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Igbo group faults call to rename UNN after late Queen Elizabeth

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
13 September 2022   |   4:07 am
An Igbo socio-political group, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), has faulted the call for renaming of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) after the late Queen Elizabeth of England.

The hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, is driven through Edinburgh towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse, on September 11, 2022. – The coffin carrying the body of Queen Elizabeth II left her beloved Balmoral Castle on Sunday, beginning a six-hour journey to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP)

An Igbo socio-political group, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), has faulted the call for renaming of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) after the late Queen Elizabeth of England.

The group said, in a statement, yesterday, by its Secretary General, Chief Abia Onyike, that such call was sacrilegious, impossible and an affront on the sensibilities of independent Africans.

The presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Mr. Adams Garba, had, while reacting to the death of the Queen, urged the renaming of UNN after her for her role in Nigeria’s independence.

But the ADF told Garba that the UNN was the first “autonomous and indigenous” university in Nigeria, as well as the first Land Grant University in the African continent, stressing that it was established by the Eastern regional government in 1955, but officially opened in October 1960 as a symbolic and historic event to climax the country’s independence.

The group said: “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-Nigerian anti-colonial crusader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who had dreamt of the need to give African people their own university.

“To rename the university after Queen Elizabeth will be an affront on the founding fathers, which include Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani, Dr. Eni Njoku, Dr. Teslim Elias and others.

“To heed the call by Garba will mean retrogression as the UNN was established to act as instrument for the restoration of the human dignity of African peoples, who had been desecrated by decades of slavery, colonial subjugation and imperialist brutalisation. The university was to stimulate academic freedom and to liberate our people from colonial mentality, as well as from imperialist psychosis.

“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 Igbo genocide of the 1960s, the first post-colonial/post-conquest genocide in Africa, during which over 3.1 million Igbo were killed.

“The Labour Party Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in 1968, instigated Nigeria’s military commanders/commandants to kill at least 500,000 Igbo if that would help stop resistance, during the Biafran self-determination struggle. They were, thus, emboldened to kill as much as they could to satisfy their British masters during the war, which was used to inaugurate Africa’s age of pestilence.”