Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Nigeria’s Unsung Heroes - Part 8
Political Intellectualism Or Intellectual Academicism: The Brand of Professor Ayodele Awojobi and Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman
continued from http://www.dawodu.com/mamza29.htm
October 19, 2005
In civilized societies, the universities are the models for fashioning out and churning out the ideals for the leadership and the society. The universities being the epitome for intellectual acquisition and the veritable source for the search for education had been the interventionist rescue in the determination of the image of the nation be it developing or developed. It is in this light that a nation that ignored the development of its educational sector stand the risk of ignoring its future. The Nigerian experience had been a strong state of lack of appreciation of the impact of globalisation in a search for new concepts of approach towards power and the applications of power. Professor Ayodele Awojobi, a renowned educationist and mechanical engineer and the first Head of Department of Engineering, University of Lagos and Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, a renowned historian and social critic had some semblance of the concepts of their mission’s holistic conceptions. Both were University lecturers that carried their consciousness to germane realms. Both were authorities in their fields and interfaces in the general concept of education and its applications. Both had shown that education, and knowledge like science is borderless and seamless in the emerging paradigm of world dynamics. When Professor Awojobi died at an unripe age of 47 in 1984 about 21 years ago I was a young man grubbing to capture the national image and its existent correlation but Professor Awojobi’s name had rent the air as a fighter against social dislocations and political dis-conditions. I could remember, me in company of some folks murmuring his name in delight and in anticipation for curious legacy. At few occasions I had argued that a magic wand of change was raising issues in a far away Lagos and those of us at the extreme end of the pole in Maiduguri are missing the piece of action. My friends had cause to disbelief me with a notion that hardly could a man like Prof essor Awojobi mindful of his profession march the teething guts of the military. The essence of his struggle had resurfaced when I met three about 29 years after at a social function in Maiduguri and had subjected Awojobi’s past life to an inspirational model. I have never met professor Awojobi during his lifetime but is not same with Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman. I spent the greater part of my life in the Ahmadu Bello University both as a student and later as a lecturer. Even before coming to the university to study, Dr. Bala Usman’s name was causing and stirring some remarkable attention.
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) of the University in the early days of my studies was vibrant with historic engagement in discourses anchored on intellectual activism that is exceptionally evident of pro-ups of the search for ideas in political and social engineering. The most radical popular figures then were Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman of History, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir and Dr. Patrick Wilmot of Sociology. Mammoth of knowledge-seekers force their bearings at Abdullahi Smith lecture hall to gather in waiting honour of the power of knowledge as exhibited by Dr. Bala Usman, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir and Dr. Patrick Wilmot. Dr. Usman was exceptional for his versatile understanding of History, Sociology, Political Science and even Natural Sciences. Many have argued before his death and after that he was not a Historian but a Political Scientist. Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman would, for instance, while discussing the history of oil formation by-pass the basic rudiments of Ar cheology and carryout an in-depth analysis of the Petrology, Paleontology and Sedimentology - a pure aspect of Geology-to drive home his points. His many serials had proved that he has vast knowledge that cut across the various disciplines. More importantly, his firm belief not to be indifferent to begging questions made him an intellectual with a difference. Both Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman and Professor Ayodele Awojobi share a striking feature. Professor Awojobi -a Mechanical Engineer was to be a reckoning voice in Social Engineering and Nigeria’s political economy. One was a bridge between Science and Technology and political economy, the other was a bridge between Humanities and Science. Both were dogged fighters based on their noble professions and beliefs. My first encounter with Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman was at the premises of the Senate Building (ABU) when the government of General Sani Abacha appointed a Sole Administrator Major-General Mamman Tsoho Kontagora for ABU at a period the University was embroiled in a crisis of confidence during the tenure of Professor Daniel Saror as the Vice - chancellor. He wanted to know my view; "The inevitable has no option, sir" was my quick response. There was kind of contempt then, forcing some segment of the University to coil at the choice of a retired General to head a University. But as was revealed later, General Kontagora performed high above the expectations with massive structural developments and ensuring peace- building. Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman had to convince some of us later that the position of a Vice Chancellor is nothing more than a Coordinator of academic activities. Both Prof. Ayodele and Dr. Bala had nurtured the new dynamism of intellectual participation in Nigeria politics. One had the firebrand of an academic and other the fire-works of an intellectual. Hard work and truth had summarized their collective struggle from ignorance and misrule of power. By breaking the cocoon of the four-walls of the University both had reached out to experiment their ideas and knowledge at the national scene, a feat that is rare and hardly surmountable. The replenishing approach of the duo had ignited the old-concept of invention/discoveries and the new wave of liberal struggle for a humanistic society. At the University of Lagos in the late 70’s and early 80’s Professor Awojobi had held sway the University’s community with his seminal lectures like ‘Nigeria in search of a social order’, ‘where our oil money has gone’, "In search of a political order" and "Nigeria Today" amongst others which had made Awojobi an emerging participant of a literary insights of those days. Dr. Bala Usman had tendered a masterpiece unparalleled ‘For the liberation of Africa’ amongst his many prodigies’ publications when the African continent was becoming a maraudering coloniziable zone by a kind of a logical scandal through revolutionary anarchy. Professor Awojobi and Dr. Bala Yusufu Usman’s works are perfec t examples of transformations in progressive exploitations by scientific and historic prescriptions. One a scientific politician, the other a political scientist.
Both are querying the degenerating characteristic of societal norms and callous leadership. No one should question the will, intellect and geniuses of the two as far as fundamentals of optimism is concerned. The great enthusiasm that they have exhibited while in life is credible intellectual magic that would for some time characterize the reshaping of the perpetual ailing system our present deformities conditions in Nigeria and Africa. The two intellectual and political giants are credible alternatives to the lost hope of the forcibly resilient stratum of the Nigerian society that are in the majority. Their imaginative capacities for pursuit of profound scholarship and humane commitment to the survival of mankind in the increasingly endangered human fiasco will remain evergreen in the memories of ideal political establishments. Professor Ayodele was born in 1937 to Pa Daniel Awojobi, a native of Ikorodu in Lagos while Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman was born in 1944 in Musawa, Katsina,
The fiery personalities that brightened the academic horizons with excellence, commitment and truth are gone. Let us not ignore the spirits they lived and died for.
- Mamza, A Political Columnist with Leadership Newspapers writes from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
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