A leading Nigerian intellectual and radical activist, Dr. Yima Sen, is dead. He died about 5 pm Tuesday evening, October 6th, 2020 at Garki Hospital in Abuja. Until his death, he was a senior academic at Baze University, Abuja where he taught Mass Communications.
At the time of reporting, there was, predictably, no news from family members on what next. He will be greatly missed in the Left movement, among bourgeois politicians, his students and fellow academics. This is not to talk of his immediate family.
Dr. Yima Sen who hails from Benue State studied Mass Communications at the University of Lagos, University of California in Los Angeles, United States of America and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
In the Second Republic, he was a Communications Assistant to the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo when the later was Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the equally late President Shehu Shagari. Dr. Sen moved to that position from Benue State where he was briefly a Director of Information in the Aper Aku administration also in the Second Republic.
He was a moving force behind the conception and operationalisation of the National Conference strategy in the resistance to military rule in the late 1980 and early 1990s. Part of his radical involvement then included membership of the Women In Nigeria, (WIN) platform. In the June 12 crisis, he was heavily involved in the Campaign for Democracy, (CD) and the Democratic Alternative.
In the Fourth Republic, he worked as an aide to the Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, from where he returned to academia. Never dogmatic but taking a contingent approach to politics, he found himself in the Northern Elders Forum, (NEF) too where he was the Secretary and its leading ideologue and activist.
Until his death, he nursed the ambition of going over to Cambridge for another PhD program. He planned to use such opportunity to investigate a particular puzzle about Africa.
He has, otherwise, been a physically strong person until recently when he survived a surgery back in Makurdi, Benue State. But he told callers and comrades afterwards that he was fine and recuperating. He even posted materials and comments on his Facebook page.
Alas, it wasn’t that smooth. On Tuesday morning, (06/10/2020), a message was received in some quarters about his being in hospital. Thinking it was most likely fallout of the recent surgery, Intervention went to visit him along with Comrade John Odah, Executive Secretary of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa, (OTUWA). It turned out that he was under Oxygen. An hour or so after leaving his hospital bed, another family source responded to a phone call on his state of health that he had been pronounced dead.
His greatest legacy in politics must be the ideology around the late Joseph Tarka which hostility to ideological pluralism within the radical establishment in Nigeria most likely dissuaded him from exploring and developing. He had been a student of Joseph Tarka’s approach to the management of pluralism and difference in the Middle Belt and had written a newspaper article on its potentials in the early 1980s. He never appeared to go beyond that newspaper article although it is possible he shared details of the direction of his thinking thereto with someone.