J. F Ade Ajayi, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos and Emeritus Professor of History, has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to reconsider whether the decision to change the name of the institution represents the best or most appropriate way to honour Chief MKO Abiola’s contribution to the cause of democracy in Nigeria.

“History has shown that a true statesman is prepared to step back and will ultimately stand for what is right when on reflection and due consideration the correct course of action is clear,” he advised in a letter.   

Professor Ade Ajayi expressed appreciation for President Jonathan’s decision to recognize Chief Abiola place in Nigeria’s history, public recognition he described as being long overdue, and saluted the courage to take the decision to rectify the omission.

He said, “As a historian I have sought to increase the respect for a sense of history in our national life as I see this awareness of our past as being crucial to national development. As a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, I have a heightened sense of the real and potential role of this particular institution in preparing and inspiring our leaders of tomorrow.

“I also have a sense of the value that past and present faculty and students as well as local and international collaborators and well wishers place on their association with one of the more enduring institutions in our nation.”

He prayed that God will Jonathan the grace to stand on the right side of history in this and throughout his tenure of office.

[Full text of the letter]:

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

State House,

Aso Rock, Abuja

       

Your Excellency

 I would like once again to take this opportunity to thank you for the honour you did me in 2010 on Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversary – by including me in the fifty individuals whose contributions to Nigeria, you acknowledged at the time.

I also wish to take this opportunity to appreciate your recent decision to recognize the contributions of Chief MKO Abiola to the advancement of Democracy in Nigeria. This public recognition is, almost universally, accepted as being long overdue. I salute your courage in taking the decision to rectify this.

I had a high regard for MKO Abiola as well as a personal relationship with him that dated back to a time when he sought me out and invited me to Chair the OAU Group of Eminent Persons on Reparations. The group included such distinguished Africans as Graca Machel and the East African historian Ali Mazrui. Chief Abiola committed considerable resources and his infectious energy to the cause of Reparations during his lifetime.

As a historian I have sought to increase the respect for a sense of history in our national life as I see this awareness of our past as being crucial to national development. As a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, I have a heightened sense of the real and potential role of this particular institution in preparing and inspiring our leaders of tomorrow.

I also have a sense of the value that past and present faculty and students as well as local and international collaborators and well wishers place on their association with one of the more enduring institutions in our nation.

I therefore appeal to you to reconsider whether the decision to change the name of the University of Lagos represents the best or most appropriate way to honour MKO’s contribution to the cause of democracy in Nigeria.

Nigeria is passing through a turbulent period. At times like this a sense of history, institutional memory and continuity are important to help restore stability. The University of Lagos is an important part of our institutional history and I urge you to restore its founding name and consider a more meaningful and befitting way in which to pay tribute to Chief MKO Abiola.

Finally, Your Excellency, history has shown that a true statesman is prepared to step back and will ultimately stand for what is right when on reflection and due consideration the correct course of action is clear.

I pray that God will give you the grace to stand on the right side of history in this and throughout your tenure of office.

Yours Sincerely,

J. F Ade Ajayi

Emeritus Professor of History
 

Read Next

You May Also Like