Abubakar Momoh; Blessed is the Dead, By Issa Aremu

Having witnessed the passing of most loved ones in quick succession in recent times, (relatives and comrades alike!) I had appreciated that death keeps no calendar and (as the received wisdom has it!) ; “all our pomp, the earth eventually covers”. But it’s not yet the end of history when it comes to its mystery and its surprise elements.
The news of the death of our good friend, comrade and teacher, Dr Abubakar Momoh, Director General of the Electoral Institute of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Monday, 29th of May further points to the inevitability (no less the unpredictability) of death. Certainly there would be no gathering of progressive and democratic forces in Nigeria without mentioning the name of Abubakar Momoh, a tested non-state democratic activist. True to his earned, deserved progressive and radical reputation, Abubakar therefore easily came to my mind as hundreds of members of my industrial union, the National Union of Textile and Garment Workers, (NUTGWN) civil society ally members, women and youths gathered to observe the official Democracy Day at Textile Labour House, Nasarawa Expressway in Kaduna last Monday.
More than twice, as the pioneer DG of Electoral Institute,Abubakar had enthusiastically supported our initiative on improving on the political/electoral literacy of thousands of our members. Naturally I remembered Abubakar Momoh that singular destined day recalling my last conversation with him a month earlier about the need to continue on our electoral literacy workshop series to which he was ever enthusiastically ready. We had invited my good friend, another activist radical activist lawyer, Barrister Festus Okoye to lead the discussion on the proposed amendments of the Electoral Act by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Barrister Festus Okoye , a member of Uwaiz Committee on Electoral reform and a delegate to 2014 National Conference through to his callings came promptly on time 11 a.m. that day. Few minutes after we exchanged pleasantries, Festus’s mood hitherto up-beat changed for the low. He then showed me serial text messages indicating that Abubakar was dead early that morning. Its now an open knowledge that the late patriot was buried same day at Auchi as a Muslim. May Almighty Allah grant him the mercy the holy month of Ramadan confers on both the living and the death. May his grave be spacious for comfort than the better world he tirelessly advocated for. Abubakar’s death is a loss to his wife, Tawa and his son, as well as those of us who are privileged to have associated with this great African and global citizen.
Africa and Nigeria have indeed lost an intellectual democrat on an officially declared Democracy Day. We dedicated 2017 Democracy Day manifestation to him. Only the death of Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, a pan African progressive intellectual, (also a friend of Abubakar) who died in an auto accident on May 25th Africa Liberation Day in 2009 in Nairobi Kenya invoked similar spiritual paradoxes and coincidences; Tajudeen ,a pan Africanist who left us on an African Day, Abubakar a progressive democrat who passed on democracy Day! Even in deaths, they reminded us of their core principles; Unity and liberation of Africa and Equal rights and justice for all respectively! What core principles do we the living stand for? Blessed are the late comrades for they lived and stood for not just something but many positive things worthy of recalling today. His death is a monumental loss to the labour movement, academic community and the country in general which he diligently served in various capacities for many years. My union as well as the Nigeria Labour Congress, in particular have lost a friend, a resource fellow and an activist of the labour movement. General elections in Nigeria since 1999 have become periods for anxiety and tension about what the outcomes would be. Would the elections be free, fair, credible and devoid of violence? Undoubtedly there have been noticeable improvements in the conduct of elections since the emergence of leaderships of Professors Attahiru Jega and .Mahmood Yakubu. But further improvement can be achieved through mass mobilization and sensitization of workers and the self-employed on basic voters’ rights and responsibilities.
Given this background and the fact that majority of Nigerian workforce constitute the Nigerian voters, our union partnered with INEC on Voters Education Project for Workers and the self employed in Lagos and Kaduna on 14th and 20th February 2015 respectively. The pioneer Director General of the Electoral Institute, the training arm of INEC, Professor Abubakr Momoh was the lead Resource Person. He explained the voting processes and time schedule for registration and voting and counseled workers to remain good citizens by coming out en mass to exercise their civic right. He urged them to resist the temptation to vote based on inducement or even sell their voters card. The workshops had in attendance key non state actors like the distinguished former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Barrister Festus Okoye of the Transition Monitoring Group, Comrade SOZ Ejiofor and Representatives of INEC in the States. In Lagos, the resident electoral Commissioner Mr Akin Orebiyi addressed the participants and assured of INEC’s preparedness to conduct the free fair and credible elections. Abubakar was also a regular star resource fellow at our 30-year old Annual Education Conferences. With his bagful of academic accomplishments, a Professor of Political Science, a Ph.D in Political Theory and value adding intellectual work since 1988, Africa has lost another human capital. His imprints are indelible; has served on various Boards and scientific committees including those of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He was Vice President of African Association of Political Science (AAPS). He was also the National Treasurer, Academic Staff Union of Universities (1991-1995).
Issa Aremu mni

Prof.-Momoh

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