We woke up this morning to hear the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan declare in his Democracy day speech that the University of Lagos, Akoka has been renamed the Moshood Abiola University in honour of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 election who lost his life and that of a wife in a bid to reclaim his mandate. At the thought of the new name, MAULag we all went to town (facebook, twitter and the rest) laughing and mocking the Unilag babes who we believe are the hardest hit (don’t ask why).

I had fun too and came up with some jokes on the issue only to discover that some people were making a big deal out of the issue. Let’s get serious. What’s the big deal in changing UniLag to Moshood Abiola University? Students of Unilag are not called Unilagites but Akokites and that still stands as the university has not changed location. Correct me if I’m right but seriously I don’t understand all the fuss about the name change and the subsequent blockage of the Third Mainland Bridge.

You can protest all you want but I doubt if that will change anything. A similar thing happened in Ife in 1987. In 1987, the University of Ife was changed to Obafemi Awolowo University and people protested but that changed nothing, the name has come to stay. Today, the school prides itself as the Oba Awon University (King of all Universities). A play on its initials – OAU.

Eminent Nigerians have reacted to the issue and here are my thoughts on some of the opinions expressed. In my opinion, the best criticism against MAU so far is that a Federal structure/institution in the FCT like the National Stadium or the University of Abuja would have done greater honour to Abiola than the sectional approach the Unilag re-christening looks like. They argue that Abiola is not only a South-western hero but a national one. Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola deserves all the honour he gets. MAU doesn’t stop the National Stadium, Abuja or any other institution from being renamed after him. The fact that we have the Obafemi Awolowo University didn’t stop the many roads across the nation from being named after Awo.

From my perspective, I also think that the outcry against this move by the Jonathan led FG is one that goes on to show how people resent change. UniIfe students didn’t hate Awo, yet protested in ’87 and I’m sure UniLag students don’t hate Abiola, yet are protesting. People are just not comfortable with accepting that a CHANGE (of name) has come to an institution they are/were part of, either as students or lecturers. Simple!

Some other critics also accuse the president of not consulting anybody, but are we forgetting that the school is a federal institution? We are the same ones who complain that we set up committees for everything possible under the sun and now we complain again that no committee on name change was set up. This is not to say that the President was right in disregarding the legally prescribed steps for re-christening the institution. The man should take all steps to correct that anomaly by going through the normal route.

Some others say Abiola did nothing for Nigeria. My response to that is that he made steps to do great things for the country by contesting and winning the fairest election this country has ever had, he could have done a lot if the election wasn’t cancelled. And it is possible he wouldn’t have done anything. I’m not a fan of GEJ, neither am I an Abiola fanatic but I believe that this is not such a big issue as some people want the rest of us to believe. The whole furore and debate that trailed the issue seems to me like hitting an ant with a sledge hammer! I honestly do not see a reason for the noise the matter generated.

PS: This piece was originally penned on May 29, 2012 when the announcement of the change of name was made.


The mind of a wayfarer always wanders, so allow me to quickly share this thought before I walk on to something else.

I read about the funny turn that the bribery scandal involving Femi Otedola of Forte oil, formerly AP and Honourable Farouk Lawan of the House of Representatives has taken. It is reported that Otedola said “I bribed him (Lawan) in order to set him up.” The diminutive Honourable was said to have replied with the following line – “I collected the bribe in order to use it as exhibit,” the response sounds like one from a blockbuster Nollywood comedy parading the best of clowns like Sam Loco Efe, of blessed memory, Nkem Owoh (Osuofia) and John Okafor (Ibu).

Wonders shall never end in our great country Nigeria, the land of good people, great nation. I took my mind off the burden of that shameful exchange and resorted rather to think about the man Otedola. I’m not trying to exonerate him but I choose to control what I think of. Rather than give myself unnecessary headache because of a disHourable incident, I will rather move on to better things. I believe I can learn one or two things from all people, if the Bible could say “go to the ants” to learn, then I can pick a thing or the other from anyone’s life without sentiments. So, I tried looking at the life of one of the biggest financiers of Africa’s biggest political party, PDP (did you say biggest rigger?) and a strong contender for the position of Africa’s richest man. Don’t forget the brouhaha that came up not too long ago between our man in this study and the current occupier of that seat.

I tried looking at what lesson I can bring out from his life and this is it – that you can be set free from the bondage of no identity! Having an influential and renowned parent, kind of, puts you under that parent’s shadow. You don’t have your own identity because who you are is clouded by who your parent is. If I tell you I’m Dangote, your first question is likely to be – are You Aliko’s son? For those under their parent’s shadow its kind of frustrating (though it has its own pecks). I have read the frustrating stories of people who have lived under that shadow, nothing they get seem to be on merit – people believe they get those contracts, certain appointments or hit gold because of their parents. No one is ready to applaud them and accord them respect solely for who they are but rather for whose kids they are.

The shadow looks impossible to break free from and many even willingly succumb to live under such as they retain the name even in marriage and come up with funny compound names. Some try hard to break free from the name but with no success. The good news is that you can leave that shadow and build your own identity. When I think of the possibility and reality of this, the first name that comes to my mind is that of the Otedolas. When I mention Otedola, who comes to your mind, Femi? Probably, he is the only Otedola you even know. In 1992, Femi had no “identity,” at the mention of Otedola the person that came to people’s minds was Michael, his father and Governor of Lagos, at that time. Femi must have been under that shadow. Everywhere he turned, his only identity was as Michael Otedola’s son. Today, the table has turned, when the headlines read Otedola, we instantly think of Femi, the husband of Nana. Michael, today, may even be allowed in to some places simply because he is Femi Otedola’s father.

Femi did what many thought impossible, he stepped out of the shadow and got his own unique identity. Wikipedia in reference to his phenomenal growth has this to say about him, “From nowhere, Zenon (Femi’s brainchild) is today rated among the top five companies in the country, with a huge turnover . But how did he (Femi) do it many have asked? In an interview some years ago he attributed his phenomenal leap to “hard-work and staying focused on what you want and going all out to get it.” How he did it is another story entirely.

I don’t know what shadow you may be under, but here is the gist – You can step out of it. Be it the shadow of failure, lack or sickness. Whatever the shadow is, you can break free from it.