UNILAG:The shame in the NAME-CHANGE

The University of Lagos, popularly known as UNILAG, is a Federal Government university founded in 1962. In the eyes of its students, it’s Alumni’s and Nigerians as a whole, the university has become a reputable, desirable, enviable, respectable, highly regarded, well thought-of and decent colossal institution; and justifiably so. Academic and Non-academic staff members, Students and Ex-students of the university talk about “their UNILAG” with great pride, delight, enthusiasm, zest and gusto, almost in the same way those from the Harvard University do. It was therefore a terribly shocking news when on the 29th May 2012, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, renamed the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University in honor of Moshood Kashimawo Abiola who died in jail as a political prisoner in 1998. Abiola was the great Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist widely believed to be the winner of the 1993 presidential poll annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida; and whom Babangida’s military successor, Gen. Sani Abacha, jailed until he, Abiola, died in detention in 1998. Amongst socio-political knowledge experts and commentators all over the world, Moshood Kashimawo Abiola (popularly known as MKO) is celebrated and believed to be a major catalyst to the establishment of the democracy Nigeria has enjoyed for 13years. He was and is still a National Hero, even in death. The name change therefore is meant to honor Abiola’s “martyrdom,” Jonathan said, on a public holiday marking Nigeria’s 13th year of uninterrupted democracy.

Now, my take is Two-phased. For one, the Federal Government seems to have mastered the art of shocking announcements; and is passionately committed to initiating changes without due process. I would have expected the Federal Government to have learnt necessary lessons from the unguarded announcement of the fuel subsidy removal. Like many other Nigerians, I supported the removal. But I am yet to meet one Nigerian who supported the subsidy removal and did not criticize the wrong timing and poor execution that characterized the announcement. The PR advisers and the Ministry of Information as well as Internal Affairs are obviously comatose. The protest that followed the announcement may have been unavoidable but the kind of execution that carries everyone along would have created a better situation. This “unguarded-announcement-model” of the Federal Government has reared its ugly head again with the shocking way the UNILAG name change was announced. Yes, the Federal Executive Council must have been carried along, but unfortunately they do not represent the total yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerians people. Yes, the owner of an institution can decide to change the name as it pleases, but with the due process that the owner had laid down.

While no proactive measure can eliminate variations and reservations about the name change, effective and proper execution that embraces due process and best practice can calm the situation, eliminate street protests and convert anger and reservation to the kind that can be civil enough for peaceful and meaningful exchange. In executing change, thorough analysis of the pros and cons should have been thoroughly previewed. People should have been duly informed, educated and prepared for such change. Due process should be followed. The University Governing Council, the Management, the University Senate, the Staff, the Students and even Alumni should have been consulted and thoroughly carried along. Arbitrary decision-making, if it continues, possess terrible implications for our socio-economic and socio-political landscape. The Federal Executive Council has acted most inappropriately. It is a pure disrespect and disregard to the institution, the Alumni, the students and all stakeholders within the institution. As a matter of truth, it is a terrible disrespect to all Nigerians; and it will not be a lesser error if the name of any other institution or organization was changed in this manner. If the government of the day is proactive enough, it will likely have prepared the people ahead of time, at least for a few months, declaring and publicizing its plans, communicating the reason and allowing people to understand the purpose for taking such steps. A stakeholders/media parley, symposium or conference held about a month to execution would have been perfect. This will communicate respect for all stakeholders within the institution and the nation at large.

My second take is this: MKO deserves such recognition. All over the world, the names of Species of animals, plants, libraries, institutions and organizations have been changed to human names for reasons not even as weighty as the one in question. Entities are re-named after famous people either based on their humanitarian, social, economic or political contributions or for contemporary royalty in honor of historical people, at times connected to the entity experiencing the name change, and at other times, totally unconnected to it. This practice has been upheld all over the world. Such changes have never resulted into non-functionality, reduction in performance, or loss of its prestige or popularity on the international scene. After a name-change, necessary clarifications needed to determine legitimacy, authenticity and credibility of claims are sorted through fax, e-mails, telephone, correspondence in writing or whatever means of communication acceptable for such. Also, those who argue for the financial implication (changing names on documents, office tags, labels and other important material) of the name-change should simply understand that necessary change at any level will always come at a cost. As long as it is necessary, the meaning must outweigh the cost, and that makes it worthy. Change may consume resources and time, it may require some sacrifice and adaptation, but change is inevitable, constant and universal. Necessary change must of course be adopted, adapted to and adequately managed. This is not the first name-change event, and trust me, it will not be the last.

