UNILAG/MAULAG Protest: Is there more than meets the eye? By Mbasekei Martin Obono

In 1999, the then military Head of State, Abdbulsami Abubakar handed over power to President Olusegun Obasanjo, since then, in Nigeria, May 29 has become a public holiday that gives us the opportunity to celebrate transition of power from military to democratic rule.

As a teenager in 1999, I was glued to my television, watching events, all through, asking questions and compelling answers out of those who were either unwilling to provide them or just did not have a clue. I was never a victim of military dictatorship, maybe I was too young or over protected. I had people close to me who were in the Military and wielded a little bit of power within their circle of influence but I knew there was something fundamentally wrong with military rule. I was chiefly excited about transition to democracy at that time and I was eager to learn democratic tenets and participate as well, perhaps it sounded civil despite my quest to enrol at the Nigerian Defence Academy.

But Obasanjo came and fumbled throughout his eight years at the Presidential villa. He violated human rights, disrespected the rule of law which is the cardinal point of democracy, and sold government properties to cronies in the name of privatisation. For me and I think for many other Nigerians, Obasanjo was a case study. Nigerians endured him for eight years and he handed us a laggard – Umaru Musa Yaradua. Yaradua had dire health challenges and could not discharge his duties accordingly yet, he would not resign. The obstinate position of Yaradua and his handlers increased public awareness and thronged participation in our democratic systems among young people in Nigeria.   All the while, we saw one reason or the other to celebrate Democracy day, whether we earned it in a hard way or on a platter of gold. Now, Goodluck Jonathan has started and he is obviously leading us towards opening a new chapter in our democratic walk.

Unlike other Democracy day celebrations, I was disillusioned. The serial allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds going on by this one year old administration is unprecedented. So much money has been stolen, Millions don’t count anymore. They steal in Billions and Trillions and they do so with impunity. Citizens can perish for all they care. Our women should continue to die as a result of absence of primary healthcare, our brothers and sisters should be maimed and killed by bad roads, electricity is a luxury that the average Nigerian cannot afford because his minimum wage is not enough to buy an electricity generating set and fuel it. The standard of education is enjoying the ride of a free fall and intellectualism is gradually disappearing into the abysmal. Meanwhile, lootocratic tendencies are gaining grounds and thriving in a country where ethnic and religious lines are so bold that one with an eagle eye may still stumble upon.

I was persuaded by my friend to watch the President’s broadcasts, So, I tuned in. It was clear that neither the Presidency nor the Federal Government consulted with the school management before the honour was given to MKO Abiola, because he created a few seconds of suspense while reading through paragraph 71 of the address and I thought deep down within him, he must have felt he scored a good political point in the South West and gave them a surprise and pleasant gift.
But it wasn’t too long after, they were Blackberry display pictures of the protests in the University of Lagos.  A friend of over 12yrs who had his diploma, Bachelors and Masters from UNILAG was perplexed, he sent messages, designed a display picture in less than an hour in protest of the new name. I found it quite ridiculous, questioning the rationale behind the protest but got no concrete response. One person said the name wasn’t swagger-licious as compared to UNILAG, that got me worried. I have never been a fan of MKO Abiola, (please do not crucify me, I have right to choose my heroes and heroines),but I find it quite disturbing that . My worry is that, if students cannot protest the absence of accessible scholarship schemes from government, student loans, improved facilities, electronic library and free internet access in their school but decide to protest a mere nomenclature based on swagger then we are in deep trouble as a nation. It only shows the kind of myopic learning that is going on in that institution. Some students of the institution have complained about the quality of lecturers in the school and they have opined that the only thing they have going for them is the brand attached to their certificates – UNILAG, therefore, they cannot compromise or trade that to a name that doesn’t hold water. Madness? Surely an understatement.

Since we love to copy from the West, let me give a little example using my Alma-Mater, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The school was founded in 1936 as Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration (GSPA) with funds from a graduate of Harvard college. In 1966, the school was renamed after President John F. Kennedy, I am not sure if the students protested but today all our politicians, public administrators and even social sector development experts are trooping to get certificates or degrees from HKS. Perhaps, the students can use the medium of protest to demand for qualitative and affordable education that will produce world class graduates instead of protesting a nomenclature. What of Harvard University itself? In 1630s Harvard was founded by church ministers who wanted to train clergy for the new commonwealth and they named the school New College. Years after, John Harvard became the first benefactor of the institution by giving one half of his estate towards the erecting of a college and all his Library which also helped it to become a university in 1780. So, the name was changed to Harvard in his honour. So, what is the protest about? Is it about politics or a distraction from the lies and unfulfilled campaign promises after one year? No one is saying much about insecurity in the country, no one is asking the president about the fuel subsidy report from the Ad-Hoc committee of the House of Representatives. Not much was said about the war on corruption. Perhaps, we could as a nation tell Mr. President that changing the name of the institution will cost the country more money at a time where it is gradually becoming difficult to pay salaries of workers and challenge him on that.

Truly, President Jonathan should be given hard knocks or even flogged on his butt for displaying such autocratic tendencies by declaring the change in nomenclature without necessary consultations as claimed by the school’s acting Vice Chancellor, Senate and Alumni association. He didn’t follow due process, he totally gnarled the same values and mantra through which he and his predecessor came into office in 2007 – Rule of Law. I wonder if the Attorney General of the Federation or the President’s handlers on legal issues did not advice him that UNILAG is a product of an Act of parliament in 1962.
However, apart from this absence of consultations with the University authorities and our national assembly, do the protests show that the people consider UNILAG too sacrosanct an institution of higher learning to be named after MKO Abiola – a politician and businessman? You remember ITT and its effect on telecommunication in Nigeria until GSM came to our rescue?

The Elders and people of the South West have been clamouring for immortalization of their beloved MKO Abiola, now the very Goodluck Jonathan who they massively voted for has decided to honour him, perhaps as a way of saying thank you for the votes, yet these Elders watch their own youth take over the streets without caution. I wonder if the monumental honour is too much for the man MKO, or are there some people who feel MKO has not achieved enough to deserve the parity of honour that is given to the likes of Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe among our own ivy colleges? Does it mean that those who never wanted MKO to be president are still present and will do everything humanly possible to ensure his name dies along with him?


