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Seven years on, celebrates enduring legacy of Abubakar Momoh

It was exactly seven years on May 29, since the prominent civil society leaders, Professor Abubakar Momoh passed away. Coincidentally, the date tallies with the one-year anniversary of the current administration.

The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) used the occasion to reflect on the remarkable contributions of the late Professor, renowned for his exceptional scholarship and activism. He also dedicated his life to advancing Nigeria’s democracy.

Professor Momoh was described as a principled individual and a towering figure who tirelessly advocated for the progress of Nigeria. With unwavering optimism, he envisioned a nation that would prosper and benefit all its citizens. Through his profound scholarly work in political theory and economics, he made an indelible impact on both academia and society.

His legacy has continued to resonate, serving as a reminder of his lasting influence on the country’s collective journey towards a more equitable and prosperous Nigeria.

Professor Momoh’s dedication to CHRICED went beyond mere involvement; he served as its pioneering board chairman and remained a steadfast member of its board of directors. His commitment to the organization was unparalleled, as he made numerous sacrifices, even at a personal level, to ensure CHRICED’s growth and autonomy.

The Executive Director of CHRICED, Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, who described the late activist as a staunch advocate against corruption, injustice, and poor governance, said he worked tirelessly to foster a more transparent and accountable society.

“He was particularly active in advocating for electoral reforms, actively participating in election monitoring efforts despite facing physical attacks. However, such obstacles only fueled his resolve, as he continued his tireless efforts towards realizing a better Nigeria until his final days.

“It has been seven years since the passing of Professor Momoh, yet his passionate ideals continue to resonate in the lives of ordinary Nigerians. However, the current situation in the country presents a bleak picture, as citizens’ grapple with pervasive challenges on a daily basis. Hunger, insecurity, unemployment, killings, nepotism, and the absence of basic social amenities such as reliable infrastructure, quality healthcare, electricity, and education plague the nation.

“Sadly, the leaders entrusted with addressing these pressing issues have veered off course, treating politics as a profitable venture rather than a service to the people. Instead of prioritising the welfare of the nation, they appear more focused on accumulating wealth and securing the futures of their families, associates, and cronies. This breach of trust only worsens the suffering of the people, leaving them disillusioned and disheartened.”

Zikirullahi said amidst the backdrop of the removal of fuel subsidies, a move purported to bolster the government’s financial standing; the stark reality for ordinary citizens is one of unprecedented hardship.

“This policy, hastily executed and lacking in foresight, has only exacerbated the plight of the masses. While the government claims financial buoyancy, it seems that prosperity is confined to the political class alone, with the majority of citizens sinking deeper into abject poverty.

“As the affluent grow richer, the gap between them and the impoverished widens, casting a grim shadow over the nation. The government’s continued implementation of policies that burden the masses only serves to compound their woes, further eroding faith in leadership and exacerbating socio-economic disparities.

“As Nigerians cling to hope for relief from the profound hardships they endure, promises from the present administration ring hollow amidst concerning priorities. While citizens yearn for respite, the government allocates a staggering N900b towards subsidising Pilgrimage, an expenditure viewed by many as misplaced given the pressing needs of the populace. The Islamic pilgrimage is a requirement for those who can afford it, as outlined in the Holy book,” he said.

Zikirullahi, however, said it is perplexing that the government, in its confused stance, expects the individuals to pray for its prosperity and stability, while using public funds to sponsor those who are already financially secure. “It’s an ironic situation: the affluent being supported to pray for the government’s well-being. One might question if the government is mocking the divine by its actions.

“The National Assembly seems to have lost its way. Instead of addressing the pressing issues of corruption, insecurity, unemployment, and other important matters plaguing the system, they have become fixated on trivial debates about the relevance of the old and new national anthem. It is truly baffling that while the government officials propose a minimum wage of less than $35 per month for Nigerian workers, they fail to acknowledge the hard work and sweat of the Nigerian workers, especially when compared to the extravagant salaries of members of the National Assembly.

“As if this wasn’t enough, the continuous devaluation of the Naira against the dollar only adds to the economic struggles faced by ordinary citizens, who are already grappling with hyperinflation and a decline in purchasing power. In a country where almost everything is taxed, it is ironic that the air remains one of the few untaxed commodities.”

The Executive Director noted that Nigeria is in dire need of men and women who embody the spirit of patriotism like the late Prof. Momoh, who was not afraid to demand accountability from the government in a straightforward manner.

He added that it is essential for the current leaders to adopt the values of patriotism and altruistic service that Prof. Momoh exemplified, for the progress of the nation as a whole, adding that they must cast aside any selfish motives and greed that may cloud their judgment, and prioritise the well-being of the country.

He said: “CHRICED considers itself extremely fortunate to have been under the guidance of such a distinguished and pioneering figure. On this Democracy Day, we honor Professor Abubakar Momoh’s memory and legacy by recommitting ourselves to the values he held dear, holding the principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability in all aspects of our society.

“By working together to build a more just and inclusive Nigeria, we can ensure that his vision for our country becomes a reality. As we look towards the future, let us remember the words and actions of Professor Abubakar Momoh, and let them guide us in our efforts to create a Nigeria that is truly democratic, prosperous, and just for all its citizens. His legacy lives on in the work we do every day to make our country a better place for future generations.”

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