Tribute: Balarabe Musa and Political Ideology

Ogunsakin Mustapha
14 Min Read

By Olugbenga Faseluka

The life and times of Alhaj Balarabe Abdukadir Musa (October 26 1936-November 11 2020) calls to mind the issue of political ideology and government in Nigeria.

Balarabe Musa was a Leftist of the socialist persuasion who cut his political teeth in the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) of the First Republic ((1959-1966) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) of the Second Republic (1979-1983). Both NEPU and PRP were pro poor parties (Socialist/leftist) led by Mallam Aminu Kano.

He led the PRP after the death of Mallam Aminu Kano. Balarabe Musa came into national prominence when he became the first elected Governor of Kaduna State, the political headquarters of the Northern region, on October 2, 1979. He was the National Chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, (CNPP).

POLITICAL IDEOLOGY is a belief system which permeates the worldview of a people and forms the basis of their action in a particular geographical milieu. It is a manner or content of thinking characteristic of an individual or group implying the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitutes a sociological programme.

C. Wright Mills argued that ideology is a body of attitude and ideas that incite people to action. Types of Ideology include the ones that seek to maintain the status quo, reformist and the revolutionary while its functions are: legitimisation, solidarity, leadership, communication, expression, political action, and criticism. Variants of ideology are capitalism, communism, socialism, Arabism, Marxism, Ujamaa etc.

The Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) was the dominant political party in the North, pre-independence and during the first republic. NEPU formed on August 8, 1950 led by Abba Maikwaro and later challenged the political hegemony of the Northern feudals and aristocrats. NEPU was pro-poor- The TALAKAWAS.

Balarabe Musa met with and subscribed to the NEPU and its leadership on the Talakawa principles and love for Mallam Aminu Kano. Both of them had deep shared views on the emancipation of the ordinary man from misery and squalor.
Both men were versed in Arabic and Western education. Mallam hailed from Kano while Balarabe hailed from Zaria.

NEPU like other parties of the 1st Republic was banned by the military. The ban on partisan politics was lifted in 1978. Mallam Aminu Kano first pitched his tent with the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) but had to return to his NEPU base shortly thereafter to form the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), practically on ideological grounds. It was Balarabe Musa and Lawal Danbazau who prepared and took the document on the formation of the PRP to Mallam Aminu Kano for signature.
PRP was launched in Kaduna on October 21, 1978. Mallam Aminu Kano became the National Chairman of the PRP while Balarabe Musa was Treasurer and leader in Kaduna State.

Balarabe Musa was nominated as the governorship candidate for Kaduna State by Mallam Aminu Kano. The nomination was done after other aspirants including Bashir Ikara, Ibrahim Barau, Junaidu Yaya, Abdu Yaro and some others have shown interest in the position.

Balarabe Musa was unanimously elected as candidate at the Party’s Convention in Katsina in 1978. The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won 68 out of the 99 seats in the Kaduna State House of Assembly in June 1979. The PRP won 12, GNPP 10, NPP 6, and UPN 3. The NPN also won 3 out of the 5 senatorial seats and 21 out of the 33 seats in the House of Representatives, The majority win of the NPN was overwhelming.

However, the result of the Governorship election did not go that way. Team work by the other 4 parties, ideological bent of PRP, and the personality of Balarabe Musa swayed the election in favour of PRP. Balarabe Musa defeated the NPN candidate Lawal Kaita, albeit marginally.

The PRP was reputed as a leftist pro poor party- the Talakawa party. A socialist party which regards the interest of the ordinary man as paramount. Leftist scholars including Dr. Bala Usman, Dr. Chinua Achebe, and other socialist elements including Micheal Imoudu, Sam Ikoku etc were in PRP.

PRP intra party crisis split it into two. Mallam Aminu Kano, the national president and Sam Ikoku, national secretary were on one side while Chief Micheal Imoudu the deputy national president and Abubakar Rimi, the deputy national Secretary and Governor of Kano State were on the other side.

Balarabe Musa as Governor of Kaduna State and his Deputy Abba Rimi were in the Imoudu faction. Bibi Farouk, Deputy Governor of Kano State was in Mallam Aminu Kano’s faction. Of the party’s 47 members in the House of Representatives, 38 belonged to the Imoudu faction. All the 7 members in the senate supported Aminu Kano. The PRP crisis was ideological. It was traced to the issue of an attempted accord with the NPN in November 1979. The basic difference or dissent was in the degree of commitment to the PRP pro poor ideology between the old left (Aminu Kano/ Sam Ikoku) and the new left (Balarabe Musa/ Micheal Imoudu/ Abubakar Rimi).

The new left and other radical elements within PRP contended that collaboration with the NPN-led federal Government was tantamount to compromising the party’s ideology and programme for the creation of a new social order.

