From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Dr Ibrahim Balarabe, the eldest son of late former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, says that he and his siblings are ‘ready to wear [the] political shoes’ of their father.

Fielding questions from reporters shortly after the 40th-day prayers for the repose of the founder of People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Dr Balarabe suggested the family will modernise the politics of the late statesman.

He vowed to avoid money and ethnoreligious politics as their father did.

The former governor died on November 11 at his Kaduna residence after a protracted illness and was buried on the same day in accordance with Islamic rites.

Asked if any of his late father’s offsprings will wear his political shoes, Ibrahim, Musa’s eldest son, stated:

‘Well, political shoes is definitive, it could be anything. But the problem with Nigeria is that the followers do not go with the person that can save them. Nigerians are in serious error of selecting good leaders because of money politics. There are ethnic and religious politics and other intricacies that make politics difficult for those without money bags. It is these intricacies that scare people from politics. But in terms of political capacity for the masses, each of his children can do it because he was very close to us. We are very ready to wear his political shoes, but we will not come to shout on top of our voices like others are doing. We don’t even have money to share. You can even see the house we inherited (pointing at his father’s house). So if it is money politics, count us out. We cannot save you.

‘But when it comes to political ideology, we are equal to the task as he used to do. We are six male children. I’m the eldest. We need the people’s support so that one or two of us can do more than he did. We are both conservative and modern, he might have adopted a straightjacket way of presenting himself, but we are a bit modern. Giving the present situation, we may surpass him. But not in the form of acquiring wealth and earthly things or to cause suffering to the people. The people are free to come closer us because Balarabe Musa is still alive.

‘Today (Monday) happens to be the 40th-day prayers for the repose of his soul. It was like he died today, we have been in a very sad situation since the day he died. But there is nothing we can do since God has taken him away.

‘Since that day until today, we have been having sleepless nights. And, of course, we do pray to God to forgive him his shortcomings, and we do pray to God to guide us so that we can be like him. We thank all the people who came to sympathise with us. This is the day he died 40 days ago and we continue to receive sympathisers almost on a daily basis. The people that came are from every stratum of life; the rich, the poor because he was a man of the people. We don’t know when this grief will finish. We pray to God to help us overcome this, particularly myself, am so grieved over his death. I don’t think I have slept for a complete three hours since the day he died.

‘There are so many things I’m missing him for; I miss him as a father, I miss him as a man of the people, I miss him as a man who never discriminated. He promised to fight for the masses until he died, and he did exactly that. In my last discussion with him before his death, he expressed worry over hardship and suffering in the country in view of the plight of the common man. He was more worried about the plight of the masses than even us his children. Nigeria as a country will miss him in many ways.’

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Also addressing reporters after the prayers, the PRP Interim National Chairman, Prof Sule Bello, said Balarabe Musa did not die in vain as the party he had nurtured and left behind is poised to continue with the good legacies.

‘The concerns expressed by many confirm that his loss is not only to his immediate family and the People’s Redemption Party, which he tended and nurtured up to his dying hours. His labours towards nurturing  as well as protecting the authenticity of the party makes PRP stand out as the oldest existing nationalist political party in Nigeria – dedicated to nation-building and the well-being of the poor, due to his resilience and commitment as well as respect for the kind of principles necessary for the development of the party and Nigeria as a whole.

‘We have lost a national hero: a bridge-builder, a radical reformer, a progressive politician, a dogged fighter for social justice, a nation-builder and a friend of the Talakawas whose doors always remained open to the downtrodden, while his home became a sanctuary for those trampled by the stampeding cavalry of oppression, and exploitation, on the rampage in the country.

‘No words would fully describe the character that constituted the personality of the late Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa. He was brilliant, brave, audacious, principled, courageous, compassionate, sagacious, honest, kind and generous, almost to a fault. A perfect gentleman, Balarabe Musa was the hope of the oppressed and a scourge to the oppressors.

‘The loss of this national icon has created a vacuum which will be very difficult to fill. He did not, however, die in vain as the party he had nurtured and left behind, the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), is poised to continue with the good legacies. This is not the only justification for mourning his death; it is indeed also the reason for celebrating his life and memory. He spent the greater part of his life in nurturing the party to its present state. Having been elected as governor of old Kaduna State under the party’s flag, he had since then kept the PRP flag flying to the present day. He remained resolutely committed to the ideals, and programmes, upon which the party stands and which clearly distinguishes it from the rest.

‘The PRP has been a progressive political platform for patriots, right from its birth to the present, as clearly indicated in its visions, constitution, programmes and related commitments.

‘The PRP will continue on this path. We are presently continuing with preparations to realign and reposition the party, from the wards to the national levels, for the greater tasks ahead. With the changes that affected the national leadership of the party, under the leadership of Late Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, which brought the present interim national leadership which I am privileged to lead, into being, he remained and continued to serve as the Chairman of our BOT until his demise.

‘We similarly raise our voice against the destructive as well as rising levels of corruption in the country. The so-called fight against corruption must not only be led by example it must also be seen to bite rather than merely, and infrequently, bark.

‘Similarly, the PRP draws the attention of government at all levels to the basic fact that the only effective way to reduce poverty and expand employment opportunities in Nigeria is through the diversification and industrialisation of the national economy in order to promote productivity in all sectors. Mere allocation of so-called “palliatives” donated by or barrowed from other countries cannot be the solution to the problems of independent wealth creation, for the benefit of the country and its teeming population.

‘While we pray for the peaceful repose of the soul of the late PRP National Leader and the Chairman of its Board of Trustees, we have also resolved to name the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja in his name as a mark of respect for the manner in which he squeezed enough from his meagre resources in order to ensure that the party has a permanent secretariat at the nation’s capital.

‘We pray that God helps us to overcome the travails of terrorism, failed governments, widespread poverty, disunity and weak national resolve that presently assail us and make our conditions both desperate and precarious,’ Bello stated.