In the countdown to the burial rites of Comrade Didi Adodo, a picture capturing his high point of nationalism makes a revealing reading. Image experts would churn out thick details from the picture taken at the convention of the defunct National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) in Kano in 1986.
The identity of the faces in the picture is still a debate between some interpreters and Cde John Odah from whose bag of scraps came the interesting picture. Tentatively, what is known is, (L – R) the late Didi Adodo from UNIBEN, another UNIBEN student activist with his hands on Adodo while the student behind the lady is Victor Olisa, an activist from the University of Jos but now a big time lawyer and pastor. The lady in the picture is Chinelo who was Vice-President of UNIJOS student union then. The then young man in white jumpa is John Odah, ex-General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), the current Executive Secretary of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa, (OTUWA). Then, he was of UNIJOS. Nobody is sure of the next person to John Odah. Some people think that could be Thompson Adanbara, the philosopher’s philosopher of the student movement but from UNIJOS at the time. The last is Mamman Nasir, then President of Bayero University Students Union who went on to work with the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA). It was from NTA he was picked to serve as Chief Press Secretary to Mrs Maryam Abacha. Mamman Nasir died shortly afterwards.
So, the picture is history but not the Mungo Park sort of History. In fact, the student movement of the years in which the Didi Adodos participated was defined in opposition to anything Mungo Park. Thus an otherwise brilliant Historian who served as Minister for Information under the Babangida regime was ridiculed as knowing no History beyond funny stuff as Mungo Park discovering the Niger which had been flowing and watering life long before Park could have been born. In those days, students could rubbish a Minister or anybody very easily but sensibly.
It is to that legacy that the February 5th and 6th, 2021 rites of passage for the late labour activist speaks. Of course, each of the activists in the picture went to one domain or the other after leaving the university. Those who read courses such as law went that way. Some went into the media. Others went to teach. It is not clear if any bunch went into business. The student movement did not train religious leaders. That is why there are no Marxist Bishops, Patriarchs and powerful Overseers today. But, even then, many of the activists turned out to be pastors. Quite a number went to the trade union movement – Issa Aremu, Chom Bagu, Chris Uyot, Salihu Lukman. It is to that category Adodo belonged at death, having joined the Senior Staff Association of the Iron and Steel Union.
Once again, may Cde Adodo travel well and greet Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Fela, Segun Okeowo, Farida Mustapha, Kunle Adepeju, Abdulrahaman Black and other activists of radical nationalism too numerous to remember immediately.
Before the demise of Didi Adodo, Covid-19 had also claimed Prof Moses Tedheke of the Nigerian Defence Academy, (NDA) and Prof Ebere Onwudiwe. Added to Dr. Yima Sen, Dr. Salihu Bappa and Barrister Esther Ozoma who did not die of Covid-19, the radical activists have been losing souls of recent like the case of professors.
Might there exist a way to stop good people from dying? And if no such ways exist, can it be invented? No rhetorical excesses at all!
This story will be updated as soon as conclusive details about the faces in the picture emerge