola Adeyemo God bless you for this write-up. For how long are people going to be fighting over stupid things that don’t matter. Everyone is just acting like undecucated hooligans “don’t change the name, don’t change the name”. Is there any substantial negative effect that would happen if they change the name and the answer is NO!! Does the name change affect the standard of education or the infrastructures of the school NO. This is the reason why Nigeria is the backward third world country that it is today. The things you are suppose to fight for that will affect your generation you let it slide under your carpet. I don’t see anybody fighting for better infrastructure, current textbooks, or current technology. A student that finishes from Unilag with a computer science degree comes to the US to do his masters degree and cannot even handle current basic programming languages that most people have done their freshman year while they were in college. So why are you all acting like crazies over some name change. Boko haram
    and his agents are on a killing spree and I don’t see anybody fighting for that. We have accepted that as the norm already. Nigerians don’t value human lives. You would rather fight over some stupid name change than for the lives of human beings. Nigeria is the 14th largest crude oil producing nation in the world and we still don’t have constant power supply, sometimes there is scarcity of gas. God has blessed us so much with crude oil but of course we don’t have any working refineries. So many people have died in hospitals because of no power supply and lack of infrastructures. For how long are we going to accept this as normal. Just this past weekend there was a plane crash in Nigeria that could definitely have been avoided. 4 of my mums colleagues and my friends sister were on that flight. I don’t see any of you taking to the streets because of this. For how long are we going to let them keep taking risks with peoples family. You want to fight for something : fight for better education, current technology, and infrastructure, fight for better hospitals and facilities, fight for better aerodynamics team, fight for better refineries, fight for constant power supply, fight for better airport amenities, and lastly fight for the security of the country as whole). Fight for things that your children, grandchildren, and generations to come would look back and marvel at. That is what developed countries do ( they don’t fight just for themselves, they think about how it’s going to affect the next generation and generations to come). Get your priority right people. Fight for things that truly matter.

    • ladi June 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks Brittany. Look at the posters and how pathetic the grammar is. MKO or Unilag, the standard and quality of education is still the same ol’. Its interesting how all of a sudden students are quoting Acts, Constitution blah blah. The concern should be getting employable skills and knowledge withing the alloted time (no strike) in a safe environment (cult-free).

      They did not take the streets to protest the numerous issues plaguing the development of this country. I was so ashamed to even post any link of the protests on my facebook. I have lost respect for every Unilag student out there. Razzos!

      :D

    • fairweatherfriend(not) June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      True talk, and if there is a cause for which we should be on the streets, that will be getting justice for the victims of the Dana Crash…

  • oekajeh June 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    these students are not serious,they did not take doctors to court forshutting our hospitals down and killing people, they are fighting a senseless fight for a name. EXCUSE ME!!!!!

  • tomeloma June 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    There has been endless ASUU strike on the issue of education decline but we can sue the govt for that, we are literally at their mercy, THIS ONE we can sue them for and we will…

  • clairebaby June 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Yawn!!
    Here we go again about the UNILAG issue.
    I also graduated from UNILag…college of medicine to be precise. And as chika said ademola, pls get your facts right. We unilag students have protested for other worthy causes eg lack of electricity, no water etc in our institutions. The last one happened last year.
    The truth is that unilag students don’t have much to complain about compared with other UNIs. Our lecturers hardly join the ASUU strike, we hardly have any break in our educational system. Infact I spent on 5yrs 10 months studying medicine in unilag instead of 6yrs because we never went on holidays, it was work all the way through.
    We the students and alumni of unilag are pained at this careless act of our president and if we want to protest let us be.
    I’ll remind u that unife was only 20yrs when its name was changed yet the university still protested, nnamdi azikiwe refused to let UNN be named after him, IMSU fought against being named after evans enwerem.

    So, if the students, board and alumni of unilag feel its their right to protest, let them be.
    Ademola, I believe there are more recent and important things to talk about.

  • fairweatherfriend(not) June 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    How is that his number 1 priority? Is this name change your number 1 priority as well??

  • beryl June 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    true talk clairebaby

  • sanya June 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Brittany i think u should research well sometimes because students actually fight for these things you identified and those things are not unique to Unilag, the name change is unique to Unilag and saying nothing will be affected is talking out of the blues. you need to understand the efforts some people like sofoluwe have put into branding that name, may be you should research on unilag’s collaboration with universities outside the country then you’ll understand why they need to fight. there are issues in every sector in Nigeria, not even the price of orange is constant how many times have you protested? report shows that food stuff has increased over 100% how many Nigerians have taken to the streets.it’s their right let them fight for it. we must always remember that Nigeria is a democratic nation therefore you don’t impose decisions on people because you are the leader, that’s why it is called government for the people, by the people and of the people.

