UNILAG to MAU: It’s arbitrary, an act of disrespect —Soyinka

Prof. Wole Soyinka

This is one gift horse which, contrary to traditional saying, must be inspected thoroughly in the mouth.

Primary from all of us must be a plea to the MKO Abiola family not to misconstrue the protests against the naming of the University of Lagos after their heroic patriarch.

Issues must be separated and understood in their appropriate contexts. The family will acknowledge that, among the loudest opposing voices to Jonathan’s gift horse, are those who have clamoured tirelessly that MKO Abiola, the Nigerian nation’s president-elect, be honoured nationally, and in a befitting manner.

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.

After that comes the bad-mouthing of MKO Abiola and the Nigerian electorate by President Jonathan who referred to MKO as the “presumed winner” of a historic election. While applauding the president for finally taking the bull by the horn and rendering honour unto whom honour is due, the particularities of this gesture have made it dubious, suspect, and tainted.

You do not honour someone while detracting from his or her record of achievement. MKO Abiola was not a presumed winner, but the President-elect of a nation, and thus universally acknowledged.

It is sad, very sad, that after his predecessor who, for eight full years of presidency, could not even bear to utter the name of a man who made his own incumbency possible, along comes someone who takes back with the left hand what the right has offered.

However, there is hope. Legalists have claimed that there is a legal flaw to the entire process. The university, solidly backed by other tertiary institutions nation-wide, should immediately proceed to the courts of law and demand a ‘stay of execution’. That should give President Jonathan time to re-consider and perhaps shift his focus to the nation’s capital for institutions begging for rituals of re-naming.

After all, it is on record that the House of Assembly did once resolve that the Abuja stadium be named after the man already bestowed the unique title of “Pillar of African Sports”.

He deserved that, and a lot more. What he did not deserve is to be, albeit posthumously, the centre of a fully avoidable acrimony, one that has now resulted in the shutting down one of the institutions of learning to whose cause, the cause of learning, President-elect MKO Abiola also made unparalleled private contributions.

Let me end by stressing that my position remains the same as it was when the University of Ife was re-named Obafemi Awolowo University.

-Wole Soyinka


  • Jonathan needs good advisers for critical and logical reasoning and wisdow before making prematured and ill-decisions. Military governmment is not as arrogant as this administration. That is how Ayo Salami was suspended undemocratically

  • What is the negative consequence of changing the name to MKO Abiola University . I can only be motivated to be a hero so that such big University/alike can be named after me. Let’s Encourage our society of positive thinking than engaging in violent and unnecessary pride

  • Sadly the govt of the day is more of autocracy than democracy. The president has never for once listened to the voice of the people he is supposed to be serving. In 2015, he will still fool 150 million people.

  • I will like to talk some senses into the heads of the first two persons who gave comments. Do you even know what they call due process? If the president was to relieve the stakeholders, and legislative arm of government of thier duties he should have stated this in his memorandum. Pity to those nigerians who aplaud his actions.

  • I am an alumnus of Unilag and we have a tradition of protesting against unjust and illegal actions of our leaders. I actually checked on a couple of websites Unilag is ranked about 3000 in the world but that out of over 10000 so its not the top but its not bad. It’s very sad when you cannot recognise the goodwill and brand equity that the universities name holds. On the basis of that brand recognition my friends and I were able to complete our post graduate abroad I met lecturers who recognised Unilag from interaction with previous student or had been visiting lecturers to Unilag. I think that MKO Abiola should be recognised but he was a national figure so why not do something for him in Abuja and this is coming from a guy from the same state as him. University of Ife was the brain child of Awolowo and during his life he championed free education, which my parents were recipient of, so it makes sense to honour him ( I still feel he should have been honoured at the national level rather than losing the goodwill of the name). secondly although he was a philanthropist, Abiola made his mark mainly as a business man and politician and we obviously glossed over his sharp business practices with ITT and collusion with IBB to accord him respect for winning a free and fair election on June 12th so if he is due national recognition it should be at the national level preferably in Abuja which I am sure will annoy some of our fellow Nigerians

  • Everybody was shouting “Jonathan, Goodluck Jonathan” for president. Now your eyes have opened abi. Any little thing you people will be giving all kinds of comments and be speaking funny grammar. Let’s go back to stanza two of how national anthem so that God can open our eyes to see a lot of things.
    No wonder Buari was crying the other day for Nigerians. Except the Lord builds the house,Those that labour labours in vain. I know that out of multitude of unfaithful leaders there might be a faithful one who will lead us with the fear of God. Let me ask all Nigerians one simple question; How can we find this faithful person? because the system of this country is going down the drain. Now i understand that it is better to put trust in God than to put trust in man. men, President Jonathan, you are disappointing us. KAI

  • leadership should not be entrusted in the hands of political cacauumbs,social climbers,social vegetables but in the hand of political visionary,i`m dissapointed in a president who has no achievement than the change of a school,check out his report on democracy day,you will realise it is nothing to talk about than forceful removal of subsidy, forceful change of school, to enhance policy is not a bad thing but acting as what i called military democratic impostors without consultation neglecting the legislative arm and others like asuu,nuc etc,changing of name isnt bad but in a forceful manner is corrosive to our political nerve,

  • I do not know different between Jonathan adminstration and military one. He dismissed Ayo Salami unlawfully because of his honesty in Judiciary sector. He forcefully removed oil subsidy. I have not see any important thing that he has achieve. Good will help us in this nation.

  • Every body gud day in this side first and for-most nigeria people while are we always be confuse both off us(d leaders & d followers) pls. All the unilag student we are less consign about d change university name is not to learning and accquire knowlogy and leave is our perment side pls.let stop d crasses i pray that all of us we should surccess(amen). If is not that president goodluck is confuse & he dont no next step or agender what consigne him about d issure of rename d university we have a lot of problem in this country u are not after to solve any one of then for exp. Fuel, Nepa,pipe bone water,poor road,nothing like security(i.e peace is zero) no company(i.e no job) even in university no equipmemt 4 science student that they will use 4 practical more-than this one. But iam not talk to jonathan is alreading confuse. Pls. & pls. Nigeria people let us pray god should helps us in this country (amen).

  • I wish to quickly react to the submission of Prof. Soyinka my most respected Nigerian, because for the first time in the issues of national interest, I am taking an opposing stand from him. let me not forget to add that I feel rather disappointed in his choice for what soever interest. for the other lowlifes who have seized the opportunity of this incidence to say all manner of things to the person of the President, you have been forgiven. let me end by adding that if it takes the life’s of a hundred misguided YORUBA YOUTHS, then so be it, but that school will remain MAU.

  • My fellow nigerians, i thinks mr president had done very well 4 immortalizing a man whom we all know won june 12 election. But, there is something mr president lack. He ought to have send the bill 2 senate, school senate, and Nuc to know of this b4 implementing it, there is rules of law in government. I think it high time mr president should know that, he is democratically elected leader. May God help us in this nation(AMEN)

  • smthg is certainly wrong with all supporters of jonathan on this issue. Esp, tamuno. That shows d kind of tyrants u r. No apologies whatsoever. U think a school is yaba market. Pls u do not have a place on this page.

  • Good to see and read all these comments. The Prof. have aired his mind but i want to point out one truth, we believe chief MKO of the S D P won that election unofficially but since the electoral body did not declare him the official winner, the word Presume can be used, like presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore lets not kill our selves with certain things that does not bring out our best. How ever what could be more to man who not minding his wealth(not minding how in this context) paid the supreme price for what has made me speak freely today without going to jail.No honor can more than that which gives freedom. Can we move on sir.

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