The death Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 of Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa did not come as a shock to anybody. At 84 and in a classical ‘Third World’ country as Nigeria, that age is advanced. But saying so does not mean his absence will not be felt. In fact, his death would be felt most in terms of the moral, ideological and agency authority or the conviction and clarity that were unique to him.
He evolved into the informal position of the leader of what has become known as the tradition in Northern Nigeria, signified by the Northern Elements Progressive Union, (NEPU) in the anti-colonial politics before its renaming as the People’s Redemption Party, (PRP) in the Second Republic. As is typical of populist politics, the question of who takes over in his absence does not seem to have been contemplated and resolved. If it has been contemplated and resolved, then that would be so good. If it has not, which is likely to be the case, then that could become another dimension of the problems of fleshing out a political party that answers its father’s name in Nigerian politics.
The balance of forces today would not rule out thinking about whether his death could have created the room for the emergence of a Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as successor. It cannot be said this is a remote possibility if Kwankwaso has not too long ago opened a radio station in Kano by name Nasara and for which the Key – PRP’s historical logo – is also its logo. In any case, Kano is the intellectual, cultural, ideological and political epicenter of the NEPU-PRP phenomenon in Nigeria. Is Kwankwaso radical enough to succeed and sustain the legacy? Not if radicalism is what one makes of it! There can be no underestimating a two-time governor of Kano State with ample resources and a social base in Kano metropolis.
Or, is it going to be Richard Umaru? Here, clarity would not be a problem and neither would closeness to the dead leader be. Umaru has remained with Balarabe Musa over the years since his impeachment by the opposition party in the state in 1981. Except if he is quite advanced in age for the challenges of the ‘office’, it would be difficult to pinpoint any dark points against him as a successor. Of course, this is a distant reading of the party on this and insiders might have their own narrative.
Could it be Maitamaki Tom Maiyashi who was Alhaji Balarabe Musa’s Commissioner for Information when he was governor? Very young at the time, Maiyashi would not have problem of being too advanced in age relative to the task at hand? Absolutely a progressive but is he a Marxist? But is textbook Marxism an issue in the circumstance? Depending on who is talking, these are the sort of questions that might crop up. Tenacity and consistency with Mallam may speak for him in the undeclared contest.
When Intervention asked if Lawal Batagarawa may not be a factor, the response was muted. But Batagarawa was one of the actors in the drama of Balarabe Musa’s tenure. He was one of the Permanent Secretaries who held the forte because the opposition party which controlled the House of Assembly would not approve commissioners for the governor. Batagarawa was a victim of the excesses of the National Party of Nigeria, (NPN)’s violence in the state which flooded his home. The only point is whether he is still active and remains in the fold. He has not spoken for a long time after his rather untidy departure from the Obasanjo cabinet in the Second term.
Someone has mentioned Sule Mohammed who is said to have been in the research department of the Balarabe government in the eighties. He is said not to be the talking types but holds a position like the Director of Organisation of the party.
What about Prof Attahiru Jega? National name would favour him as much as the intellectual clout. With a PhD thesis in agrarian political economy, it could be argued he anticipated the challenge. But, is he keen? Is that what might be on his mind? Will he roll up the sleeves if the position has to be slugged out?
A legal practitioner from Lagos has been mentioned repeatedly but not much detail of background and links with the PRP were available at press time. This would, therefore, still have to be pursued.
The death of Alhaji Balarabe Musa certainly marks the end of an era. Himself and the equally late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi gave the Second Republic content in democratic governance. In many ways, they took democracy beyond the procedural. There has been nothing like theirs ever since. It will continue to be a debate if Balarabe Musa did everything that was required to abort his impeachment. Could that team have been more tactical? In many of the publications from the Kaduna State Ministry for Information and Home Affairs, the answer would be no, nothing else the government could have done because the opposition was determined to maximize its control of the legislature.
That is a plausible argument. Listeners of Radio Nigeria, Kaduna’s Democracy in Action in those days will not forget how desperate and determined the opposition was. There was Alhaji Dahiru Maigana, for instance, who was used to saying on the radio programme that Balarabe Musa was about Socialism in the state. For him, that was what the industrialisation programme of the regime was up to. Industrialisation, he would say then, meant creating a working class and that creating a working class meant creating conditions for Socialism. He was revealing the unspoken or ideological reason for the hostility of the legislature to the governor.
All of that is now history. The question now is what happens to the PRP with the demise of the former governor? There have been some recent efforts at repositioning the party when some notables in that axis of politics were brought in for a revival paradigm. That seems to remain a work-in-progress. Can Balarabe Musa’s death provide the moment for facing up the roadblocks into a game-changing re-engineering of the party into what Lenin would call an Archimedean lever of power?