Renaming UNN after Queen Elizabeth’s like annulment of Nigerian independence
By Abiodun Bakare
Any attempt by the Nigerian government to rename the University of Nigeria, (UNN) after the late Queen Elizabeth is an attempt to annul Nigerian independence from Britain, an Igbo socio-cultural group has said.
The Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressives Party, Mr Adams Garba had asked the Federal Government to re-name the University of Nigeria, Nsukka after the late Queen Elizabeth.
The Alaigbo Development Foundation(ADF) said it considers the recent suggestion made by Garba
as sacrilegious and impossible.
In a statement made available to Irohinoodua signed by Abia Onyike said the suggestion is not only absurd, it is an affront on our sensibilities as independent Africans.
He said the University of Nigeria was the first autonomous and indigenous University in Nigeria as well as the first land-grant University in the African continent.
He argued that It was established by the Eastern Regional Government in 1955 but was officially opened in October, 1960 as a symbolic and historic event to climax the Nigerian Independence in 1960. It was the first University to be built by any regional government in Nigeria.
“It started awarding independent degrees before any other University in Nigeria.The UNN was inspired by the Founding fathers, led by the foremost pan-Nigetian anti-colonial crusader, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who had dreamt of the need to give the African people their own University. To rename the Univerdity after Queen Elizabeth will amount to urinating on the graves of those Founding fathers, which included Dr Okechukwu Ikejiani, Dr Eni Njoku, Dr Taslim Elias and others” he said
Alaigbo said to hearken to the call of Garba will amount to retrogression as the UNN was established to act as the instrument for the restoration of the human dignity of African peoples who had been desecrated by decades of slavery, colonial subjugation and imperialist brutalization. The University was to stimulate academic freedom and to liberate our people from colonial mentality and imperialist psychosis.
Furthermore, we reject Garba’s gratuitous/revisionist suggestion because it reminds us of the annihilationist policies of British overlords who were brutal and merciless in the execution of the Igbo genocide of the 1960s, the first post-colonial/post-conquest genocide in Africa, during which over 3.1 million Igbos were massacred. The Labour Party Prime Minister, Harold Wilson in 1968 instigated Nigeria’s military commanders/commandants to kill at least 500,000 Igbos if that would help stop the resistance, during the Biafran self-determination struggle. The Nigerian genocidists were thus emboldened to kill as much as they could to satisfy their British masters during the Nigeria/Biafran war, which was used to inaugurate Africa’s age of pestilence.
Up till this day, victims of this British war crimes have continued to protest the inhuman and barbaric treatments meted out to them and their families, without the slightest attempt by the British rulers and the monarchy to render apology or pay reparations as signs of remorse.
The call to rename the UNN- our symbol of intellectual autonomy and sovereignty- after the British Monarchy could be a dress rehearsal for our recolonization and the formal withdrawal of the nominal independence granted us in 1960 and we must be prepared to resist it.