Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Dear Mr. President,

I believe you must be embarrassed by the reactions trailing your renaming of the prestigious University of Lagos to now bear Moshood Abiola University Lagos in honour of the late Chief MKO Abiola. As a youth that witnessed the late Bashorun's struggles, I feel more embarrassed than I could ever have imagined but then, my embarrassment is based on the fact that MKO seems to have been given an honor whose impact does not quite do justice to the values he died for.

While there have been a lot of criticisms, I expect our arguments to be that MKO represents our democracy as a whole and not so much of our education sector like a Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka or an Obafemi Awolowo that stood for 'free education' and is the reason many of our parents, uncles and aunts today have formal education. Therefore, a symbolic brand, prestigious and more synonymous to our democratic history as a country could have been chosen for MKO.

I remember MKO in 1993 won what has been adjudged the first ever and till date the only free and fair presidential election in Nigeria. Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion massively voted him and his running mate both muslims to make history. The story of how his victory was annulled, how he was arrested, how his wife Kudirat that led the struggle for his freedom and mandate was assassinated under the then military governments is well known. A year after he also died in detention and presidency was seeded to the South-West Nigeria, home of the Yoruba tribe which MKO belonged to and retired army General Olusegun Obasanjo was voted president, the call for MKO’s immortalization started with the feeling of liberty that Nigeria have finally come off military rule.

For the 13 years we have remained in democratic leadership thanks to the general feeling of the need to right the injustice done to MKO and the Yoruba tribe, past leaders have failed to immortalize MKO for his martyrdom for our democracy so your decision to finally do this now should be highly commended. Sincerely it should be, except we want to be hypocritical, but what we have now is not quite what anyone could have expected.

MKO was known as the 'pillar of sports' in his lifetime; maybe a sports structure would have been more befitting for him but then we have Moshood Abiola Stadium in Ogun State already and if it has to be education, we also already have Moshood Abiola Polytchnic in Ogun State. You will be right to say MAPOLY is not a federal institution but then making us have two tertiary institutions a few kilometers apart named after same man seems awkward. Whether UNILAG was as prominent as the likes of UI and OAU among the schools that led the June 12 struggle is an issue for another forum.

UNILAG is a good brand at least in Nigeria and there are some values you do not want to lose especially when it comes to one’s Alma Mata. I can identify with this because some certificates should be easily identifiable globally no matter how old or new they are but it was with pain that I watched some ignorant UNILAG students that cannot even spell right on their placards talking down on Bashorun MKO Abiola with words like "a whole us, named Moshood Abiola". As a youth I do not blame them, if only they knew better or were made to. Most of them were toddlers during the June 12 struggle.

That said, Obafemi Awolowo University was once University of Ife but was renamed in 1987 after the great Papa Awo's passing on and I do not think there was this kind of opposition to it despite Great Ife's place among schools in Africa. So this is a sign that something must be wrong somewhere; the most obvious being that when we leave a good act undone for too long, it loses its values. Only few UNILAG students would have frowned at this if it was done in 1999.

I do not have a degree in Political Science, I am not an expert political analyst and of course I'm not old enough to tell Nigeria's history from scratch, I'm just another young Nigerian trying hard to think right. I am not sure the Federal Government will be willing to name Eagles' Square Abuja after MKO but I feel it is not a bad choice. With a few more thoughts, I am wondering just like the Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos, what about the National Theatre Lagos? If it has to be education, why not rename Nigeria's National Library? Or is there a constitutional barrier to the National Open University being named after an icon like Chief MKO Abiola?

Mr. President, you said in that same broadcast on May 29th 2012 that a new national museum is to be built in Abuja to preserve the history of our country, can we not have that foundation laid from the onset as a dedication to him and be called The Moshood Abiola Museum? Or why not rename our Abuja National Stadium after the late pillar of sports? This will even emphasize the fact that he was not just a south-west hero but indeed a national hero whose name transcends tribe and religion.

Perhaps I am wrong about all these structures I have suggested, perhaps there are more to these executive decisions than a young man like me would ever know, perhaps your decision is actually the best if only the UNILAG community comprising of the school senate, students and staff was carried along in the decision making, perhaps I am just expressing myopic sentiments with everything. I know it may be ambitious to think the decision will be reversed but then, someone should please educate me and millions of Nigerians on the rationale behind the decision to turn UNILAG to MAULAG. I write with the belief that you did not make the decision alone.

While we expect action on life threatening issues like security, power and corruption which to me will be the truest honour and immortalization for MKO and all the lives lost in Nigeria's journey to democracy, I hope the UNILAG...sorry MAULAG students will learn to live with the new nomenclature and avoid doing anything stupid for the sake of our peace. I also hope their feelings would be understood and respected, and they will be pacified rather than coerced. We have seen enough tears and blood already.

Nigeria is now or never, we either love it or lose it for ever
Nigeria is now or never, I’ll rather win it and keep it for good

May the soul of Chief MKO Abiola continue to find rest.

Yours Truly


  1. Wisdom talk... I am sure this will get to GEJ

  2. President Goodluck Jonathan did not even think it fit to consult or inform the administrators of the (UNILAG) university, including Council and Senate.

  3. And that is the major issue here! To think he is saying "no turning back" on that decision one is left wondering who his advisers are... Even if it won't be reversed, can't he hide that dictatorship or military approach? Where is his strong head in the Boko Haram case?