By Oluwatoyin Hawal Momolosho

In this exclusive report with the students and lecturers of the Better by Far University of Ilorin, Confidence News’s Oluwatoyin Hawal gathered views from the university community on the recommended change of name to Sheik Alimi University By the IEDPU president, a few months ago.

The dust raised by the President of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, IEDPU, Alhaji Aliyu Otta-Uthman calling for the renaming of the Federal government-owned institution in the state capital, the University of Ilorin, has continued to generate reactions among the ranks and files of the prestigious university.

The union president, Alh. Otta-Uthman made the call while addressing his kinsmen at the opening of the 58th National Conference of the Union held at the Emir’s palace in December.

Sheikh Alimi ibn Solihu ibn Janta, a prominent Islamic and political leader, according to the history of the Emirate was said to have founded the Alimi dynasty in approximately the 18th century.

Reacting to the proposal, Yakub Shakirudeen Olaide, a 500-level student said, “Oh! Before I say anything, I want to claim that I am a bonafide indigene of Ilorin Emirate, Adeta-Pakata axis precisely, you should trust me when I say I am truly one.”

“Again, I am a student of better by far over the past five years, so, no one can tell me how the school works, I am well versed about the operation of the school. Now on my stand, while I don’t have any issues with the proposal, I still can’t help but ask these questions: Is the renaming necessary? And if it’s necessary, why just now? What is the overall calculated gain of Ilorin Emirate and the school at large in this renaming stuff? Then, after these questions have been answered, I might be forced to maintain my cool, if those questions are logically put forward to convince the public.”

He continued, “I thought if necessary, the school should have been renamed a long time ago before now because naming is one key aspect of branding.”

“Unilorin has gained its stands globally and I can say its name is one of its key recognizing factors. The Ilorin at large has also gained much popularity and recognition from the share popularity of the school. I think this is an advantage to the Ilorin Emirate at large. If not forever, it will take more than expected time if unilorin should change its name to anything else, to gain its stand again. And I think the Emirate should direct its energy to something else because I believe Sheikh Alimi, the founder of Ilorin Emirate will continue to remain forever in history, even if the school is not renamed after him. He’s always forever honored.” Olaide submitted.

Also, Sulyman Ibrahim, a student from the Veterinary Medicine Department at the University criticized that “Renaming the school name doesn’t bring any new things to the school rather than bringing hatred and religious intolerance. Because we san says the majority of the students are not from Ilorin, unlike Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS), and Bayero University Kano (BUK) where most majorities are indigenes or let’s say they are Muslims. But here, different ethics groups with different religious backgrounds.”

Another student of the institution who also aired his opinion, Ojibara Abdulhammed opined, “It’s a very good idea because renaming it shows how important this figure was during his lifetime. He has tried and it’s not only him that they’ll first appreciate in that manner: the likes of Usman Danfodio, the founder of Sokoto Emirate, and Muhammad Ardo, the founder of Adamawa Emirate. To me, it’s very nice to make the name of a legend appear in a word that’ll be forever.”

Ojibara Abdulhammed, a current law student at the university furthered that, “the name of the school doesn’t affect anything; changing it or not, the ability of the students remains vibrant. While most of the students lamenting are just ignoramuses. The majority felt like it’ll be treated as an Islamic school once the school name changes and some think that the proposed name, Sheikh Alimi University does not suit their fashion mouths. We shouldn’t forget, that it’s not the name that makes people choose Unilorin, it’s the ability of the school and how standard it is. So, the name changed or not, it remains the same”.

“The uniqueness is always there, the renaming will have no effect. The uniqueness of its academic prowess, its fast academic calendar, its strong and resilient impact on its students, its surrounding environment, and the national at wide which is always there will still be there. It’s just like changing the outer cover of a book, nothing is changed inside. We are still the better by far now and then,” Olaide concluded.

Lecturers’ Reactions

Doctor Qodir, a lecturer at the university said, “I don’t see it as something bad. It’s a way of immortalizing our heroes. And name/nomenclature can in no way influence the standard of any institution, whatsoever. The naming would change public perception about the University being one established for the Ilorin people, remember, its present name is the University of Ilorin, not the University of Kwara or Nigeria. Also, so naming the University would give people the opportunity to know more about Sheikh Alimi, even Ilorin people.”

Another lecturer from the Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Faoziyat A. Sulaiman thinks that the current name is okay, although, she refused to speak further on the matter.

Oluwatoyin Hawal Momolosho is a Journalist, and works as a reporter with Confidence News Nigeria