The sudden death of our great boss and the second substantive director-general of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Prof. Seidu Onailo Mohammed, is not only painful but a sad commentary in the community of space practitioners in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. While it is very difficult to say goodbye to this great son of Igala Kingdom following his sudden departure, the fact remains that we are pleased and comforted by his glorious achievement and service to humanity during his lifetime.
With the demise of the very outstanding Ogah Attah of Igala Kingdom, our hearts ache, our eyes leak and our souls mourn. Such a sad moment that changed forever, and forever is such a long time.
Our dear Prof. Mohammed, it saddens each and every one of us to come to terms with the reality that you have finally taken a bow and shall be seen no more. In bidding you farewell, it is imperative to state clearly that by your activities and glorious accounts, you had succeeded in digging deep with patience, determination and hard work, to get the gold of success.
You brought to bear the impressive tenacity and persistence to consolidate the historic achievements of your predecessor during your tenure as the second substantive director-general of our organisation. By your contribution to the space agency and space development in Africa during your historic sojourn on the sands of time you transformed to a developmental icon, a hallmark of excellence, an embodiment of hard work and a paragon of inspiration.
As human, no one is perfect in all things but you did not only make the waves through your invaluable contributions as a distinguished scientist but you brought to natural history of scientific research in the field of space science and technology, a dedicated collection of facts that has made you a man of great erudition whose glorious achievements will continue to loom large in the history of space science and technology in Nigeria and Africa.
You were truly an outstanding personality and it is hard to know where to begin to x-ray your achievements and talents. In your romance with destiny, you remained a living exponent of true, creative originality and your many attributes boiled down to two qualities – idea and energy – while your professional career was outstanding and astounding in both the scope of your activities and versatility.
Your numerous achievements were widely recorded, reported and archived during your historic sojourn as the helmsman of the NASRDA.
The African Digest described NASRDA under your leadership as a national and continental monument for Nigeria and Africa.
In one of its editions of 2011, the Guardian newspapers eulogised NASRDA under your watch and described the successful launch of Nigeria Sat X as the “first of its kind on the continent of Africa”.
In a powerful editorial, Thisday newspapers also described the launch of Nigeria Sat X as the beginning of good luck and greater moments in the history of our great country; while Daily Trust in its analysis described the Nigeria satellite ground station as a “great asset not only to Nigeria but the continent of Africa”.
Tell, one of the leading Nigerian news magazines, took a critical overview of NASRDA during your tenure in its special edition captioned, “The Nigeria Space revolution”. The magazine clearly analysed that your success story in NASRDA was a major feat in the nation’s quest in the utilization of space technology for socio-economic development.
Also, in one of its publications the Punch newspapers opined that, with the giant strides recorded by NASRDA under your leadership it was clear that Nigeria has the human capacity to pioneer the course of history in technological advancement in Africa.
The Nigerian Tribune in a special feature ‘Space technology and environment’, commended NASRDA’s management under your leadership and described the numerous efforts as “key to national development”.
Again, in August 2012, The Guardian newspapers dwelled extensively on NASRDA’s achievements with the feature ‘NASRDA flies high’. The article started by describing you with a Zulu adage, as one who “speaks softly, but carries a big stick”. That was your style. Soft-spoken and reticent, you spoke almost in a whisper even though NASRDA now has quite a lot to shout about.
Al Jazeera television also came calling for a spotlight on NASRDA under your leadership, where they described the achievements recorded as not only “strategic in Africa”, but “a good story to tell about Nigeria and Nigerians”.
I recall with nostalgia the good moments I shared with you during your historic tenure as NASRDA boss. Even after your retirement, the relationship continued. I never knew it was my last moments with you when you recently requested that I prepare your citation for an event where you were to be honoured with an award. I did as you requested and designated my colleague, Ita-Okon to present the citation at the unique occasion. At the last moment, though, you insisted that I read the citation to the august gathering. Little did I know that would be the last assignment I would be carrying out for you. This is, indeed, very painful.
There is no gainsaying that you have successfully completed your race in the game of life and you have now transited to a place promised the righteous: “New Heavens and New earth where righteousness will be at home”
Igala Kingdom is home to remarkable people. It is also home to leaders and men of great virtue and values of whom you will forever remain one. Indeed, a legend is gone; gone from all the agonies and pains of this world. The trajectory of your life was both inspirational and interesting. By all standards, you were a pride to your generation and humanity. You were a rare gem, a mentor and very unique personality.
In your lifetime, you were celebrated by your people, revered by your admirers and applauded by your friends.
By all standards, you will remain evergreen in the annals of human history and the chronicle of great men with a penchant for excellence.
To all of us at NASRDA, the contributions you made were invaluable, your dedication immeasurable and your guidance priceless. The wisdom you shared during our numerous meetings were profound and your usual daily tonic of Igala idiomatic expressions can never be forgotten so soon. The light of your love and the warmth of your presence will always be precious memories.
You have fought a good fight, you have finished the course, you have kept the faith and you have transmuted from death to life.
Prof, you are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure. May the wind always be in your favour.
Dr Felix Ale is the head of media and corporate communications at the National Space Research and Development Agency. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.