Jonathan’s idea to re-christen the Prestigious University of Lagos Popularly known as UNILAG to Moshood Abiola University is what Dele Giwa of blessed memory would describe as pouring blood on one’s certificate. The name UNILAG, which the University of First Choice and the Nation’s pride has maintained since its establishment 50 years ago, is a brand name and should not be tampered with. Science Reporter STANLEY CHIBUIHEM AMALAHA, in an encounter with some Scientists and other scholars from different Ivory Towers in the country, reports.
A Press Release made on page 9 of Wednesday May 30, 2012 in one of the leading National Newspapers in Nigeria reads: UNILAG ALUMNI ASSOCIATION REJECTS PROPOSED CHANGE OF NAME
“The National Executive Committee on behalf of all members of the University of Lagos Alumni Association, the Students and the entire University Community reject the shocking announcement by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan during his democracy day address renaming the University of Lagos as Moshood Abiola University.
The University of Lagos is the first University to be established by an Act of Federal Parliament in 1962 and has built a strong brand name in its 50 years. That is why it is the University of First Choice and the nation’s pride. We expect that any change in name should have taken stakeholders interest into consideration and followed due process. We are aware that neither the Governing Council, nor the University Senate, nor any other stakeholder was consulted before the change was announced.
Also, we are not aware of any act of the National Assembly to change the Name. It is therefore inappropriate that Mr. President will attempt to change the name of a 50 year-old university of repute without its consent.
Did Abiola himself not say “you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence?” Without prejudice to the person of Late Chief MKO Abiola, we the Alumni Association on behalf of the entire University Community reject the name as announced”.
The press release was signed by Prof Olayide, Abass, OON, FAS, National President, University of Lagos Alumni Association; and Femi Oladimeji MNIM, National Secretary. The body stressed emphatically that UNILAG is the first Federal University in Nigeria that was created by an Act of parliament, so if Jonathan wants to change the name, he should go back to the National Assembly and press for amendment of the University Law. “He is not a Law maker and does not have such power” they added.
In personal statement made by Abass, an Alumnus of the University and Professor of Computer Science, “It is either the President does not have sense of history or those that are his advisers are not in tune with the nation’s law. UNILAG is the first Federal University in the country established by an Act of parliament. Jonathan is not a lawmaker and does not have the power to change the university name. He further advised the president to stop acting like a military man in a democratic dispensation. “If Abiola must be immortalized, UNILAG which has become a brand name globally should not be demeaned”, he added.
In another highlight, former Vice Chancellor of the institution Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe, FAS, an Alumnus, and current president Nigerian Academy of Science, and a Systems/Robotic Engineer, faulted Jonathan’s act. “It is absolutely incongruous, totally unacceptable and antithetically opposed to democracy which he (the president) says he is preaching. Decisions in democracy are made through consultation. In this case, neither the National Assembly, Senate, UNILAG nor any stakeholder was consulted “it is a deceitful political decision made to satisfy people who are not happy with him in the South-West Nigeria” he said.
Professor Tolu Odegbemi, another former Vice Chancellor UNILAG and Professor of Medical Microbiology, emphatically condemned the act “the news to rename University of Lagos was most disturbing and ill advised. The university has made its global respectable name over the years. The idea which will also affect Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL) (God forbid), is an unnecessary waste in rewriting branded names! He stressed that wide consultation of stakeholders could have saved Jonathan from taking unpopular decision. How do you think University of Lagos Alumni and Alumnae all over the world, will start looking for a new identity which is unacceptable with a university that is 50 years old! He called on the government to reconsider the matter and rescind the unacceptable decision because the change of name is an unnecessary distraction. There are other structures in sports, democratic institutions etc that should be used to honour Chief MKO Abiola, he added.
A lecturer from the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Lagos and LNG National Science Prize winner 2004 (maiden edition) Dr Kingsley Abhulimen, lamented that he would better resign than to accept that ugly name. Jonathan wants to rubbish the sense of dignity and pride on every elite and don in the University by Lagos. For him to wake up overnight and think he can change the enviable name “UNILAG”, without consultation is totally impossible. By this action, the president has demonstrated a certain level of intellectual deficiency that one would even need to question his academic performance.
Dr Ebenezer Meshids, another LNG National Science prize winner (2008), and lecturer, Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering & Geology, University of Lagos, condemned the act. “I didn’t expect Jonathan to act in this way. Even the military did not take this negative action let alone a President in the democratic era. He should reverse the statement with immediate effect. UNILAG cannot be changed.
In another highlight, Dr Virgy Onyene, lecturer in Science Education, UNILAG faulted Jonathans act. “Praise to God and peace to UNILAG family! Political Nincompoops in leadership shall be divinely dethroned for tampering with Act of parliament undemocratically” she said.
Dr Mrs Esiobu who lectures Biology at the faculty of Education, University of Lagos was totalling angry with the decision. “There are many monuments nationally the president should name after Abiola. UNILAG has made international reputation for the past 50 years of its establishment” she said.
Dean of faculty of Science UNILAG and Professor of Chemistry, Oluwole Familoni, said how can I say I am a professor at Mashood Abiola Universtiy Lagos MAUL (Acronym pronounced as malu)? He added. The government must change its decision.
