Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem laments the passing away of a great man:
Our Dear Comrade, Yuusuf Bala Usman, passed away today after a brief illness.
It has not been a good week for the endangered specie of committed progressive strugglists in Nigeria. Mid week we had the tragic death by yet another road accident of Comrade Chuma Ubani, Director of the premier human Rights NGO, CLO on his way from Maiduguri to Kano after a successful antii -Fuel price increase demonstrations in Maiduguri.
His body only returned to Lagos yesterday along with that of the deputy chief photographer of vanguard who died with him in the accident. They are yet to be buried and we finished the week
with the death a Senior comrade like Bala!
For my generation of Student activists Bala Usman was the icon of our times whose radical scholarship and political activism thought us to ask very uncomfortable questions about the kind of knowledge we were being taught and the society we we were living
in. He and his peer of equally committed scholar-activists like Patrick Wilmot opened our eyes
and ears to the world around us and inspired us to
believe that we can change it for better. A member of the royal house of the Katsina emirate,
Bala did not have to do anything to survive. He could
just have demanded and be given anything he wanted by
way of personal pleasures and riches by virtue of
being a royal and growing up at a time when the Emirs
He could have combined his royal long spoon with his academic erudition and choose to be part of any government or ruling cliques across the country. But
Bala chose to side with the masses. He committed a
class suicide and remained a revolutionary throughout
his life. He could have checked out like many of us
but he did not believing that he was best able to
contribute directly from the home front.
Whatever political or intellectual disagreements
anyone may have developed about YB Usman even his
worst critics will pay him the tribute of saying he
remained true to his convictions against every odd,
trial and tribulations.
We are indeed poorer that the Voice of Bala will no longer be there to speak unpleasant truths to power in that potentially great country called Nigeria damned
by successive little minded leaders impervious to any
knowledge that could go beyond their noses so as to
deliver on the great promise of the country.
It is perhaps befitting to a life of struggle that Bala's last public duty that many will remember for its high drama was at a conference last month called
by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
on corruption. Bala was one of the participants .
President Obasanjo was the Chief guest and he
addressed the audience in his usual monologue and
holier-than-thou pomposity. At intervention time Bala
was on the floor and he, as was characteristic of his
fearless and fierce intellect took on Baba Iyabo and tore into the empty shrines of his timid
anti-corruption crusade and leader-centric governance.
As we all know Obasanjo is such a big democrat who
cannot understand or continuance anyone disagreeing
with him asnd doing so so openly! He ordered his
security goons to seize the microphone from Bala
otherwise he was going to walk out. Somehow the
security heavies could not find the over 6 feet tall
Bala who was standing with a microphone in a hall full
of all the high and mighty in Nigeria. The conclusion
of many was that even the security guys were
sympathetic to Bala's lampooning of Mr Know-all,
That was Bala Usman: Bold, full of guts and fearless
before those who think of themselves as our lords and
masters. May his spirit and that of Chima remain restless and
continue to haunt us to continue the struggle for
which they lived and died actively serving.