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  • Ireti

    Mr. Obono,
    I have read your essay. I live and teach in the US. Also, I am part and parcel and a historical witness of the JUNE 12 moral, historical and public sphere act in the Nigerian history. I will not say more than this please. But having said that, there is no where in the US including your alma mater where the following will hold or happen:
    1. The change of the name of a university without due consultation and prior information given to the stakeholders of the university. You cannot even change the name of a street/road in a university without prior notification and consultation that WILL SPAN months if not years. Depending on which university it is, if it is a land grant university, such “ordinary” change of the name of a road/street right inside the university (and depending on where the road is located, if it is part of the “city”) may have to go to the city council or town council where the university is located. Why? Because the city or town continues to play the role of a landlord and host to the university if it is a land grant university. That is what you call due process. It does not take anything away from changes. If you truly lived , (when I say lived, I mean LIVED) in the US you ought to know this. Do you understand? Also, this is a US system where students assess their professors. This is turning the whole issue around on its head. It is called due process and openness. Okay? Mr. President’s act on Unilag lacks that basic assumption. It is not good.
    2. Mr. Obono, if you live in Nigeria presently, you know Mr. Jonathan is campaigning for 2015 elections and he needs votes in the Western part of the country, Abiola’s cultural origin. And what Mr. Jonathan has done is to turn such a deep act and moral occurrence(June 12) in the history of Nigerian democracy into a vote catching thing in a space he thinks he is weak in anticipation of 2015 elections and other elections. Please DO NOT try to deny this or make some excuse. It will not help for it will reveal more gaps in your analysis and understanding of events and historical moments in Nigeria’s public life. So, it WILL NEVER happen in the US where politicians will turn such an important issue like June 12 and the death of Abiola into a political chess game as Mr. Jonathan has done to get votes. From your essay, you know Mr. Jonathan was out of reckoning with one blunder after the other for two /three weeks prior to his announcement. So he needed some diversion as a safety belt for his continuous loss of face for two/three weeks in the Nigerian public space. And he almost got it through his inglorious announcement on renaming UNILAG.
    3. In your essay you conceded that Mr. Jonathan did not consult. So why did you not follow that hunch through.? Why did Mr. President not consult? Why is it important that you mention that? Now why did you move on after mentioning that? Are we in a military dictatorship all over again (something Nigerians fought against heroically)where we have to carry begging bowls around before some military president, and where consultation does not matter? Please tell your audience any decision of note during your time in your alma mater that was taken without consultation. Tell your audience what would had happened in your alma mater if such an act occurred. These are straight questions please. And please deal with them factually. It does not help to make a reference to your alma mater without factually grounding procedures and practices in your alma mater publicly before Nigerians. In logic, there is something called equivocation. Mr. Obono, you need to be aware of this in thinking.
    4. You mentioned how the name of Harvard was changed. Mr. Obono, you are dealing with history. And history can be very fragile because it is embedded in knowledge. And we need to be reverent of knowledge. It is delicate such that we must cuddle it with great intellectual care and caution. Please kindly tell your audience the following in FULL (i) the circumstance for the change of Harvard’s name (ii) the documented procedure (iii) was it politicized or not? was it targeted at getting political votes or political favor? (iv) why was it changed?. Please be FACTUAL. In order words lay out the FACTS and NOT interpretation -yours or mine or of any other person.
    5. Since you studied at Harvard, it means you lived in the US. Now tell your audience about an important holiday in the US-the Martin Luther King Day. You must know that many of the public holidays in the US are heavily commercialized. They are Sales Days. Now tell your audience whether or not Martin Luther King Day is commercialized ? It IS NOT . Why? The black community correctly and in their historical wisdom has subtly refused the commercialization of Martin Luther King Day in the US because it has Deeper and Profound meaning to them and other Americans to be allowed to be turned into a SALES DAY like other holidays. When I say Profound and Deep, please only the deep can call to the deep, I mean every letter in those two words-PROFOUND AND DEEP. This is the SAME THING with JUNE 12 and the DEATH OF ABIOLA and the historical and moral resonance it has for those who went through the trauma of MILITARY DICTATORSHIP in the ditch, in the gutters, with massive and uncountable deaths, family losses, losses of professional careers, great setbacks in life, the meaning of life for themselves and their children who they believed they were fighting for, for Nigeria and the great promise it portends for Nigerians and Africa, for justice, equity, and democracy free of looting corruption, bared faced theft as you have in the presidency in Abuja right now etc . These are what JUNE 12 and ABIOLA’s death are all about for those who threw everything they had in life including personal and family lives into it. For them then, It was more like “NIGERIA JUST HAS TO GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME”, because Nigeria already lost many historical opportunities to get thing right. Even Mr. Jonathan was not there. ( Perhaps one or two of his ministers were there historically). Mr. president was legitimately living his own private life. And he has a right and reason to have done that. No one is questioning that. You may say he does not need to be there to be able to honor Abiola. You are right. That is correct. But if Mr. Jonathan were there in that HISTORICAL DITCH AND MOMENT OF LIFE IN NIGERIAN HISTORY, he would know the best way to honor Abiola and June 12. And one of the greatest HONOR to pay to ABIOLA and June 12 would have been to STOP LOOTING THE PUBLIC TREASURY in Abuja so that we will leave a better life for our children and unborn generation in Nigeria. Okay? That is ONE OF THE GREATEST WAYS TO HONOR ABIOLA and JUNE 12.
    6. You mentioned that the students ought to protest the decay in education. That is true. But how logically does their failure to protest the massive decay in education in UNILAG and all over the country where ONLY 3 students out of 1.5 million students (including those in private schools where members of our middle class have taken their children to) who took the last JAMB got a score of 300 points/marks and above connect to their protest of the attempt by Mr. Jonathan to politicize and commercialize one of the most profound and deep events and one of the greatest sources of moral pains in the history of Nigerian democracy? How are they connected? How does the failure to protest on one ground deactivate the need to protest a basic moral fraud committed by Mr. president? From your essay, it is obvious that so many people simply DO NOT know the TRAGEDY the country went through in JUNE 12 and ABIOLA’s death such that they are wondering why the silly attempt to commercialize and politicize it has invited massive protest from every historically minded Nigerian. It is so obvious that this is the case. And I am very very sorry, your essay reveals that.
    7. Finally, I live and teach in the US as I told you. None of your analogies work as I have clearly shown . You will need to engage the JUNE 12 issue at a deeper and more profound level the way the black community here in the US engage Martin Luther King Day whose commercialization and politicization they continue to resist with all the intellectual forces they are mightily endowed with. You have a right to your opinion. I am happy the Premium Times gave you the space to say your mind. Those who formed the Premium Times have no option that to continue to give space to ALL views. That is how it should be in the democratic Nigeria we hope we can still build. But your claims are deeply flawed in every matter particular for its failure to be alert to history and the epistemology that history is ingrained in. Please try to engage history better for the benefit of your generation and those coming after you.
    Thank you Mr. Obono.

    • Info

      This Ireti seems to be lacking missing something about Obono’s write-up. She seems vexed with the writer than the opinion of the writer…I can’t just place it. Is she starved of sex? Her argument doesn’t correlate with the write-up at all. If there is anyone who is misleading the audience it is no other person than Ireti. Obonon, you are not obligated to reply her please. A good reader can read between her pedestrian sentiments.

    • fellownigerian

      Thanks Ireti,
      I do hope someday there would be opportunity for you to return to Nigeria and teach the likes of Mr Obono a thing or 2 about writing.
      If there was no consultations then the end result is necessarily evil, regardless of the intention and purpose served.

