School Senate shut down UNILAG

The Senate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on Wednesday announced the suspension of all academic activities in the institution.

The Senate further issued an ultimatum to all students to vacate the University’s premises by 11am and instructed the school security to arrest any student seen in the premises after the deadline.

The decision of the school authority to shut down the university for two weeks may not be unconnected to the protest by students over the change of name of the institution to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday announced that the Federal Government have decided to rename the University of Lagos after the late MKO Abiola, who died while struggling for the growth of democracy in Nigeria.

The president said that the institution will now be known as Moshood Abiola University, Lagos.

On Wednesday, students of the University of Lagos disrupted the flow of traffic in Lagos by blocking the third mainland bridge in continuation of their protest over the renaming of their institution after Abiola.

Honour my father by fighting poverty, Hafsat Abiola tells Jonathan

Daughter of the late winner of 1993 presidential election, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, has hailed the decision of the federal government to re-name the University of Lagos (UNILAG) after her father but urged the federal government to work more on fighting poverty, as that will be her late father’s utmost desire.

Mrs Abiola-Costello and other prominent citizens in Abeokuta, the hometown of the late politician, described President Jonathan’s announcement as a long overdue but welcome development

In an interview with journalists in the Ogun state capital, she urged the federal government to give more priority to reduce the prevailing poverty level in the country, than naming schools and roads.

“What I want to say to President Jonathan is that what we can do to honour the heroes past is to make sure that they do not die in vain.”

According to her, “Nigerian people are still poor, majority of them are poor today, even more so than in 1993 when he (MKO Abiola) won his election and I hope that President can apply himself to addressing poverty in Nigeria.”

“That is the most important thing, more than naming school, naming roads. Those things are nice but the true benefit for my father is that Nigeria people should not be poor anymore” she stated.

ASUU rejects name change

The chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNILAG branch, Karo Ogbinaka, has said that the union will resist the re-naming of the university’s name.

“We are resisting it, all the unions and the students will resist it, the Alunmus will resist it,” Mr Ogbinaka affirmed.

“Nobody will change Harvard’s name, nobody will change Cambridge’s name to Winston Churchill University. University of Lagos is a brand, for 50 years,” Mr. Ogbinaka said.

He added that UNILAG is the first university established by Act of Parliament and one man can try to score cheap political point with the institution.

“It’s a senseless thing and we are going to resist it” he said.

Also the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), UNILAG chapter, has opposed the renaming which it described as unnecessary.

The association’s secretary, Mr Ben Anosike, urged the government to revisit the issue, as the university’s alumni association has also joined the call for the president to rescind the decision.

A statement signed by the national president of the University of Lagos Alumni Association, Professor Olayide Abass, stated that neither the governing council nor the university’s senate was consulted before the name change.

The alumni group therefore rejected the decision, saying there’s no national assembly act to effect such change.

A constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay said the president should be praised for his effort to immortalise Abiola, but added that he however, chose the wrong institution.

However, human right activist and lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, welcomed the decision, stating that nothing is actually wrong with the name change, but it must be done with approval of the university’s council.

Also, a former Minister of Education, Mrs Chinwe Obaji has also thrown her weight behind the decision, saying there is nothing wrong with the name change.

Some civil society groups have also been lending their voices to the UNILAG name-change controversy.

In a statement signed by its director, Julia Johnson, the Coalition for Democracy and Good Governance, emphasised the need for leaders to carry the people along when taking decisions or evolving policies that may directly or indirectly affect them, as they are accountable to the people.

The group noted that although the late Abiola is a national hero, Lagos has other indigenes who fought for democracy and national independence like the late Herbert Macauley, who was a more renowned politician with national and international recognition.

On its part, the Save Nigeria Group through its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, deplored the manner in which President Jonathan went about the re-naming of the university, describing it as an abuse of power and smacks of autocratic ways of the military.

It added that the university was established by law and the president’s action amounts to a violation of the principles and tenets of democracy.

Renaming UNILAG after Abiola is ‘mere tokenism’ – Lisa Akerele

Former special assistant to the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Lisa Olu Akerele, has described the naming of the University of Lagos after the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election as “mere tokenism and not far-reaching enough.”

Akerele in a press statement in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that the activities of late MKO Abiola transcended the South-West geo-political zone where he came from, noting that naming UNILAG  after Abiola tends to limit his recognition to the Yoruba speaking areas of Nigeria.