    • Brittany June 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I do my research well before I post anything. I agree that it’s a democratic nation and people should be able to fight for things or protest. All I am saying is that people should channel their energy into things that really matter. Can you come up with something tangible that would happen if the change of name occurs. When an attorney goes to court he come up with tangible facts to help his clients which I don’t see anybody coming up with. Everyone is just acting like lunatics (change the name!! change the name!!! change the name!!!). Tell me something concrete that would happen if they change the name. For example: The main goal of a firm is to make profit, any decision that would cause a loss will be against the goal. The same thing goes for a college or university. The goal of a University or college is for you to get an education and be well rounded. You fight for things that go against the goal or purpose of which you are in school for. The change of name does nothing with regards to your learning condition. I can tell you that Unilag is not even up to PAR with any of the top universities in the world. All I see is people saying don’t change the name, don’t change the name. Can you come up with something tangible (that is negative) that would happen if they change the name.

    • Brittany June 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      You are talking about branding: how many countries in this world know about UNILAG. Does any country in Asia, South America, or Central America know about UNILAG :NO. Start by getting your school up to PAR with other top schools in the world and you then can talk about branding.

  • Amanda June 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Everyone just seems to be given porous reasons and lame excuses. No one is yet to come up with a concrete fact or reason why you don’t want the name changed. You don’t want the name changed but you can’t come up with any tangible reason. The main purpose of going to school is to get a better or sound education. The change of name doesn’t hinder you from getting that. The only thing that could hinder you from getting a quality and standard education is the sucky infrastructure and archaic technology Unilag has. Unilag is supposedly ranked no 3 in the college ranking in Nigeria but the infrastructures are not even up to PAR. That is what you are suppose to be fighting for and not some nonsense name change.

    • Jero June 7, 2012 at 12:31 am

      People do not want the name to change simply because it diminshes the brand.As silly as that may seem, a name is a big deal to an established institution!Harvard will not change its name and toyota or Okin biscuit will not do the same simply because they have brand recognition.

      • Amanda June 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

        As a Harvard graduate and alumni myself I cringe at the comparison you are making with Harvard. It’s apples and oranges. First and foremost Harvard is a private school and Unilag is a public school. In case you don’t know Harvard ranks number 1 University in the world. Unilag is not even amongs the top 500 universities in the world or top 30 Universities in Africa (not even close). I can also tell you that Harvard was not always called Harvard. The name was changed to Harvard 1638 in commemoration of one of their first benefactors John Harvard. Every semester students from at least 80 different countries enroll in Harvard for a 4 yr college degree. How many people will leave their country like South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Croatia to enroll in Unilag — Zero. You can’t even compare those tw0. Unilag is not 1/100th of what Harvard is. The same thing goes for Toyota: It was named after the founder Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937. They first built their product up to PAR with the top Cars out there before it became an international brand. Whether its a product or a school, you build the standards first before it becomes an international brand. The name will live up to its standard. Lastly, I will say some of you need to go brush up on your Nigerian History. It’s sad that we don’t do a lot of documenting or archiving of our History that is why some of you don’t know the things MKO fought for. The fact that you can protest today is because of the likes of MKO. Outside Nigeria more people know about MKO than the name Unilag. What’s the essence of a commemoration or memorial: It’s to honor a national hero’s sacrifice with what most will consider a national treasure. It should be a thing of pride that Unilag was selected to be that “gift”. The anarchy approach that the students are taken is just an unnecessary distraction. The school is an appaling skeleton of its old self, I think people should spend their 15 mins of federal attention orderly matching for better infrastructure and standards – a quid pro quo, if you like. Maybe have a few student reps talk to the president, get a televised commitment. Something sensible with tangible positive impact. No one’s going to take them serious this way, they are stupidly fighting the inevitable; the powers that can actually improve their academic experience and standards. Now my question is what’s the essence of brand if the product or standard is crappy . A brand name lives up to its standards and not the other way around. Fight for getting your school up to PAR and then you can talk about branding.

