Ben Agande, Kaduna
Reveals how Gowon encouraged his father’s radicalism.
To many Nigerians, when you mention the name of Alhaji Balarabe Musa, what comes to mind is a principled man who stood his ground and lost the exalted seat of the governor of the old Kaduna state, which comprised the present Kaduna and Katsina states. But while many Nigerians are aware of his principles and Spartan nature even after leaving office, not much is known of his life as a father and his other extra curricular activities.
But when Vanguard tracked down the first son of Alhaji Balarabe Musa in Kaduna recently, he gave an insight into a Balarabe Musa that is not known to many Nigerians, especially those who have come to respect him as a principled man.
Balarabe Musa’s first son, Ibràhim Balarabe Musa, a retired permanent secretary with the Kaduna state government told vanguard in an interview in Kaduna that though Balarabe Musa is seen by many Nigerians as a hard, unbending man. To the children, he is the best dad that any child could dream to have.
He said that what many people did not know is that, Balarabe Musa’s brush with the authority did not start with the state House of Assembly that eventually led to his impeachment. The northern oligarchy did not like Balarabe Musa’s outspoken nature and radical bent.
He said: “He started with Defense Industry Corporation. I was in primary school. From there, he moved to Radio Television, Kaduna. By then, we had moved from Barnawa to Angwan Sarki. He was the Chief Accountant/Company Secretary. It was called the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria. He was the love of all the staff because he was in charge of their welfare, salaries and car loans.
“The Managing Director was Abba Kyari. Babagana Kingibe was a staff. There was a big conservative government in the north. It was a military government but it was very conservative. He used to oppose any policy by the government. He opposed many different policies. General Yakubu Gowon used to visit their radio station. Gowon was a liberal person. When some people wanted to take certain actions against Balarabe Musa because of his radicalism, Gowon insisted that they should leave him because we are northern Nigeria and we need people like that. He said they should not discourage vocal people like him”.
According to the younger Balarabe, the northern region was very gullible then and was not ready to accommodate radical people like his father.
“With that kind of mentality, the northern oligarchy did not like him. They wanted to reduce his power on the radio, so they asked him to be either the Chief Accountant or the Secretary. At that point, he dropped the job and left” he said.
Even though he threw the job of Chief Accountant /Company Secretary at the then Kaduna state government, the government came calling shortly after when they wanted to set up a cooperative bank that will provide loans to farmers. Balarabe Musa was again appointed the chief accountant and company secretary of the new bank.
“Shortly after, the military wanted to hand over to the civilian administration so he aligned himself with Aminu Kano. At that time, I was in the university. We had lecturers like Bala Usman, Patrick Wilmot, Ibrahim Tahir. The university was highly radical. I was also very radical because of the influence of these lecturers. Strangely, I did not know my father was in politics. By that time, school was very lively and you would not want to come back home during holidays.
“While I was doing my own unionism as the Secretary General of the SUG, my dad left the Bank work and joined the PRP. It was later that I knew he was contesting the Governorship election” he said.
But even the contest was not an easy one. Balarabe Musa, according to his son was not among those who were front runners. But the rivalry between the then Zaria and Katsina Emirates made the contest very stiff between the leading contenders. In order to bring about peace, the then leader of the Peoples Redemption Party, Aminu Kano decided that Balarabe Musa should be the consensus candidate.
“He did not even have the money to pay for the forms. It was one man, a car dealer Mallam Dabo Sambo that gave my dad money to pay deposit for the forms” he said.
Even with his limited financial capacity, Balarabe Musa went ahead to win the election, even though the rival party had majority in the state house of Assembly. It was not long before the disagreement between the executive and legislature came to the fore. He could not compromise on some of the things that the NPN led legislature wanted him to do.
“My dad is such a person who cannot do anything wrong deliberately. He is so cultured and mature and there is no form of untruth around him. Even if you are talking about his opponent and you lie, he will draw your attention to that lie.
“Let me give you an example that will shock you. Do you know the person that financed his impeachment? It was Chief M.K.O Abiola. Abiola was in NPN and he had so much stake in Kaduna when they needed money to finance the impeachment, they got the money from Abiola. He financed it” he revealed.
Despite this which should have made Balarabe Musa bear a grudge against chief Abiola, Balarabe Musa did not take that into consideration when MKO Abiola was unjustly denied victory during the 1993 presidential election.
“My father stood by him because he believed Abiola won that election. He was one of the members of NADECO. Once he believed in something, you cannot sway him. He knew that Abiola financed his impeachment but that did not stop him from supporting Abiola” he said.
Asked to describe his father in one sentence, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe Musa said “my father is the best father any child would want to have. His name has been an asset to me and not a liability” he said.