By Dr. Otive Igbuzor
On Sunday 4th April, 2021, I learnt of the transition to glory of Comrade Innocent Chukwuma from Facebook and I was in shock and disbelief. In fact, I was devasted and broke down. It has been extremely difficult for me to write a tribute for him for I still hope to wake up from this dream and find it to be untrue.
I have known Innocent since the 1980s and 1990s during the struggle against military rule. As a Comrade and Socialist, we worked together in many core and front organisations. While I was staying in Maiduguri from 1988 to 2000, he was a constant visitor to Maiduguri. He comes to organise programmes and will bring materials and leaflets for mobilisation against military rule.
Over the years, Innocent has distinguished himself as a consistent and knowledgeable fighter for justice, transparency and progress in Nigeria. For me, four attributes of Innocent stand out.
First, he is a family man committed to his wife and children. His commitment and relationship with Josephine and the girls are obvious for everyone to see.
Secondly, he is a doer and achiever. He set up CLEEN Foundation from the scratch and grew it into an institution. Talk is cheap but he is a doer.
Thirdly, he is entrepreneurial. He is always bubbling with ideas and innovation. I recall a one-hour discussion I had with him at the airport on the initiatives he is putting in place in Owerri.
Finally, he is strategic and moves at the appropriate time. He moved from Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) to set up CLEEN Foundation.
CLEEN Foundation is one of the few Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria that has existed for more than 20 years and still waxing stronger. He moved from CLEEN Foundation to Ford Foundation.
Just a few weeks before his transition, he has moved to do his memoir and other things.
We will surely miss Innocent. But we are consoled that he lived a good life and has left good legacy. Our prayer is that the Almighty God will comfort Josephine and the girls from above.
You have played your part well.
Till we meet at resurrection.
Dr. Otive Igbuzor, Founding Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD) and Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate.