Although the late Prof Abubakar Momoh was not the visceral, expressive type in terms of family matters, perhaps in tandem with personal and ideological discipline, he spoke fondly in few private conversations of the academic promise of his son, Mushin Oluwarotimi Momoh. Less than two years after his death, the son seems off to setting his own records. The 15 year old lad is out of secondary school with a WASC result of seven distinctions and a credit. This is in spite of the trauma of the sudden loss of his father in May 2017. Not only did he register high scores, a video sent to Intervention by a close friend of the father showed him speaking confidently from a podium in his school’s academic gown. His seven distinctions is not the highest in that school’s result printout but it is, in his own circumstance, outstanding and suggestive of him being a chip off the block. not only of the father but also of the mother who earned a Masters Degree.
What the result means is that the son has already learnt how to stand on his own, perhaps borrowing from the father who got a First Class in Political Science at the University of Lagos in the mid 1980s. Mushin’s success has, however, brought back a standpoint of the late father into the picture.
The late Prof Momoh stirred not a small controversy when he declared several years ago in an interview with Punch that he would not send his son to the university in Nigeria if he had the resources. His critics said he should not have said so as a hard core activist and an ideologue of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU). But in early 2017 and even as a political appointee in government, he restated the same position. He was not denigrating the university system or Nigeria. Rather, it was his own angry way of reminding everyone that the universities in Nigeria attained world class standards up to the 1980s and everything should be done to restore the standards that their own generation enjoyed. He was not particular about his own biological son as at the time he made the statement except that the standpoint seems to have come back: have the universities he spoke about restored the old glory that he would have accepted sending the son who has done his own part by coming out with distinction all over? And if not, who sends the boy abroad, the only choice for those who can afford it in the face of unparalleled collective elite disaster and the associated general crisis, especially in education in Nigeria?