Northern Elders forum in shock as Yima Sen dies at 69

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Dr Yima Sen, a leading public intellectual and the director-general of the Northern Elders Forum as well as a pivotal member of its Think Tank is dead. He passed on yesterday at the age of 69 after a brief illness at Garki hospital, Abuja.

Until his demise, he was a senior academic at Baze University, Abuja, where he taught Mass Communications.

Dr. Yima Sen who hails from Benue State studied Mass Com- munications 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 latter was special adviser on Political Affairs to the equ- ally 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 operation 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) where he was a very strong member of the Forum.

Until his death, he nursed the ambition of going over to Cambridge for another PhD programme.

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He planned to use such opportunity to investigate a particular puzzle about Africa.

He was, otherwise, 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, even posting materials and comments on his Facebook page.

His greatest legacy in politics must be the ideology around the late Joseph Tarka whose 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 poten- tials in the early 1980s.

He never appeared to go beyond that newspaper article, though it is possible he shared details of the direction of his thinking thereto with someone.

At the time of filing this report, 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, fellow academics and his immediate family.

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