The Alumni Association (worldwide) of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) in Ondo State has rejected the calls to rename the institution after Shehu Shagari, a former President of Nigeria.
The Alumni Association said renaming the federal university after Shagari would cause "identity crisis" for the school.
Shagari died on December 28, 2018, at the National Hospital in Abuja at the age of 93.
There have been calls on the Nigerian government to rename one of the institutions in the country after the late Shehu Shagari. Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), founder and Chancellor of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), is one of those that have called for the renaming of FUTA after Shagari.
Speaking to journalists, Olaitan Adesomoju, President of the Alumni Association, said the suggestion by Afe Babalola should be viewed as his personal opinion.
Adesomoju, who was flanked by members of the association at the press conference, urged the Nigerian government to disregard the suggestion, adding that a structure or lecture theatre be built in Shagari's honour inside FUTA, instead of renaming the institutiton after him.
Speaking on their disagreement with the stand, Adesomoju said: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) in his tribute to the late Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari President of Nigeria 1979 – 1983 with the title 'Name Federal University of Technology, Akure after Shagari' published in several national daily newspapers.
“We, the entire members of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) Alumni Association Worldwide, including our branches in Europe, America, and other parts of the world, view this as a personal opinion or a mere suggestion from Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), whom most of us refer to as a father.
“After extensive consultation and discussions with alumni members globally, we wish to state clearly that the overwhelming majority vehemently oppose any name change to our great alma mater. It is of note that the Federal University of Technology, Akure was not the only university established by act of parliament during Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s regime; at least six other Federal Universities of Technology were established.
“Furthermore, FUTA is an established professional brand that is globally respected for technological innovations. FUTA has also developed several domestic and international collaborations with other leading institutions. These advances and relationship would be marred in an identity crisis by changing its established brand name on the whim of an individual. Evidence abound that previous name changes for purposes of immortalizations have done a lot of damage to institutions of higher learning than good and there is nowhere in the world that institutions of higher learning over five years old are abruptly renamed after the demise of a leader.
“For example, Harvard and Oxford have kept the same name since their creation and establishment; these brands are globally respected and identifiable. We want to advise the Federal Government that instead of renaming the institution after Alhaji Shehu Shagari, it should consider building a world class infrastructure like science laboratories, lecture theatres, or any other infrastructure that will last for a long time in our alma mater, and name it after Alhaji Shehu Shagari. This will help resolve some of the challenges we have on our campus rather than compounding them with a name change.
“Consequently, we hereby plead with the Federal Government to allow the brand ‘FUTA’ to remain in the name of posterity and peace."
Students of the institution have also signed different petitions against renaming of the school after Shehu Shagari.
The students, who have taken to social media to register their displeasure with the proposed renaming, noted that they would resist any attempt to change the school's name.