HOW NOT TO HONOUR ABIOLA BY ABUBAKAR S. USMAN
President Goodluck Jonathan must really be imagining which policy or programme to introduce that will go down well with Nigerians. When in January, he hiked the price of fuel from 65 Naira to 142 Naira, Nigerians poured into the streets to protest the hike. When he introduced cassava bread as a measure to encourage the usage of cassava, Nigerians said they can’t be forced to eat cassava bread. Even the hike in electricity tariff which his administration promised is to ensure the provision of constant electricity supply is still a decision yet to be agreed to by Nigerians, and now a condemnation for daring to honour late business mogul, Chief M.K.O Abiola.
The last thing Jonathan expected from Nigerian’s, upon his democracy day address announcing that University of Lagos is now to be known as Moshood Abiola University was the wide condemnation from most Nigerians and even a protest from students of the university. The man must have thought that doing what past leaders have refused to will result to drums being rolled out into the street in celebration and accolades showered on him, but that is what you get when you take decisions based on pecuniary motives.
While nobody can dispute the fact that honouring late Chief Moshood Abiola is very laudable especially considering that it has for long, been the agitation of many Nigerians, but doing so to score cheap political point is exactly the reason why such laudable decisions can never be accepted.
Jonathan no doubt is in the bad books of most Nigerian and particularly residents of Lagos state for his unpopular policies and the deployment of soldiers against peaceful protesters in January, so he probably thought renaming Unilag after Abiola will soothe the nerves of the people and gain pity as he did with his ‘I have no shoe’ campaign, but it didn’t work this time around.
Chief Moshood Abiola, the man said to have won the freest and the fairest election in Nigeria died in government custody while fighting for the restoration of his mandate and by extension democracy. Why should our president think that an educational institution is the most befitting edifice that can be used to honour him? What is wrong with democratic institutions like the National Assembly among others? It doesn’t even make sense considering that an educational institution known as Moshood Abiola Polytechnic is already serving that purpose.
Let’s even assume that an educational institution is the appropriate edifice to use in honouring the late business mogul, the question that has been raised is why in Lagos? Someone said “MKO did not die for Lagos democracy; he died for Nigerian democracy without which these looters would not be raping the economy blind.”
One of the reasons canvassed by some of those who condemned the renaming of the university is the arbitrary manner in which the decision was made. University of Lagos is a university established by law several years ago. It is only appropriate that anything that will change the statutes of the university will also be done by law, with the consultation of the necessary stakeholders, but President Jonathan reportedly took that decision without even involving the university community, an act that is itself against the principles and tenets of democracy, but has fast become the hallmark of the Jonathan administration. Would Abiola have appreciated that one of the principles of democracy he fought for is what Jonathan has employed in honouring him?
The best honour Goodluck Jonathan can bestow on Abiola is to run a government that is clearly built on the foundation of democracy. A government that will ensure that the students of Unilag, now renamed Maulag and their counterparts all over the federation are guaranteed employment upon graduation from school. Abiola would be more honoured if every Nigerian don’t go to bed hungry or wake up without the hope of what to eat. Abiola would be happy to see the Nigeria he sacrificed his life for if Jonathan can guarantee the security of lives and properties of every citizen from the attacks of Boko Haram, kidnappers, armed robbers etc.
If this is not what Jonathan calls democracy, he can as well keep the name to himself.
I am @abusidiqu on twitter