…You know you want to
On the 29th day of May, 2012, I was roused from my sleep by the ring-a-ding-ding of my phone chat application. I picked it up and the text was from a colleague at work. I wondered what could be so important as to cause the early buzz.
“Have you heard that the president has renamed your school?”
The blood nearly drained from my brain at the shock of this preposterous bit of information. My immediate worry was not what the new name is but the immense value of what has been thrown away. My heart sank when I confirmed the story. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had indeed declared a change of name for the University of Lagos.
The University of Lagos, for the past 50years has stood as a symbol of excellence, history and pride, fondly referred to as the University of First Choice and the nation’s pride. We will all be liars and hypocrites if we pretend that the name of an entity is not part of the ‘brand’. Till today, in many Nigerian homes, detergent is also known as ‘Omo’, cubed seasoning is known as ‘Maggi’, antiseptic solutions are known as ‘Dettol’…need I say more?
Notable brands such as these will not for frivolous reasons alter their names. This is because of the goodwill associated with the name and identity. Can the goodwill, glory and prestige associated with the name of consumer goods be compared to the international acclaim that a university of this caliber enjoys?
I celebrate our heroes and acknowledge their unforgettable sacrifices. Also, I strongly believe in immortalizing them to future enrich our deep sense of history and culture. But can this ever justify the stripping of a brand that has existed for over 50 years? Over and over again, I answer this question in the negative. The act in itself is a disregard of our sense of history.
The UNILAG brand has stood out proudly among sister universities as a model school for producing well grounded minds that are academically, morally, intellectually and socially balanced. No wonder it is the school of first choice. The international recognition accorded the school is a thing of pride for the students, the alumni and the nation as a whole.
Many have said with a wave of the hand that the change of name is of no negative significance but I dare to say that that opinion is ill-thought out. If we can all with an unbiased mind address the situation, we will see that what is sacrificed is of a higher and greater implication than the supposed intent with which it was done. I have read in the national dailies that a number of new Federal Universities are currently under construction. Why can the Federal Government not immortalize our heroes with those? I am not deceived.
Must a thriving brand be made the victim of baseless political shenanigans? I see this as a rather pathetic attempt to patronize the south-western community of Nigeria. We should not throw away one child in a bid to make another one feel special. Until the end of all this, I will continue to embrace the audacity to hope that sensible Nigerians will rise to the occassion and the evil intended will be averted.
Long live the University of Lagos. Long live Nigeria.