Sir: The Balarabe Musa model of politics is worth examining in defining the essence of politics and leadership within the Nigerian context. The elder statesman was indeed a great man of honour who consistently championed the cause of the masses and stood firm on the side of equity, fairness, and justice. Balarabe Musa’s left-leaning political ideology started out with the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), founded by Mallam Aminu Kano. He was also of the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) on whose platform he was elected governor of Kaduna State in 1979.
Musa was not only passionate but outspoken when it had to do with issues affecting the Talakawas (common people) in the North. He stood against any form of injustice, corruption, and oppression. This he projected through a revolutionary orientation that focused on the liberation of the poor and the redemption of the Talakawas, a class that has today constituted social and security menace in the North. Unlike what we have now where politicians mount security barricades and throw money around, Musa lived a frugal life. He rejected the paraphernalia of the office of the governor and rather chose to live in a private three-bedroom apartment without the typical hordes of security details, as people freely interacted with him without any restrictions.
Albeit, when he attempted to run for president in 2003 under the PRP, he was said to have confessed to not having money to print his campaign posters!
Despite the short period spent in the office, Musa was impactful; and unlike many self-seeking politicians, his administration recorded tremendous achievements in areas of massive educational reforms. He established 100 schools within one year in office while teachers’ salaries and allowances were paid regularly.
Musa never failed to speak truth to authority. The late elder statesman not only condemned corruption, waste of public resources, he fought the Ibrahim Babangida regime’s electoral shenanigans that culminated in the annulment of the 1993 presidential election. He was a leading antagonist of the dictatorial rule of Sani Abacha and his planned self-succession efforts. The fearless Musa, while speaking on the 60th independence anniversary of the nation, said: ”We need a revolution in Nigeria to have a positive change in the political system … The economic and political models we are currently operating only empower a few … Governments must be structured to impact positively on the masses”.
He never relented in his dreams of bequeathing a better country by leading the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), as a formidable coalition of opposition parties.
The Balarabe Musa legacy will thrive when there are free, fair, and credible elections; when politicians are ready to render selfless service and speak to power; when political office-seekers do not need to become rich before being elected; when politicians become conscious that they do not need to spend several years in office before making an impact; when there are mutual respect and independence among the various tiers/arms of government; when leaders pursue people-oriented programmes; when politicians begin to live a simple life and interface/mingle freely with their people; when our weak democratic institutions become strong; when there is virile opposition; and more importantly, when politics is played with purpose, dignity, principle and strong ideology.
- Adewale Kupoluyi, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.