Balarabe Musa: A life of service

The passage of a former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, on Wednesday last week, is no doubt a huge loss to the progressives’ family to which he belonged to and the entire nation. A left-wing politician, Musa was elected governor in 1979 on the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), a party founded by Mallam Aminu Kano.


He was impeached on June 23, 1981 by the state House of Assembly dominated by members of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) over his uncompromising posture.


His party was initially a member of the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) alliance in opposition to the NPN, but later withdrew. Musa was unable to form a cabinet since he refused to nominate NPN members and the House refused to ratify his candidates. His impeachment made him the first state governor to be removed from office through such process.


But, unlike most Nigerian politicians, who think more about the security of their respective seats than the security of the country, Musa never wavered in his belief that politics should be the conduct of public affairs for the good of all despite his removal from office. Perhaps, his belief explains why he soldiered on with his crusade for an egalitarian society. He played politics of principles and conviction as well as held on to the socialist ideology.


Until his demise, Musa was the leader of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), a coalition of opposition parties. A true patriot, whose obsession was more about nation building and not just winning elections, the former Kaduna governor, at various times, joined other well-meaning Nigerians to resolve national crises irrespective of partisan, ethnic or ideological differences. He was among those, who opposed the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election on principle.


The poll was won by Chief MKO Abiola, a southerner, but Musa rose above ethnic cleavage to denounce the injustice done to Abiola. He was also in the trenches to protest and denounce the establishment over unpopular programmes and policies.


Musa was passionate about Nigerians liberating themselves from the grip of the ruling class and persistently warned of a social revolution because the masses are fed-up with the present negative state of the nation. In his last interview with New Telegraph, he said: “We are just deceiving ourselves; we’ve never had democracy. We have only had democratic aspiration, but we never had democracy.


Democracy means more than what we have today. Democracy means the supremacy of the will of the people as demonstrated in the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. “What we have in Nigeria today is balance of terror or what one will equally describe as bureaucratic anarchy, waiting for social anarchy to come about. Of course, a social revolution will happen because Nigerians are fed up with the present negative state of the nation and there will come a time, when the people will not take that anymore.” Ironically, Musa was a product of the establishment that he railed against.


He was a blue blooded aristocrat, having been born to the District Head of Kaya, a Village in Giwa Local Government Area in 1938. At birth, he had all the perks, privileges and affluence of the local bourgeoisie but he opted to be with the masses. By 1953, when he completed his secondary school education, he was among the first set of northern educated elites, with all the attendant privileges.


That year, he joined the Northern Civil Service as an Accounts Clerk. Thereafter, he was sent to England alongside others by the Northern Region government for further studies. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant and moved to the top echelon of the civil service.


He was at various times a lecturer at the Institute of Administration Zaria, the precursor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). He equally worked with the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria (BCNN) as Radio Nigeria Kaduna was then known as Company Secretary and Chief Accountant. In spite of the various positions he held in public service, Musa gained nothing in any material sense unlike his successors, who live in opulence. But he never showed sign of worry over this.


According to him, “When you are involved in politics of principles, things like this happen.” Specifically, a three bedroom bungalow, a monthly pension of N741,000, a 1,200 acre farm and a Mercedes Benz 1978 model car were his major assets. He drove himself without security details unlike his peers. Above all, nothing is named after him in Kaduna State that he once governed. Musa’s life of service explains why he was a model of character in leadership to many.


And as we join millions of Nigerians to bid a well-deserved farewell to the statesman, we align with wellmeaning citizens and groups, who have called for his immortalization. No doubt, Musa’s contribution to the growth of Nigeria’s democracy earns him a place in the country’s Hall of Fame, but the greatest honour he deserves is for present day leaders to emulate the ideals he lived for.




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