Nigerian Student Protests Over University Name Change Turn Violent

Moshood Abiola

Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria announced recently that the University of Lagos would be renamed Moshood K.O. Abiola University. Abiola was a businessman who was widely believed to be the victor in the 1993 presidential election in Nigeria. But the election results were thrown out by the military and Abiola was put in jail. He died in detention in 1998. President Jonathan stated the name change was made to honor Abiola “for making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of justice and truth.”

In a radio address to the nation, President Jonathan stated, “Destiny and circumstances conspired to place upon his shoulder a historic burden and he rose to the occasion in character and courage. He deserved recognition for his martyrdom and public-spiritedness and for being the man of history that he was. We need in our land more men and women who will stand up to defend their belief and whose example will further enrich our democracy.”

But students at the University of Lagos were not pleased with the name change and were upset that they were not consulted before the change was made. The students also objected to the fact that Abiola had only a minor affiliation with university that now bears his name. Protests were held at the university and in Lagos. Students threw stones at police who responded with tear gas.

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