May 31, 2012

UNILAG shut; no going back – Jonathan

 Authorities of the University of Lagos, yesterday, ordered immediate closure of the university following protests by students of the institution which entered second day over the renaming of the school to Moshood Abiola University. This came as the Federal Government insisted that there was no going back on the decision.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s announcement during his Democracy Day broadcast, Tuesday, renaming University of Lagos sparked off spontaneous protests from the students of the institution.

On the second day of the protests, the students and lecturers arrived the Third Mainland Bridge as early as 7am carrying placards of various inscriptions, conveying a message that they don’t want the new name. They barricaded the bridge and prevented motorists from accessing it as they chanted “We don’t want MAU, give us our UNILAG.”

The protest led to a traffic gridlock in that axis as civil servants whose offices are situated at Victoria Island and Ikoyi were unable to get to their offices at the usual 8am.

Motorists were therefore compelled to make use of Ikorodu Road to CMS which is the only alternative route to the Island, as commuters were forced to pay fare that was fifty per cent higher than the normal.

The protesting students vowed not to vacate the roads until President Jonathan reverts the name of the school to UNILAG.

No going back—FG

Meanwhile, the Federal Government declared, yesterday, that there was no going back on the decision to rename the University of Lagos as Moshood Abiola University as the late acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola deserved the honour.

Addressing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive council meeting, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku said President Goodluck Jonathan’s proclamation was only a response to the over a decade clamour by a broad spectrum of Nigerians for Chief Abiola to be immortalized.

Maku said government does not see the protest as a mark of disapproval and expressed hope that reasons would prevail at the end of the day.

“Yes sometimes government decisions get reactions from the populace, we do not as an administration see this as a disapproval. We just see it as a normal way in every democracy that when you take major decisions definitely sometimes you have public reaction but we should not allow the protest to overshadow the national significance of what Mr. President has done. I think he has shown that he is a true statesman and he truly appreciates the significance of M.K.O’s contribution in the political development of our country and as people who were adults in 1993. We think that this decision has been long overdue and that, today, Abiola can turn in his grave and say this nation for whom I made a supreme sacrifice for political development has recognized my contributions.