Renaming of UNILAG: Goodluck Jonathan

This is one gift horse which, contrary to traditional saying, must be inspected thoroughly in the mouth.

Primary from all of us must be a plea to the MKO Abiola family not to misconstrue the protests against the naming of the University of Lagos after their heroic patriarch. Issues must be separated and understood in their appropriate contexts.  The family will acknowledge that, among the loudest opposing voices to Jonathan’s gift horse, are those who have clamoured tirelessly that MKO Abiola, the Nigerian nation’s president-elect, be honoured nationally, and in a befitting manner.

Next is my confession to considerable shock that President Goodluck Jonathan did not even think it fit to consult or inform the administrators of the university, including Council and Senate, of his intention to re-name their university for any reason, however laudable. This arbitrariness, this act of disrespect, was a barely tolerated aberration of military governance. It is totally deplorable in what is supposed to be a civilian order.

After that comes the bad-mouthing of MKO Abiola and the Nigerian electorate by President Jonathan who referred to MKO as the “presumed winner” of a historic election. While applauding the president for finally taking the bull by the horn and rendering  honour unto whom honour is due, the particularities of this gesture have made it dubious, suspect, and tainted. You do not honour someone while detracting from his or her record of achievement. MKO Abiola was not a presumed winner, but the President-elect of a nation, and thus universally acknowledged.

It is sad, very sad, that after his predecessor who, for eight full years of presidency, could not even bear to utter the name of a man who made his own incumbency possible, along comes someone who takes back with the left hand what the right has offered.  However, there is hope. Legalists have claimed that there is a legal flaw to the entire process. The university, solidly backed by other tertiary institutions nation-wide, should immediately proceed to the courts of law and demand a ‘stay of execution’. That should give President Jonathan time to re-consider and perhaps shift his focus to the nation’s capital for institutions begging for rituals of re-naming. After all, it is on record that the House of Assembly did once resolve that the Abuja stadium be named after the man already bestowed the unique title of  “Pillar of African Sports”. He deserved that, and a lot more. What he did not deserve is to be, albeit posthumously, the centre of a fully avoidable acrimony, one that has now resulted in the shutting down one of the institutions of learning to whose cause, the cause of learning, President-elect MKO Abiola also made unparalleled private contributions.

Let me end by stressing that my position remains the same as it was when the University of Ife was re-named Obafemi Awolowo University. I deplored it at the time, deplore it till today, have never come to terms with it, and still hope that some day in the not too distant future, that crime against the culture of institutional autonomy will be rectified. Let us not compound the aberrations of the past with provocations in an era that should propel us towards a belated new Age of Enlightenment.



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  • Mabayoje

    Thank you sir.

  • Sule

    Prof, God bless. You’ve said it all.

  • Odumegwu2009

    Thank God Prof Soyinka for your presence. At least Mr. President has not sent his hirelings in KenMani, Concernednigerian, Luzfather and other presidency spies and agents to come here and insult us. I am sure if it were another voice or essay these silly kids would have invaded to start writing to justify their pay and master. Thank you sir. I am happy that you are still around to lend your revered voice against this madness in the land.

    • adenle

      I’m surprised KenMani has nothing to say on Prof’s opinion!

      • Odumegwu2009

        Ah Adenle, please do not bring that uncivil KenMani voice into this civil conversation we are having here ooo. At least we all should keep him at bay in deference to Prof Soyinka. Thanks Adenle for the observation. The guy should be kept at billion of kilometer length in a civil and productive conversation like this. thanks a lot!

  • Tinjay

    She the man even rememba to honor MKO. How about the ones wen no even acknowledge am despite say dem go skool grow up togeda. Na wa for una Naija sha, Soyinka inclusive.

    • patriot

      GEJ did good to remember MKO. the problem is the motive for doing this (political ) & the choice & place he choose to do it. Abiola & the june 12 mandate was a national issue & so he should be given a national honour in the capital , abuja, not south west. Name Eagle square, or University of abuja, or even national assembly after him. that is more appropriate. Tinjay, pls Prof Soyinka was at the fore front in the fight for June 12 in Nigeria & abroad. check history for Nadeco, his radio station & tour all over the west on june 12, & at his present age , he is still fighting to make the country a better place. Give honour to whom it is due pls.

  • Efjaylinks

    Prof I don’t know what to say other than yo say- Thank You.My Mentor..

  • Ezekiel Atewojaye

    Prof. I do not know what to say other than saying Weldone My Mentor

  • Emeka

    I Thank my God that you taught me. I thank my God that you are still alive to help with this.

  • Angobally

    I’m in line with the Prof’s submission. In as much as he meant well, the presisdent should have done it rightly, as what tha is worth doing is worth doing well. Thou, it is not late yet, Mr. President should rectify mistakes taken so that the gesture would b autenticated.

  • Ajisafe

    I want to congratulate Mr. President for having people like Prof around and for Prof. not to have kept mute on this matter. I think Mr President should respect the golden voice of elder. Thank you Prof.

  • Aderiye

    Prof Soyinka,
    God that made you the voice of Reason and Enlightenment in this season of anomie in the country and in the world, will not take that brain, voice, mind and heart from you.
    I will not say more than this.
    Thank you sir.

  • Truth man

    Thank prof also said he is against the name of Obafemi Awolowo University. So if Mr. president should ratify MAULAG, Ife students shouldn’t cry should he also ratify all other universities immortalised. According to Prof his stand is against MAULAG as it is against OAU. If you so much beleive in the judgement of Prof, let all Federal institutions in the country which have been renamed be ratified else let MAULAG remain.

  • Think Or Swim

    Ken Sarowiwa vs Moshood Abiola?
    Patriot vs Thief?
    Nigerians need to start calling people by their true names, or else we’ll start producing graduates from Lamidi Adedibu University, and Bode George University…

  • Sundayadesuyi

    Iam in complete agreement with the brilliant submission of Prof. Soyinka. As a graduate of Great Great Ife University, Iam still opposed to the change of name from University of Ife to Obafemi Awolowo University.
    University establishment is a stand alone institution with a branded name which should never be changed under any circumstance or guise. A university is different from any other organization or establishment. University of Lagos just like Great Ife Varsity has established academic and professional linkages with so many research centres and other colleges globally, therefore it is an abberation to begin to change the brand name of these great institutions for political favouritism.
    Year 2010, Cambridge University celebrated its 800th year anniversary, University of London is over 200 years old, Harvard is over 400 hundred years old and there was never an attempt from the British or American Government to change the names of these great institutions.
    The fact is that President Jonathan has so many insincere advisers.

    Adesuyi R.S.