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Stats: 1062380 members, 1234530 topics. Date: Thursday, 23 May 2013 at 04:27 AM
|From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by loma(m): 1:46pm On May 30, 2012|
by Idris Bello
The morning of May 29, 2012 found me making the three hour journey from Mbabane, the capital city of Swaziland to Nhlangano, in the southern part of the country. I was again thinking about the great road network I have seen across this small country of a million people, where for over three weeks, I was yet to witness a power outage.
I faintly remembered that the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan would be making the usual broadcast to list his government’s accomplishments in the last year, but having read Tolu Ogunlesi’s piece the previous day, I was not expecting anything newsworthy. Alas, I was wrong.
A few hours later, I logged on to Twitter, and TwitterNaija was agog with jokes about MauMau , MAUL, MKO Babes and the rest. It took me a while to figure out that in his characteristic way of doing even the right things wrong, GEJ had made an announcement in his anniversary speech changing the name of the University of Lagos (Unilag) to Moshood Abiola University (MAU, MAUL, or MAULAG), in honour of the late Moshood Abiola (MKO), the winner of the June 12, 1993 election.
On the surface, who could have thought anyone could go wrong by immortalizing Abiola after several years of demand by Nigerians (which OBJ, his townsman in his characteristic manner had failed to do). But then, this is GEJ we are talking about, the man who has had his foot in his mouth since the days he was able to afford shoes.
There have been protests in Lagos and in cyber space, especially on Twitter with a free-for-all among various Twitter thugs, voltrons, and vextrons on the appropriateness of the name change.
But what are we really protesting about here?
So the first question here is ‘Does the Federal Government have the power to change the name of the University of Lagos?’
I have seen some laughable tweets comparing GEJ’s act to Obama changing Harvard’s name in a State of the Union Address. But that misses the point. Harvard is a private institution; The University of Lagos is 90% federally funded and exists by Federal charter.
So the Federal Government does have the power to change Unilag’s name. Whether it should have done so is another matter. But this is GEJ we are talking about, our venerable leader who announces a fuel price increase on New Year’s Day.
There is also a precedent in the case of the University of Ife. In May 1987, the Federal Military Government changed the name of the university to honour the highly revered sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Reactions to the name-change were very similar to what is happening now in Unilag’s case.
Quoting Professor Wale Omole, ex-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ife,
“While it could not be controverted that students, staff and people in general admired and loved Chief Awolowo, the university community was depressed that the name of their university was lost. There were student protests, petitions etc., but the Federal Government had already spoken……… There was a general reaction from the community that what belonged to us, that is, the University of Ife, had been taken away, and there was need to be labelled with the old school. Students, staff and even friends of the university fell short of their high level of enthusiasm. The matrix that the situation produced is difficult to describe”.
So pronounced was the impact of that story that universities abroad had to double-confirm the identity of “Ife” grads before admitting them for post graduate programmes. My father, who finished from Ife in 1971, still reminds me to this day that he attended University of Ife, while I attended Obafemi Awolowo University.
However as we have seen in the case of Ife , which has since grown to adopt and revere the OAU acronym (Oba Awon University, Only African University, Omega Alpha University), while also retaining the ‘Great Ife’ sobriquet, the student protests did not cause the government to revert to the old name. Hence, after a few protests and cyber-fights, I think it is now time to move on to more important issues that affect the quality of education in our country.
Quoting Prof. Friday E. Okonofua, former Provost, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin in a recent paper,
“ Unfortunately, comparative data indicate that whereas Nigerian Universities ranked as some of the world’s best in the 1960s and 1970s, the situation today is the reverse. Today’s Nigerian University is a shadow of its old self, and is epitomized by decaying and obsolete teaching and research facilities, inadequate students and staff accommodation, weak and fragile municipal services, obsolescent library and communication facilities (including low ICT coverage) and a generally inappropriate learning and research environment.
These are the issues we should be discussing. Also, rather than a name change at this time , with the attendant financial implications of rebranding, the Federal Government should have focused on ways to improve the quality of university education and the quality of products emanating from Universities and other tertiary institutions.
In closing, as an alumnus of Great Ife, I cannot resist a parting shot at the new MAULites.
Despite OAU’s name change, it still retains its ‘class’. It is now time for Unilag to show that its ‘swag’ goes beyond its name. But then swag is for boys, while class is for men.
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by Beaf: 1:48pm On May 30, 2012|
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by ekt_bear: 1:58pm On May 30, 2012|
loma:This misses the point of the Harvard comparison.
What happened by military fiat is not justification for what happens during a democratic regime.
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by loma(m): 2:15pm On May 30, 2012|
So what is the point of the Harvard comparison? That the brand is so established it cannot be changed? While I understand the sentiments against changing it, I still do not agree with the comparison.
Also, yes, a millitary regime is different from a democratic government, but then you have to show that GEJ broke laws (or failed to follow due process) in changing the name, and take him to court for that, not by 'mauling' innocent citizens..
Note that my write-up is not on whether he should have done it or not ( i am against naming universities after individuals apart from where they are private institutions named after their founders like Harvard is, and i also see it as an act of an unserious government). All I am saying is, apart from the name, what does Unilag stand for? What defines the institution? What is your brand?
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by ekt_bear: 2:42pm On May 30, 2012|
loma:The point is that in its 50 year history, the University of Lagos has built itself up as a brand and as an institution. A "creature" of its own, so to speak. An old one, for that matter.
Thus, it is disrespectful to both the institution and those connected to it to wipe away/diminish its identity for mere political reasons.
That is the relevance of the Harvard comparison, not public/private...
