Nigerian university shuts after protest

2012-05-30 22:49

Lagos - Authorities shut a Nigerian university after students protesting a name change at the Lagos institution blocked a major bridge on Wednesday, causing heavy traffic backups.

About 1 000 students took to the Third Mainland Bridge, which connects the port city of some 15 million people to its islands, where many businesses are located. Lagos is Nigeria's commercial hub and largest city.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced on Tuesday that the University of Lagos, also known as Unilag, would be renamed Moshood Abiola University.

The name change is meant to honour Abiola, a businessman and politician widely believed to have won 1993 presidential elections, but who saw the result annulled by military ruler Ibrahim Babangida.

Abiola was jailed after declaring himself president and died in custody in 1998.

Students said the name change would harm the university, which is known across Africa's most populous nation and has a strong academic reputation.

"Abiola is a leader, but why doesn't Jonathan choose any of the other nine [new] universities to honour him?" said one of the protesters, Abudu Akinyemi, a 22-year-old political science student.

"Why Unilag, which has been existing for 50 years?"

Protesters set up about halfway along the 11km bridge, forcing commuters to get off buses and walk in the rain. Long lines of cars were stalled on and near the bridge, which sees heavy traffic on normal days.

"In view of the recent developments on our campuses, the senate of the university has directed that all academic activities be suspended forthwith for two weeks," the university said in a statement.

The university also ordered students to immediately vacate halls of residence.

  • muyiwaalugo - 2012-05-30 23:45

    I think the federal want to honor him too, Abiola is from the south west of Nigeria, some state der have already honored him, Ogun state, Lagos state. I think the federal want to honor him too. Since its Federal Honor the need to use a Federal institution to do it.The question however is why south-west again especially a state where he as been honored already, why not chose an institution within the federal capital (Abuja) if the honor is sincere without any political undertone or in need of cheap popularity to redeem a bartered image. its just another poor attempt to win the sentiments of the people especially the south west that are known for being critics and vocal.

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