M.D. Yusufu (1931 – 2015)
THE death of Alhaji Muhammadu Dikko Yusufu (MD Yusufu) has further constricted the rapidly shrinking class of eminent Nigerian senior citizens who served the nation well.
MD Yusufu, who to the present generation of Nigerian youth may only be a distant echo from a dying critical mass, was a superb intelligence officer and former Inspector General of Police as well as a consistent radical social crusader, who dotted the political landscape with graceful and courageous landmarks.
In the chequered history of Nigeria, MD Yusufu, through his professional reputation and political engagement, contributed to national growth, especially in the cultivation of good leadership.
MD Yusufu would be remembered as that lanky, trimly bearded man, a black sheep of the northern oligarchy, the stormy petrel of the Abacha regime; a man whose integrity and consistent vociferous stance against the obnoxious Abacha government was symbolised by his lonesome fearless stature.
During the then unpopular regime of that military junta, MD Yusufu ventured into partisan politics, perhaps, either to debunk the widely perceived claim of the Pro-Abacha sycophants that no credible persons existed to wrestle Abacha out of Aso Rock, or to allay the fears of Nigerians that Abacha was only a mere mortal masquerading as a maximum ruler.
In an unusual display of courage and defiance, amidst enveloping tension and fear, MD Yusufu backed almost solely by his friend, Isyaku Ibrahim, rattled the junta by dishing out campaign missives that gave hope to the masses and created fear in the corridors of power.
In the candid opinion of informed commentators, the quality and poignancy of campaigns in the recently concluded general elections find their archetype in the incisiveness and audacity of MD Yusufu’s political engagement at the time.
As IGP in the General Murtala Muhammed administration, MD Yusufu rallied a conclave of Marxist scholars of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), comprising the late Prof. Bala Usman and Prof. Patrick Wilmot, whose intellectual energies facilitated the dynamic foreign policy for which the Murtala Muhammed administration is reputed.
In the submission of chroniclers, never has Nigerian foreign policy been so vibrant, effective and result-oriented. The great grandson of the legendary Emir Muhammadu Dikko, the fabled founder of the Katsina ruling dynasty, MD Yusufu was born on November 10, 1931.
Notwithstanding his royal background, MD Yusufu was a man of astonishing simplicity. He courted the path of radicalism at an early age having joined the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) of Aminu Kano – a grassroots movement opposed to the conservative Northern Peoples Congress.
After his education in Nigeria and overseas, his chance meeting with the late Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello, in the United Kingdom propelled him onto an unexpected career path. Back into the country he joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1962 as an Assistant Commissioner in the intelligence unit of the force, and rose through the rank until his appointment as the third indigenous Inspector General of Police in 1974.
After retirement, he continued to commit himself to public service, the most prominent of which was his chairmanship of the Arewa Consultative Forum.He will be sorely missed.
Tekena Tamuno (1932-2015) JUST like the death of MD Yusufu, the passing away of renowned historian, scholar and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan (UI), Professor Tekena Nitonye Tamuno, has robbed Nigeria of one of its brightest scholars in African history and in the humanities.
Prof. Tamuno, reputed for excellence in scholarship, character and administration as well as for his immense contribution to the documentation of Nigerian history, was the first alumnus of the University of Ibadan to become its Vice Chancellor. Born on January 28, 1932 in Okrika, Rivers State, Tamuno was educated at Okrika Grammar School from 1947-1951, after which he proceeded to the University College Ibadan, where he studied between 1953 and 1958.
He later attended the University of London, England, from 1960 to 62 and Columbia University, Morningside Heights, New York, USA, from 1965 to 1966 for postgraduate studies.
Tamuno began his teaching career in the University of Ibadan in 1962, and rose to become a professor in 1971. He served as Head, Department of History, 1972 – 1975, Dean, Faculty of Arts, 1973 -1975, and then Vice Chancellor of the university from 1975-1979.
He was also the head of the University College, Ilorin, in 1975, and chairman of the Governing Council, University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, 1980-1988.
He was appointed Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, chairman of the Presidential Panel on National Security from 2001 to 2002, and Panel on Policing Nigeria Project from 2002 -2003.
Amongst his many books are: Nigeria and Elective Representation, 1923-47 (1966); The Police in Modern Nigeria (1970); a co-edited A Thousand Years of West African History (1979), Songs of an Egghead (1983).
Decades ago, when colonial scholars wanted to obliterate Africa from memories by reconstructing past and present African experiences from foreign historiographical perspectives, the likes of Tamuno salvaged the intellectual community with painstaking research projects and publications.
Thanks to their endeavours, it became clear that the foisted European history, with its demeaning narratives of the Punic Wars and racial prejudices against the African, were not necessary for building a new Africa.
Prof. Tamuno was so committed to his research and scholarship, that he was undeterred by old age and weakness. His name rang within the academic circle at the same intensity it did decades ago, so much so that present crops of students at the University of Ibadan share an affinity with their grandparents who are alumni of that revered institution.
The iconic historian and scholar, the late Prof. Adiele Afigbo had asked in one of his books, Of Men and War, Women and History: “How many of us will be remembered a hundred years hence in the manner that Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Marsiglio of Padua and their like are remembered across many centuries, because of the system they constructed…?”
Prof. Afigbo seemed to have foreseen not only the path of extinction which History as a discipline was taking, but also the gradual decimation of the scholars of that endangered course of study.
Accomplished as they were, the sad part of the demise of men like Tamuno may be captured by the question: How many stars sired by these giants still glitter brightly in the intellectual firmament? With Tamuno’s demise, certainly departs a huge slice of Nigeria’s rich history.