Protests as Jonathan renames UNILAG after Abiola

Wednesday, May 30, 2012Omobaswagz H

Anger and protest on Tuesday greeted the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to rename the 50-year-old University of Lagos after the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

The renaming of UNILAG, now Moshood Abiola University, Lagos, after the late business mogul, came 14 years after the citizens hadAbiola’s clamoured for the recognition of his place in the democratic  journey of the country. But few minutes after Jonathan announced the renaming of the institution in his Democracy Day speech, students of the university trooped onto the streets in protest of the new name though they made it clear that they had nothing against the person of the late Abiola.

They described the renaming as “provocative and unpopular.”

Abiola’s daughters
But the Abiola family hailed the government for renaming UNILAG after their dead patriarch. Abiola’s first child, Lola Abiola-Edewor; and Hafsat Abiola-Costello, said that the Federal Government should be commended for recognising the contribution of the late politician to the return of democracy in Nigeria.

Abiola-Edewor, a two-term member of the House of Representatives, condemned the protest by some UNILAG students against the decision by the Federal Government to name the institution after her late father. The university, known more by its acronym, UNILAG, was established in 1962 by an Act of Parliament.

Against democratic norms
The National President, UNILAG Alumni Association, Prof. Olayide Abass; a former Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe; all the workers’ unions, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities, faulted the decision which they described as “illegal, provocative, absolutely incongruous and antithetical to democratic norms.”

The alumni association threatened to drag Jonathan and the Federal Government to court over the name change. Abass said the President did not have the power to change the name of the university, which he said was created by an Act of Parliament.

It’s either the President does not have a sense of history or that those who are his advisers are not in tune with the nation’s law. UNILAG is the first federal university in the country that was created by an Act of Parliament, so if he wants to change the name, he should go back to the National Assembly and press for the amendment of the university law. He is not a lawmaker and so does not have such power,” he said.

He advised the President to stop acting like a military leader in a democratic dispensation, adding if Abiola must be immortalised, UNILAG, which he said, had become a brand name globally, should not be demeaned.

Abass also faulted the decision, saying it came at a time the university was mourning its late VC, Prof. Tokunbo Sofoluwe, and was planning its golden jubilee.

Also, Ibidapo-Obe wondered why the President did not consult stakeholders before he made the ‘’totally unacceptable” decision.
It is absolutely incongruous, totally unacceptable and antithetically opposed to democracy that he (President) preaches. Decisions in democracy are made through consultations that is why politicians arrive at all -inclusive decisions but in this case, the President did not consult anybody in UNILAG before he foists this on us.
 It is a deceitful decision made to satisfy people who are not happy with him in the South-West. We are not happy with the decision and that is why the students spontaneously went on the streets to protest it,” he said.
 Source: Punchng

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