  • Imodoye

    After I read Mr. Obono’s article and Ìrètí’s response, I took a deep breadth. By chance I came across a social media website called African Herald Express. There I saw a Thank you letter to President Jonathan on the renaming of Unilag Abíọ́lá University. Underneath the letter I saw a list of names of members of Chief Abíọ́lá’s family. I do not want to list the names of those who purportedly sign the letter so that I do not add too much pain to President Jonathan’s decision that is already wrapped in fraud, mischief, and mystery, characteristic of his preside
    ncy. But the purported letter confirmed Ìrètí’s submission about the intention of President Jonathan with regard to 2015 elections. But more importantly it confirmed Ìrètí’s reference to Martin Luther King Day in the US where the black community intensely resist its commercialization and politicization. Unfortunately, President Jonathan and some members of the Abíọ́lá family who are said to have signed the letter (some of who are obviously PDP members) do not recognise this honorable path that an important act like June 12 ought not be politicized and commercialized. When you bring the stench and murkiness of politics to an ordinarily honorable and heroic act which June 12 represents, it diminishes the moral integrity of such act. Those who actually and truly sign that letter need to pay attention to the meaning of honor. It is called Iyì in Yoruba language.
    As I read Mr. Obono and Ìrètí, again I took a long breadth. I ask myself: Is June 12 about Nigerians or is it about M.K.O. Abíọ́lá? How would Abíọ́lá have answered this question? I can only dig into Yoruba culture and values (because Abíọ́lá is culturally Yoruba and this is exactly what he said in prison shortly before he died) to speculate on what and how Chief Abíọ́lá would have answered. When Chief Abíọ́lá was asked to sign away his mandate when he was under Abacha’s gulag, he said this in Yoruba : “Ikú yá ju ẹ̀sín lọ ” It was an eternal statement about readiness to die honorably. This means literally “Death is preferable to humiliation” When a Yoruba person says: “Ikú yá ju ẹ̀sín lọ ” it is a terminal statement of honor. It means that he/she has put his/her life on the line in the name of honor. In other words Chief Abíọ́lá will not sign away Nigerian history to military dictatorship, politricking, and stealth, fraud and treachery. In other words, in Chief Abíọ́lá’s world June 12 was no longer about him as an individual. It was more about Nigerian democracy and his own honor and legacy in it.
    In this conversation, I will recall lives that were lost- which were both officially and unofficially reported. I wish to bring this short anecdote to fellow Nigerians about some hidden but very painful acts of that period. The bulk of history IS NEVER what is officially documented even in and by the most progressive and forward looking media and historical sources. History is interred and soaked in the bones and blood of working people and the numerous heroic acts of ordinary and street folks whose lives create the occasion for the official narration of official chroniclers of official history. In other words even when the official history dominate news, the unofficial history lay quietlly (behind the official history) always gestating waiting to be told. My question is: Does anyone remember Chief Alfred Rewane- culturally an Itsekiri in Nigeria ? Does anyone remember who this old man of liberal and progressive voice in Nigerian politics is? Does any young Nigerian of Mr. Obono’s generation know how he died? Does anyone know why Chief Alfred Rewane is called Ogidigbo? Painfully, does anyone know what happened in factual terms (and we will mention this one day for the witnesses are still around) what happened less than 24 hours before Chief Alfred Rewane met his death through the bullets of military dictatorship who got wind of what he was doing with his private money and how this OLD GENTLEMAN of THE LIBERAL VOICE in NIGERIAN POLITICS was privately funding and diverting his hard earned resources through subtle means to the cause of June 12? Does ANYONE know how this OLD MAN funneled his money to fight Military Dictatorship and for June 12? Does anyone know that this is precisely the reason he was gunned down the very morning he was preparing to sign off on some major assistance for the June 12 cause? This event is painful and is NOT available to anyone except perhaps the deadly machine of military dictatorship who may have gotten wind of Chief Alred Rewane’s intention that fateful morning, and Nigerian peoples who were fighting a life battle against this dictatorship then. Mr. Obono, do you know Chief Alfred Rewane and all these unwritten parts of Nigerian history? Chief Alfred Rewane lived an old school highly cultured and civilised life of a set time for everything including when to take meals- breakfast, lunch diner etc. He was to sign off on a major push for June 12 on that ill fated day after his breakfast. So I want to repeat this: Do you know Chief Alfred Rewane was given the bullet about one hour or so before he signed off on a major intervention and support for June 12? Now who remembers this? Where is the official chronicle of the quiet, deliberately unwritten, deliberately unstated, deliberately unchronicled, consciously and consensually put off record, but steady, civil, civilised, cultured, consistent, quiet and known support of Chief Alfred Rewane to the June 12 that is now being politicized and commercialized for filth, stench and desperate search for votes? . I agree that the generation before Mr. Obono’s generation might not have handed this history over to his generation properly. But you need to be intellectually and historically sensitive before putting pen to paper if it is assumed that you did put pen to paper unconsciously, ignorantly and innocently.
    Finally, like Ìrètí said, you passively mention the fact that President Jonathan did not consult on the renaming of Unilag and you moved on. Haba! Yet you went on to talk about how Harvard’s name came to be. But you know that there is one thing the American society is GUILTY of AMONG HER CITIZENS-that GUILT which they proudly accept is called OVER CONSULTATION. Barely can you find an important decision taken in the American society whose process would not have passed through rigorous consultation for a long period of time. Yet you ought to know this because you claim to have gone to Harvard. Permit me. I am going to be a bit critical of you here. Since you studied in America, you should know how we are as American subjects, residents and citizens behave and act. We say it as it is. We do not hesitate to put things and anybody including oneself on the spot when it is about scrutiny for truth. So you know this since you are a graduate of an American school, therefore you should be comfortable with this ethics of pubic scrutiny. I am happy that you went to Harvard. But it is very sad for me that you did not take away with you from Harvard the core of American values. You demonstrated this unfortunate absence in how you belittle consultation which stands at the core of American civic life -at least in America’s relationship to her own peoples and citizens. Your opinion shows one thing that some of my colleagues and I have ruminated over for a long period of time about Nigeria and Nigerians. And this is it: The problem of Nigeria is the problem of members of a particular and small wing of its middle class . From whatever source, this wing has access to money to travel around the world.From whatever source, they have access to money to send their kids abroad for education. For whatever reason, the children learn nothing from staying abroad. They do not learn anything to be patriotic because their parents NEVER prepare them to be so patriotic and use their gained knowledge from abroad to help Nigeria anytime they come home or are at home. Their parents ONLY prepare them to replace them. And since these parents are part of the sources of Nigeria’s problems, these kids simply replace their parents in perpetuity continuing the grinding of Nigeria to pulp. These kids do not bring any knowledge back to Nigeria to help Nigeria. They take the citizenship and residency of these countries and return to Nigeria only to proverbially take their own pie from Nigeria , and NOT to help Nigeria. Like Ìrètí, I am also resident in the US so I know all these in and out. I am not saying that you Mr. Obono belong to this group for I do not know you. And it is NOT important that I should know you. So do NOT get me wrong. Like we will say here in the US-knowing you is NOT part of this conversation. What you said is the ONLY thing I can and should relate to and that should be the basis of the conversation. Right? But the problem is: How can you claim you lived in the US, and that you went to Harvard- and you belittle the very foundation of American society’s obligation to her citizens which is CONSULTATION? That you went to Harvard is not as crucial as what you took out of Harvard. In this regard, I will end with this instruction and moral we were given during our orientation in our first week in the university by our teachers at the then University of Ifẹ̀, Ilé Ifẹ̀ Nigeria in the 1970s. I will mention ONLY one of these honorable Professors because his name is already in the public domain and he cannot be harassed by anybody. He is Professor Wọlé Ṣóyínká. For obvious reasons, I will not mention the rest of the names of these highly motivating and inspiring University of Ifẹ̀, Ilé Ifẹ̀ professors in Ilé Ifẹ̀ then: This is what they told us as part 1 students( it is called freshman in American university lingo, we called it Part 1 in Ifẹ̀ Nigeria then , I do not know what they call it now). So our honorable professors who enthusiastically put ALL their time behind our education would say this in Ifẹ̀ ” You have come to University of Ifẹ̀, Ilé Ifẹ̀. You are welcome. The University of Ifẹ̀ is an exciting place. But as you all pass through the university, let the university pass through you… let Ifẹ̀ pass through you…” Mr. Obono, as you passed through Harvard, did you ALLOW Harvard to pass through you? Did you allow the ETHOS of Harvard which are the ETHOS of American society to pass through you? Obviously you did not. And that shows in how you marginalize the value of CONSULTATION so easily in your essay. This is the bane of Nigerians who go abroad to study but come back without the better part of the values they saw when they were training abroad. To be blunt what we see in this category of Nigerians are the superficialities and totems of “having been abroad” and NOT the values, depth, and education of wide travel. I am rooted in the western society, I know this and I am disappointed that Mr. Obono, you did not do well in failing to let Harvard pass through you.

    • Kabir

      otitoju, my name is Kabir Bulama, i stated that bcos you put my identity to question. It was with my email (info@…) that I used to post my comment and I did put my name as well on the post. So, it may be a site admin error. However, gave read through the bashing of obonon and I totally don’t envy him, but am sure he won’t take it personal just the same way you “all” have trivialised the issues. I do not know him from Adam, but I think he raised salient issues which we should consider instead of personalizing them, so much emphasis was made on his harvard education and his family background which is even more Nigerian and trivially pedestrian than you accusse him. Have a good day.