The great Yale University, rated as the fourth best university in the world, was founded in 1701 with Collegiate School as its name. In 1716, the school moved to New Haven and, with the generous gift by Elihu Yale of nine bales of goods, 417 books, and a portrait and arms of King George 1, the university was renamed Yale College in 1718. Yale College became Yale University in 1887. Harvard College was established in 1636 and was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown, a young clergyman whose bequest of £780, was (in 1639) the first principal donation to the new institution. Stanford university was named in honor of the only child of Leland Stanford, a railroad magnate, United States Senator, and former California governor, and his wife, Jane Stanford. The child, Leland Stanford, Jr., died in 1884 just before his 16th birthday. In Nigeria, the University of Ife was changed to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria; and we have the Ahmadu Bello University, Nnamdi Azikiwe University amongst others. I agree that the Nigerian Universities mentioned above are not on the list of the first 5000 universities in the world, but whatever the challenge that has kept them off the list is not due to name-change in any way.
What is true is that most of the critics of the name change will relish the opportunity to send their kids to study in the Universities with human names abroad. The student critics will not even care what the names of the foreign universities are, as long as they can attend. What is sure is that name is not really the challenge and name-change should not be the challenge either. Many have turned against the choice of the name “Moshood Abiola” because of their biased and jaundiced conception as to what they feel the name sounds like and its imposition on the supposed premier University. We should be careful, lest we throw the baby out with the bath water. We should be careful, so that a justifiable rejection of the imbalance of the Federal Executive Council and the President does not become the very ideology of casting aspersion on the pedigree of MKO. Let us not forget that MKO did the needful and made the ultimate sacrifice for a worthy national issue. Perhaps it will be good to suggest that the people rejecting the name should do a background check on the role and the impact of the personality in question on our nascent democracy; as rejecting the name maybe in itself an attack on the personality, the life and the achievement of Moshood Kashimawo Abiola. This act may not be better than the arbitrary decision-making culture of the Federal Executive Council…and may even be worse. I have wondered that if MKO’s name was Jeffery Walter and today, UNILAG is being renamed Jeffery Walter University, will the anger be as heightened? I believe if that was the case, the reservations will strictly be about the poor execution of the renaming. I may be crucified for this, but I believe the real problem most critics have with the name-change is the idea that the name is local. It seems that this is what most critics mean that they are not saying. Most believe the name is too local for the “greatness” UNILAG has achieved. It sounds to me like a “War of Sophistication”. Since no one can deny that MKO is deserving of the recognition, reasonable alibi will have to be invented to prevent critics from shamefully admitting that sophistication is the unspoken real battle. This is the shame in this name-change saga.

