Friday, 1 June 2012

So what! UNILAG or MAUL... Kini Big deal gan?

Do I really have to express my considerations publicly over these continuous debates of University of Lagos (UNILAG) change of name to Moshood Abiola University Lagos (MAUL)? Are those on the right school of thought and left, worth the worry and of an evolving mindset to comprehend my point of view if I choose to put them down, regardless to whether it supports or debunks their opinionated judgement? Well have started already so to what use are these questions?..…. I’ll just bloody bleed in writing.

In order to channel minds of those who choose to read this piece towards the power and results that lie behind constructive self-search and personal analysis rather than promote generally conceived public conventions, my method to writing would take the experimental and exemplary role. On this particular topic, I would be in search of an opinion only after I have laid arguments that have surrounded me on this very emotive issue and try not to emerge my thoughts from pre-concluded notions. I intend to try and free my mind off the bias and irritated mindset born out of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's (GEJ) consistent incompetence, and would approach this matter through the lens of both sides of the divide- an opposing public versus his cabinet. I then hope to relay in conclusion at every argument, that which appears sensible.

You are highly permitted to express your sound disagreements and bigoted thoughts at the comments column of this article for without a doubt in my mind, I know for certain, some readers and commentators would still have transactional emotive minds override common sense even as I intend to carry them along on this search-driven methodological write-up.

So he changed the name to MAUL…so what and Why? May 29, 1999 was a remarkable day in Nigeria's history. Sometime on that fateful day, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) handed over power in a ceremony highly chauffeured with hope to who got elected in the then concluded Presidential Elections- another General, Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd). Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar through this act, ushered in Democracy back into Nigeria's mode of governance and confirmed Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) as the President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of its Armed Forces for the next four years. This act brought back memories long given and forgotten to struggles fought and sacrifices made from numerous Nigerians for the re-birth of Democracy. It further initiated the Federal Government to declare that fateful day as a public holiday and has since then been named Democracy Day. Democracy day serves as our reminder of our transition from compelled military rule to civil rule. It’s a day to reflect and remember Martyrs, Heroes and Leaders who fought or sacrificed for the exodus of Military rule in Nigeria.

(Fast Forward to May 29, 2012).

In line with vision to foster importance of that sacrosanct day in 1999, our current President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces in his wisdom and that of his Federal Executive Council (FEC) chose to immortalise one of the martyrs of Democracy in Nigeria- Late Chief. M.K.O Abiola. To the President and his cabinet, no other honourable way was deemed fit to immortalise Late Chief Abiola and accelerate the spirit of Democracy than re-name arguably, the nation's most largely known and finest Federal University, University of Lagos after him. In fact, in his Democracy Day address, President Jonathan insinuated that the re-naming of the institution is the most commendable honour Nigeria can confer on a man of such legacy and doggedness, referring to Late Chief Abiola as the “presumed winner” of the June 12, 1992 Presidential elections.

As a result of the declaration to re-name UNILAG, various reactions have been triggered from students and ex-students of the institution, academics of the institution, representatives of political opposition parties and other active citizens around the country. As I listen to radio, read through social media networks, drive by some streets and eavesdrop on conversations, it seems as if everyone is totally opposed to this uprising. This propelled me informally to find out through interactions if GEJ was wrong again. So, I had talks with some stakeholders of UNILAG and also listened to GEJ’s Democracy Day address again and read our “hypocritical” Minister of Information- Labaran Maku’s address and through this write-up, would seek to reiterate their arguments and bleed my spontaneous thoughts.

UNILAG's stakeholders argue that locally and internationally, University of Lagos is an identified brand image. With a name change, its identity would diminish and also change. (My thought- is capacity tied to a name?) Local and international partners would continuously have to seek clarification from the school that MALU is the same as the UNILAG they have always known and done business with and this would have troubled implications on certificates issued for past, present and future students. Students who would seek second degrees abroad would have several hi-cups during enrolment and blah blah blah….you sha get the picture.

