Thursday, 7 October 2010

Controversy Over Book Dedicated To Adamu Yusuf

By Ibrahim Sheme

The creme de la creme of the Northern society is expected to grace the launch of a book written in honour of well known BBC Hausa reporter in Nigeria, the late Alhaji Adamu Yusuf, in Kaduna on Sunday, October 3, 2010. Authored by a journalist, Kabir Haruna Alfa, the book is titled Broadcast Media and Development in Northern Nigeria: A Tribute to the Life and Times of Adamu Yusuf, and was published this year by Skill Concepts Limited, Kaduna.

It has 305 pages.

However, a university lecturer in Katsina is claiming that the author of the book played a fast one on him by stealing ideas for the book from his own unpublished biography of Adamu Yusuf.

The launch, to be accompanied by a memorial lecture on the late journalist, has been scheduled to take place at Arewa House in the morning. Former military president, an associate of the late Adamu, is scheduled to chair the occasion.

Alhaji Musa Ujah, chairman of the governing board of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), is the chief launcher.

Other dignitaries expected at the venue include Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, former national security adviser Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau; the Galadima of Kano, Alhaji Tijjani Hashim; chairman of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Alhaji Abubakar Jijiwa, and the Danmasani of Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule.

The Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, will serve as the royal father of the day while the governor of Kaduna State, Mr Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, is the chief host.

The book of six chapters dwells largely on the role the broadcast media played in the development of Nigeria from the colonial times to the present-day. It traces the history of broadcasting in the country and the evolution of radio and television, as well as other media, in the northern part of the country. There is a chapter on contemporary electronic media of communication brought about by the coming of the internet and how this revolutionised the nation’s media system. Another chapter takes a look at the role of the print media, especially after independence in 1960, in the North.

The book is an important contribution to the study of the media system in Nigeria, especially its transformation from being a government-controlled tool to a liberalised one in which the larger populace could have a say. It also shows us how the modern media of communication as exemplified in radio and television was used in mass mobilisation for government’s developmental programmes.

Only one chapter is dedicated to Adamu Yusuf, a very popular Kaduna resident who became kind of iconoclastic in the area of philanthrophy. Before his sudden death on August 2, 1997, he was like a one-man army of goodwill, rendering help to people of every class, creed and gender.

Born in 1961, Adamu had worked at the New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, where he cut his teeth as a journalist on the staff of the vernacular Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo. He later became a hard working and talented reporter for the BBC Hausa service. By the time of his death, he had become a well-connected power broker and a wealthy person who always remembered his grass to grace rise and was keen to render assistance to those who needed it - the high and the low. His death was a big blow to all those who knew him.

Sunday’s gathering is expected to attract many of those whose paths crossed that of the late Adamu.

The silver lining in the cloud of the elaborate arrangement for the book launch, however, is the claim by a former confidante of Adamu Yusuf, Dr Aliyu Ibrahim Kankara of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that Alfa’s book is based on his own biography of the late broadcast journalist. He says that he had a deal with author Alfa, who collected his book, which was completed during Yusuf’s life time, under an agreement that a single volume would be produced.

In a strongly worded appeal to Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and those supporting the book launch, Kankara requested them to back out because the project is based on an injustice meted out to him. He calls his letter, “Using Adamu Yusuf’s Tribute To Double Deal: An Urgent Letter To Gen. IBB, Tijjani Hashim and Others.” Excerpts:
“It is high time the authorities enacted laws to stop gathering people for book launchings. It doesn’t pay today because we are destroying our youths, depriving them of their intelligence and creativity, we are rather training them to be thieves and corrupt leaders. Book launch today is a crime because it is only meant to enrich somebody without passing through some stages to experience bitter life. How can our youths then think of bringing a better society?

“I could recall this nascent book launch gathering began in the IBB era, and even the rubbish and not-up-to-standard, unnecessary write-ups are today publically presented, thus killing the literature.

“In 1998, the late Adamu Yusuf BBC invited me to write his biography. Initially, I rejected the offer, but later I discovered it was really a good enterprise, considering the philanthropic nature and messianic appearances Adamu had in his society. I moved to welcome the venture. The very day I started interviewing him was the date General Abacha died; that was on Monday, 8/8/1998, I can never forget. Hajiya Hauwa, his wife, served us breakfast while we were in his office. From thence, it took me about 9 years to complete the biography, almost 19 days to the fateful day when we lost him.