      • Ireti

        Dear Mr. Kabir Bulama,
        I thank you for your mail. We will continue to be courteous and civil on this platform. I thank Premiumtimes for this and for insisting that WE MUST be courteous and watch our language even when we disagree. Thanks Messers Premiumtimes. Now follow me on this trail Mr. Bulama.
        1. Mr. Obono himself used his university education as a tool of argument. Please read his essay once again. If someone advanced that as a tool of argument, what should his listeners or readers do if they have good reasons to see too many paradoxes and gaps in his claims? Mr. Obono trained in America. he set that forth. I did not say so. So he should know the style. Tell a personal story and make a public point. Please go and check most of the popular American stories including American presidents’ stories when they are campaigning. It is a personal story to public declamation style.
        2. Now if the style-personal story to public claim”-goes awry should the person that points out the logical and structural problems in that story and structure be held accountable? Given that Mr. Obono trained in the US, I am pretty sure that he will not object to this. I will really be shocked if he does.
        3. The style-personal story to public claim-is a legitimate, sound and valid style-but very risky. The feminists have used it effectively. This why the feminist theorists claim that the personal is political. In other words you cannot separate and create a WALL of GIBRALTAR between the private and the public. My position? I agree with the feminist theoretical move here that the personal is legitimately political-that is public. That is why the feminist theorist will set this forth and defend it all the way. I agree with them. So if anyone uses the- personal story to public- style, he /she knows what he/she is doing. And having set it forth, it is fair to reference it in conversations.
        4. Let us take more cues from how stubborn dictators all over the world who proved difficult to be handled at home have been dealt with. Take what people did to Sadam Hussein. Take what people did to Moumar Ghadafi of Libya Take what people are asking to be done to President Assad of Syria in his war against his people. Now because these people and their families travel back and forth the western societies and fail to even use lessons they gain from these societies to better the lot of their people, because they have wealth stocked in these western societies, the legitimate moves have been that (i) members of their immediate families should be banned from these western societies, and (ii) their private wealth stocked in these western societies should be targeted under the law. What does this tell you? It means the personal/private can be political/public-simple. It can work either way.
        5. It is because Nigerians are a bit strange specie that we have not insisted on this. With all the lootings that have gone on, I think it is high time people began to ask western societies to use this method on the looters of our Nigerian treasury. It will fall within the paradigm -the so-called private is/can be public.
        6. I am happy I do not know Mr. Obono. And this is not targeted at him. I am only letting everyone see that he used the legitimate personal story-to public claim style. And my point is to articulate its possible derivatives and possible uses in different contexts.
        7. Mr. Obono’s analogies about how Harvard changed its name. Why did he reference that? He used the reference again legitimately as a tool of argument. Mr. Obono is using what is called analogical reasoning here in his reference to his alma mater. And it is a valid tool of reasoning. But there are principles governing tools of thought and thinking. And good enough in logic, no one cares about your face. Its truth can be as cold and objective as arithmetic truth. The tools governing analogical reasoning is that the two analogues MUST BE EXACTLY the same and factually true and related for the analogical reasoning to be sound and valid. In Mr. Obono’s case the two analogues he used are (i) The change in Harvard’s name and(ii) the change in Unilag’s name. There is nothing wrong doing that, but someone who stepped into the sphere of knowledge and truth must be careful in handling such. So what did I do? I proved to him that his analogical reasoning is false (not because I do not like his face-fortunately for me I am too old to be chasing stuff around!!!) not by abusing him, but by appealing to the tools of analogical reasoning. I showed that his analogues are false by challenging him to be factual and tell us that the analogues are the same. I brought in the fact that I teach in America only for informative reasons that I am not speculating on this. In other words I know what I am talking about.
        7. Nigerian elites and so-called middle class. I stand by what I said because at my age some of are tired of musical chairs . Nigerians have been going back and forth western societies since ages, yet we so-called middle class are so parasitic, all we are interested in is what we can gain from the pie. It is never about the street conditions of the working people. In my immediate culture, the question is: What do you use old age to do? The answer is you use it to say the truth without minding whose ox is gored. In other words, you can afford to be blunt at a particular point in life. So we see our so-called middle class go in and out of these western societies. And what ? We do not see that they go all out like for example the Jewish middle class will do to use their knowledge for the benefit of their original country-Nigeria without hoping to benefit from this. Why? It is sickening. Here I am NOT talking about setting up companies in order to solicit for contracts or bringing American companies home to do contract work. This is not what I am saying.I am talking about insisting at home on the values and virtues that make western societies great when we get back home. Let me put it quite bluntly to everyone. Many of those you see today in government and legislature in Nigeria hold the citizenship and residency of western countries. One simple question out of many is this, it is about our hospitals: after these so-called returnees return home to so-called help, why cant they insist on making our hospitals work? why do they go to western societies where they used to live and work for medical treatment when they fall sick?. Here again, I am going to be blunt and pointed. It is high time we told the truth as it is. Why did Mr. David Mark the president of Nigerian Senate have to travel abroad for medical treatment when he can insist that Nigerian hospitals should be assisted to get things right? He came back members of his so-called class welcomed him with pageantry , telling him how he was missed while he left his duty post as the president of Nigerian Senate to go abroad for medical treatment. It is only Nigerian so-called middle class returnees, that do all these. The Jewish middle class, the Indian middle class, the South Korean middle class, the Asian middle class and the respectable middle classes of other countries will put their countries first NOT in any opportunistic manner but by insisting on values and virtues they learnt while living abroad. A Nigerian legislator the President of Nigerian Senate Mr Mark did not do this. What do you think he would be telling his children? And this is NOT about his children. It is ABOUT HIM AND THE CLASS he belongs. I do not have any apologies if anyone misread this. You are free to twist the point.
        8. I am well informed about these Nigerian so-called middle class characters and their modus operandi. And this formed the basis of my challenge. Some of us are fortunate enough. But it is unacceptable if all we do is to strategise on how our children will replace us, and not how our children will help Nigeria to move forward. Some of us who belong to the old school tradition of truth telling may be in the minority. It does not matter. But some of us will train our children to help to negate the dubious ethics and norm that dominate the Nigerian public sphere now. We tell our children that you are fortunate enough. So you must not join them. You must negate their ethics. By virtue of your parents position you are already fortunate enough, you are getting competitive education, so you do not need to be corrupt, you do not need anything or run around Abuja with begging bowls claiming to be cutting contracts and dealing in contracts. When you get home, you must use your education to be part of those at home who are equally working hard to help the country to move forward. You may be in the minority. It does not matter. You and others will win for Nigeria by he grace of God at the end if the day. You are well trained technically and in values. So use those to help. This is the way our professors back in the good days of Nigerian Universities trained us in Ibadan, Ile Ife, Lagos, Zaria, Enugu, Calabar, Portharcourt, Jos, Benin- If you check the cities I have identified, you will see that here I am referring to the old universities and the yeoman jobs of our Professors who worked and trained us selflessly at those old universities without looking at pecuniary gains. They trained us to put truth first. They trained us to set Nigeria and truth first. They trained us to use our education to benefit the Nigerian working people. They never trained us to be ethnic. They never trained us to be class snubbish of street conditions of the working people. It is Nigerian working people first. It is Africa and Nigeria first. They are tired now they are old. But the few of us who remain will pass these values on to our children. We will continue to negate the classical opportunism of Nigerian middle class which is “train your kids to come and perpetuate a system that is clearly rigged against Nigerian working people.” So if the personal is political as a derivative of the personal story to public claim paradigm which Mr. Obono used-this is the legitimate basis of calling Mr. Obono to his own style-personal story to public claim. We should not eat our cake and have it. If it is used , it is used. Dear Mr. Bulama, this is an enduring folk wisdom. It is time tested and sound. Again, you can see that I have ignored your tantrums about my gender. It really does not matter. Such insults are prices that we have to pay in the service of our dear country. It will never deter us from being intensely passionate about our dear country and the need to salvage it from our so-called middle class who do nothing but prey on the working people. Also, I must abide by the Premiumtimes mandate of civility in language being ladylike and gentlemanly even if we disagree because we are going to disagree anyway. But we will do it with civility, culture and candour
        Thank you and God Bless you
        Ireti.

