It is with utmost gratitude to the Almighty creator that I welcome you to this Fifth Memorial in honour of our dear colleague, mentor and friend, Professor Abubakar Momoh. As I stand here, I am overwhelmed by a flood of memories and a tide of emotions. It was this same date in that fateful year of 2017 that my phone rang and bore me the shattering news of the death of Professor Momoh. He was the Chairman of CHRICED Board of Directors from its inception in 2006 until 2017. May his lovely spirit find eternal peace.
Till date, I still nurse the grief left behind by the death of this great and inspiring man. The loss of Professor Momoh was not just a personal one; it was also the loss of a major pillar of this Centre. With an infectious passion, he summoned meetings, debated ideas and concepts, fine-tuned documents, which provided the rationale and the moral basis of the human rights and pro-democracy work, which we have always devoted ourselves to as an organization. He galvanized and inspired us to reach limits, which we never knew we were capable of.
As usual with the Prof. Momoh, his ideas tended to penetrate and melt away problems and knotty situations, which before his interventions looked too difficult to solve. Momoh was an astute judge of situations and from the wellspring of his experience and wisdom, this organisation found solace in its infancy and began building the strength to take on the great issues at the heart of the evolution of the democratic process in Nigeria and beyond. Thus, five years on, I pay tribute to Professor Abubakar Momoh, a man, whose foresight, confidence, and commitment provided the compass we needed at a time of turbulence and uncertainty.
Today, CHRICED is thriving and waxing stronger. When the tooth and nail struggle to give CHRICED a solid footing was on, Prof Momoh’s reassuring voice provided the compass that enabled us to navigate the turbulent waters. The rich crème of Comrades, friends and colleagues who have thronged this event in memory of Professor Momoh is testament that his legacy as an academic, activist, bridge-builder, a respected storyteller, human rights crusader and social change soldier lives on. I stand here on this day with pride and deep honor to pay tribute to a relentless interlocutor of the democratic process and a fearless advocate of the poor and marginalized Nigerians. We miss you, Prof.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Special distinctions are awarded only when the life of a person illustrates in a conspicuous degree some high moral trait in the service of humanity. Every soldier who goes into a battle puts his life in danger, but not every British soldier has been considered worthy of the Victoria Cross, nor every German soldier awarded the Iron Cross. There are hundreds of thousands of people in France who occupy themselves with intellectual pursuits, but not every one of them has been decorated with the Legion of Honour. Therefore, permit me to use this opportunity to thank and commend one of Prof. Abubakar Momoh’s loyal and dependable friend, whose tireless acts of commitment and generosity have contributed in keeping the memory of Prof. Momoh alive, and as bright as ever. He is none other than Dr. Kole Ahmed Shettima.
CHRICED has specially invited Dr. Shettima to formally commission this building named after our departed comrade and mentor. Dr. Shettima exemplifies passion for humanity, public good, social justice and selflessness; the same ideals that Prof. Momoh stood for throughout his lifetime. It’s not surprising therefore that both remained close friends until Prof.’s sad passing in 2017. Dr. Shettima, on the other hand, has remained a devoted friend of Momoh’s family and CHRICED.
We are eternally grateful to you Dr. Shettima for your confidence in us, for the patience with which you have tutored us, listened to us, and showed us the pathway to getting better at what we do and to remain truthful and honest to our mission and founding values. Thank you, Sir. Most importantly I thank you for the honor to commission our new office in the honor of your friend and our pioneer Board Chairperson, Prof. Abubakar Momoh.
It is our hope that this facility that is being inaugurated today will become a workstation that will serve as a base for dedicated advocates, change soldiers, researchers and for raising new generation of change makers from across the country. We expect that the structure would foster and facilitate deeper interactions in our nation for the achievement of human rights, the rule of law, active citizenry, democracy, accountability, good governance, and a stable and egalitarian society in our country.
Thank you for honoring us with your presence and for listening.
Being a Statement By the Executive Director, Resource Centre For Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) at the 5th Memorial of Professor Abubakar Momoh, May 29, 2022 at CHRICED Office, Abubakar Momoh House, No 5, Malcom X Street, First Avenue, Gwarimpa, Abuja