By Comrade Issa Aremu
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, the news of the death of Dr. Alh. Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, the first democratically elected Governor of Kaduna State. Kashim Balarabe Musa, the eldest son and political heir of the iconic conveyed the inevitable news to me. May Allah grant the late progressive statesman eternal grace and mercy than he was generously blessed in his 84 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 (in his words “99%, but would have been 100 % if you are contesting under PRP platform”!).
I bear posthumous witness that Nigeria, Africa and 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!
His imprints as the first elected governor of Kaduna state are indelible; first together with his late counterpart, late Abubakar Rimi of Kano state, to declare May Day a public holiday in 1980 and implement the first minimum wage Hassan Sunmonu NLC leadership, unprecedented aggressive Industrialization which made Kaduna state an investment destination and investment in mass literacy that made Kaduna a center 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 is ever wide open to all 24/7!
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 butter fly politicians who moved from one party to the other in search of cheap power and unearned money. Alhaji Balarabe Musa, was not allowed to form a cabinet by NPN dominated legislature because of his commitment to party principles. Eventually he got impeached, after 18 months into his tenure, precisely in June, 1981.
The struggle of Alhaji Balarabe and many of his compatriots, has been along the same line; How to build an inclusive better Nigeria, Africa and progressive world. Alh. Balarabe Musa undoubtedly epitomizes the best of values that you can get among the best of the past and contemporary African leaders, that include late Late Aminu Kano, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Tuore.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
The death of Alhaji Balarabe takes place against the backdrop of the clamor for restructuring and reform of 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 was a function of the strength of the vision, character and integrity of the governor. PRP controlled only two states, namely Kaduna and Kano, but the two governors commendably set the pace in Industrialization, value addition, beneficiation and poverty alleviation such that the then Federal government followed.
Structures undoubtedly are important — Federal, State & Local Governments. But above all, the operators of the constitution are far more important. What is missing in Nigeria today is also good operators, 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 nonetheless still won the globally acknowledged integrity and worthy name for prosperity.
Issa Aremu, Member, National Institute,
Vice President Industrial global union.