For years, I have been a vocal proponent of originality in all its ramifications. On almost every platform I grace, I have scarcely come short of saying no person or people can make any form of critical advancement without seizing responsibility for their originality. The world is filled with seven billion people and well over half of them are caught up in an identity crisis. They possess a very fragile concept of self, and unconsciously believe all they need to do to get by is to be somebody else. Originality sells and makes a difference, but it’s scarce. It takes guts to be truly original in a crowded, competitive world where the media peddles sophisticated influences, urging us to be everybody and everything else but ourselves. Rarity is the synonym for value, and in life, nothing of substance has ever endured, that misrepresents or obscures its identity. A critical part of a people’s identity is their language and their names. To strip this away or to subject it, by foisting another language on them, or to respect another foreign name above that which nature (through culture) bestows on them is to alter their identity, shackle their originality and tamper with their sense of self. Have you ever wondered about the English language and its “Westernized Oppression” on our essence as a people? Have you observed its import on our psyche and our individual and collective development? Well, I have and it bothers me.
The people of 50years ago and before must be forgiven for the colonial mentality that created a critical part of the inferiority complex of our times in the name of modernization and urbanization. We cannot forgive the people of 2012 and beyond if they refuse to defend the uniqueness of the names we bear, that in themselves so legitimately communicate the strength and dignity both of our languages and the people that speak them. Oppression begins as an invisible enemy, quietly speaking to our mind, will, conscience and spirits to accept ourselves and our contents as lesser and inferior fabrics. Nobody will come out to tell us we are inferior, but we can say it to ourselves through our attitudinal exchanges and actions. Accepting another man’s name as acceptable, and neglecting ours, is a very silent way of announcing and emphasizing our inferiority to ourselves and our unborn generation. Let us rethink the ideologies we are selling to our children who are being brought up in a global competitive world economy, where they would be unable to compete without the relevant self confidence, drawn to great extents from their sense of identity and originality. Without doubt, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o was right after all; a people’s identity is hidden somewhere in their language. We must make a change, and without this change, even western names may become another platform of self-enslavement. It will remain a lethal distraction to our global competitiveness and collective prosperity. I stand to be corrected, but as far as acceptable and legitimate identity is concerned, there is no single difference between a MOSHOOD ABIOLA UNIVERSITY and HARVARD UNIVERSITY—the difference at this level ONLY EXIST in a DEFEATED and WEAK MIND. This is the shame in this name-change saga.

Posted on June 1, 2012, in QUOTES. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. This is indeed thoughtful and insightful sir,I now have a rethink concerning the name change,however,I think the president ought to have made the announcement after proper discussions with the stakeholders and approval from the legislature.

  2. odebode sunday

    The change of name is not the problem, the federal government of Nigeria is the problem. They believe they can just wake up one day and announce anything that comes to their mind not considering the impact their decisions will have on the people.

  3. Sola Oyegbade

    Hmnn! This is a strongly well articulated defence of a potentially good and worthy cause but ill-timed and arrogantly executed! I am truly grateful to you for the time invested in putting your position forward on this matter. Drawing on historical facts both internationally and locally, as well as the painstaking approach you took to seperate the spirit of the action from the action itself has helped me to see the other brighter sides of this NAMING SAGA! My deduction therefore is that, this is just one of several symptoms reminding us once again of a chronic dysfunction which is ravaging us as a race especially, our government cycle. I pray we get some cure soonest to reverse the trend and put our nation back on track of meaningful development. Thank u PK

  4. Great Post sir. God Bless you

  5. While the people we regularly copy in dressing and talking are in-search of meaning, we’ve ignored our CULTURE and LANGUAGE to join them in an endless search for an alien meaning. We must accept we’ve fallen into a conspirarcy and retrace our steps back. YORUBA should have as much strength as ENGLISH in our minds. We also need to correct how we pass history to newer generations – they have forgotten who MKO was and what he did. If they’re looking for a saint, they should look to heaven and not earth. MKO Abiola is not a saint, he’s a national hero and deserves it. The process that made it happen however needs review. God Bless PK. God Bless MAULAG. God Bless Nigeria.

  6. PK,Thank you for capturing the real essence of this situation since it started.Mr President will do well henceforth to adhere to the principles of democracy which he now enjoys as the citizenry are agitated for so many reasons beyond the name change.If we are to say things as they really are,what percentage of Nigerians can truly say they have experienced the gains of democracy in any meaningful way 13 years on?Poverty gaps continue to widen amidst plenty and the MKO we all know stood for poverty alleviation in all it’s forms. When all is said and done,the students protesting cannot even boast of a quality/market relevant education that will stand them out globally,so Mr President owes the Education sector much more than a name change.The cost of this change remains a huge one and there are endless intelligent options that GEJ could have embraced in Abiola’s name to tackle real life needs of both the students and the economy at large, an Innovation fund,an endowment seat,a resource centre, more impactful ways to Ignite the passion for nation building and transfer Abiola’s selfless values to the next generation. At least this has made us all reflect on MKO’s contribution,a man who certainly gave of himself and his resources more than most parading as heroes of democracy in our midst today.I am a proud alumni of Maulag,I totally abhor & detest the high-handed process adopted by the President but understand the shallow spirit of recognition behind it, For those of us who witnessed that fateful day,June 12 was a pan Nigerian victory and I think MKO deserves much more,a pan Nigerian ‘less zoned’ honour is what the man deserves.

