By Emmanuel Elebeke & Favour Ulebor
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega and his successor, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu were among other dignitaries who yesterday poured encomiums on the late Director General of the Electoral Institute of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission, INEC and human rights activist.
Speaking at a memorial lecture in honour of Prof. Abubakar Momoh in Abuja yesterday, Jega said ‘‘There is absolutely no doubt that we have lost an intellectual, brilliance, humane, selfless, passionate and committed patriot to progress and development in the country.
‘‘His willingness to sacrifice his time and energy and resource to promote good courses was not in doubt. Abu inspired me as the ASUU President. He is one of those who made personal sacrifices for the progress of the country.
‘‘For me, it was also a personal lost. Abubakar stood for certain values, values of integrity, values of selflessness, values of service to the country and service to humanity, doing all these with clear head and ideas for societal transformation and it is a unique combination of values brought into application in the individual. He was a gift of God, but it was also cultivated through learning and inspiration.
‘‘We pray that many other Abubakar Momohs because it is such people that are agents of change and progress in our nation, that have the intellectual capacity and brilliance, articulation and passion and selflessness to get ideas to be transformative. Abubakar was all of that.
‘‘He was ASUU treasury and kept the money with integrity and made sure it was judicially utilized.
It is very important that we begin to revive hope in our nation and we continue to be optimistic about progressive changes in our country, it is possible. We have able and capable young men and women out there, all they need is opportunity to contribute to the development of this country.
He used to say that the youths are in the majority demographically but they are in the minority politically. We need to cultivate those right values, attitudes and passion and bring them to bear because the youths over the years have been transformative agents of the countries.
‘‘In our own country, we underrate them, we do not give them good education, they don’t get employment, they apply their creative abilities to criminality. We have to change this, and it is very important to the progress and development of the society.
‘‘The challenge for all of us today is to use every opportunity to bring out those values he fought for and inculcate them in our youths. We need so many Abus to address the challenges of our country and in deed the challenges of Africa. We have lost many people and there are many Nigerians who died with unfinished businesses. We need to support the good courses they stood for, if we want our country to progress.’’
On the proposed Solidarity Fund, Prof. Jega urged the trustees to ensure judicious use of the fund as an extension of legacies instituted in memory of late Abubakar Momoh.
‘‘We must set up mechanism for effective management of the Solidarity Fund as another legacy to remember Abubakar Momoh,’’ he added.
In his own tribute, the Minister of Solid Mines and Solid Mineral, Dr. Kayode Fayemi described the late Abuabakar Momoh as a trusted friend and patriotic Nigerian who sacrificed his time and energy for a just and fair society.
‘‘He was a great comrade who I have known over 30 years ago. He was a very disciplined and selfless man who was not interested in power but ready to defend the course of justice.
‘‘The solidarity Trust Fund we want to establish today with Momoh’s memorial lecture is worth establishing because Abu used his resources to promote varieties of progressive courses. The idea behind the solidarity fund is the one that long overdue. We are supposed to be unveiling Solidarity Trust Fund,’’ he added.
The INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mamoud , said INEC Chairman, Prof. Mamoud Abubakar said Prof. Momoh dedicated his life to service to humanity, gave his time and all to fighting the course of liberating the poor and the oppressed.
He described him as a dependable and trusted ally who worked tirelessly to serve the country and to fight for the right of the common man.
Prof. Sam Egwu of the Political Science Department, at University of Jos, in his remarks said, ‘‘ For me, Abu is one in our generation that stood for the truth, democracy. He was larger than life image in terms of his achievements.
‘‘We must struggle for democracy, justice, emancipation of everybody, which Abu fought for, that is the essence of the struggle all of us stood for over the last 30 years.
‘‘Our democracy is suffering because it is not about the people, politicians are looking for how to access power. They are not concerned about justice, progress and good governance, it is all about power. We must insist on those values Abu died for,’’ he said.
Former INEC Commissioner in Cross River and Edo states, Mr. Mike Igini, described the late Abubakar Momoh as somebody who affected the lives of so many people.
‘‘He lived for society and all he had done is enormous and will endure for long time,’’ he added.
Earlier in his keynote lecture, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, CODESRIA President, Dzodzi Tsikata challenged African leaders to sustain the principle of Panafricanism, which Abubakar Momoh stood for.
He also charged them to empower the youth and ensure that they are given equal opportunity to contribute their quota in the governance of the society.
‘‘Momoh left an indelible mark and was a formidable debator and a team player. He was combative and his intellectual style was inspiring.
‘‘He Played a critical role in championing the course of democracy in Africa and was a defender of academic freedom, hence his ability to reflect same in Nigerian political scene.’’
Highlight of the event with the theme: Pan Africanism and Democratic Struggle, was formal unveiling of a Solidarity Trust Fund to provide for comrades in need and their families.
Late Comrade Abubakar Momoh was a professor of political science. Until his appointment as DG EIN of INEC Prof. Momoh was the dean of the Faculty of Social Science at the Lagos State University LASU.
He served on the board of Democracy and Development and Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, CODESRIA as well as national treasurer, Academic Staff Union of Universities among others.