Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, Firebrand At 81

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Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa belongs to that rare breed of Nigerian politicians who have consistently served as a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration to the younger generation. A left-wing who thrust himself into national limelight when he was elected Governor of Kaduna State, in the short-lived Second Republic on the platform of the Alhaji Aminu Kano- led Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) also went down in the history books as the first Nigerian state governor ever to be impeached.

As a protégé of the iconoclastic Alhaji Aminu whose love for the Talakawas was legendary, it was not a surprise that he got into rough weather with Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s National Party of Nigeria (NPN)-controlled federal government that was far right of centre. Kaduna was and still is the political capital of the Northern establishment and it was not controlled then by the much fabled Kaduna mafia who dropped anchor in the NPN waters. To make matters worse, it was governed by a lover of the down-trodden. For the Northern politicians who controlled the federal government, the political capital was Kaduna and not Lagos. There were no pretensions about this and therefore, from the time he was sworn in on October 1, 1979, the plot to unseat him thickened. NPN challenged his election unsuccessfully. 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.

It was obvious from that point that his days in office were numbered and he was eventually impeached on June 23 1981. That unfortunate move that was manipulated by the NPN was decidedly wrong as it introduced the kind of instability in the system that eventually derailed that democratic experiment. At a point, the military did not hide their feelings that the politicians had not learnt their lessons. For a man who was not in politics for the spoils of office, his removal was not perceptibly a personal loss. He saw it as another failed attempt to lift the common man from the morass of poverty and want. But it did not stop him from making himself relevant in national discourse.

His party made another fatal error from the point of view of the conservative political class when it went into an alliance with other parties that produced the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) that was opposed to the ruling NPN. That the party later withdrew from the alliance was seen as an after-thought.  During the Nigerian Fourth Republic, he was the leader of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), a coalition of opposition parties.

Alhaji Musa was a rabid critic of the leadership style of then President Olusegun Obasanjo whose policies he described as phantom and mirage, doing nothing for the people and serving only to enrich politicians and government officials. He continued to be active in politics and was the PRP candidate for the presidency in the April 2003 elections, selected in February 2003. However, without even enough money to buy posters, he was not successful. In the 2007 elections, the CNPP of which he was a prominent member backed Muhammadu Buhari as a credible alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua.

The elder statesman tried to use politics to effect an ideological shift so as to bring about a change in the nation’s economic system which he claimed was based on narrow self-interest, with a disabling level of corruption, theft and waste of public resources. His political friends and even his foes see him as a man of unassailable integrity and untainted record of public service. President Buhari on his 81st birthday has this to say of the Marxist-oriented statesman, “even Musa’s worst enemies and critics cannot dispute his remarkable reputation for integrity and selfless service to the people.”

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. At age 81, Musa is not paying attention to the views of the late Chief Simeon Adebo who, in his lifetime said, at 80, one should be saying goodbye to ones friends. He is more interested in listening to the late sage, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who said that the planet earth is the one he knows and is not in a hurry to leave. Happy birthday, champion of the powerless.