  7. Okunade gbenga #FCV#

    Two weeks back in a banquet in honour of pass heros of this great nation; Ben Murray Bruce in his rather articulated speech emphasised on the need for proper documentation of the past Struggles of non-self but patriotic heros of the successful transition and sustainance of what we all enjoy as Democracy today…..Taking a cue from this; the average age of MUALAG undergraduate should be between 19 to 21 meaning that they did not consciously experience the drama and turn of events that led to the incarceration and death of the winner of June 12 1993 general Election….As a country if we can not celebrate the effort of those Patriarchs that were ready to lay their lives to uphold the entity. Then, obviously we are heading no where ….Our history books must reflect a detail update of past and present events for the younger generation to read…..this would help mould their true identity…. I must say it is disturbing to See student on streets PROTESTING the rename of the institution undermining the honour given to the past hero Which undoubtedly outweighs the opposing argument.

  8. Charles Ajiboye Esq.

    This is a thorough thought.
    An analysis of issues from all sides is always key. No doubt the President is overbearing in some of his ways but the students are without adequate direction in theirs too.

    A careful attention given to their protest reveals that they are more concerned about the UNILAG brand – “branding” which most of them know nothing about. The leaders of their protest are also quick to compare their “brand” with other brands like the Harvard, Stanford, Yale and others in their league. They obviously have no grasp of the history of these schools. Some have being more intelligent to hinge their anger on the UNILAG ACT but sadly most of them have never seen it nor do most know how laws are made or ammended.

    That the over half a century old UNILAG is too old for its name to change is to me another weak argument. The 21st century world is too small and connected for that to be a thing of worry.

    I, like you sir have no problem with the change of name or whether MKO deserves it, the issue is with the governent. The only thing in the whole of the broadcast that was news- distracting news- is of course the UNILAG change which was carefully placed at the end to prevent us from remembering any of the flat, diplomatic and boring parts of the long broadcast.

    Moshood Abiola University Lagos is as good as any other name “There is nothing razz about it”. Akokites are advised to get back to work and continue developing capacity.

    More power Sir.

    • ebrahimdurosimi

      “The 21st century world is too small and connected for that to be a thing of worry.”

      REALLY??? lets be careful abt making unguided blanket statements…

  9. PK! I strongly agree with you that “no single difference between a MOSHOOD ABIOLA UNIVERSITY and HARVARD UNIVERSITY“ BUT My only concern is the processes of the CHANGE! As a salesperson, I believe in “Consultative selling“ which is involving the necessary stakeholders in buying decision. I don’t think there would have been this protest if larger percentage of the populace where carried along in the CHANGE. Its high time for us to begin to interprete our realities by re-defining and embrazing right options. -FJ

  10. Here’s a letter of appreciation from his family to Mr President..The content has a lot to say about his person …ENJOY

    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

  11. name sophistication war– yes, we seem to be really ashamed of the names we bare. what if it is a name we think of as being local? we will assume that they are not yet speaking until they talk about the fact that it is the name they bare ashamed of and i am sure they won’t do so because it will reveal their shallowness.
    yet it is also true that the government needs to step up their game. we won’t want to be sold one day.

  12. With everything going on around us today, it’s rather funny, disappointing, irritating and annoying that Nigerians can make such a fuss about something as inconsequential as a name change…
    The other day, someone sent me a broadcast message saying we should pray for our president because the name change is proof that he needs prayers…smh!

    Our brethren in the north have been at the mercy of some ignorant entities, the raining season has been exposing the terrible state of our roads and drainage systems, we supply electricity to people who boast of uninterrupted electricity yet we can’t do same and our leaders haven’t said or done anything to that effect yet some jobless person with too much time on his hands can sit down and compose a broadcast telling me to pray ‘cos of a name change. Mshewwwwwww!!
    People really need to get busy and stop wasting precious time!!!

