ShareTHE Executive Secretary (ES) of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie, has decried the tendency of university students in the country to react to everything these days,
following the protest of students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) over the renaming of the institution as Moshood Abiola University, Lagos.
He told State House correspondents in a chat in Abuja, on Thursday, that since President Goodluck Jonathan as the Visitor to the institution had changed its name, it was left for the appropriate government agencies to implement the directive.
Professor Okojie noted that what the president did was not strange, as other institutions had similarly been renamed in the past, saying, “We are familiar with these issues. I have been in the university system for this long. I speak as Executive Secretary of NUC and a regulator of universities.
“We have heard Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University) changed in 1987. We have heard University of Sokoto now Uthman Dan Fodio; we have heard Yola, Modibbo Adamawa; we have Nnamdi Azikiwe which was University of Awka before. This is about the seventh.
“The president had announced that we want to honour Abiola on Democracy Day which everybody thinks is in order.
“There is nothing you do in the university system these days that students won’t react to, whether it is increase of fees or what have you. The president has given a directive; the rest is for us to follow the implementation.”
The NUC boss also dispelled insinuations that there was no consultation before the decision to change the name was reached but added that the necessary steps would be taken before it would take effect.
He noted that it was not possible for President Jonathan to have acted alone on the matter, revealing that as in the case of the establishment of nine new federal universities, a committee had worked on the honouring of the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, with renaming of UNILAG after him.
“Even matters of nine new universities, from the scratch I know the committee that worked on it. Jonathan is the most engaging president, he is very accessible, I can tell you that. That he didn’t consult will not be true,” he said.
Reacting in particular to the suggestion that the governing council of the school was not consulted, Professor Okojie said “the president has never said there is no due process, he has not said we should go and pull down the billboard of University of Lagos today and put Moshood Abiola. He is a man who believes in due process and he won’t do anything out of the ordinary.”
In another development, the remains of the late vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Adetokunbo Sofo-luwe, were lowered into the grave at 1.30 p.m at the Ikoyi Vaults and Garden, on Thursday, amidst emotions by wife, Funmi and other relatives.
The interment was accompanied by tight security, following the plan of the riotous students of the university to move the protest against the re-naming of the institution to the late vice chancellor’s burial.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of the student-protesters had invaded the All Saints Church, Montgomery, Yaba, to honour the dead vice chancellor and also used the occasion to call on the Federal Government to rescind its decision on the renaming of the institution.
The students defied the downpour in Yaba, which began shortly after the funeral service, to echo their grievances against the new name, Moshood Abiola University, stating that they had stormed the church as part of the procession to see off the late vice chancellor.
Addressing the crowd outside the church, spokesman for the students said the two-week compulsory holiday imposed by the university management would not stop them from expressing their minds.
According to him, the closure of the university by the management was an indication that it was ready to compromise with the government.
In his sermon, the Diocesan Bishop of the church, Reverend Adebayo Akinde described the late Sofoluwe as a friend that he would miss so much.
Meanwhile, the University of Lagos Parent’s Forum has kicked against the re-naming of the institution.
In a statement jointly signed by its chairman, Mr B. B. Majekodunmi and the general secretary, Mrs Victoria Osinuga, a copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune, the forum said the change of name took it by surprise, adding that it was a decision to satisfy some people who were not happy with the President Jonathan-led administration.
According to the forum, the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola was a champion of democracy and worth immortalising, adding, however, that changing the name of the university was uncalled for, because the name, University of Lagos was not a social identity but a brand identity.