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Balarabe Musa: The conscience of our democracy



Balarabe Musa: The conscience of our democracy

“When you go to the polls, ethics and morality should be part of the evaluation”
– John Shimkus


With the growing dearth of credible and principled politicians in our sphere, one cannot help but celebrate one of the remaining faces of ethical politics in our time. A genuine reminder of the envious past in our polity, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, a direct descendant of Mallam Aminu Kano’s selfless ‘talakawa’ politics.

From whatever angle you stood to watch the game of politics in this country since the Second Republic, one voice persisted as a guide to the wrongness or rightness of our political behaviour in the past four decades.


Since 1978 when he emerged into the country’s political space, becoming first executive Governor of old Kaduna State in 1979, in the Second Republic and subsequently remaining active ever since both during military and civil rules, Balarabe Musa has become indisputably the conscience of the nation’s democracy.

Wrong political leaders whether in military or agbada never liked his gut but they hardly were able to fault his candour and sincerity of heart away from double standards associated with politicians in this clime.


Last week Alhaji Musa as the founding National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), informed party members that he will be vacating his position for a younger person due to his failing health condition
Musa, who is 82 years, made this known when he declared open the 54th meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, on Friday. He, however, said that he will always remain in PRP.


In his valedictory speech, Musa said: “Due to declining energy and failing health, it has become necessary for me to vacate the seat for younger and fresher blood.” He revealed that his successor will not just be a young man in age, but someone who is “robustly and combatively committed to all the ideals that our party, the PRP, has always stood for.”

In my over three decades of active political reporting as a journalist in this country, one man stood out very remarkably as a yardstick in the measurement of morality in our polity.


In the famous class of 19 that constituted the then Second Republic state governors, Musa was outstanding as one who really carried to the letter the ideals of his mentor and party, Mallam Aminu Kano and the PRP.


His often viewed rigid principle caused him impeachment in the hand of the then federal controlled National Party of Nigeria (NPN) who could not stand his gut. Because his party, PRP, then had a stalemated state assembly with the federal ruling party, the NPN, he was requested to accommodate them in his cabinet which he vehemently declined preferring instead to work without commissioners for years until he was impeached by the NPN-dominated state parliament on June 23, 1981. He was criticized for his unbending political stance on issues but no one could fault his logic and his incorruptible disposition.


Since then he had emerged as the political character for the measurement of standards in our own political environment.

His stand on any national issue was viewed away from the usual Nigeria sentiment of either tribe or religion. Musa’s stand on truth at all times notwithstanding who was involved set him out as a man of truth.
In that class of 19, only three of them are surviving today, a 78-year-old Jim Nwobodo of the old Anambra State comprising three states of Anambra, Enugu and part of Ebonyi states. Alhaji Lateef Jakande of Lagos state who is 89 and Musa who ruled what is now Kaduna and Katsina states and was 82 years last month. What has actually attracted me to celebrating Musa today as he quits active politics is the selfless way which he fashioned his politics. The people, the poor otherwise called the takalawas remained the centre piece of his politics.


As his earthly journey brings him closer to the departure lodge, Musa has over time acquired a cherished reputation for himself and is leaving behind enviable legacies of character and integrity not in terms of the large sum in his bank account or the properties littered all over the places as is the case with his colleagues. His children, friends and associates would not have mundane things to fight for whenever he departs this earth but they have everything to acquire in his reputation.


The developments in the country in the last three and half years have even made the celebration of characters like Musa unavoidable. When Nigerians made a landmark electoral statement by voting out an incumbent President and his party for an opposition party, it was with the understanding that real change was coming to an environment clearly marred by corruption and avarice.


The choice of Buhari ahead of everybody then was on the reasoning that he was incorruptible and coming with a ruthless strop to make the much needed change of cleansing our polity of corruption.
But here we are about 40 months after, the country from all empirical evidences, is in far worse situation than they met it. To the extent that even the President himself is integrity challenged as developments around him vicariously and otherwise have not placed him in good reckoning.


When you hear such quotes like the one from the embattled former Akwa Ibom State Governor and ex-Senate minority leader Godswill Akpabio that he left his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because he wants to help President Buhari fight corruption, you cannot but wail for this country how bad the corruption fight under Buhari has degenerated and are now being blandished.


What Balarabe Musa did that caused him his position as governor when he was impeached on June 23, 1981 was standing on his own conviction, refusing to bend to what is not right.

He lost something then in terms of power, money and even position but has held on to his reputation ever since to merit his current enviable status as conscience of our politics.

This is a test President Buhari has failed woefully to achieve by his actions and inactions for which he would forever remain envious of the qualities abundantly inherent in Musa. No wonder during Musa’s 81st birthday anniversary, the President has this to say of him: “Balarabe Musa is one of Nigeria’s brightest stars of integrity and sterling principles. The octogenarian has lived to his reputation by avoiding any conduct associated with corruption and dishonour. Even Musa’s worst enemies and critics cannot dispute his remarkable reputation for integrity and selfless service to the people.”

If great people as Jeffrey Gitomer said, “Have great values and great ethics,” Musa is indeed a great man who should be celebrated as he winds down his politics.

Who is Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa? According to Wikipedia, Musa was born on August 21, 1936 in Kaya, Kaduna State. He studied at Zaria Middle School (1947–1952) and at the Institute of Administration, Zaria (1952–1953). He was an accounts clerk (1953–1955) and a school teacher (1955–1960). He held various managerial positions related to accountancy in the period 1960 to 1976, while studying at different colleges in London to gain additional qualifications.

Musa was elected governor of Kaduna State in 1979 on the platform of PRP, a party founded by Mallam Aminu Kano. The dominant NPN challenged his election unsuccessfully. His party was initially a member of the PPP alliance in opposition to the NPN, but later quietly withdrew.

As governor he was stalemated by the Kaduna State House of Assembly, which was dominated by NPN members. He was unable to form a cabinet since he refused to nominate NPN members and the House refused to ratify his candidates. Eventually the House impeached him in June 1981, making him the first Nigerian state governor ever to be impeached.

Musa is an avowed Marxist, when the Kaduna Polo Club sent Musa an invitation to join along with a mallet he refused the invitation and gave the mallet to a servant, saying “I don’t play polo… It is the game of the rich and powerful, of neo-colonialists.” Musa later said he was impeached because he planned to have the state open small and medium-sized industries, and this would deny the NPN members the opportunity of establishing their own enterprises. God bless and keep the octogenarian.

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