(My raw thoughts)

GEJ sef! Doesn’t he know Late Chief Abiola already has an institution named after him? Now we have two higher institutions named after Moshood Abiola .Na waaa

Well more seriously, for one, the only constant thing in life is change. What and how we facilitate change guarantees it failing or flourishing. Our theme in reaction towards change is its messiah. How capable we are in proffering adequate reactions in response to change is what determines its success or failure. If we are poised and focused for change to succeed it would, if we determined and compelled it must fail, it definitely would but above all, change often times is good. That settled, let’s channel our minds to an abstract comparison in line with the above argument= Does a "brand image" supersede or outweigh "sacrificed or sacrificial transformation”? Bear in mind, both are identities, however, what they represent determines in level that which is clearly superior. To me, whoever upholds the former cries for sustainability but whoever upholds the latter challenges for growth. One rests on efficiency, the other facilitates effectiveness. Which would you rather embrace? Be sustainable or grow? Is the proliferation of University of Lagos tied to a name or the internal enablers' who make the name? Stakeholders of UNILAG, its administrators and students, intend holding on to their name for sustainability, the Federal Government on the other hand through the name change claims intent to facilitate growth by immortalising Late Chief Abiola’s life and legacy. Shouldn’t UNILAG be glad it’s being chosen as a springboard to represent this growth or are they claiming to be almighty and content with what, who and where they are? During my short interactions with administrators and students of MAUL, I can relate from memories of their countenance that this clamour for sustainability just discovered as I write is not sought in tandem. One clamours to sustain something undoubtedly abstractly reputable, while the other craves to retain that which arguably continues adding material and vain repute to self due to the society we live in. It’s left for them both to indentify this erroneous and misconceived quest, trace back their steps and hopefully with collusion, determine that which is more paramount and supportive for their federal government suit.

Nigeria’s “hypocritical” Information Minister, Labaran Maku argues in his words

“We just see it as a normal way in every democracy that when you take major decisions definitely sometimes you have public reaction. Also, It is our hope that reason will prevail and that the decision to honour one of our nation’s icons and heroes will be appreciated by all Nigerians including youths and students who are the future leaders of this country”

(My raw thoughts)

 At the beginning of this piece I made mention of two Generals who were former Heads of state in Nigeria. If indeed the FUTURE LEADERS OF THIS COUNTRY are the youths, how come one of the Generals still became Head of State again 40 years after his first dispensation? After 40 solid years! Was he a youth in the Late 90’s? Or David Mark who was once Military Governor of Niger State in 1984, 28 years later is still President of Senate? 28 solid years! Which youth then as ever emerged future leader in my country? Is it because he- Labaran Maku, was past SUG President of University of Jos and now heads the Ministry of Information he believes his statement is well grounded in context to Nigeria? He should sit and think! Public office holders today in Nigeria who are not octogenarians are just figureheads. The REAL leaders and elders of Nigeria are the same dogmatists we have had since independence. Labaran Maku himself can’t deny he is just a figurehead and does whatever his Godfather (********) says. More so, he can’t deny to himself the fact that he had to be more cynical, sanctimonious and pietist than ever before to be conferred the position he is today. Until we stop seeing leadership as an elderly individual but rather, as a role credited by due merit, void of dotage and sectional considerations, Labaran Maku would keep making senseless things sound sensible to us.

Secondly, our Minister of Information should not confuse the revolt of the name change with a protest to honouring Late Chief Abiola. Rather, stakeholders of UNILAG detest along with other arguments the authoritarian gesture and process to which the name was changed. And truly it lacked due process. Also, he goes on to say in the above quote, it’s normal in every democracy major decisions would trigger public reaction. Labaran Maku should know not only major decisions trigger public reaction, every bloody government decision does. The reactions just have limited consequences or responses determined by the sector and level of citizenship participation to which it affects. There’s no decision government makes today that does not have a negative effect on some and at the same time, a positive effects on others. The lack of public participation and stakeholders’ engagement prior to a Federal government consensus in changing UNILAG’s name is mostly what catalysed large student and administration protests. Governments around the world today are advocating new localism bills and measures to bring their administrations closer to the people so as to accelerate development. New localism bills are continuously being propagated by England’s central government while several Private and Public sector partnerships towards infrastructural developments get initiated repeatedly in China and Singapore yet, my own country’s present federal government kedevelopment ral government keeps pushing its development enablers away.. Deeper and deeper, it keeps maintaining authority by force instead of using public participatory engagement. Labaran Maku should know as well as every sane public administrator that before any public policy implementation, adequate review and analysis of that policy must be undergone and one of the most important stages in processes is the publics’ participation or stakeholders’ engagement of that policy. As representatives of our democratic government, GEJ and his cabinet of capitalists in socialists disguise have the right and responsibility to decide what policies or not to deliberate upon but, not to be run as a dictatorial regime imposing or coercing decisions for implementation without feedback of those concerned. Such measure would only always trigger major protests and reactions as we have seen these few days and obviously wouldn’t be effective; thus capable of having unnecessary lives lost. As I write this piece, there has been several shooting of tear gas by Police operatives in front of MAUL’s school gate. May God not let us lose young lives from this unnecessary protest. There’s nothing honourable and democratic about the procedure to which UNILAG’s name was changed as it was done without stakeholder’s engagement. It highly contradicts that intended to be acknowledged and shamefully degrades who was to be honoured in the first place.

