The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUJ), Julius Okojie, on Thursday rose to President Goodluck Jonathan’s defence,saying he consulted widely before re-naming the University of Lagos after the late Moshood Abiola.
President Jonathan had in his Democracy Day broadcast renamed the University which led to two days of protests by students of the institution, but the Federal Government said despite the protests, its decision is final on the matter.
The decision did not go down well with students of the university who took to the street for two consecutive days.
Mr. Okogie said contrary to the insinuation that the president did not consult before taking the decision, the president carried out proper consultations.
“Who told you there was no consultation? Can the President act alone?
Even in the matters of nine new universities, from the scratch I know the committee that worked on it.
“Jonathan is the most engaging President, he is very accessible, and I can tell you about that. That he didn’t consult will not be the truth,” he said.
When asked if the school authorities were consulted before the decision was taken, The NUC scribe insinuated that the school authorities did not need to be checked with.
“Is that the level of consultation? Who is the proprietor of federal institutions? It is the federal Government of course. It is not at that level he will consult but they have been told”.
Responding to further enquiries, Mr. Okogie added that the name change will not happen now as the National Assembly needs to confirm the presidential decision.
“The President has never said there is no due process, he has not said we should go and pull down the Bill Board of University of Lagos today and put Moshood Abiola. He is a man who believes in due process and he won’t do anything out of the ordinary”.
The protest will fizzle out Mr. Okogie said protests had always followed renaming of Universities, but it has never led to reversal of presidential directive.
He referred to six other universities in the country that were renamed.
“We are familiar with these issues; I have been in the University system for this long. I speak as Executive Secretary of NUC and a regulator of universities. We have had Ife changed in 1987 to Obafemi Awokowo University, we have had University of Sokoto changed to Usman Dan Fodio university, the Federal University of Technology, Yola, was renamed Modibbo Adama University, and University of Awka was renamed Nnamdi Azikiwe University . This is about the seventh one”.
“The President had announced that we want to honour Abiola on Democracy Day which everybody thinks is in order,” Mr. Okogie said.
He held that Nigerian University student are wont to react over anything.
According to him, “The President has given a directive; the rest is for us to follow the implementation”.