By Issa Aremu

The Late Alhaji Balarabe Musa

Condolence
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji ‘ un. (Verily, from Allah we came and to him we return!). Yours comradely just received this morning, Wednesday, November 11, 2020 the news of the death of Dr. Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, the first democratically elected Governor of Kaduna State. Kashim Balarabe Musa, the eldest son and political heir of the icon conveyed the sad news to me. May Allah grant the late progressive statesman eternal grace and mercy than he was generously blessed in his 82 years on earth!  May Allah comfort his comradely family!

Fond comradely memories
I have been privileged to engage with Alhaji Balarabe for over forty years as a student and trade union activist. He was also my political mentor as a budding progressive politician. Alhaji Balarabe in 2019 in Kaduna was the first to endorse my Labour Party (LP) candidature for Kwara State governorship, when he stated: “I endorse you 99%; but it would have been 100% if you are contesting under PRP platform!”

Legacy
I bear posthumous witness that Nigeria, Africa and the progressive world had lost an audacious, principled, selfless statesman. He commendably stood for good principles in governance. He never cheaply fell for corruption. On the contrary, he stood for all that was good, integrity and service to the downtrodden, the talakawa!

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His imprints as the first elected governor of Kaduna State are indelible.

Alhaji Balarabe Musa undoubtedly epitomises the best of values that you can get among the best of the past and contemporary African leaders; the crop of which include the late Aminu Kano, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Tuore.

First, together with his late counterpart, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi of Kano State, they declared May Day a public holiday in 1980 and implemented the first minimum wage during the Comrade Hassan Sunmonu’s leadership of NLC.

He embarked on an unprecedented aggressive industrialisation which made Kaduna State an investment destination. He also invested heavily in mass literacy that made Kaduna a centre of learning. He was labour friendly and great friend of my union – National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN). His house was ever wide open to all 24/7!

Sacrifices
Alhaji Balarabe’s “weakness” is too much of principles NOT political opportunism. He was a member of NEPU (PRP), and died a member, unlike present day butterfly politicians who wander from one party to the other in search of cheap power and unearned money.

As governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa was not allowed to form a cabinet by the NPN-dominated legislature because of his commitment to the progressive principles of his party, PRP. Eventually, he was impeached after 18 months into his tenure, precisely in June, 1981.

Balarabe’s leadership example during the Second Republic showed that the strength of a state is a function of the strength of the vision, character and integrity of the leader. PRP controlled only two states, namely Kaduna and Kano, but the two governors commendably set the pace in industrialisation, value addition, beneficiation and poverty alleviation such that the then federal government followed.

The struggle of Alhaji Balarabe and many of his compatriots, had been along the same line – how to build an inclusive and better Nigeria, Africa and an egalitarian world.

Alhaji Balarabe Musa undoubtedly epitomises the best of values that you can get among the best of the past and contemporary African leaders; the crop of which include the late Aminu Kano, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Tuore.

The struggle continues!
The death of Alhaji Balarabe took place against the backdrop of the clamour for restructuring and reform of the Nigerian federation. The life and times of Alhaji Balarabe shows that “the strength of leaders in a federation is as important as the constitutional structures”.

Balarabe’s leadership example during the Second Republic showed that the strength of a state is a function of the strength of the vision, character and integrity of the leader. PRP controlled only two states, namely Kaduna and Kano, but the two governors commendably set the pace in industrialisation, value addition, beneficiation and poverty alleviation such that the then federal government followed.

Structures undoubtedly are important – federal, state and local governments. But above all, the operators of the constitution are far more important. The missing links in Nigeria today are good operators and good leaders, like the late icon. Principled leaders might not be fashionable but without committed leaders, Africa suffers avoidable perceptual underdevelopment.

The best honour to the late statesman is for the ruling class to reinvent politics of principles to steer Nigeria from the path of impending barbarism to development and socialism.

Balarabe indeed lost an office in 1981 through ideologically-induced impeachment but he nonetheless still won the globally acknowledged integrity and worthy name for prosperity.

Adieu our Iconic Comrade!

Comrade Aremu mni, is Vice President IndustriALL Global Union and the immediate past General Secretary of National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria.

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