Yusufu Bala Usman Institute celebrates the life of the historian and intellectual, writes Norma Perchonok
The Yusufu Bala Usman Institute is commemorating the 15th Memorial Anniversary of the transition of this noted historian and committed patriot by celebrating his life and his brilliant intellectual work as contained in three of his most important books, which are being presented to the public in new editions. The ideas contained in these works are, if possible, even more relevant today than when they were first written, and they comprise an invaluable legacy for present and future generations.
For the Liberation of Nigeria, first published in 1978, originally sold over 10,000 copies. It contains 30 essays and lectures that Dr. Usman delivered between 1969 to 1978. They cover topics such as: Some Fundamental Problems of Contemporary Nigeria; The Direction of Nigeria: Structure, Ideology and the Constitution; Nigeria’s African Policy; Nigerian Universities and Intellectual Self-Reliance and The Struggle in the South: Angola., Mozambique and the Future.
The new edition of this work has been enhanced by a Foreword written by Dr. Olusegun Osoba, the Chairman of the Yusufu Bala Usman Institute. Dr. Osoba is one of Dr. Usman’s oldest and closest friends and collaborators. When both of them served on the Constitutional Drafting Committee, set up by General Murtala Muhmmed to write a new constitution for a democratic Nigeria, they disagreed with the trend of discussion of the majority of the members and together they produced the Minority Report and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1967, a work which has had wide-ranging impact since then on any discussion of the issues around the Nigerian constitution.
Nigeria Against The IMF: The Home Market Strategy comprises essays on the subject of the Nigerian economy, such as Understanding and Resolving the Current Economic Crisis; The Structure of the Nigerian Economy and the Real Meaning of Structural Adjustment; What Exactly is the Problem? For Whom is the Solution? among others. The new Foreword to this book was written by Mike Kwanashie, Professor of Economics at Ahmadu Bello University and former Vice Chancellor of Veritas University, Abuja. Professor Kwanashie is an Associate of the Yusufu Bala Usman Institute. He is a renowned Economist with wide experience both in and outside of academia. He is a long-time associate of Dr. Usman and worked with him on many projects over the years. His very important foreword provides an updated assessment of Dr. Usman’s conception about the Nigerian economy and demonstrates how prescient Usman’s ideas were and how relevant they are to the present economic situation in Nigeria.
The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria, 1977-1987, first published in 1987, broke new ground in its examination of a critically important issue in Nigeria – how religion is manipulated to serve the interests of a class of people who use religion to obscure and cover up their real purpose of dividing the country and protecting their material interest at the expense of the generality of the Nigerian people.
The substantial foreword to this work was contributed by Professor Usman A. Tar, who is one of the Directors of the Yusufu Bala Usman Institute. He is an endowed Professor of Defence and Security Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and has published widely in Nigerian and International books and journals. His foreword brings up to date some of the themes touched upon by Dr. Usman and presents them in a geographical and historical perspective. The foreword, together with the original text provide a broad and perceptive appreciation of the issue of manipulation of religion which is at the heart of the problem of Nigerian unity.
There is no doubt that these three books by Yusufu Bala Usman are essential reading for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the multifarious problems facing Nigeria today.