For Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa who died Wednesday morning in Kaduna, there were no blurry lines. In politics and in his many social commentaries, he took clear and firm positions.
Unlike many social critics, who are known to criticise with words with no actions, Balarabe Musa was squarely at home with both. It is only expected that he was a controversial statesman and had only a few, if any, friends in the political and power circles.
In the four decades that the accountant shot to the limelight, Mr Musa exemplified a life of matching words with actions. He made sure, either as a governor or party leader, that he lived well above board.
He cleared his rostrum clean and from it, he spent the best part of the last 30 years shooting salvos at Nigerian government officials in his advocacy for democratic and egalitarian nation.
He lived a simple life, riding his old Peugeot car on the streets of Kaduna, with no security escort. His 3-bedroom house located at 25 Aliyu Turaki Road in Kaduna metropolis, acquired in 1970, was always open for all manner of visitors.
He became the Kaduna State governor from there and went back there, after serving as governor of what is today’s Kaduna and Katsina states.
As the first civilian governor of the old Kaduna State (1979 – 1981), Mr Musa had a tumultuous tenure, ending in a premature end to his term in office. He was impeached in June 1981 by the state’s House of Assembly dominated by members of the opposition National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which was the ruling party at the centre. This conferred on him the infamy of being the first impeached governor in Nigerian history.
As governor he set the tone for the development of the modern state of Kaduna through massive infrastructural and other development footprints. He synced the populist ideals of his party, the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) with a development blueprint influenced by Marxist economics.
He, like his fellow PRP governor, Abubakar Rimi, in Kano State, attracted many academics and other well educated persons into government, an action that helped government agenda but damaged the political standing of the major actors.
The Secretary to the State Government then was the radical ABU Zaria academic, Yusufu Bala Usman.
Faced by internal revolt by dejected politicians and the hostility of the opposition-controlled state assembly, the crash of Mr Musa’s administration was only predictable.
Politics of ‘Talakawa’
Mr Musa was an old protégé of Aminu Kano, having joined Mr Kano’s Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU) in 1953.The young politician imbibed NEPU’s socialist leanings. This was to manifest fully with the formation of the PRP where Mr Musa attained the position of a governor. Through his leadership and other PRP leaders, the party implemented many pro-poor policies.
With the eclipse of the Second Republic, Mr Musa maintained his left-leaning politics by being a major critic of successive Nigerian governments and friend of major pro-democracy movements.
He was among notable northerners who supported the June 12 movement and among those who opposed dictator, Sani Abacha’s regime and its self-succession plan.
With the return to democracy in 1999, Mr Musa revived PRP and become its chairman and national leader. He galvanised other opposition parties to establish the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) which was critical of the ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime.
In 2003 he contested for the presidency under the PRP and in what was more of a political statement then a contest, Mr Musa said he had no money to even print posters.
In 2007, he declared the support of his party and that of CNPP for the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, against the candidate of the ruling PDP, Umaru Yar’Adua. He described Mr Buhari then as the more suitable for the country.
Mr Musa had been critical of the Buhari administration but, in a despondent mien, said there was no one better than Mr Buhari to govern the nation in spite of the president’s many failings.
On 31 August 2018, Mr Musa quit active politics due to health issues and announced his immediate resignation as the chairman of the PRP. He announced a former banker, Falalu Bello, as his replacement.
The ex-governor was born on August 21, 1936. He attended Zaria Middle School from 1947 to 1952 and trained as an accountant at the Institute of Administration, in Zaria.
Mr Musa worked as a clerk, school teacher and accountant until his retirement in 1975.