      • Brittany June 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm

        As a Harvard graduate and alumni myself I cringe at the comparison you are making with Harvard. It’s apples and oranges. First and foremost Harvard is a private school and Unilag is a public school. In case you don’t know Harvard ranks number 1 University in the world. Unilag is not even amongs the top 500 universities in the world or top 30 Universities in Africa (not even close). I can also tell you that Harvard was not always called Harvard. The name was changed to Harvard 1638 in commemoration of one of their first benefactors John Harvard. Every semester students from at least 80 different countries enroll in Harvard for a 4 yr college degree. How many people will leave their country like South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Croatia to enroll in Unilag — Zero. You can’t even compare those tw0. Unilag is not 1/100th of what Harvard is. The same thing goes for Toyota: It was named after the founder Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937. They first built their product up to PAR with the top Cars out there before it became an international brand. Whether its a product or a school, you build the standards first before it becomes an international brand. The name will live up to its standard. Lastly, I will say some of you need to go brush up on your Nigerian History. It’s sad that we don’t do a lot of documenting or archiving of our History that is why some of you don’t know the things MKO fought for. The fact that you can protest today is because of the likes of MKO. Outside Nigeria more people know about MKO than the name Unilag. What’s the essence of a commemoration or memorial: It’s to honor a national hero’s sacrifice with what most will consider a national treasure. It should be a thing of pride that Unilag was selected to be that “gift”. The anarchy approach that the students are taken is just an unnecessary distraction. The school is an appaling skeleton of its old self, I think people should spend their 15 mins of federal attention orderly matching for better infrastructure and standards – a quid pro quo, if you like. Maybe have a few student reps talk to the president, get a televised commitment. Something sensible with tangible positive impact. No one’s going to take them serious this way, they are stupidly fighting the inevitable; the powers that can actually improve their academic experience and standards. Now my question is what’s the essence of brand if the product or standard is crappy . A brand name lives up to its standards and not the other way around. Fight for getting your school up to PAR and then you can talk about branding.

  • iamfascinating June 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I just wish the Presidency will focus on quelling the menace of Boko Haram. He can change the names of all the Universities after he has accomplished this.

    Do you have an uneven skintone, acne-prone skin or you just wish to defy the aging process? answers and products are now available at http://www.thestunninglady.blogspot.com

  • Turayo June 7, 2012 at 8:07 am

    The name change is the straw that broke the camel’s back in the same way that the removal of the fuel subsidy led to mass protests. Like jay said, the name change is the trigger for an already loaded gun. I am not faulting any of the students for protesting the name change. I applaud them for using the legal system.

  • sanya June 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Brittany MKO is not the only Nigerian that has done so much for this country, you should see the politics in this, Wole Soyinka contributed a great deal to Nigeria getting democracy, what ever happened to the likes of ken saro wiwa who were killed unjustly, it’s true that unilag cannot be compared with Harvard, true talk but have it at the back of your mind that the brand Harvard was not built in one day, it took time. unilag will get there, Nigerian universities will get there and this might just be the beginning. let’s take this as an eye opener for the students to begin to fight for the right things. the money that’ll be invested in the name change should be invested in providing infrastructure in the universities. a national monument should be named after him, June 12 should be public holiday and Mr president should declare him president elect of that election not ‘presumed winner’ that’s an insult to MKO.

    • Brittany June 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      I totally understand that MKO is not the only Nigerian that has done a lot for Nigerian. What I am trying to say is that before Harvard became a brand the focus was on the infrastructure, standards and quality of the education students were getting and not the name. The essence of a brand is the quality of the products. If the quality of education in Harvard was crappy nobody will give a hoot about the school. Students don’t enroll in Harvard just because of the name; they go there because of the quality of education. Let’s do things in order: Demand for better infrastructure, technology and quality learning environment (labs, classrooms, library). Trust me when you have a quality and amazing product, it wouldn’t matter if it’s called MKO – people would flock the school because of the quality. It is over time that the name will become a brand. Stay Blessed

      • Turayo June 9, 2012 at 4:55 am

        While I do get your point, you seem to be missing that of the students’. From what I have gathered, students do protest what you want them to protest, there’s just no media coverage on it.

        And forgive us for comparing UNILAG with Harvard, do forgive us. We get it. You want students to protest about the meaningful things. You want them to tweet and facebook and make as much noise as they are about this. But they have. Why not go talk to them, and write another article about what you’ve learned, and come tell us and let us know how we can help. It’s always easy to point fingers.

  • Hannah June 8, 2012 at 3:33 am

    Call it UNILAG or MKO school or Nigeria Intl. UNi or World Renowned School or Heaven on Earth School, a pig will still be a pig!

    I don’t understand why Mr. President is so concerned with giving the school a face-lift when on the inside it’s as rotten as fermented fruits. Abiola will be most honored if a lab or campus or classrooms or library was renovated and named after him. This is another example of misplaced priorities and executive power well wasted. Unilag like any other public school and infrastructure in Nigeria needs a comprehensive overhaul that must be prioritized.

    Nigerian students in the same vein needs to protest more and advocate for their schools. It’s almost as if students have become so accustomed to learning in deficient environments that the idea of demanding and pressuring government for quality education is so alien.

    All of this is common sense but what do I know, people might just love their junk as is. So carry on Mr. President. After this, lets rename third main land bridge Lord Luggard Bridge. After all, he is the father of Nigeria **Wink*

  • mad at brittany June 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Brittany, amanda or whatever crap name u choose to call urself, pls we get your point. Stop boring us with ur long epistles abeg!!

    • Amanda June 17, 2012 at 2:11 am

      No one is forcing you to read it.

  • Post a comment