Indeed. It is necessary to show that GEJ broke laws. But obviously he didn't follow due process, since none of the students or alumni were consulted. Presumably there is no one more interested in protecting the prestige and influence of a university than its alums and students..
Who, pray tell, is mauling innocent citizens?
That doesn't seem particularly relevant to me. Unilag doesn't have to tell you what its brand is or what defines it before it gains the right to keep its identity. Any more than a 50 year old man has to tell you his life history and what he does for a living before we agree that you are not entitled to change his name w/o asking him..
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by ekt_bear: 2:51pm On May 30, 2012|
You have muddled the issue slightly regarding this Ife situation.
It should be clear that it does not count as a precedent, for obvious reasons. Unless one also considers summary executions during a military regime precedent for the same happening during a democratic one.
So most people, after some reflection should agree that it isn't a precedent.
Then you've brought up this separate point..."do his actions actually violate any laws?"
Which I have answered above.
I just want to make this distinction very clear.
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by Kilode?!: 4:22pm On May 30, 2012|
The link and connection between Obafemi Awolowo and The University named after him is stronger than what we have in this MAULAG case. I disagree with loma's comparison here.
1. Unife was Awolowo's brainchild, a big part of his legacy.
2. Prior to the renaming, The university of Ife had one of their best Residence Halls already named after their benefactor and visionary Founder.
3. While a large part of the Ife University community opposed the re-naming, it was very much welcomed by the larger public, it was recognized as a gracious and well thought out move. This one clearly isn't enjoying that recognition.
This Unilag renaming failed many tests. I'll mention a few:
The appropriate consensus test:
GEJ and his advisers, going by the report of the Present Acting VC of Unilag, failed to carry the University Stakeholders with him. He did not consult the School Administrators and he failed to properly assess the opinion of the school community. In a so-called democracy, that is wrong, inappropriate and insensitive. It does not have to be unlawful to be all of those things.
The historical relevance test:
GEJ and his advisers failed to consider the history and significance of the school's present name "Lagos". Through its name, Unilag recognized and honoured the city of its birth, it honoured its place of residence. changing that name suddenly and in this manner is wrong and in-sensitive toward the City and state of Lagos. Also, MKO through his election "martyrdom" and Struggle wasn't just a Lagos figure, he was a national one. I believe there are better ways to honour his memory in a more national way.
If he indeed wanted to honour MKO, he could have declared June 12 as democracy Day, forever immortalizing the spirit and significance of Abiola's fight for democracy while recognizing the injustice meted out to him. I don't need to remind you that there is a robust and long-running conversation about june 12. The famous slogan "On june 12 we stand" an iconic and national battle cry during those days led us to the Democracy OBJ, Yar'adua GEJ and many Nigerians benefit from today. immortalizing that day would have made a better statement, a braver statement.
Also, GEJ could have chosen a more political monument, a symbol of governance would have been more appropriate, we have many in the Federal Capital, the city where he was imprisoned and possibly murdered and martyred.
The FG could have immortalized him with a new monument, something grander and even more appropriate than UNILAG. There are many great examples to copy from.
Just like Loma wrote, this President indeed has "a characteristic way of doing even the right things wrong" I mean, who could have thought that immortalizing MKO will create this kind of brouhaha?
Having said all that, I think folks should just go back to their school and let this slide, no point losing a strand of hair over this. There is no guarantee that the name won't change back to UNILAG in the future, no guarantee that Aso Rock won't become June 12 House. Like they say in my language; "Oba mewa, igba mewa lo ni ile aye" ~nothing lasts forver~
We have the subsidy report, the Malabo scandal, the PIB bill and other things to fight over. Time to hit PAUSE on this distracting song.
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by Kilode?!: 12:27am On May 31, 2012|
Wole Soyinka's wise opinion on this issue supports many of the points we've made on this thread. GEJ goofed. But life goes on.
Goodluck Jonathan’s Gift Horse
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by Beaf: 12:34am On May 31, 2012|
I wonder who will take up the job of pacifying the Abiola family, though. They are very livid with the infantile and demeaning reaction to the change.
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by Kilode?!: 12:45am On May 31, 2012|
Wise and honourable people like Soyinka will continue to appeal to them, they will understand. They are a smart and honourable family.
It is an emotional issue that was badly handled by the gift giver and the understandably angry stakeholders.
Incase GEJ isn't already worried, I'll advice him to be very careful about the sly and cunning advisers sorrounding him. .
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by Dis Guy: 12:48am On May 31, 2012|
Next is my confession to considerable shock that President Goodluck Jonathan did not even think it fit to consult or inform the administrators of the university, including Council and Senate, of his intention to re-name their university for any reason, however laudable. This arbitrariness, this act of disrespect, was a barely tolerated aberration of military governance. It is totally deplorable in what is supposed to be a civilian order.
this is the pat I cant understand, i mean
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by loma(m): 7:35am On May 31, 2012|
Again, I restate that I still think the decision was ill-advised (but then hasn't everyone of GEJ's decisiones been?), and like someone mentioned above, another President is probably going to play more politics with this in the future by reverting the name back to Unilag (with attendant rebranding costs).
Someone mentioned GEJ not consulting Unilag authorities; have you forgotten that he removed the fuel subsidy while still in discussion with stakeholders and without doing due diigence? This is even so in the same week Unilag is mourning its late VC.
The Unilag renaming is only a symptom of a very dysfunctional government that we have, that acts before thinking. I am very afraid for this country.
All that said, I am even more disappointed watching Unilag students on TV unable to articulate their grievances coherently. Is this what we have become? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6bzMFY1AeIw#at=14
|Re: From UNILAG To MAULAG - Swag Is For Boys by iluvnaija: 5:37pm On May 31, 2012|
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