The alumni of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, has rejected the call that their alma mater be renamed in honour of the late former President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
At a press conference held in Akure, the Ondo State capital, President of the group, Olaitan Adesomoju, who was flanked by his exco members, appealed to the Federal Government to disregard the suggestion from some quarters that Shagari be immortalised by renaming FUTA after the former President.
Few days ago, after the demise of Shagari, there have been calls that the former President be immortalised by naming one of the institutions he established when he held sway as President between 1979 to 1983.
Notable among those who made the call was the founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN.
Afe Babalola had urged the Federal Government to name the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA after the late Second Republic President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
In a statement entitled, “Tribute to Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman: Name Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA after Shagari,” the legal luminary who lauded the late former president for the approval and citing of a Federal University of Technology in then Old Ondo State, noted that Shagari was instrumental to the establishment of two other higher institutions, which now exist in Ondo and Ekiti states.
According to the FUTA Alumni President, Olaitan Adesomoju, who described Afe Babalola as a father figure, whose suggestion should be viewed as his personal opinion, stressed that a name change would do more harm than good to the institution which has over the years created an international brand for itself with the name FUTA.
While emphasizing that focus should be expended in the infrastructural and academic advancement of the institution by the Federal Government, Adesomoju maintained that aside FUTA, one of the other institutions established in various parts of the country by Shagari should renamed.
The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) in his tribute to the late Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari President of Nigeria 1979 – 1983 with the title ‘‘Name Federal University of Technology, Akure after Shagari’’ published in several National daily newspapers.
“We, the entire members of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) Alumni Association Worldwide, including our branches in Europe, America, and other parts of the world, view this as a personal opinion or a mere suggestion from Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), whom most of us refer to as a father.
“After extensive consultation and discussions with Alumni members globally, we wish to state clearly that the overwhelming majority vehemently oppose any name change to our
great alma mater.
“It is of note that the Federal University of Technology, Akure was not the only University established by act of parliament during Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s regime, at least six other Federal University of Technology were established.
“Furthermore, FUTA is an established professional brand that is globally respected for technological innovations.
“FUTA has also developed several domestic and international collaborations with other leading institutions. These advances and relationship would be marred in an identity crisis by changing its established brand name on the whim of an individual.
“Evidence abound that previous name changes for purposes of immortalizations have done a lot of damage to institutions of higher learning than good and there is nowhere in the world that institutions of higher learning over five years old are abruptly renamed after the demise of a leader.
“For example Harvard and Oxford have kept the same name since their creation and establishment; these brands are globally respected and identifiable.
“We want to advise the Federal Government that instead of renaming the institution after Alhaji Shehu Shagari, it should consider building a world class infrastructure like science laboratories, lecture theatres, or any other infrastructure that will last for a long time in our alma mater, and name it after Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
“This will help resolve some of the challenges we have on our campus rather than compounding them with a name change.
“Consequently, we hereby plead with the Federal Government to allow the brand ‘FUTA’ to remain in the name of posterity and peace.”