The Peoples Democratic Party in the South West has hailed the Federal Government for naming the University of Lagos after the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
While calling on government to initiate all statutory legal steps to perfect the name change, the party appealed to students and other stakeholders not to be used to tarnish the memory of Abiola and the cherished reputation of the erstwhile University of Lagos.
The PDP, which accused the Action Congress of Nigeria of hypocrisy and underhand support for the protest on the rename of UNILAG, said: “It is very sad to note that these same people, who dined and wined with late MKO Abiola and had used his name for political gains have suddenly become anonymous and cannot show appreciation to the Federal Government for immortalising him.
“Instead, they have suddenly lost their voice in their usual hypocrisy and have also gone to the extent of fueling protests in Lagos”
The PDP Zonal Publicity Secretary, Hon. Kayode Babade, said in the statement issued yesterday that all lovers of democracy, especially those who benefited from MKO Abiola’s matyrdom, should support whatever honour is done him by the Nigerian government.
Babade said: “the PDP led federal government has done well by honouring MKO Abiola, but inheritors of MKO’s political largesse feeding fat on Lagos have in a shameless display of their hypocrisy kept quite, and it is not difficult to see the hand of Esau in the voice of Jacob in the uproar over the change of name.
“We also note the voice of their godfather, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who in his usual sophistry has tried to denigrate the honour of MKO and defecate on his grave.
“We recall that Prof Soyinka, had in the time past clamoured for the immortalisation of MKO and blamed the PDP for not according him the deserved honour. We therefore need to ask, what is now the issue, having now recognized the renowned defender of the masses?
“We are however not surprised that the ACN people are denigrating the memory of MKO, because the same party that used the name of Abiola to canvass for votes denied one of his sons the party’s House of Representative ticket in Ogun State.
“Obviously, the same thing the ACN people are doing to MKO, they are doing to Chief Obafemi Awolowo by using his name to canvass for votes while they go about disrespecting his family, including the woman Awolowo called his jewel of inestimable value.
“The party appealed to students and other stakeholders not to be used to tarnish the memory of Abiola and the cherished reputation of the erstwhile University of Lagos.”
Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria has denied the accusation of the Peoples Democratic Party that the party was behind the protests by the students of the University of Lagos against the Federal Government’s decision to change the institution’s name to Moshood Abiola University.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said rather than blame the opposition for the protest, the PDP should be concerned with how the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by reaching the right destination through illegal routes.
The ACN said while it is not opposed to any action to honour the most prominent martyr of Nigeria’s democracy, Chief Moshood Abiola, it is opposed to the sectional nature of the honour and the diminished importance of naming a university after prominent personalities, especially someone like Abiola.
The party said: “Chief Abiola clearly won a national election, and this has been acknowledged by the government itself. Any honour to be conferred on him must reflect that. While it can be argued that UNILAG is a federal university, the truth remains that it is based in the South-west.
“Also, in an era in which the establishment of universities have been liberalised, everyone with access to funds can now set up a university and name it after himself or herself. That has definitely eroded the importance attached to naming such institutions after national heroes, including Chief Moshood Abiola, winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election.”
The said it disagrees with insinuations in certain quarters that the decision to honour Abiola was aimed at garnering political benefits.
It said Nigerians in general and the people of the South West in particular are too sophisticated to be hoodwinked by such pandering.
The party said based on media reports, the protests by UNILAG students were spontaneous because the students, staff and alumni of the institution were shocked that the government did not consult them, as stakeholders, before taking the decision to change the name.
The ACN also said the university’s Senate and Council even informed of the impending decision.
It said: “What happened was that while President Goodluck Jonathan may have meant well in honouring a man who gave his blood to wet the seed of democracy being enjoyed in the country today, an action that should have earned him general commendation instead fetched him widespread criticism because his advisers and his bumbling party (PDP), as usual, failed him. Perhaps he also did not think the action through before announcing it.
“Such options include making June 12th or the birthday of the late Chief Abiola a national holiday; naming the Eagle Square or the National Stadium, both in Abuja, after him, and acknowledging – as the whole world knows – that he won the 1993 presidential election (instead of calling him a presumed winner) and posthumously inducting him into the league of former Presidents. President Jonathan could still have honoured our country’s most prominent democracy martyr as he did without running into a hail of criticisms and protests, which now threaten to taint a well deserved honour.”
The party said since it is now obvious that Jonathan is not getting the high quality pieces of advice he requires to make right decisions on several issues, he may have to be more wary of the direction in which his advisers are leading him.
“In the end, President Jonathan should know that the buck stops at his desk, and that he, and not his advisers, will take the blame or the glory for whatever decisions he makes as President.”