  • Otitoju

    I think the point being made here is pretty straightforward. Either deliberately or inadvertently, Mr. Obono allowed himself to be undermined by his own argument by relying on his training in an American school and by citing the changes in that school as a justification for his final claim. This is the point. Consultation is a touchstone in the American state’s and govt’s relationship to its own citizens. Any decision and act that lacks this virtue of consultation is inherently and irredeemably flawed within the traditional American society. It is thrown out. If for pragmatic reasons it is not thrown out, it is looked at with contempt. It is put in the cooler and it is never used or acted upon for no American is enthusiastically willing to be part of what he did not participate in. And this is understandable given that of all western cultures and societies, the American tradition of the multiple western cultures carries openness and public scrutiny of public issues and public office holders to its logical conclusion. Thus, I guess what Ireti and Imodoye are saying is that Mr. Obono first acknowledged that Mr. Jonathan’s decision lacked this important virtue of democratic and civilized culture-consultation- but still went on to wonder why Nigerians reject Mr. Jonathan’s top-down decision. Any first year student of thought must wonder at the strange paradox in Mr. Obono’s essay. I must assume that Mr. Obono’s reference of his training in an American school is to allow him make his point. And that is a valid and legitimate move to make in an argument. But this is exactly where the strange paradox begins its journey in his essay. How can one use this reference whose larger narrative is consultation and simultaneously end up in his essay wondering why people reject an act that lacks the same virtue of consultation which he initially acknowledged and upon which the American system-which he is a product of – is based? I mean this somersault in the same essay ought to be strange to a logical mind. Look, the American president is one of the most scrutinized in the world. And that is because the traditional virtue with which the American state and govt relates to its citizens is consultation. Any decision that lacks this value is suspect in the American public imagination and therefore morally unworthy. This is why Mr. Obono’s essay appeared to have started well because you would think he would consistently defend this democratic culture which he alluded to. But like the traditional Nigerian, he succumbed to the usual Nigerian problem at the end of his essay. He allowed a good value and logic to be marred and bewitched by a conscious or unconscious politics. Finally, why does an essay that seem to want to defend consultation as a desirable democratic culture end up defending a view which is very close to positions that have been openly canvassed by govt spokespersons both covert and overt? Is this paradox in Mr. Obono’s essay an act of omission or commission? This is the strange paradox. Unlike the fellow that commented as “info” I do not think “info’ makes any sense. I think the problem is that Ireti’s arguments outweighed info. “Info’ simply could not follow a simple logical reasoning. And that is understandable. It shows some poverty of thought we are used to among govt spokespersons. But I think Mr. Obono and people with his mindset who may mean well-who knows?-should be advised to read more and know more about Nigerian history before making comments. Ignorance or innocence cannot be a defense when you set forth into the pubic domain. One ought not to allow the logic in one’s essay to simultaneously undermine one’s position. And when one’s position cannot be distinguished from the position of spokespersons of Mr. Jonathan and his Presidency in Abuja, it raises too many questions we may not be privileged to answer because of the close nature of things these strange days in our dear but unfortunate country.

    • Cynthia-kefi

      The long epistle of ireti is interesting, but what the writer put down is just an opinion and I see no reason why such opinion will become a basis for passing judgment of being disappointed in him or even making him a hero as kayoed wrote. The writer doesn’t deserve the bashing and harrasments in my own views. I have followed the said writer on twitter and seen his previous posts. He didn’t outrightly mean that the govt was right to do so, but was questioning the rationale behind the protests, he didn’t also say people should not protest but asked that such protests be channeled towards improvement of education. I also see that his comparison of Harvard and UNilag is may be that name of an institution may not be as important as the standard of education that takes placenin that institution. Well, with all that Ireti has written, i may write a rejoinder with it. Premiumtimesng, would you create space for me?

  • Bulldozer Yola

    I know Mr. Obono as an activist and youth organizer. I think he was one of those members of the OccupyNigeria movement who were arrested in Abuja in January for protesting the withdrawal of fuel subsidy. To that extent, he has my respect.
    But I am terribly disappointed by his arguments in this essay. One of the reasons for which Nigerians protested in January was because they felt they were not duly consulted by government before the sudden cut in subsidy. So what has changed for Mr. Obono between then and now? Why is he now now in support of dictatorial tendencies. A man wakes up and proceeded to rename a 50-year-old brand without even the courtesy of consulting managers of the university and other stakeholders. Yet Mr. Obono is giving him a thumbs up. All I can say is that Mr. Obono now knows where his bread is buttered.
    As for the commenter called INFO, you should mind your language. You don’t have to descend to gutter language to make your point. You were reckless and unfair to Ireti.

    • Tayo

      Maybe we are missing the point here. Perhaps, you want to follow @martobono on Twitter to his his October 1 tweets? I know him too well and he is somebody that has never compromised and never will. Emeka Diru and a few young people met him some three weeks ago at the yaradua centre, i was with him then to seek his support in electricity tariff increament despite his personal relationship with the NERC chairman and he told them categorically that if there is a protest against such an anti people policy, he will join or even lead it. If there is something I have spoken to him severally about is the way he criticizes this administration and never sees any of it’s policy as meaning well.

      • fellownigerian

        Tayo so what are you saying? we should begin to praise Mr Mbaseki on this piece because of what he has done in the past and what he told you in Yar Adua centre? Forget the past and read this piece and make your opinions pls.

    • fellownigerian

      I was proud of Mbaseki in January, today I am not.
      We mean no disrespect for MKO; but someday, going by this antecedent someone may want to rename Nigeria after some other respected citizen.

  • Bello Ibrahim

    http://africanheraldexpress.com/blog7/2012/06/01/unilag-change-of-name-abiola-family-writes-president-jonathan/

    – LETTER OF COMMENDATION TO PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN, BY THE ABIOLA FAMILY ON THE RECOGNITION AND HONOUR ACCORDED CHIEF M.K.O ABIOLA –

    Your Excellency,

    We wish to publicly offer our profound appreciation for your unprecedented recognition of the late Chief MKO Abiola, the ideals he lived by and the noble cause he died for. As you honoured him, we honour you.

    We have watched in dismay and bafflement, the futile efforts of previous governments to bury the uncommon heroism of MKO Abiola. While looking ahead to your plans to shepherd this nation, you looked behind to acknowledge those you paved the path you now tread. Many sing by rote, the words “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain” while you embody that principle. Your labour over our country will never be in vain, by the grace of the Almighty Allah.

    As our leader, you chose the time and manner that you would honour this great Nigerian. It was without our input but with our full approval. His sacrifices and contributions across every sphere of public life are too numerous to list. There has never been a philanthropist on the scale of MKO Abiola in the history of Nigeria. His oft-repeated life’s ambition was to touch the life of every Nigerian one way or another. He may have succeeded in the area of education alone. In March 1990, he donated N1m (equivalent of N40 million in 2010) to each State University, N50,000 (N2 million in 2010) to each Federal University for student welfare, N20,000 (N800,000 in 2010) to the libraries of each Federal University and N25,000 (N1 million in 2010) to each Polytechnic and College of Education. He is credited with the construction of 63 secondary schools and 41 libraries. He established Abiola Bookshops to provide affordable, locally produced textbooks in the 1980s when imported textbooks became out of the reach of ordinary Nigerians when the Naira was devalued. He awarded over 1,000 scholarships to deserving students in tertiary institutions at home and abroad. In addition those awarded by the Federal Government, MKO Abiola awarded bursaries to every single student from Ogun State. For every N500 they received from the Federal government, they received N250 from MKO Abiola. To delve into his contributions in sports, culture and welfare would turn this letter into a thesis.

