- Category: Opinions/Interviews
- Published on Monday, 12 July 2010 08:45
- Written by Osun Defender
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If the power hustlers now campaigning for this comical suggestion have a sense of history, they should have asked themselves how the former University of Ife (Unife) became the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). Ironically, OAU is right there in Ife, virtually under their noses, in Osun State!
University of Ife was University of Ife, even if the Obafemi Awolowo First Republic government conceived it and could have named it after Chief Awolowo, its first premier, as its then northern regional counterpart named Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), its own university, after Sir Ahmadu Bello.
But such was the acute sense of history of those titans, even among their renegade faction, led by Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (SLA), the second premier, that none of them thought of cheap and unearned glory of naming institutions after themselves, when posterity could easily award them their due, if their public records justified such honour. So, no matter how harsh the judgment of history must have been on SLA and his “Demo” reactionary faction, none could accuse them of vainglory – for even SLA had enough historical presence of mind not to succumb to such hubris.
So, renaming Unife OAU, after the death of Awo, was one of such historical judgments, which should propel every public servant to serve without stinting, so that history could richly reward his or her toil. But the real story behind the present OAU was that, before the Unife transformation, there was another “Obafemi Awolowo University”, which though was aborted by military reactionaries, of which Oyinlola is a disturbing living symbol, a sort of military antique trapped in a putative democratic era.
The other OAU was, of course, the story of how some patriotic elements in old Ondo State (now Ondo and Ekiti states) named the then Ondo State University (now Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State) after Chief Awolowo. The great Michael Adekunle Ajasin, himself no mean figure in the pantheon of great public servants the Nigerian West has produced, as Second Republic governor of Ondo State, had named the new university, which sod-turning and foundation laying Chief Awolowo was invited to do, after Awo.
But with the collapse of the Second Republic and the demonise-Awo-and-all-his-work hysteria that came with the new military overlords, Bamidele Otiko, a naval officer and military governor of Ondo State during the Buhari-Idiagbon regime, allowed himself to be used by military reactionaries.
Pronto, he annulled the old name, and re-named the university Ondo State University, apparently at the prompting of his central overlords. For that however, he earned self-demonization from his own people: for his name, from that day onward at least in the streets, changed to “Ofifo” [nothingness/emptiness/vacuum], in a savage disapproving pun on his name, Otiko.
But again, that was history playing its supreme card. Awo, the great Awo, was not about to be reduced to a sectional totem among any of the Yoruba sub-ethnic groups, no matter the over-pouring flow of emotions and gratitude for his great deads, from the people of old Ondo State. Two years later in 1987, Awo died. When the old Unife was rechristened OAU, it was to universal applause that shamed the reactionaries that tried to hide Awo’s glory, some two short years before.
The moral in all this historical tie-back? To demonstrate to these power hustlers, now holding Osun State by the jugular, what history does to the undeserving. To start with, all those behind the conspiracy to whittle down Awo’s glory back then, dead or alive, have been buried in the garbage of history. But the Awo that they tried to bury alive splendidly lives, though he physically died 23 years ago.
Awo earned this honour because he worked for his people’s welfare all his life. Oyinlola is spectacularly undeserving of it because his own public record is the direct opposite: his whole power life has been spent looking after himself and his cronies – though it is difficult to say whether this has been due to wilfulness or his natural incompetence and ineptitude.
So, what if these power racketeers go ahead and impose on Osun State the ultimate disgrace of renaming the Osun university after Olagunsoye Oyinlola? History would again show its hand. A future sane political order would rightly reverse the decision and throw Oyinlola into the dustbin of history where he belongs, just as the Otiko misguided gang wrongly (but fatally) tried to put the Awo flaming lamp under a bushel of envy.
So, banish this vacuous thinking of staining any Osun public institution with Oyinlola’s name! That would be a stamp of infamy that future generations would cringe from and curse without ceasing, whoever put them through such emotional trauma.