Abiola: Nigerians Hail Jonathan For Renaming Unilag as Some Kick
Lagos – Stakeholders in the education have continued to react to the renaming of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) as Moshood Abiola University (MAU) by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The president had in his Democracy Day broadcast on Tuesday named the institution after the late Chief MKO Abiola for his contributions to the country’s democracy.
Abiola was the presumed winner of the annulled June 1993 presidential poll.
A former Minister of Education, Mrs Chinwe Obaji, on Tuesday 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.
Obaji noted that the 1993 election was the freest and fairest the country had ever experienced, adding that for government to think of giving him such an honour was not out of place.
“Here was a man whose ideals were embraced and people, irrespective of religious and ethnic differences voted for him overwhelmingly.
“If the government deems it proper to honour him this way, then so be it”.
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.
He said: “The renaming itself is not the problem it is was a populist gesture. This must not been seen as a way to garner the sympathy of the people of the South West.
“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”.
The Edo Consultative Forum (ECF), Lagos branch, on Tuesday commended the Federal Government for re-naming the University of Lagos (UNILAG), in honour of the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
The commendation was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Media and Publicity of the forum, Mr Matthew Aramunde, which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that President Goodluck Jonathan in his nationwide broadcast on Tuesday to celebrate Democracy Day renamed UNILAG after Abiola.
The forum noted that the honour was overdue, stressing that the history of Nigeria democracy would not be complete without noting Abiola's contributions.
``We are celebrating 13 years of uninterrupted civilian rule in Nigeria. Many people have paid the supreme price to ensure we gain and sustained democracy and among whom were M.K.O. Abiola and his wife, Kudirat.
``This honour shows that the labour of our heroes past had never be in vain.
``The honour will also encourage those fighting for the good of Nigeria now to serve with their heart and might, with a view to having a nation bound in freedom, peace and unity,’’ ECF noted.
The forum, however, urged the government to also honour other Nigerians, whether dead or living, who had contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria and democracy in particular.
It suggested that the special Museum planned by Jonathan for past presidents and heads of state should also accommodate well meaning Nigerians, the likes of Rashidi Yekini and the police officer who died in Kaduna while trying to detonate a Boko Haram bomb.
In another development, the ECF condemned the alleged protest by some UNILAG students against the re-naming of the institution.
It urged the students to redirect their protest to the challenges facing the nation, such as the insecurity perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect, corruption and other ills of the society.
``How would the re-naming of UNILAG after M.K.O. Abiola affect the results and grades of the students? Do they have any other business in the school apart from studies and become responsible people.
``UNILAG is the property of the Federal Government of Nigeria, it can change the name as it pleases any time.
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.
``The students should protest against the killings in the north. They should protest against those mentioned for corruption and not the change in the name of their school,’’ the forum added.
Sagay said: “The president should be praised for his effort to immortalise Abiola. It was done out of good intention but he chose the wrong institution.
“UNILAG is too well established and has its own individual personality which will be difficult to overshadow”.
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.