    In politics as in philanthropy, he is unequalled. He broke tribal and religious barriers to a clear victory. He chose the path of valour and fought for the collective will of Nigerians from the four corners of this nation and everywhere in between. He willingly returned from exile, knowing the consequences of that action, prepared to pay with his life. The circumstances of his death shook the polity to its foundations and established the democracy we enjoy today, by far the longest period of rule by the people in our history. He lost his wife, the late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, his businesses were decimated yet he voluntarily stayed in detention, rejecting conditional release. He died refusing to betray the mandate given to him by those who betray his memory today.

    No honour is too great for one of the men and women who laid down their lives for the democracy we enjoy today, that enables some to take to the streets, uttering irresponsible, abhorrent nonsense. We take a leaf from your book and illustrate the line “help our youth the truth to know”. The government of Egypt named a school after him in appreciation of his contribution after a devastating earthquake. Egyptians did not take to the street yet to their eternal shame, some people in Lagos did. But as the great man would say, as one is crying one should still see. The machinations and motives of those sponsoring the protests are obvious. If thirteen years of deafening silence from the Federal Government built on the blood of this man could not diminish his legacy, the actions of a few hooligans and rascals with no sense of history will certainly not. All glory and honour reside in the hands of the Almighty Allah, a righteous judge. MKO Abiola will not be denied. We now turn to those groups who feel that their positions have been threatened by an unprecedented act of grace by Your Excellency and urge them to desist. The general elections are three years away. There is no need for blind panic or for using MKO Abiola’s name and the larger issue of June 12th to score cheap political points against the ruling party. We urge them to focus on the task of national and regional development.

    We assure you of our support of any decision you take in this matter. We had no expectation of your gracious gesture and neither did MKO Abiola. He was driven by his love for Nigeria, not by the anticipation of honours. The few words you spoke provided justice and peace. No “masthead” can ever do that. We are satisfied and we are appreciative. You have acted as one who fears God and seeks to lead in justice and truth according to His will. In the final analysis and in view of the fickleness and short memory of some “students”, that is all that matters. We conclude with the assurance that your honouree would not be disturbed by this furore were he alive to witness it. When we would tell him we don’t like his nickname of Father Christmas and ask him why he gives so much, he would say that he is not doing it for the people but for Allah and that if he helps a thousand people and only one remembers that’s enough for him. It is enough for us too as is the certain fact that in due course, each of us will go where MKO Abiola has gone and leave children behind.

    With profound gratitude,

    Alhaji (Chief) Mubashiru Abiola, Chief (Mrs) Adebisi Abiola

    Chief (Mrs.) Omolola Abiola – Edewor Alhaji Olalekan Abiola

    Miss Ayobami Abiola, Alhaji Jamiu Abiola

    Mrs Bolanle Akande, Mr Abdul Abiola

  • Ikechukwu

    The issue is very simple. This is the logic. How do you think someone who wants to launder a controversial position will effectively proceed? First criticize it that position using what appear to be popular criterion-this time (lack of consultation). After this you suddenly make a detour in your criticism to support that same position you initially gave the impression that you are opposing. This is a powerful tool of argument. Anyone should please re-read Mr. Obono’s article once again and tell me if there is a difference between the structure of his article and what I have just said here. There is NOTHING personal here. Mr. Obono is free to take any position even change position.
    Thank you

  • Ikechukwu

    I just read the post from some members of the Abiola family to President Jonathan. Please note that I said “some members”. The issue is becoming clearer. With the benefit of the arguments that have gone on in and out of this platform, and with the benefit of hindsight, this shows the soundness an appropriateness of the position : that “we should not politicize and commercialize the death of Chief Abiola and June 12” This is what you get when the initial stone is about turning an important occurrence in the public life of Nigeria into a vote catching device. So? I like the fact that “some members” of the Abiola family wrote to Mr. president. It is quite revealing and refreshing. . Thank you Mr. Obono for making all these to be revealed in the eyes of God and human. Thank you “some members” of Abiola family who have been so gracious in their fulsome appreciation. Thank you Mr. Bello Ibrahim. Thank you Mr. Info. Thank you Mr. KenMani-ah sorry that was a slip of the pen!!! Thank you Mr. President. Thank you everyone. It is so nice. Nigeria We Hail Thee.

    • fellownigerian

      Thanks Ikechukwu.
      If Abiola only belonged to his family, then why name a monument of FGN after him? If Nigerians do not agree to the change of name (and I dont agree) then it must be challenged in court whatever “some members” of the Abiola family think. I am curious to know where those fellows where when MKO was in detentions and whether they wrote any letters to the Head of State then. Family my foot.

