Omafume Onoge; was one of the never say die radical intellectuals that had incessantly pummelled the reactionary state apparatus that miitary Head of State, Yakwubu Gowon had attempted to plant on Nigeria. He is remembered for the various demonstrations of the Nigerian students demanding democratic reforms of the polity. From 1973 and until the Gowon regime was pushed aside, the Nigerian Students in their various campuses were demanding for large scale progressive reforms in the country. He was a member of the Delta delegation to the National Political Reform Conference in 2005. Onoge is listed among African progressives which includes in its ranks the likes of Gani Fawehinmi, Alison Desforges, and Tajudeen Abdulraheem[i].
Omafume was a member of the right wing intellectuals of the University of Ibadan. The romance between the left and the new military rulers was such that Professor Omafume Onoge was named by the regime a member of the Nigerian delegation to China led by Major-General Olufemi Olutoye. Omafume Onoge later went to University of Dar-Es-Salaam or Kuo Kiku Cha Dar-Es-Salaam (in Swahili) as a visiting lecturer in Sociology. Omafume Onoge left a great intellectual mark in Tanzania. In a symposium held inside the University of Dar-Es-Salaam in 1977, Omafume Onoge’s Marxist intellectual analysis of Pan-Africanism was such that the moderator of the programme in his final summary referred to Omafume Onoge as one of the two foreign intellectuals that had come to the university to create progressive waves in the country. The other intellectual mentioned by the moderator was Dr. Walter Rodney, the author of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Walter Rodney had left Tanzania three years before Omafume Onoge arrived in the country.
1978 Students Protest
In 1978, Omafume Onoge returned to Nigeria only to be faced a radical action of the Nigerian students led by Segun Okeowo demanding the abrogation of a Federal Government policy of increasing university fees in Nigeria. Omafume Onoge with his fellow comrades at the University of Ibadan; Ola Oni, Professor Bade Onimode, Dr. Akin Ojo, and Laoye Sand recreated National Emergency Committee (a platform once used by the Nigerian Workers to fight the British Colonial rulers in the 1949 Iva Valley massacre of innocent coal miners). The Nigerian Emergency Committee immediately offered its platform to the Nigerian students. The action of the students was such that a student, Akintunde Ojo, was murdered by Police at the University of Lagos. On August 25,1978, Omafume with his colleagues in the struggle which included Ebenezer Babatope were removed from the university by the regime.
Post 1978 career
Presdient Shehu Shagari government reinstated removed schorlars of 1978. Omafume Onoge returned to University of Ibadan only to immediately transfer his services to the University of Jos. While a professor in Jos he met a woman who had come to study law and they were both married till 1995 when she died. He had been married and divorced before her. It was in Jos that Omafume Onoge was made a Professor of Sociology in 1982. Omafume Onoge was later named as the Director of Centre for Advanced Social Studies (CASS).
Omafume Onoge was there with his comrades in the Nigerian Socialist Movement; Biodun Jeyifo, the Tony Ngurube, Charles Akinde, Gbolaga Akintunde, Edwin Ike Madunagu-led Anti Poverty Movement of Nigeria (APMON) the Speakers Society, University of Lagos, the New Nationalists led by Professors Oye Oyediran and Bolaji Akinyemi, the Ife Dialogue and several others in the country, to oppose military fascism and reaction. Eventually the radical Murtala Mohammed military administration was announced to replace the Gowon-led military regime, the Nigerian left was pushed by the radical events of the time to support the new military change[ii].
[i] The News, 21 September, 2009
[ii] Tribune, July 31, 2003