The controversy over GEJ's decision to rename UNLAG after MKO Abiola will continue to rage on years after the deed was done.
I have never really liked Jonathan, I also campaigned against him and did not vote for him. I make no apologies for this because I am convinced he does not have the capacity to put Nigeria in the right course. However let us try to objectively analyse the issue at hand.
Now there is nothing wrong in renaming an institution to immortalise MKO Abiola, as a matter of fact it is a worthy act.
Abiola deserves to be honoured by the Federal Government and much more. It is even long overdue for Abiola till date remains a colossus. He was the most successful businessman of his time and the biggest philanthropist ever to come out of Africa. He donated freely to universities and built hostels, libraries and schools in different parts of the nation. He was indeed a good example of a detribalised Nigerian. In what remains our freest and fairest election till date, he won a landslide victory cutting across various ethnicities even though he contested on a muslim/muslim ticket. He was courageous enough to defend his mandate even against the intimidating enemies of democracy and for this reason he paid the ultimate price and so also did his wife. What more can one ask of a hero?
Let us recall that many Nigerians especially those from the southwest have been calling for Abiola to be immortalised. In fact ACN controlled states actually celebrate June 12th rather than May 29th as democracy day. So one is petrified at the amount of negative reactions this supposedly worthy act is generating across the nation bringing us to the question why all the criticisms. Why is this particular gesture receiving more knocks than kudos.
Many question the propriety of using an institution of such stature as UNILAG. Whereas others suggest the name change should have been done with the consent of the University community. Not a few have also argued that a monument in the federal capital would have been more appropriate as Abiola is regarded by many as the symbol of our democratic struggle, yet many have condemned it as a political move calculated to cajole the south west and so the argument goes on and on...
Firstly if majority of us agree that Abiola is our beacon of democracy then I think it will be right to say that no institution governmental or educational is too big to be named after him. It will therefore be right to say that UNILAG should consider itself lucky to bear the name of our national hero of democracy as institutions of equal stature such as ABU formerly University of Northern Nigeria and OAU formerly University of Ife were both renamed after what one can rightly describe as regional heroes. Those who argue that it is unimaginable for America to rename institutions like Havard etc to me are completely ignorant as the school initially called new college was renamed after John Havard after he donated his library to the school. John Havard himself was English!
There is no doubt that the decision to change the name of the University of Lagos was not GEJ's sole decision, it would have been taken after deliberation by the Federal Executive Council. It is equally indisputable that the federal govt which wholly owns and funds the institution can decide to change the name as it pleases. Yet again there is no proof that govt did not consult the authorities of UNILAG before taking its decision as there is no statement emanating from the school authorities stating so, rather what we hear is that students are protesting. Granted that as stake holders it is their basic right to protest if not for anything but to let govt think thoroughly before making such decisions in future, but definitely not to consult them before taking executive decisions such as this. Pray how does a name change affect the standard of education in the school? Someone should tell these students to go and read the constitution!
Those who posit that naming a national monument in Abuja would have been better or making June 12th our democracy day appear to be the most practical here. However bearing in mind that OBJ, a south westerner blatantly refused to name as little as an alley after Abiola it becomes more commendable that GEJ was courageous enough to do so albeit inadequately. So to this school of thought I will say "half bread is better than none" because we have come to expect none from this lame administration. Maybe next year he may summon more courage to name something in Abuja and then go on to make June 12th our democracy day before we finally send him back to Otuoke in 2015. And to those who condemn this move as a cheap political gambit to woo the south west, well all I have to tell Jona is "guy you failed woefully" the Yorubas remain the foremost elites in our country, and cajoling them will obviously take more than this so maybe you should try other ways such as telling Aunty Peshe to move with Keke Napep on her next visit to Lagos so as to save Lagosians the pains of the gridlock suffered on her last visit.
Finally this should go a long way to show the president's handlers the declining popularity of this administration and maybe prevail on govt to abort its planned hike in electricity tariff tomorrow. It is not late to shelve that plan. Two protests against govt policies within 5 months is not a good sign. To be fore warned is to be fore armed!