In contradictions, I wonder who is right between Labaran Maku, GEJ and Wole Soyinka? GEJ in his address stated Late Chief Abiola was the “presumed winner” of the June 12, 1992 Presidential Elections, his hypocritical Minister of Information says Late Chief Abiola “clearly won without a doubt” and Wole Soyinka in his communiqué over this issue addressed Late Chief Abiola as the “President-Elect” of the same elections. In sticking to the script of trying to search for answers by laying out facts and relying on common sense to deliver a valuable conclusion for this piece, there’s no formal document I was capable to read to get legally authoritative facts.

(My raw thoughts)

Shouldn’t the annulment of June 12 1992 elections be re-visited by our judiciary today? Shouldn’t there be punitive measures on those who facilitated the daylight robbery in 1992 and caused the loss of not only one, but two lives great lives in the Abiola Family? If we still have the administrators of the 1992 government who annulled such a thorough, free and fair election alive, isn’t today’s democracy and posterity ripe for their litigation? Well let me stop there less I forget or become contradictory myself because it’s our leaders from 1992 that have become the octogenarians today and still rule us. (I sob sob sob sob for my country)

Lastly is the argument that there are several other structures and facilities across the nation that could serve as monuments in immortalising Late Chief Abiola’s life and legacy. Active citizens argue of the financial implications going to be used in facilitating the name change from UNILAG to MAUL. Annoyingly to some, such state funds should be used to refurbish existing dilapidated universities or build new social services in localities and then, commission them in the name of Late Chief Abiola than change UNILAG’s existing identity.

(My final raw thoughts)

How come Chief Olusegun Obasanjo never thought of immortalizing Late Chief Abiola in a magnanimous way? Not only are they both from the same region and state- Ogun State, Chief Obasanjo is next in line and a direct beneficiary of the sacrifice Late Chief Abiola paid for democracy. Na waaa oooo. That OBJ man can do I no send anybody atimes well mmehnnn and nothing anybody fit do. Anyway, jealousy is the best compliment anyone can ever get.

Back to the script, there is more to Federal Government’s decision to immortalise Late Chief Abiola by changing UNILAG’s name than meets public convention. The conspiracy or intention other than what is being pronounced in public convention for now I cannot tell but somehow to me, there are incoherent pieces. Something or someone in GEJ’s administration knows very well how to consistently infuse shock therapies to destabilize Nigerians and shift focus from more serious and pertinent issues. Yes, often times, GEJ gets it wrong but I ponder- are his policies always ignorantly rendered or are they intentionally conspired to birth the reactions we citizens predictably give? The issue of the new electricity tariff, our state of abysmal security and fuel prices have suddenly been relegated to the background once again. Not that they still don’t hold sway, but they aren’t as prevalent as they should be. For the past days, UNILAG’s matter has been subject and domineering in most public discussions and as Nigerians, its not news we easily forget things and move on.

Secondly, another thing have noticed; everybody seems to be easily agitated and motivated to protests and revolt to every single government decision they don’t agree with. Our components and enablers of democracy such as protests, civil interactions, social commentary et al is constantly severely abused by unnecessary remarks even though its precipitated by GEJ’s repetitive incompetence. Every man now has his own view and conclusion on how to run a government; which to an extent is good but truth be told- “a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing”. Should we consistently and unnecessarily at every government decision abuse the few sacred privileges we have as citizens? I mean, take a look at the students, they change the name of your school and then you go marching down the streets, blocking entrances to your own school, disturbing traffic, halting your own lectures and school activities; who are you creating disadvantages for and causing strife? YOUR OWN DAMN SELF! It’s an abuse on you not government. One right thing to do is let the school administration handle the issue legally. If UNILAG was created as an act of parliament, you are already at advantage so, let the school’s registrar or legal department get to work; even though in our judiciary system until cocks grow teeth or God prevails shall you get a verdict that overrides government’s position. It’s sad seeing students put theirselves in a dysfunctional state as a result of an Orwellian system they have not the slightest clue about. The only rights and powers we have as citizens when in opposition to government policies should be used smartly and hit hard, not inconsiderably or maliciously. There are other sinister ways MAUL students can effectively protest than hitting to the streets and risking their lives. They should brainstorm and come up with more transcending ideas to facilitate their point and support the school’s present Federal Government suit. I read somewhere, someone said, if GEJ decided to change the name of my alma mater, ourr old boy association wouldn’t protest; they would simply crash the economy; now that’s smart thinking!

Jide Alara.

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