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Nigeria student protest shuts down major Lagos bridge

Nigerian students at renowned University of Lagos express anger over its intended name-change

AFP , Wednesday 30 May 2012
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Nigerian students protesting a name change at their university blocked a major bridge in the country's largest city of Lagos on Wednesday, causing heavy traffic backups.

About 1,000 students took to the Third Mainland Bridge, which connects the mainland of the city of some 15 million people to its islands, where many businesses are located.

Protesters set up about halfway over the 11-kilometre (seven-mile) bridge, forcing commuters to get off buses and walk in the rain. Long lines of cars were stalled on and near the bridge, which sees heavy traffic on normal days.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced Tuesday that the University of Lagos, also known as UNILAG, would be renamed Moshood Abiola University.

The name change intends to honour Abiola, a businessman and politician widely believed to have won 1993 presidential elections, who saw the result annulled by military ruler Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola was jailed after declaring himself president and died in custody in 1998.

Students said the name change would harm the university, which is known across Africa's most populous nation and has a strong academic reputation.

"Abiola is a leader, but why doesn't Jonathan choose any of the other nine (new) universities to honour him?" said one of the protesters, Abudu Akinyemi, a 22-year-old political science student.

"Why UNILAG, which has been existing for 50 years?"

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