No going back on Moshood Abiola University, says Fed Govt

Information Minister, Labaran Maku, says the administration is not in a mood to reverse itself in the naming of the University of Lagos after the late Chief Mashood Abiola, winner of the 1993 presidential elections.

Speaking to state house correspondents after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Mr. Maku stated that the president came to his conclusion on the matter as a way of honoring a great nationalist and true champion and martyr of democracy.

The Minister dismissed the students protest in Lagos as misguided, and the handiwork of a group of young people without a sense of history, and urged Nigerians not to allow those he called “some students” to dim the significance of the decision to immortalize Abiola.

“The decision has been made in very good faith by Mr. President and we have seen the reactions by a section of the students of University of Lagos,” Mr Maku said. 

The information minister said the government hopes that in the long run “reasons will prevail” and that the decision will be appreciated by Nigerians especially the protesting students.

Since announcing the renaming of the 50 year old institution to Moshood Abiola University, May 29, students, lecturers and alumni of the university have condemned the act. 

While students and lecturers of the university have staged two days protest to denounce the president’s plans, the alumni is planning to stop him through a court process.

The minister admitted the government knew the renaming would spark protest adding, “We do not as an administration see this as disapproval.”

“We just see it as a normal way in every democracy that when you make major decisions definitely sometimes you have public reaction,” he said.

Too young to know Abiola

The minister suggested those opposing the new name of the university are probably to young to understand the significance of Mr Abiola in Nigeria’s democracy.

“For those of us who have been part of this country for long and who have been adults that lived through the history of Nigeria, particularly in the last two decades if there is any figure that symbolizes sacrifice of self for this nation, it is Abiola” the minister said. 

He argued that anyone familiar with Nigeria’s politics in the last two decades would understan the emotional significance of the June 12 elections which culminated to the death of Mr Abiola in 1998.

“There is no event in the political history of our country that touches the hearts of quite a significant number of citizens like the June 12 Presidential election,” he said.

Legal implications

In response to question bordering on whether the president had the power to unilaterally rename the university without an amendment of the Act establishing the school, the minister said the president acted in his capacity as a visitor to the school.

“He did so in the best interest of the country,” the minister argued. “He did so because any nation that does not honour those who clearly stand out and make a sacrifice as a role model cannot appeal to the best in its own traditions for citizens to follow.”

Protest against the president’s Democracy Day gesture to the late politician sparked two days of protest in areas around the university campus in Lagos. The protests led to a blockade of the Third Mainland Bridge, a major link between Lagos Mainland and the city’s business hub, Lagos and Victoria  Islands. 

Government threatened to shut the school Wednesday but school authorities rescinded the decision after the students resisted their eviction from campus. 




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  • Sule

    These guys talk authoritatively as if we are still in a military regime.

  • Otitoju

    Mr. Labaran Maku, Na wa o. What happened to you? Is it not the same “Comrade” Labaran? I cannot believe eoither my eyes or ears.

  • Amakabellodagogo

    Shame on Yoruba’s. They are not even intelligent. somebody came to honour your tribe man and you are rejecting it due to lack of exposure, fooooools

    • Nuel

      you have made a very intelligent observation. no doubt you finished with a first class, but since MKO ABIOLA died for Nigerian democracy and not as a Yoruba man why not name a place or university in the other zones after him.