Though he commended President Goodluck Jonathan for honouring Abiola, he advised that the president should have named the Eagle Square, Abuja or the University of Abuja after him for sacrificing his life for democracy.

Akerele, who spent time in Abacha’s gulac along with Abiola, noted that being the Pillar of Sports in Africa during his lifetime, it would also have been appriopate to name the National Stadium, Abuja after the late doyen of sports.

He said it was not late in the day for Jonathan to name Eagle Square or the National Stadium after Abiola.

He said he was pleased with Jonathan’s recognition of Abiola’s role in returning the country to democracy, but requested that the family of the late winner of the 1993 presidential race be compensated.

Saying “anything worth doing must be done well,” Akerele noted that Abiola was owed millions by the Federal Government, while his business empire was destroyed by the government during Sani Abacha.

“Jonathan needs to settle these bills as well as compensate the family for government’s deliberate action in stiffling Abiola’s businesses,” he said.

He berated former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who he said was the direct beneficiary of Abiola’s sacrifice, for refusing to acknowledge the late doyen’s contributions to democracy, adding: “With Jonathan’s tokenism, Abiola’s ideas have outlived Obasanjo’s wickedness and self-centredness.”

Unilag students protest renaming institution after MKO Abiola

Students of the University of Lagos on Tuesday morning organised a protest against the renaming of the institution after the late acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, MKO Abiola.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in a national broadcast early on Tuesday announced the renaming of the institution after Abiola for his contribution to democracy in Nigeria.

The protesting students began gathering in groups in the main campus at Akoka, Lagos immediately after the president’s announcement.

They subsequently trooped out of their hostels chanting protests songs and denouncing the change of the institution’s name.

They also blocked access to the institution and disrupted traffic on University of Lagos Road and St. Finbarrs’ College Road.

Officials the institution came out to beg the students to go back to campus saying, “We are with you.” Students shouted “NO”.

The university’s Director of Student Affairs, Olukayode Amund, was among the official who came out to beg the students to calm down.

Premium Times, an online newspaper reported the director as saying “We were all taken back. There was no due consultation and they said this is a democracy.”

The paper also reported, Bolanle Ajayi, a student of the University as saying, “Change of name is the least of our problems. Besides, there is MAPOLY, already named after Abiola.”

Jonathan honours Abiola, names University of Lagos after him

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday renamed the University of Lagos as Moshood Abiola University of Lagos.

Mr Jonathan disclosed this during a nationwide broadcast to mark this years’ democracy day celebration.

The President said that renaming the University is in appreciation and honour of the contribution of late MKO Abiola the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

“The Federal Government has decided that late Chief MKO Abiola should be honoured. In honour of Chief MKO Abiola, the University of Lagos is renamed the Moshood Abiola University,” Mr Jonathan said.

The 1993  election was declared Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election by national and international observers, with Abiola even winning in his Northern opponent’s home state.

In 1994, Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in Lagos. He had recently returned from a trip to win the support of the international community for his mandate. After declaring himself president he was declared wanted and was accused of treason and arrested on the orders of the then Head of States, General Sani Abacha who sent 200 police vehicles to bring him into custody.

Abiola was detained for four years, largely in solitary confinement.

Abiola died under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of Abacha. He died on the day that he was due to be released, on July 7, 1998.
While the official autoposy state that Abiola died of natural causes, Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, al-Mustapha has alleged that Abiola was in fact beaten to death. al-Mustapha, who is still being detained by the Nigerian government, claims to have video and audiotapes showing how Abiola was beaten to death.

Former NLC president, Pascal Bafyau is dead

The former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress and chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Comrade Pascal Bafyau, is dead.

Bafyau, reportedly suffered a heart attack in his Abuja residence, at about 10:30pm on Tuesday and passed away on the way to a hospital, a few hours later.

He was rushed to Silver Spring Hospital, but did not make it to the hospital before he gave up.

Doctors at the hospital however tried to jump start his heart but failed to revive him.

Bafyau, who was the leader of the labour group from 1988 to 1994, made a foray into politics on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

He was on the verge of emerging as the running mate to late Chief MKO Abiola for 1993 presidential elections, but he was beaten to the contest by Babagana Kingibe, who was chosen by the party.

Bafyau joined the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at its inception in 1998 and made an unsuccessful bid for senatorial and gubernatorial contests in Adamawa state.

In 1989, Pascal Bafyau, led the NLC to form the Nigerian Labour Party.

He survived by his wife and three daughters.