Scientists/Engineers from other universities across the country also condemned renaming UNILAG after Abiola. They include: Professor Michael Faboode immediate past Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, and professor of Agric Engineering who emphatically rejected Jonathan’s decision. In the same vein, Jona Agunwamba, Dean of Engineering and Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Nigeria Nsukka, totalling condemned Jonathan’s act.
“He should leave UNILAG alone. I think he is building six or more universities in Nigeria, why not he name one of them after Abiola than to start creating pandemonium? The astute Dean questioned”.
Professor Akii Ibhadode, Head, Department of Production Engineering University of Benin described the act as barbaric and undemocratic under the rule of law. He advice the government to reverse the decision immediately.
Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God worldwide, an academic, mathematician and Alumnus of the University of Lagos. He will never accept his Alma-mata UNILAG, after 50 years of existence to be re-christened after anybody. “UNILAG is central to me for one thing. It is at the University of Lagos that I gave my life to Christ” Pastor Adeboye said.
No wonder his love for UNILAG made him to endow a professorial chair of N50 million recently at the university.
Pastor William F. Kumuyi, G.O. Deeper Life Bible Church, worldwide, another distinguished Alumnus of UNILAG, clergy, academic and mathematician of great repute will never allow the ancient landmark UNILAG to be changed. It is on record that it is at the University of Lagos soil that Deeper Life Bible Church started in 1973.
Dr. Daniel Olukoya, General Overseer, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries worldwide, a first class microbiology product of UNILAG will never allow his alma-mata to be demeaned. His love for UNILAG is so dear that he recently donated N150 million Central Laboratory building to the university.
The past governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) is not left out in the race. A mechanical engineer by profession from the prestigious University of Lagos, will never allow his alma-mata to be demeaned by Jonathan.
Oh, what shall I say more, for time and space would fail me to mention other distinguished personalities UNILAG has produced, which include: Dele Olojede, Africa’s first Pullizer Prize winner; former Vice Presidents of Nigeria, Oladapo Diya, and Mike Aikhigbe are all products of the University of Lagos. Former Abia State governor, Ogbonnaya Onu, a chemical engineer from UNILAG will never settle for anything less than UNILAG, the University of first choice and the nation’s pride.
If Jonathan really know the class of people the University of Lagos has produced, fear will not allow him to temper with the image of the ivory tower. It is UNILAG and nothing else. Legal luminary Chief Afe Babalola, and Nobel Laurette, Professor Wole Soyinka in a documented report rejected Jonathan’s act.
Even Nigeria’s former President, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, faulted Jonathan’s act when he said: Jonathan should have consulted
Lagos lawyer and rights activist, Bamidele Aturu, has described the re-christening of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) to Moshood Abiola University by President Jonathan as a show of utter disrespect of legality. “We have always doubted the intelligence of this government and this has confirmed it. This is senseless. UNILAG was established by an Act of Parliament. We will go to court” chairman, ASUU, UNILAG, Oghenekaro Ogbinaka said.
It is shocking to wake up to find out that the school’s identity has been changed. The government should have renamed one of the new federal universities after Abiola, he said.
Dr. Ogbinaka said it is a PDP agenda to get the heart of the South-West politicians. This is senseless. Renaming UNILAG would destroy its existing brand name after 50 years. “We have built University of Lagos as a brand name for 50 years. The name UNILAG is a brand name. It is not something you will wake up and change. Nobody can go to Cambridge now and rename it Margaret Thatcher University or change the name of Harvard University. The decision shows the low level of governance in this country.
Without consulting, he just woke up one day and felt he could change the name of an existing university. It is unfair, unheard of, and a disgrace to Africa. How do you expect students or lecturers from UNILAG to go out and say they are from Moshood Abiola University. It is unthinkable, he said.
Tajudeen, the son of the late Gani Fawehinmi, who is an Alumnus of UNILAG, faulted the decision. He said UNILAG has a multicultural setting that should not be tagged to any tribal lining.
Prof. David West, an academician of great repute faults the action to rename UNILAG.
Popular constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said Jonathan went about it the wrong way by choosing the University of Lagos.
UNILAG is too well established and has its own individual personality which will be impossible to overshadow. Jonathan is just being childish. He is doing all these, thinking he will get the votes of Yoruba people but Yorubas are sophisticated politically and socially. Is it not the same Jonathan that called them rascal.”
A place like university belongs to various diverse elements in the society who are political. And a place like that cannot be politicised.
Indeed Scientists, Engineers, Alumni, Students, and the global body have rejected renaming UNILAG after Abiola. If this evil is not checkmated now, one day University of Ibadan will be named Lamdi Adedibu University Ibadan; while Nsukka, will be renamed Odumegwu Ojukwu University Nsukka. Similarly on January 1, 2012, Jonathan gave Nigerians surprise package by increasing gasoline pump prize from N65 to N120. On May 29, he wants to change the name of UNILAG. Probably on October 1, when he will make another speech, “NIGERIA” will be named “IBEK”, because the name Nigeria was given to us by a foreigner and a woman for that matter (Mrs Lord Lugard). IBEK is an acronym or initials of capital cities of old four major regions of Nigeria, “I” for Ibadan (West); “B” for Benin (Mid-west); “E” for Enugu (Eastern Region); and “K” for Kaduna (Northern region). The government should revise its selfish political decision. It is UNILAG and nothing else!