  13. oluwayemi philip

    You are very right sir, the ‘tushness’ of the name is what is making the students go gaga. as for the govt, i hope they will change one day.

  14. ebrahimdurosimi

    Great article. thanks. especially for digging out Harvard Stanford’s and Yale’s history. Commend the hardwork and detailed level of research involved.

    But on the flip side of the coin, the arguement also sounded to me like those schools were renamed after their highest benefactors. More like the company becoming the property of the highest investor. Logical. So is Mr Kashimawo Unilags biggest benefactor???

    Or is he Nigeria’s democratic regime biggest benefactor??

    Since we’ve decided to always compare ourselves to the Americans, so still on the issue, there’s a reason they called it “Kenedy Space Centre” they didnt have to rename the University after him simply because he was shot in the state. He inspired America’s space mission.

    The blacks are also yet to get together to rename a school after Martin Luther King Or after the lady who refused to get up on the bus ride. There actions librated America. Forgive me if am wrong, I was born in 86 but I believe that Abiola’s sacrifice are in the same class with Mr Luther.

    Mr Kashimo’s sacrifice is NATIONAL, not regional nor Sectional. He touched all sector Education, health, politics you name it. There’s already a school in Abeokuta called Moshood Abiola Polythecnic. So what up with Moshood Abiola University again???

    Lets stop being too political and shallow minded. Lets be careful of setting wrong precedents before the Igbos & Hausa start a series on Ojukwu & Yardua. Ojukwu University Nnewi, Polythecnic Okwa, Sec school Abakaliki etc.

    And pls lets stop assuming we understand the students pain. We all wont be there when they are seeking eployment 5years from now somewhere in the world. And they would have to start explaining how Unilag became MauLag. If you’ve ever looked for job outside Nigeria with UniLag degree, you’ll know what I mean. now try MauLag.

    My TwoCents.

    Ps Can you imagine Igbobi College, FGC Ijaniki, Baptist Academy Obanikoro, CMS Gramar School or Kings College being renamed…… dont kill a Pride of the people

    • tope awolowo

      Mr Ebrahim, regarding your comment about MAU graduates (and the other schools you mentioned) seeking employment, I don’t think you should hinge their chances of gaining employment on the name change. It did not take eternity for OAU, Ife to build the reputation it built in spite of the change. Let MAU products build the reputation required to take them to the next level. We’ve been so used to blaming the government for everything. Let’s just stop it and take some pride in turning the corner despite our ‘handicap’.

  15. Folusho Olumide-Okeowo

    A well written write-up. I myself was shocked when the announcement was made. The timing was wrong and the school governing council were not consulted. You don’t make decision without consulting the appropraite quarters. As for the originality, Nigerians have to come to terms with being original in everything that we do, for example no matter how many years an Indian man spends in Nigeria, he will never change his mother-tongue, the type of food he eats and his religion, not even his dressing. They are so proud of there culture.

  16. Tunde Fajimi

    Mr. Soriyan, I have sat in your classes a couple of times and I can attest to your passion for the emancipation of the African mind. I agree with your comments on the state of African consciousness and the “identity crisis” it fosters.

    I can not, though, agree with the motive, manner and method of the Federal government’s blatant change of the name of the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University. I say blatant because it is a monumental change that affects the branding and personality of the school (and further creates ripple effects in the society, community, and in the minds of old, new and prospective “MAUites”) and it was announced unceremoniously.

    The school formerly known as UNILAG is considered one of the top universities in Nigeria, and has graduated some of the best minds in the country. The recent death of a great VC – Prof. Shofoluwe – brought the power of influence of the ivory tower to light, once again.

    I would not, for a second, disparage or reduce the person of the late MKO Abiola or say he does not deserve national honour. He does. I sense another thing going on here. I see the FG trying to assuage the June 12 Pro-Democracy crowd by using a prestigious university as a sacrificial lamb. June 12 is around the corner. MKO was “merely” a symbol of the ideas of June 12 – a lodestone for the struggle. The day June 12 was meant to be a national day in honour of the ideals and a reminder to future generations (the younger ones are already unaware of those times). Come June 12 let us see what would play out.

