Home News Ajimobi And The Politics Of Memorializing By Naming | Festus Adedayo

Ajimobi And The Politics Of Memorializing By Naming | Festus Adedayo

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On Tuesday last week, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State made a very huge contribution to the politics of memorializing.
Apparently in search of immortalization, he named some edifices, tertiary institutions, roads and hospitals after himself, some ex-governors of the state, monarchs, as well as some personalities. The Oyo State College of Agriculture, Igboora, he named after former Lam Adesina College of Agriculture, Igboora; Ibarapa Polytechnic Eruwa, named Adeseun Ogundoyin Polytechnic, Eruwa; Maternal & Peadiatric Centre, Olodo Ibadan after himself; Elebu road after ex-Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala; Monatan-Olodo Road, after Chief Rashidi Ladoja, among others.
And as usual, this has sent tongues wagging.
Why would Ajimobi name an edifice after himself? Many have labeled it self-serving, indecent and a puerile attempt at seeking self-immortalization. But how genuine are these criticisms? What are the historical purports of memorialization by governments in Nigeria and has memorialization through naming streets and monuments after persons ever succeeded in etching the memory of those so-memorialized in the consciousness of the people?
One of the first attempts at memorializing was made by General Yakubu Gowon while he was a military Head of State, almost five decades ago. In what was declared indecent too by the populace, Gowon just woke up one day and named the popular Broad Street, Lagos after himself. Not only did Lagosians never called the street by the Ngas-born General’s name, a few years after, the Murtala/Obasanjo government, which ousted his government, officially reverted the street to its old Broad Street name.
Another attempt at memorializing was done under the Sani Abacha government. Publicly claiming that the pro-democratic movement called NADECO that fought his government tooth and nail was being sponsored by anti-military forces like America and its former Nigerian Ambassador, Walter Carrington, the Abacha government angrily renamed the Eleke Crescent, which had been renamed Walter Carrington Crescent, to Louis Farrakhan Crescent.. Full name Louis Abdul Farrakhan and his original name being Louis Eugene Walcott, who was born on May 11, 1933 in Bronx, New York, Farrakhan was in 1978 made leader of the Nation of Islam, an African American movement which entwined the teachings of elements of Islam and black nationalism. The renaming of the US Consulate caused huge upheavals in the polity. Not only was the Crescent never for once called Louis Farrakhan Crescent by anybody, it was reverted to Walter Carrington Crescent immediately Abacha expired.
In Oyo State, in spite of his wide acceptance, the renaming of the popular Ring Road, MKO Abiola Way, by the military government really never washed as the populace stuck to calling it Ring Road, till today. On the converse, the Orita Challenge/Elebu Road, constructed by the government of Alao-Akala, in appreciation of his government’s opening of that road, was immediately named by the people as Akala Road. It has stuck since eight years now. When Ajimobi now named the road after Akala, he was merely giving official impetus to a decision taken by the people years ago.
If Ajimobi had stopped at naming roads after those eminent personalities as he did and none after himself, he most probably would not have received flaks from the people.
Many people see it as self-glorification and feel that he ought to have left the bit about memorializing himself in the hands of the people. There is no doubt that Ajimobi positively affected the road infrastructure of the state and the people, who are never ingrates, would have named those mementoes after him after his departure. I reckon that he did so in the euphoria of departure. The psychology of the eventuality of leaving an office you occupied for eight years is traumatic. Advisers ought to have defrosted that natural inclination towards this path in him by telling the governor the unfavourable attacks it would naturally evoke in the hearts of the people.

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