By Femi Falana
The death of Comrade Balarabe Musa represents a momentous exit of a genuine progressive and a tireless fighter for the interests of the poor.
Comrade Balarabe Musa was a revolutionary politician who consistently allied with the masses of our people. Unlike majority of Nigerian politicians Balarabe never hesitated to pitch his tent with patriotic forces in the struggle for the transformation of the society.
Balarabe would be remembered in Nigeria’s political history as consistent practitioners of ideological politics. Till his death, the essence of politics to him was to transform the condition of the poor masses, the talakawas, on the basis of justice and equity.
Balarabe and his fellow party man, the late Abubakar Rimi in Kano State, were the ideological northern stars of the politics of the Second Republic. They came into politics under the leadership of the revered Mallam Aminu Kano not with bags of money, but full of packs of progressive ideas.
When given the opportunity as the Kaduna state governor elected on the platform of the radical People’s Redemption Party (PRP) he proved his mettle in implementing policies that benefitted the peasants, workers and the others in the lower classes. He and Rimi were the first to declare May Day as a public holiday to honour workers. Balarabe abolished jangali and other anti -people’s taxes.
Almost 40 years ago, he refused to compromise on principle with the reactionary elements in the Kaduna State legislature dominated by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He became the first governor to be impeached. He maintained this principle in his political life till the end.
When his political party, the People’s Revolutionary Party was fictionalized Balarabe and other comrades defended the progressive programmes of the party.
Upon his removal as Governor of Kaduna State he was thoroughly investigated for corrupt practices by the security agencies. As the allegation of corruption could not be substantiated by his political traducers Balarabe was given a clean bill of health. When the civilian regime was sacked by the military wing of the ruling class in December 1983 the Buhari junta arrested and detained Balarabe for several months for having the temerity to challenge the status quo.
But Balarabe was never charged before any of the special military tribunals instituted to try corrupt politicians.
For criticising the dubious political transition programme midwifed by the Ibrahim Babangida junta Balarabe was charged and tried before a special military tribunal. He was however discharged and acquitted by the tribunal following the sudden withdrawal of the part heard case by the prosecutors.
Notwithstanding his ideological disagreements with the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the comrade was in the forefront of the struggle against the annulment of the result of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Under the current political dispensation the democratic space in Nigeria was expanded by the Comrade via the case of Balarabe Musa v Independent National Electoral Commission (2003) 10 WRN 1 which was handled by the Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN.
I paid Comrade Balarabe a visit in Kaduna on July 21, 2019. We reviewed the perilous state of the nation and decided to issue a joint statement signed by both of us.
In the statement we noted: “In practical terms, no part of Nigeria is immune to violent crimes, although the incidence might be relatively higher in one part than the other at this time. Tragic news of lives wasted issues from the north and south, east and west.” We added that “amid the cacophony of ethnic and regional voices, it is imperative that pan – Nigerian voices be heard louder than ever before to save Nigeria from disintegration”. We therefore called on the Buhari administration to adopt radical measures in addressing the challenge of physical and social security.
In Balarabe Musa’s transition to eternity Nigeria has lost a credible voice at a time that the masses are being divided along sectional divides by reactionary politicians in the country. Comrade Balarabe’s death is a wake- up call on all patriots to intensify the struggle for the emancipation of our people from internal and external colonialism.
It’s hoped that members of the present and future generations, who are interested in pro-people politics, would learn great lessons from his exemplary political career of patriotism and unwavering commitment to the cause of the people.
Our condolences to members of his biological and political families.
May Balarabe life inspire a greater commitment to the struggle for a just and humane social order in Nigeria.
Adieu, Great Comrade!
Falana is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and rights activist