    The naming of a institution is done on an basis of what the person stood for or his or her contribution to the school itself, the community in which the school resides, or the nation as a whole. Basically it’s akin to the “enthronement” of the “personality” of the person on the named entity. Can the students of MAU relate to the man whose name their schools bear? Can his influence still be seen visibly for them to aspire to?

    These decisions should not made be made for political reasons and definitely without bringing all the stakeholders to the same level of understanding at least. I hold the President in high regard for the position he holds. It is not an easy cap to wear. His choices in though, in this regard, were not the best.

    We cannot profess “due process” and “stakeholder agreement” yet discard it for expediency sake or we further entrench the culture of impunity we seek to overcome. From the No. 1 citizen, that’s not good enough.

  17. Grace Ibitoye

    Thanks alot sir for the enlightenment. I now have a change of mind on some aspects of this issue. Truthfully, our president did not do well enough as to the sudden change of the school’s name. Likewise, M.K.O deserves to be honoured. However, we don’t need to be told how important a name is? Your name speaks for you before you get somewhere. The fact is University of Lagos( University of first choice) has made a name for itself, thereby adding to its value. Why then massacre the value? Where do the students start from? Or as a graduate of the school, do i begin to identify myself as a graduate of maulag? The school doesn’t need the change of name or can someone please tell me what importance the change of name has on the school? However, why cry over spilt milk? The protesters should stop. And those who feel the new name is inferior should pause and have a rethink considering the great deeds of the honouree. As to our president, he should always consider the interest of the people at the receiving end. If its the pride some students have in their school that drives them for excellence and success, why kill the pride?

  18. As a brand strategist, I understand the pain and complaints of people who are vehemently protesting against the name-change. There is the fear of invisibility from the students and alumni of University of Lagos. We understand that the name is a brand and the change of the name of a brand can affect it. That is the argument of those who reject the Unilag name-change. While we may cast aspersion on Goodluck Jonathan for what you would call misplaced priorities and his sudden action, we should also be truthful to ourselves on the basis of our anger. Is it our individual complexes that we struggle with? We understand that we are people who pride ourselves, dignity and self-worth with established names. This can be shown in the our attitude to life. Nigerian love names and good brands. We would rather associate with international names and brands for the purpose of ego and esteem and acceptance in the society. How many people in Nigeria who wear TM Lewin shirts would continue to do so in Nigeria if they change their names Tokunbo Outfitters. Most of us would not despite the fact that the quality of the shirt remains unchanged. So, what are we really buying? Is it the quality or the name that adds to our self esteem? That is a question for you and I. I agree with Mr. Soriyan that the name the school was changed into may be a major cause for this outcry. What we fail to realize is that the name-change has nothing to do with the Global ranking or rating of the school. Unilag will continue to occupy its position in the global school ranking statistics except of course it raises its standards or drops its standards. Are we afraid that the International community will find it hard to relate Unilag to MAU? We know that is not true. The speed at which information is disseminated due to the presence of the internet is incredible. Within 24 hours of change, Wikipedia had updated its information about Unilag and the same for information databases all over the world. Are we scared that the value of the system will drop because of the change? Of course not, Obafemi Awolowo University formally University of Ife is still one of the best schools in Nigeria. Are we saying that Bashorun MKO Abiola’s name is undeserving of that honour? Why don’t you tell me fifteen other names that should be used in its stead. What are we trying to sell to the international community with such behaviors? That we are a house obviously divided, lacking judgmental thinking and control? Let us not forget when making comments or assertions that research is vital. It is pertinent that we understand properly before passing judgments or making conclusions. Most of the time, lots of people do not have a basis for their arguments and join the bandwagon; usually those who voice their thoughts loudest. Judgment would be an impossible factor if there were no variables for it to be weighed against. What PK has justifiably done, is to present a balanced, non-myopic point of view that can be achieved purely by thorough reasoning and research, defying emotions and sentiment.

