Various individuals and groups have continued to react to the announcement made by President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday over the renaming of University of Lagos. President Jonathan announced during the Democracy Day broadcast that the name of the institution would be changed from University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University in honour of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola.
Minutes after the announcement, hundreds of students of the institution poured out on to the streets to protest the school’s renaming.
The chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos branch, Dr Karo Ogbinaka, has said that the union will resist the recent change of the university’s name.
“We are resisting it, all the unions and the students will resist it, the Alunmus will resist it. The truth about the whole thing is that it shows the level of intelligence of those people in government. Nobody will change Harvard’s name, nobody will change Cambridge’s name to Winston Churchill University. University of Lagos is a brand, for 50 years. The first university established by Act of Parliament and one man trying to score cheap political point. When people go outside and you ask them what University are you from? What name will you pronounce? They’ll ask is it a new university? Is it the name of a toothpaste? It’s a senseless thing and are going to resist it,” Karo said.
The Save Nigeria Group through their spokesman, Yinka Odumakin also released a statement yesterday against the renaming of University of Lagos.
‘The Save Nigeria Group(SNG) while acknowledging the eternal place of Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, the winner of June 12 elections, in the political history of Nigeria and would want the highest possible honor done to him; deplores the indecent manner in which President Goodluck Jonathan has re-named the University of Lagos after him.
It is high time President Jonathan embraced a democratic mindset and stop behaving like maximum ruler.
We restate our demand that M.K.O Abiola must be given a befitting honor or the sacrifices he made for democracy in Nigeria in a decent and worthy manner.’
A constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said the President should be praised for his effort to immortalise Abiola, adding that he, however, made a wrong choice in choosing UNILAG.
He noted that the president could have named one of the nine federal universities being constructed by the government in honour of the late acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
“This would have been less contentious because they are yet to be given any names and have no identity of their own unlike UNILAG”, Sagay added.
Conversely, some people have lauded the name change by the President. Mr Bamidele Aturu, a human rights activist, said the president had the power to change the name of the institutioņ stressing that nothing was actually wrong with the name change.
“The Federal Government has the power to change the name of any of its institution but it must be done with approval of the University’s council. If the UNILAG Council did not approve the name to be changed, then there will be a problem because it means that due process has not been followed”.
A former Minister of Education, Mrs Chinwe Obaji, said that the decision to rename the school after Abiola was a welcome development.
“I do not see anything wrong with the change because it has to do with what is their brief and so, there is nothing wrong with that. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) , for instance, has it in the constitution establishing it that the name must not be changed and so it would remain. Moshood Abiola deserves to be honoured because he was a symbol of democracy, no matter whatever anyone thinks,” she said.
Also, Mr. Abdul Abiola, son of late Chief M.K.O Abiola said there was nothing wrong with the naming of the university after his father.
“We are shocked by the reactions trailing this development. My late father believed so much in education. He donated money to universities across the nation. Naming a university after him was a well-deserved honour. We are happy about it and we are yet to understand the rationale behind people going up in arms over this,” he said.
Meanwhile, students of the institution have threatened to block the Third Mainland Bridge and major roads in Lagos with protests if the name change is not reversed soon.
News Source: Vanguard | Sahara Reporters | NAN