President Goodluck Jonathan’s widely unpopular decision to rename the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after the late Chief MKO Abiola is still drawing harsh criticisms from the public days after he made the announcement.
Now, the Nigerian President, alongside the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, are being sued by a Lagos-based lawyer, Oluyinka Oyeniji, a UNILAG graduate.
Mr Oyeniji filed the lawsuit (FHC/L/CS/575/2012) on Thursday evening at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos and is asking the court to interprete the 1967 Act that established the popular university.
According to Sahara Reporters, the Masters Degree UNILAG graduate is requesting that the court interpret the following:
- Whether the President is empowered under the University of Lagos Act 1962 amended in 1967 and as contained in Chapter U9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as amended, to change the name of the University;
- Whether the action of the President by declaring in his broadcast that the name of the University is ultra – vires the provisions of the Act establishing the University and therefore null and void and of no effect;
- Whether the action of the President by declaring in his broadcast that the name of the University be changed is a breach of the doctrine of separation of powers which Nigeria practices under its Presidential System of Government; and
- Whether the Honourable Court should, in the circumstances reverse the name of the University to its original state being the name with which the Act establishing it provided for in its long title, short title, interpretation section and the entire body of the Act.
President Jonathan, in his Democracy Day speech to the nation, sparked immediate outrage when he delivered the shocking announcement that the University of Lagos would now be known as the Moshood Abiola University, Lagos, in honour of the late politician’s efforts in the fight for democracy.
Students of the top-choice school had an immediate negative reaction to the re-christening and took to the streets to show their displeasure. They have since staged protests, calling for a reversal of the name change.
Criticisms over motive
Jonathan’s motive for choosing to honour the late politician by renaming UNILAG has been criticised by many who believe it a publicity stunt to garner political goodwill.
Rights activist and President of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, CRCN, Shehu Sani said if Jonathan was serious about honouring Abiola then he ought to proclaim him president, something the late politician never got even after he won the 12 June 1993 presidential elections.
He called the honour given Abiola “a popularity craving exercise by the Jonathan led administration”.
“If President Jonathan is a fan of Chief MKO Abiola he could have renamed the newly-built federal university in Otuoke,in Bayelsa State since the late chief also won in those areas in 1993 presidential elections.
’’No amount of renaming of monument will dampen the popular call on the Federal Government to recognize the late Abiola as a former president.
’’The 13 year resistance by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led governments to rename the National Stadium and the National Assembly after the late hero of democracy cannot be forgiven by the renaming of the University of Lagos.’’