On May 29, 2012, I loudly posed this question to the icons and leaders of the prodemocracy movement, Professors Wole Soyinka, Olusola Adeyeye and Mobolaji Aluko, what do they think of UNILAG’s name change? Is this their idea of how Chief MKO Abiola should be immortalized? By the drunken force of fiat? Is this what they fought for? They should not be silent. They should please speak up and assure us that this is the way to go, that this is how MKO Abiola would have wanted it. The silence of the prodemocracy movement is deafening and embarrassing. Animal Farm did not look this bad.
Professor Olusola Adeyeye’s email response (today, May 30, 2012) is appended here for posterity. Professor Adeyeye is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:
Because MKO was a sport enthusiast and an undeniable pillar of support for Nigerian sports, some of us had wished that our National Stadium in Abuja would be named in honor of the man. Of course, Obasanjo would do no such thing. The announcement to name Unilag for him came to me as a total surprise. I am Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. Our Committee had no input on this. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that erstwhile members of the Prodemocracy movement were in no way consulted. In any case, since when has a Nigerian government sought the view of the PDM? As such, I struggle to find the basis for your boiling at those who in no way partook in the decision to which you so strongly objected.
I have on several occasions opined that what we currently have in Nigeria is a civilian regime that cannot be called a democracy. Indeed, I coined the word “corruptocracy” to describe our extant experience of Government of the corrupt, by the corrupt, for the corrupt.
I am fundamentally opposed to naming our universities for politicians. I prefer that these institutions be named by ownership or location. As great an advocate of education as Awolowo was, I would not have renamed the University of Ife for him. The way are going, Ibadan will end up as Olusegun Obasanjo University someday! In any case, if a university should be named for MKO, I would have wished it to be University of Abuja.
Governance in Nigeria has been reduced to a large farce. The renaming of public institutions, as odious as it may seem, only symptomizes deeper diseases within the polity. When a man’s body is on fire, should one devote energy asking about his beard?
In the days of old, the pension scam, oil subsidy scam, BPE scam, Transcorp scam, etc would have given the military enough ground to topple the civilians. But we must keep the military in their barracks and let a civilian revolt create an authentic people’s democracy. It shall come!
In the heady days during the prodemocracy struggle, I would call Professor Adeyeye Awo, and he would call me [SG] Ikoku. Don’t ask why, long story from our days on Naijanet. Naijanet? The first ever Nigerian social network on the Internet started in 1991. And Professor Aluko refers to me as the “towncrier” because I was the towncrier on Naijanet. Of course. Those were the days. Of course.