  19. Lucas (@ltspark)

    Kunle, another well researched and better written piece. I always admire your quest to promote originality in all endeavors.

    Having said that I must say I totally agree with your first point on the ill-timing of the announcement and the arrogance of delivery. That indeed should be the bone of contention and not whether we choose to bury the our true intentions (razzness of the name) under a myriad of excuses.

    Secondly, I want to ask you, “What if we agree that MAULAG hurts the brand integrity of UNILAG?” What if we say that from a business point of view we stand to make less financial progress as MAULAG than as UNILAG? What if we stand to lose social leverage as MAULAG than as UNILAG?

    Kunle, I believe you will agree with me that in today’s world where even churches have to develop a brand identity to maintain relevance, MAULAG will not sell the product as well as UNILAG.

    There are instances when this saying is true “A rose by any other name will smell as sweet ” sadly not in this one.

    • Dear Lucas, The question to ask is “What have we gained from the UNILAG brand?” “The second question is that by what standard do we measure quality?” I mean, if five million fools say i am wise, how wise am i? If a billion lunatics say i am the only wise person they know and all other men are fools, how wise am i? I must be the king of fools and the champion of lunatics. I have a problem with a so-called quality brand that passes the test of locality and not of universality. This UNILAG is not even in the list of the first 6000 universities in the world. Shouldn’t this bother us? Are we going to pride ourself in a standard that puts a beautiful but weak crown in our heads as one-eyed kings in the land of the blind? Then, whatever has kept UNILAG off this global list of the best universities in the world, surely have NOTHING to do with what name it bears or does not bear. Sir, correct me if i am wrong…there is no single university in the world that has ever and will ever derive its quality and relevance from how the name sounds or how it does not. The name of a school is not a factor of production, of honor nor of relevance. Names are names, its best value is identification. But practice, results and resourcefulness are the incubators of quality, value and relevance. The name MAU will not make UNILAG but neither can it mar it. The name UNILAG didnt make UNILAG neither. Dear Lucas, just tell me one university that a name has helped. It’s all in our heads. For me, i think i already discussed the issue behind the issue in my article up there. Noone will admit it of course, all the other arguments may be justifiable; they may even be valid. But i refuse to pretend that i cannot hear what people mean that they arent saying. I hear it loud and clear. Anyway, how are you Lucas? Sure you are good. I always love to read your post. Keep them coming. I found this one too tempting to ignore. Stay in touch. God bless u. Pk

      • Lucas (@LTSPARK)

        Dear PK,

        I am flattered to have provoked a response.

        First of all PK, I think it is unfair to say that all critics of the name change are bourne out of shame including Prof Wole Soyinka. If you had limited your submission to the students on third mainland I would have agreed totally.

        Secondly, it is important that you do not see my response as a defense for UNILAG but more as an attempt to register an independent point of view. The questions posed were simply to highlight the benefits of brand identity. If the people of UNILAG feel that the new name hurts the product should we not respect that? The two brands in question UNILAG and MKO attract enormous goodwill why then does the government feel the need to substitute one for the other? There are a lot of institutions that the MKO brand can benefit much more.

        Finally, I am not bothered by the position the best university in Nigeria occupies in the world. My utmost respect goes to that institution that translates knowledge/research to value for the community. In essence if a community/state/country/world improves because of the quality of minds it graduates, then that is and will always be enough for me.

        I am very well PK as I am sure you are too.

  20. bunmi akinrimisi

    PK, thanks for the piece & well articulated thought on this issue. The primary challenge confronting our institutions is more of content than identity. Federal might should be geared towards that first.
    Also, MKO Abiola deserves more than what has presently been given. He wasn’t a South West democratic figure but a national hero why restricting/reducing every honour due to him to institutions based in his ethnic domain?
    I believe the name change is more political in nature than honour. If GEJ led FG means well, let them start the honour in FG institutions based in Abuja. Honour to MKO is well deserved but not with the re-naming of UNILAG proves to us that GEJ wants actually immortalise Abiola. So I submit a revert to status-quo.

  21. Adedoyin Julius

    May your days be long Sir

  22. Kayode Owolabi

    Your essay was insightful. Thank you

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