After nearly two decades in limbo, there is finally a Solidarity Trust Fund for activists who died in and of the struggle for democracy and social transformation of Nigeria. The birth was proclaimed today at a Memorial Lecture for Professor Abubakar Momoh who died May 29th, 2017. The lecture was put together by the Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD); CISLAC and INEC where Professor Momoh was working as head of its research institute before his demise. Many regard Momoh as one of the most exemplary of activists in recent Nigeria. Many comrades and activists have died in the course of the struggle as cadres of NANS, NLC, ASUU and numerous other mass organisations that collectively challenged the dictatorship of capital broadly but the authoritarian state specifically.
Proclaiming the Fund into being today, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Nigeria’s Minister for Solid Minerals; Professor Attahiru Jega, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, his successor as Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) collectively called for generous donations to sustain it. Professor Jega in particular called for managing it with integrity.
There is no exhaustive list of such comrades and activists but the list below as researched and published earlier by Intervention gives an idea of such activists: Anselm Akele who died in 1996 and whose only daughter is happily doing well academically; Joseph Audu Mamman who died in 2001 as the Executive Director of the Community Action for Popular Participation, (CAPP); Chris Abashi, the inaugural president of NANS who died in 2004 and whose house in Akwanga was recently and totally gutted; Comrade Abdulrahaman Black, former president of Ahmadu Bello University Student Union Government who died in 2004 too; Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Historian and author of For the Liberation of Nigeria and The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria, among others, who died in 2005. He died the same year with Chima Ubani, a key player in the struggle for democracy from military rule.
Dr. Jubril Bala, the Mass Communication scholar at the University of Maiduguri who brought a certain radical verve to the discipline but only to die in a road accident too soon in 2006. His wife and daughter were at this Memorial Lecture. 2006 was also the year Dr Beko Ransome Kuti died, a veteran of many campaigns against military rule. The list goes on to Dominic Ogankpa who died in 2007 from the Civil Liberties Organisation, (CLO); Dr Tajudeen Abdulraheem, the Pan-Africanist extraordinaire who died in a car crash in Kenya on May 25th, 2009; Gani Fawehinmi, the veteran of judicial instrumentalism followed later that year. In 2012, Olaitan Oyerinde was assassinated in Benin where he was Private Secretary to then Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Before Oyerinde was cut down, Reuben Ziri, the Historian as a prodigy went ahead. He had been in the Community Action for Popular Participation, (CAPP) as a researcher before moving to academia at the Niger State owned Ibrahim Babangida University at Lapai.
Professor Festus Iyayi was killed in a road accident in 2013. A former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the author of the lecture “Assassins of Nation Building, 2011 Elections and Electoral Reforms in Nigeria: Chronicle of a Death Foretold.”, arguably his most thematically coherent and ideologically assertive outing on the system is also the author of several critical literary works. Earlier that year, Biodun Kolawole, the Secretary-General of NANS from 1990-1992 was similarly killed in a car accident along with his wife. He was the Head of Ola Oni Foundation at Oshogbo when he died. 2014 brought in the sudden death of Bamidele Aturu aka BF, a discourse leader and human rights lawyer who had played leadership roles in the student movement over the years. Comrade Emma Ezeazu was to follow exactly a year later after protracted illness. He was NANS President in the mid 1980s with great sacrifices and commitment. Ezeazu was an upscale institution builder and innovative agenda setter to his last moment.
Dr Mohammed Alkali, the University of Maiduguri Political Scientist and ASUU activist; Thomson Adanbara, Christie Adanbara and Dani Adanbara all perished. Thomson Adanbara was an unrealised genius.
More names whose dates of death have not been confirmed are Ado Hamidu who served as Secretary-General of NANS in the Hilkiah Bubajoda Mafindi presidency. He studied Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Their Exco of NANS handed over to the Exco headed by Emma Ezeazu when the Secretariat of NANS moved from ABU, Zaria to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. There is also Jonas Awodi, Ado Hamidu’s successor as Secretary-General. Awodi was expelled from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria along with Abdulrahman Black and others after the ‘Rice’ riot of 1981. He gained admission to UNN where he completed his degree programme only to die a day or so after his wedding, probably from exhaustion. Also late is Mahmoud Nasiru Yakasai, a one-time NANS Vice President and former activist from ABU, Zaria but about whom not much else was provided. Toure Kazah, the ABU, Zaria Historian died June 30th, 2017. It has thus been a long list. Now, there is a Trust Fund from which some of the worst case situations could be taken care of.