  • Ireti

    Dear Mr. Kabir Bulama,
    I thank you for your mail. We will continue to be courteous and civil on this platform. I thank Premiumtimes for this and for insisting that WE MUST be courteous and watch our language even when we disagree. Thanks Messers Premiumtimes. Now follow me on this trail Mr. Bulama.
    1. Mr. Obono himself used his university education as a tool of argument. Please read his essay once again. If someone advanced that as a tool of argument, what should his listeners or readers do if they have good reasons to see too many paradoxes and gaps in his claims? Mr. Obono trained in America. he set that forth. I did not say so. So he should know the style. Tell a personal story and make a public point. Please go and check most of the popular American stories including American presidents’ stories when they are campaigning. It is a personal story to public declamation style.
    2. Now if the style-personal story to public claim”-goes awry should the person that points out the logical and structural problems in that story and structure be held accountable? Given that Mr. Obono trained in the US, I am pretty sure that he will not object to this. I will really be shocked if he does.
    3. The style-personal story to public claim-is a legitimate, sound and valid style-but very risky. The feminists have used it effectively. This why the feminist theorists claim that the personal is political. In other words you cannot separate and create a WALL of GIBRALTAR between the private and the public. My position? I agree with the feminist theoretical move here that the personal is legitimately political-that is public. That is why the feminist theorist will set this forth and defend it all the way. I agree with them. So if anyone uses the- personal story to public- style, he /she knows what he/she is doing. And having set it forth, it is fair to reference it in conversations.
    4. Let us take more cues from how stubborn dictators all over the world who proved difficult to be handled at home have been dealt with. Take what people did to Sadam Hussein. Take what people did to Moumar Ghadafi of Libya Take what people are asking to be done to President Assad of Syria in his war against his people. Now because these people and their families travel back and forth the western societies and fail to even use lessons they gain from these societies to better the lot of their people, because they have wealth stocked in these western societies, the legitimate moves have been that (i) members of their immediate families should be banned from these western societies, and (ii) their private wealth stocked in these western societies should be targeted under the law. What does this tell you? It means the personal/private can be political/public-simple. It can work either way.
    5. It is because Nigerians are a bit strange specie that we have not insisted on this. With all the lootings that have gone on, I think it is high time people began to ask western societies to use this method on the looters of our Nigerian treasury. It will fall within the paradigm -the so-called private is/can be public.
    6. I am happy I do not know Mr. Obono. And this is not targeted at him. I am only letting everyone see that he used the legitimate personal story-to public claim style. And my point is to articulate its possible derivatives and possible uses in different contexts.
    7. Mr. Obono’s analogies about how Harvard changed its name. Why did he reference that? He used the reference again legitimately as a tool of argument. Mr. Obono is using what is called analogical reasoning here in his reference to his alma mater. And it is a valid tool of reasoning. But there are principles governing tools of thought and thinking. And good enough in logic, no one cares about your face. Its truth can be as cold and objective as arithmetic truth. The tools governing analogical reasoning is that the two analogues MUST BE EXACTLY the same and factually true and related for the analogical reasoning to be sound and valid. In Mr. Obono’s case the two analogues he used are (i) The change in Harvard’s name and(ii) the change in Unilag’s name. There is nothing wrong doing that, but someone who stepped into the sphere of knowledge and truth must be careful in handling such. So what did I do? I proved to him that his analogical reasoning is false (not because I do not like his face-fortunately for me I am too old to be chasing stuff around!!!) not by abusing him, but by appealing to the tools of analogical reasoning. I showed that his analogues are false by challenging him to be factual and tell us that the analogues are the same. I brought in the fact that I teach in America only for informative reasons that I am not speculating on this. In other words I know what I am talking about.
    7. Nigerian elites and so-called middle class. I stand by what I said because at my age some of are tired of musical chairs . Nigerians have been going back and forth western societies since ages, yet we so-called middle class are so parasitic, all we are interested in is what we can gain from the pie. It is never about the street conditions of the working people. In my immediate culture, the question is: What do you use old age to do? The answer is you use it to say the truth without minding whose ox is gored. In other words, you can afford to be blunt at a particular point in life. So we see our so-called middle class go in and out of these western societies. And what ? We do not see that they go all out like for example the Jewish middle class will do to use their knowledge for the benefit of their original country-Nigeria without hoping to benefit from this. Why? It is sickening. Here I am NOT talking about setting up companies in order to solicit for contracts or bringing American companies home to do contract work. This is not what I am saying.I am talking about insisting at home on the values and virtues that make western societies great when we get back home. Let me put it quite bluntly to everyone. Many of those you see today in government and legislature in Nigeria hold the citizenship and residency of western countries. One simple question out of many is this, it is about our hospitals: after these so-called returnees return home to so-called help, why cant they insist on making our hospitals work? why do they go to western societies where they used to live and work for medical treatment when they fall sick?. Here again, I am going to be blunt and pointed. It is high time we told the truth as it is. Why did Mr. David Mark the president of Nigerian Senate have to travel abroad for medical treatment when he can insist that Nigerian hospitals should be assisted to get things right? He came back members of his so-called class welcomed him with pageantry , telling him how he was missed while he left his duty post as the president of Nigerian Senate to go abroad for medical treatment. It is only Nigerian so-called middle class returnees, that do all these. The Jewish middle class, the Indian middle class, the South Korean middle class, the Asian middle class and the respectable middle classes of other countries will put their countries first NOT in any opportunistic manner but by insisting on values and virtues they learnt while living abroad. A Nigerian legislator the President of Nigerian Senate Mr Mark did not do this. What do you think he would be telling his children? And this is NOT about his children. It is ABOUT HIM AND THE CLASS he belongs. I do not have any apologies if anyone misread this. You are free to twist the point.
    8. I am well informed about these Nigerian so-called middle class characters and their modus operandi. And this formed the basis of my challenge. Some of us are fortunate enough. But it is unacceptable if all we do is to strategise on how our children will replace us, and not how our children will help Nigeria to move forward. Some of us who belong to the old school tradition of truth telling may be in the minority. It does not matter. But some of us will train our children to help to negate the dubious ethics and norm that dominate the Nigerian public sphere now. We tell our children that you are fortunate enough. So you must not join them. You must negate their ethics. By virtue of your parents position you are already fortunate enough, you are getting competitive education, so you do not need to be corrupt, you do not need anything or run around Abuja with begging bowls claiming to be cutting contracts and dealing in contracts. When you get home, you must use your education to be part of those at home who are equally working hard to help the country to move forward. You may be in the minority. It does not matter. You and others will win for Nigeria by he grace of God at the end if the day. You are well trained technically and in values. So use those to help. This is the way our professors back in the good days of Nigerian Universities trained us in Ibadan, Ile Ife, Lagos, Zaria, Enugu, Calabar, Portharcourt, Jos, Benin- If you check the cities I have identified, you will see that here I am referring to the old universities and the yeoman jobs of our Professors who worked and trained us selflessly at those old universities without looking at pecuniary gains. They trained us to put truth first. They trained us to set Nigeria and truth first. They trained us to use our education to benefit the Nigerian working people. They never trained us to be ethnic. They never trained us to be class snubbish of street conditions of the working people. It is Nigerian working people first. It is Africa and Nigeria first. They are tired now they are old. But the few of us who remain will pass these values on to our children. We will continue to negate the classical opportunism of Nigerian middle class which is “train your kids to come and perpetuate a system that is clearly rigged against Nigerian working people.” So if the personal is political as a derivative of the personal story to public claim paradigm which Mr. Obono used-this is the legitimate basis of calling Mr. Obono to his own style-personal story to public claim. We should not eat our cake and have it. If it is used , it is used. Dear Mr. Bulama, this is an enduring folk wisdom. It is time tested and sound. Again, you can see that I have ignored your tantrums about my gender. It really does not matter. Such insults are prices that we have to pay in the service of our dear country. It will never deter us from being intensely passionate about our dear country and the need to salvage it from our so-called middle class who do nothing but prey on the working people. Also, I must abide by the Premiumtimes mandate of civility in language being ladylike and gentlemanly even if we disagree because we are going to disagree anyway. But we will do it with civility, culture and candour
    Thank you and God Bless you
    Ireti.

  • fellownigerian

    Mbaseki, such a long piece for a Saturday morning.
    The trouble with the UNILAG-MAUL make over is not to question the credibility of the late MKO nor the ownership rights of the FGN over the universities. I like MKO and admire the little that I know about him. But I do not support the protests insofar as they disrupt business and academic activities in Lagos.
    Of course you know that your lessons from America are baseless and utterly beside the point. New College was given a new name when it became a University, not 50 years afterwards. And you could say that by measure of the particular philanthropy of John Havard to the New College, it was obvious that honour to him could only be in that specific college. On the other hand, Abiola’s generousity was never specific to UNILAG and it was possible for the President to name any of the Universities the Federal Government owned after Abiola. Why UNILAG? Your Harvard Kennedy School of Government is a sub-set of the Havard University – I will not analyze that.

    Some of us wished there was dialogue in the name change not so that it would be legitimized; but only so that we could refuse the name change in a constructive dialogue. It is not about UNILAG alone; tomorrow it might be my own Ahmadu Bello University which would be renamed. And if the Government does not release the result of June 12, 1993 elections; declare Abiola the winner, try those who annulled it; try those who tried MKO; investigate how he died and pay compensation – then I ask the government “who is Abiola?” – surely contesting in an election that is annulled does not earn one the right to “have” a University!!!

    The point here is this: the name of a university does not really immortalize – there is no university named after Fela; but you couldn’t consider that he has died off our memory? UNILAG is before this facing several challenges – and a bad name was not one of does challenges it faced. In honour of Abiola, the government could have erected one more lecture hall; an attempt to improve the institution in honour of Abiola. By the way, do you know who was Alvan Ikoku, the guy on the 10 Naira note?

    There are others who worry about the priorities of the government. Abiola was arrested and tried by the military and then he died in mysterious circumstances in detention under Abdulsalam Abubakar. GEJ’s government and the ones that will come after him morally bear responsibility for the ill-treatment of Abiola. To my knowledge, at no time has the government accepted responsibility for ill-treating the man no explained satisfactorily how he died. So it is a huge joke when the same government begins to honour the persons it persecuted. A joke.

  • Kayode

    Obono, you have not said anything that should warrant all this, do not be dismayed. Those of us who know you, understand you. Your ideas were balanced. You didn’t stick to one opinion. You remain my hero and nothing can change that, I also think that Abiola was and he is still overrated. Those fighting you here should alsoncheck with history.