Balarabe Musa Stated: “The crisis is over whether we should go on implementing the programme around which we formed the PRP and for which we were elected or we should drop that programme and become an appendage of another political party.
Our party, the PRP and that other Party are diametrically opposed. We represent the forces of change and justice, they represent that reactionary forces against change and against progress and justice. If we become linked with that party, we shall have no reason for existing”.(Nwabueze B.O 1985 Nigeria’s Presidential Constitution, p.14).

On its part, the Aminu Kano faction took exemption to the romance of the PRP Governors of Kano and Kaduna States with the meeting of the ‘’seven progressive Governors’’ claiming that it was a gang-up that was contrary to the Party’s Policy on compromise of its individual identity.

On 18th May 1980, the party adopted a resolution banning Governors Balarabe Musa and Abubakar Rimi from further attendance of the meetings of the progressives Governors. Both of them defied the order and were consequently expelled by the Aminu Kano faction.

Balarabe Musa’s unwavering commitment to the ideology of the PRP, the Political matrix of Kaduna State, PRP intra party crisis and the PRP versus NPN inter party imbroglio came together to produce the outcome that exited him from the Government House less than half of the time into his tenure.

Governor Balarabe Musa’s Administration in Kaduna State (October 2 1979-June 21, 1981) had two basic ideological underpins. According to him: ‘’The cardinal principles underlying our actions are two. The first principle is that of the fundamental value and importance of human person. We regard the human person as the most precious thing in the world, above all wealth and material objects. All actions should be measured by the extent to which they enhance human livelihood, human dignity, human progress, and human happiness;

The second principle is that we believe that only on the basis of the power of a conscious, organized, and vigilant people can any form of social, economic, political and cultural development be achieved and sustained’’

It is against the background of these basic orientations of the government that the following specific programmes were enunciated:
(i) The abolition of the payment of poll-tax and cattle-tax
(ii) The defence of the human rights of the citizens;
(iii) The stoppage and correction of oppressive land transactions;
(iv) The breaking up of trading monopolies;
(v) The establishment of a genuinely democratic local government system;
(vi) The attainment of 80% adult literacy within four years;
(vii) The enhancement of the dignity of women;
(viii) The establishment of a responsive and accountable public service;
(ix) The review and simplification of criminal and civil law and widespread public education on them;
(x) The rationalization of the number, structure and operations of parastatals’;
(xi) The creation of rational and efficient system for serving agricultural production and animal husbandry;
(xii) The implementation of a balanced industrialisation programme;
(xiii) The building of modern markets and the creation of just and progressive systems of market administration. (kelvin C: Balarabe Musa, The Authorised Biography, 2013 Butterfly Publishing Company PP 268-269)

The NPN dominated House of Assembly went for the broke. Policy and administrative moves of Governor Balarabe Musa, well captured in his inaugural address such as the personal tax (Amendment) Law etc, were thwarted by the House. The Kaduna State House of Assembly rejected four successive lists of persons nominated as State Commissioners by the Governor. He was thus compelled to run the affairs of the state without Commissioners contrary to the provisions of the 1979 Constitution.

On May 7 1981, ten different acts of misconduct were contained in a notice of impeachment served on the Governor. The NPN numerical strength in the House However fell short of the required 2/3 of all members of the House (in the words of the Constitution) by three members.

The intra PRP crisis came to the rescue. The three members were secured from the PRP with the tacit support of Mallam Aminu Kano while additional two members were sourced from the GNPP.(Faseluka O.P: intra and Inter Party Crisis in Nigeria during the Second Republic, Unpublished)

On May 21, 1981 the Kaduna State House of Assembly by 68 votes of its members resolved that the allegations against the Governor be investigated. A committee of 7 was appointed and sworn-in on June 3 1981.

On June 21 1981, the Committee’s report finding the Governor guilty of the eight count charges levelled against him was adopted by 68 votes to nil. Minority members from the four other parties save those already conscripted into the plot abstained.
The speaker consequently announced the impeachment of Balarabe Musa as Governor of Kaduna State.

Balarabe Musa was a democrat, a committed party man, an ideologist, a pan- Nigerian, a true friend of the masses. Whence cometh another.

This writer leaves to the imagination of readers what the present crop of political adventurers would have done, if they found themselves in the shoes of Balarabe Musa. Clearly the absence of ideological base in the current political dispensation is the bane of the Fourth Republic.

There may be no respite until these caricatures are jettisoned for ideological based political parties. This is the message of the Life and time of Balarabe Musa.

Olugbenga P. Faseluka, Ph.D, BL, FCarb, a Constitutional Lawyer is based in Abuja

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