CELEBRATING BUKAR USMAN AT 77

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Khalid Imam

“Without commitment you never start, without consistency you never finish… ease is the greater threat to progress than hardship” (Denzel Washington, October, 2018).

According to Tony Buzan, the author of “Mind Map Mastery” and an acclaimed brilliant motivational speaker, “Everybody has the potential for genius.” Why? This is largely, as he would allude, because the human brain has the breathtaking capacity to mysteriously and meticulously work faster than a super computer.

It is not hard to comprehend that what Tony Buzan seems to emphasise here is the fact that no one, yes, no individual, no matter one’s exceptional brilliance, has the complete monopoly of genius; and that accomplishment is also not a medal strictly reserved for the special ones or the few gifted minds one is stunningly marvelled by their seemingly remarkable superhuman exploits.

To properly comprehend Tony Buzan’s thesis, one needs to clearly appreciate that everyone blessed with a healthy brain and stable mind has equal potential to display uncommon genius and/or marvellous success. Sure, it is not difficult to believe that the road to harness one’s full potential to genius or achieve outstanding accomplishment is to discover oneself. This is to say, in life, self – awareness, more than any other thing, is one very critical success pathway – a smooth pathway leading one to the palace of brilliance and success. Therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact that self – awareness is one very fundamental life – changing factor that helps even animals to live a life of great genius and fascination. No close observer of the animals’ distinct and wonderful lives would fail to be amazed by the great talent, wit and genius they often display while hunting for games or building a shelter against any harm visiting them.

For instance, even one with a faint knowledge of life in the animal kingdom can’t fail to understand that the eagle is a very unique and most powerful bird for its sharp sight and great focus. From far distance, the eagle can spot a swimming fish inside the sea, and within a blink it would swoop and have it for lunch. A lion, although not the wisest or the biggest animal, still rules the animal kingdom for its unmatched bravery, uncommon discipline and exemplary attitude. A lion is fully aware of itself as the king in the jungle hence it only goes for a kill when hungry. This attitude and sense of pride earns the lion respect from all. The ants tiny as they are, are blessed with diligence and outstanding organisational capacity to slowly but steadily move a mountain while the tortoise and the fox often regarded as the most cunning if not the wisest animals too do demonstrate uncommon behaviours for humans to learn.

Even though, it is common knowledge that animals are not so endowed with super brain and other traits like humans, a careful study of their wonderful and mysterious lives stresses that all animals are aware of their special endowments, unique qualities and distinctive ways of life. Unarguably, a close observation at animals and their fascinating lives would help the wise among humans to easily discover oneself. To stress, one who discovers oneself is one whose understanding of oneself is like a rudder in the canoe of one’s life. And since the human mind, according to Tony Buzan, is broadly divided into two, the self-realised person is one whose brain is functionally at work, allowing its logical left side and its critical right side to be the captain of one’s life. Therefore, it is important to admit that mind mapping helps one to sail through the sea of life because a mind properly mapped is like a train on a track.

This long background, if anything, invites the reader looking for one individual whose well mapped mind has succeeded in helping him to have his eyes on the long game of life as a role model, one should be happy to have my mentor, Dr. Bukar Usman. To be a person worthy of becoming a true leader or a mentor to a generation of young people, as Hillary Clinton would say, one must avoid persons notoriously known for dishing out “outright lies and incoherent dangerous ideas,” or one struggling with “personal feuds”. For sure, as Hillary Clinton would have re-echoed, an outright liar or intolerant snake ready to strike is not someone everyone in his right senses should trust or accept as a president, a captain or a mentor. And if one with adequate knowledge, stability of mind, great sense of direction and full understanding of all the responsibilities leadership places on him being an elder statesman or a leader, is the ready-made choice for a captain or a leader, for sure, my mentor, Dr. Bukar Usman, the president of the Dr. Bukar Usman Foundation who is also the president of the Nigerian Folklore Society is the perfect choice.

Dr. Bukar Usman, who turns 77 years last December, is a retired federal permanent secretary who served at the presidency with distinction largely for his selflessness and great love of his country. This well experienced administrator and soft-spoken septuagenarian son of Biu, a northeast ancient town in Borno state, has all the attributes of an eagle for his foresightedness and focus. He has the discipline and organisational prowess of an ant considering the remarkable success he, as a writer of over thirty books and the many lives his foundation has touched within its short lifespan. One would say Dr. Bukar Usman is an excellent model to emulate for anyone in search for a mentor who will be a guide teaching one to be diligent and to believe in oneself.

Soon after his retirement in 1999, he mind-mapped his way, and against all lures to derail him, he remains steady and dogged, resulting in bumper harvest of dozens of books from him. The books he authored cover topics such as history, culture, literature, security, media, international relations, African regional politics, national integration and good governance.

In short, Denzel Washington’s perfect description of the path to success quoted in the epigraph to this piece aptly describes Dr. Bukar Usman. Here is a man who working with a handful of dedicated staff and resourceful research assistants, demonstrates that “without commitment you never start and without consistency you never finish.” True, his commitment and consistency helped to give birth to dozens and volumes of groundbreaking published well – researched books that only serious universities or research centers can produce.

Here is a man whose old age has not hindered him from pursuing his mapped-out goals and achieving excellence simply because of his firm belief that “ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” While rejoicing with my mentor, Dr. Bukar Usman, I pray to Allah to continue to strengthen him. Oh Dr. Bukar Usman, may you age with grace as you enjoy your 77th birthday in good health.
––Khalid Imam, a teacher, a poet and the coordinator of All Poets Network, writes from Kano.