  • Ekpene

    Hey ladies and guys,
    Respected members of our society were right when they objected to Mr. President’s renaming of Unilag. These members are old and have passed through this pain. So I guess this explains why they are very cautious and why they gently said that the renaming is flawed because it is politicized, commercialized and it puts unnecessary and unwanted controversy on one of the milestones in Nigerian democracy. When these women and men who seem a bit tired because of their ages talk, please let us who are younger watch what they say. Please I am NOT saying that they are necessary right or wrong, I am saying that : ask yourself why they say what they say. This is justified by an African saying that : “if a kid is cutting a tree in the bush/forest, the elder watches the direction where the tree being cut will fall and land”.
    These are respectable elders in our society are not begging for contracts or awards. They have had enough. They have seen the world. They have brought the world back to us. During the June 12 days, we know as a matter of fact that these elders themselves had to abandon families and had to trudge through the jungle of Republic of Benin and Togo in order to be able to stage and orchestrate the continuation of the battle of life in defense of June 12, Abiola and against military dictatorship in Nigeria. Now when people like these talked, we say their mouths smell. abi? Why? I do not know ooooo again oooo. But that is fine. Now because of this I am going to ask a straight question. Mr. Ikechukwu has called our attention to the letter ‘some members” of Abiola family write to Mr. president thanking him as Ikechukwu pointed out profusely and fulsomely for his great deed for the Abiola family. My question is simple: I know of a member of the Abiola clan. She s a lady. I guess some of you may know her. Her lion and heroic heart is in direct contrast to his God given gentle physique friendly and sisterly mien. She gets things done . I know her since the days of June 12. Her name is Hafsat-the daughter of M.K.O Abiola and Kudirat Abiola. She runs KIND-I think it is called Kudirat Institute For Democracy. I do not know if this is the right name-but the acronym is KIND. Please excuse my error if I mixed the name up. But my question is: Did Hafsat also sign that letter? Does anyone know? Can anyone tell us if she did? Now no one should ask us why we are all going into all these details. If anyone asks, I will be blunt in my answer: When those members of our society said this is a painful part of Nigerian history and any honor done to it MUST NOT BE POLITICIZED NOR MUST IT BE COMMERCIALIZED, did Mr. president listen? No he did not . I think they said the mouhts of these respectable members of our society smell. Did the few who are hired to be praising an obviously flawed renaming listen? I will end this with an African proverb even when I continue to respect the very soberness of the June 12 act and Abiola’s presidency and how he heroically paid the maximum price for the building of Nigerian democracy. The African proverb is : “The little kid has gone to and entered the market naked… nothing, no dress fits him anymore…”. In other words, it is getting too late to stop the slippery slope of revealing EVERYTHING in this matter. So did Hafsat also sign? I did not see his name in that sweet and fulsome letter. But knowing Hafsat, my speculation is that she did not sign the letter. If she did not sign is there a consensus about that letter in the Abiola family? If there is no consensus and consultation in the Abiola family, what is the moral integrity of and in that letter? Again back to the African proverb: “The little kid has gone to the market naked….and….”
    Thanks guys!!!! Nigeria we Hail Thee !!!

  • Nanaabubakar

    I understand why genuine democrats and patriots are concerned about the Nigerian situation. Even when each one of us have proved to be strong enough and endowed to survive without a country called Nigeria wherever we are domiciled, I guess we are still concerned because Nigeria is our country of origin. Now Mr. President took a decision to curry votes with an eye on 2015.
    1. Respectable and elderly Nigerians who during those days looked those tanks and guns of IBB/Abacha military dictatorship straight in the face said “this renaming is wrong” in content and in procedure. Find a better way to do this. And there are better ways.
    2. Mr. president through his minister Mr. Labaran Maku said “we are in government …it is final … this government will not change its position…”
    3. As pointed out by some people on this platform “some members” of Abiola family have accepted the gift. These members wrote a sweet darling letter to Mr. President thanking him for giving Abiola this gift . I have read that letter many times and I continue to open my mouth aghast. I do not know what to say. So this thing in the letter is what June 12 is ALL ABOUT!
    4. The letter from some members of Abiola family confirm why many people have asked Mr. President to the right thing properly-in other words do NOT reduce June 12 and Abiola.
    5. These members of Abiola family some of who are PDP members need to answer these questions:(i) what is being honored? (ii) Is /Was Abiola as a result of June 12 just a mere leader of his family? (iii) Is/Was Abiola as a result of June 12 just a mere politician in the Western part of the country? (iv) Is there anything in that “some members” of Abiola family love letter to Mr. president about the bigger and larger issues of June 12 and contemporary Nigerian democracy-Was it a slip of tongue or amnesia that none of these came up in this letter? Someone has called our attention to an old man that was gunned down as a result of his dependable but quiet support for June 12. That old man is called Pa Alfred Rewane. He got a bullet from the military right in his bedroom as he was preparing for the day. Not a pin was taken from his house-so? it was not a case of armed robbery. We did not see any attempt in this letter to talk about those who died including this old man Pa Alfred Rewane. I am not sure, but I think Pa Rewane was close to 70s when the military cut him down as a result of his support for June 12. Haba! is this what some members of Abiola family have reduced this thing to?
    Even if this is overturned by the court, for cynical reasons, I will advise people to let “some members” of Abiola family have the name. At least the govt has said there is no going back. This has gone down in Nigerian history whether ‘these members” of Abiola family like it or not. In other words, allowing the present regime to turn Abiola to a mere leader of his compound has gone down in Nigerian history. We can no longer wake those who died up, but those heroes died for Nigeria and what Abiola and June 12 represent , they did not die for some members of Abiola’s compound. That is okay. We continue to learn.

  • fellownigerian

    Here below is the link to the 1967 Act establishing UNILAG which GEJ did not think wise to seek to amend,

    http://omojuwa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/UNIVERSITY-OF-LAGOS-ACT.pdf

    • Iffie

      Thank you for sharing this fellownigerian. I am not a lawyer. But I have read this 1967 ACT. Even when I am conscious of the fact that I am nit a lawyer, I do not see any part of this ACT that gives President Jonathan the powers to change the name of University of Lagos the way he did. The only way he can legitimise this is to claim that he is military dictator and that this his presidency is a civilianized military dictatorship. But we will wait for the court to pronounce. Whichever it goes in the court of law, the milk is spilled, and we all now know ourselves better. hank you fellownigerian. May God in his infinite mercy bless Nigeria our dear country.
      God Bless.

  • Dekunle_kaycee

    So far, I think this is one of the best write up I have seen on this issue. The president has the right to change the name of any university directly under its purview, whc UNiLAG is part of, his error was that in a democratic setting, he should have consulted with the administrators of the school before declaring such change in name..

  • Prettyanu09

    Mr Obono,I think it will be beTter tosit down and reconsruct your write up,the basis for your argument is questionable! U live in the US and I believe u ll understand how things are being done in the course ofname change.
    Ireti,u ve spoken my mind,thank God we still hav people like you that know what histrory is all about.
    Thank U and GOd bless u

  • Its good to know someone has another perspective on this matter but to think its only South-westerners that are protesting is wrong and myopic, UNILAG/ MAUL/ MAULAG or whatever its now called is a federal school with good representations from all over the country.

    I do not have any problem with the (re)-naming also, its not the name, its the quality of people coming out.

  • Oyetunde178

    A good writer generates ideas that leads to public debate. Obono, you have done well. Thanks for opening our eyes to issues. You are on course. The beef your article is generating is from those who have not acquired harvard education. Ride on Sir.

  • Kusamotu Ben

    Interesting perspective Mr. Obono, I wonder why we think that opposing govt and it’s position at all times is the best way to make a hero…I like your objectivity. Weldone and more ink to your pen.

  • Femioyewo

    OBONO, OBONO, you are too much oh. I respect you more for this article…in it, you showed some sort of leadership qualities. The fact that you took an unpopular position and decided to stand by it. Thanks for standing out once more am sure that is one out of the many things you took out of Harvard. Just as it has been mentioned elsewhere, when people fight govt, they are seen as heros and that is a contradiction i try to understand when thesame people vote thesame people in office. i think you touched on a very sensitive matter and wrote frankly, i hail you.