“Shortly before he died, I saw Badamasi Burji (Concern magazine publisher) in (Adamu’s) house twice, and was told that he was my co-author, who was also writing an English version of the same biography. When I confronted Adamu, he replied that initially he had me again in mind to translate the book into English when I finished, but since Burji was interested he allowed him.

“After Adamu’s death, I struggled to publish the book but was asked by Burji to hand over the book to him, saying there was somebody, Kabir Haruna Alfa, who was also interested in our merging the three works together into one. Without any hesitation, I accepted. Burji sent Alfa to Katsina and collected my book.

“I came to know nothing about the book again, but occasionally called Burji to know what was going on. Unknown to us, Alfa was using us to reach out to Adamu’s people, whom we had interviewed some years earlier and already established contact with the like of General IBB, Hajiya Laila Dogonyaro, Musa Uja, Col. Habibu Shu’aibu, Galadiman Kano, General Buhari, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Saifullahi Muntaka Coomasie, Sule Kofar Sauri, etc. Many others are now dead, like Alhaji Garba Dan Shagamu. In fact, Alfa was introduced to Adamu’s wife and other members of his family by Burji. What split them was when Alfa asked Burji to give him introductory letters to Adamu’s men to seek for money for the printing of the book. Burji refused.

“Later, Alfa went personally and met them one by one... He suddenly came out with a skeletal, handy and foolish pieces of writing, attributing them to the late BBC correspondent.

“Were the three of us writing a book on Adamu for future Nigerians to emulate his reputation or are we writing just to grab money from people?

“General IBB, Col. Habibu, Musa Uja and others should know that I, Aliyu Ibrahim Kankara, and Badamasi Shu’aibu Burji were the only writers authorized by the late Adamu to write his biography. Alfa did not know Adamu or anything about him.”

In his response to Kankara’s charges, however, Alfa has dismissed them as untrue. He told LEADERSHIP that he was aware of the university lecturer’s claims but that he had the full backing of Adamu Yusuf’s family to write the book. He said he did not have any deal with Kankara, but admitted that he had worked on the book with Burji who sent him to Katsina to collect the manuscript produced by Kankara.

Alfa added that he spoke with Kankara only once since he collected the manuscript. According to him, when he and Yusuf’s family noticed that both Kankara and Burji had lost interest in the project, he was permitted by the family to forge ahead alone.

The author emphasised that he did not use any material from Kankara’s manuscript and that he gave the manuscript to Burji.

Both parties have threatened to take legal action against one another – one to enforce rights on copyright infringement and the other to claim damages for character assassination.

Burji, the publisher of Kano-based Concern magazine, also spoke to LEADERSHIP on the matter, arguing that what Kankara says is the truth. He said Alfa, who is the magazine’s Abuja correspondent, requested him to support his desire to write a biography of Adamu Yusuf. Therefore, he took him to the late journalist’s house and introduced him to Hajiya Hauwa, Adamu’s wife who had known him as her husband’s friend.

According to Burji, Hauwa eventually signed an agreement with the three authors – Burji, Kankara and Alfa.

Burji said he was the one that collected the necessary documents and CDs from Adamu’s wife and handed them over to Alfa. “But it later dawned on me that he had never intended to write the book in collaboration with us,” he said. “Because ever since he got hold of those documents, he bever allowed me to see them again. He kept giving me excuses.

“I was the one who introduced Alfa to Adamu Yusuf’s family, Alhaji Musa Uja and Col. Habibu Shu’aibu who facilitated our visit to Gen. Babangida, as well as to Sa’idu Sanusi (editor of Kano-based Freedom Express newspaper), who edited the book for him.”

He dismissed Alfa’s claim that Burji and Kankara later lost interest in the work. He also denied that Alfa had given Kankara’s manuscript to him.

Burji alleged that Alfa’s sole motive for writing the book was money-making, hence his rush to produce the book within a short period of time and launch it.


Published in LEADERSHIP, on Friday, October 1, 2010

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