  • Otitoju

    The point is that the 2015 election is around the corner. And that Mr. Jonathan knows that his stewardship to the nation would have to be scrutinized. The criteria of such scrutiny are achievements. In other words, in view of the fact that this is a democracy, the scrutiny has to be open based on publicly verifiable criteria. Now I do not think as at now, Mr. Jonathan has anything to show as achievements. For example: (i) From the United Nations Human Development Index Report (an objective non-Nigerian report and assessment) about two thirds of Nigerians are living in ABJECT POVERTY. (ii) In the last JAMB ONLY THREE STUDENTS (including those in the so-called private schools where our members of our middle class has taken their children to) had a score above 300 points/marks. (iii) Daily Nigerians are harassed even in less endowed African countries. Putting politricking aside, Mr. Jonathan can still NOT point to any concrete achievement after spending three years, yet this is not a military dictatorship where heads of state are not scrutinized before renewal of their terms. Mr. Jonathan knows that the scrutiny of his stewardship has started in lieu of 2015. So? He is looking for “achievements”. And this is the brutal fact, he knows that for purely sentimental reasons whether he performs or not, some states will vote for him on the basis of some stone age criteria devoid of performance and merit. Nigeria is one country that has decided not to pull itself out of that stone age mentality- In other words whether a president performs or not he/she is there so long as it is “their turn”. This is actually the recipe for the mass looting of our treasury since a president is guaranteed to be there even if he/she is an armed robber so long it is his/her zone’s “turn”. So? while as it often happens in Nigerian politricks, some states will vote primordially for Mr. Jonathan without any iota of public scrutiny, this WILL NEVER happen in some states. Whether Mr. Jonathan likes it or not HE WILL BE SCRUTINIZED publicly in those states based on verifiable criteria on HOW HE TOUCHED THE LIVES OF WORKING NIGERIANS DURING HIS PRESIDENCY-period. And he knows this. There will be no sentiments. It has to be “SHOW ME WHAT YOU HAVE DONE IN SIX YEARS TO DESERVE MY VOTE”. That is the way of democracy and NOT “Oh I have to be there after six years because it is my turn”. No we pay taxes and a president must show why he/she deserves to be returned to power. Yes, he will have some primordial votes from some states as it happens often in Nigerian politricks. But for some of us and in other states, HE HAS TO BE SCRUTINIZED beyond some silly primordiality. The days of I will be there regardless of performance is GONE. We will scrutinize any HOLDER OF PUBLIC OFFICE as it is done in developed countries (Europe and America) where these people run to , to enjoy their loots, and where they send their children for education. So?Mr. Jonathan is merely using the Abiola thing as a horse gift/ a Greek gift in preparation for 2015. What is naming a mere university after Abiola compared to the sacrifice he made? Everybody knows that the seat of power in ASO ROCK should be named after Abiola, not a mere university. But it is dubious and dishonest to tie that around vote catching. It is fraudulent to do it against 2015 elections. And please DO NOT say Mr. Jonathan is not contesting 2015 elections. He is contesting . All the body language point to that. Those who deny that should tell that to the marines. It is an INSULT for a president to tie his vote fortunes (i) among pro-democracy movement and constituency, (ii) in the West where Abiola came from and (iii) among progressive looking Nigerians generally around naming a university after Abiola in a manner that violates all known procedure. And for a person like Mr. Labaran Maraku, Mr. Jonathan’s minister for Information to defend that as if we are in a military regime is shocking. We must ask as everyone is asking now if we have lost the sense of moral shock in Nigeria. So while most peoples analysis about this fraudulent act is sound and valid, the addition is that Mr. Jonathan has insulted the memory of Abiola and the rest of us who privately and quietly continue to re-build private lives due to misfortunes short of death that were suffered during that sad period in our history by tying his desperate need for votes in 2015 around this act-I challenge Mr. Jonathan’s hirelings to repudiate this factually. My point is that whether Mr. Jonathan likes it or not HE WILL BE SCRUTINIZED. And HE WILL CONTINUE TO BE SCRUTINIZED publicly. Those of us who paid dearly for our country to defeat military dictatorship WILL NOT FOLD hands and see it completely corrupted. Those who have jumped boat can stay on the side of filth and stench. But the rest will insist on PUBLIC SCRUTINY of every public office holder. We did not stake our lives for a joke. So Mr. president can take the few primordial votes from those who are ready to sacrifice performance, but for the rest of the country HE HAS TO SET FORTH HIS ACHIEVEMENTS BEFORE NIGERIANS AGAINST 2015 elections. Enough is enough. We as Nigerians are not ready to have to go to Ghana, Togo, Republic of Benin to beg for food and our children’s education. If a public office holder cannot perform, he/she gets out. If the kitchen is too hot for a president or a public office holder he/she knows what to do.