OPINION: The footprints of AbdulRazaq family in Ilorin Emirate. By Abubakar Imam

Date: 2022-03-17

A family,whether nuclear or extended, consists of individuals,male and female,young and old members who are always bonded by blood or filial relationship. The family is the basic and foundation social unit, which determines the superstructures or the eventual quality of a society. A community is a greater and much bigger social unit. It is an amalgamation of families that might or not be bonded by blood but are united by common history, geography and other social interests.The greatness of a community is,more often than not, measured by the aggregate of the quality of the individuals and families who constitute it.

Ilorin Emirate is not an exception to the above-mentioned descriptions. The Emirate has been, from inception, blessed with several families whose ancestral residences are located across its length and breadth. Many of these families have produced outstanding members whose individual and collective contributions eventuated in the greatness of the nation's most unique traditional State.

One incontestable fact is that the AbdulRazaq family of Yerinsa Compound, Idigba Quarters, Pakata Area of the ancient city of Ilorin,is one of those families whose impacts have accounted for the greatness of Ilorin. The family has been an haven of major and celebrated participants in the march to the greatness of Ilorin for more than a century through many of its members and movements effected within and outside the Emirate.

The greatness of the family started with the paternal great grand mother of the first Mutawali of Ilorin,Madam Aishatu, who established a reputation as an outstanding business tycoon that plied the Ilorin-Abeokuta route for many eventful decades. She was a wealthy trader who bequeathed worthy legacies of hard work,humility, entrepreneurship and piety to her descendants. Aishatu’s son,Alfa Usman AbdulRazaq, was an outstanding scholar of Islam who was reputed for propagating the messages of Allah and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad in a dispassionate manner. It was the vocation that gave the compound he later established its name: Yerinsa (stop avoiding me because of the quality of my exultations) as its name. Alfa Usman was the Ajanasi Agba of Idigba Quarters more than a century ago.

Alfa Usman had two sons namely Alfa Salaudeen and Mallam AbdulRazaq. While Alfa Salaudeen became a great Quranic teacher who left imperishable footprints in the sand of time imparting Arabic and Islamic sciences ,his brother,Mallam AbdulRazaq took to entrepreneurship and was quite successful as well. The latter was the grand father of the new Mutawali of Ilorin.

Mallam AbdulRazaq Usman Yerinsa was one of those young entrepreneurs of Ilorin Emirate origin who left Ilorin for other places in search of greener pastures. He was among those who traveled far and wide in the pursuit of expansion of means of livelihood and greatness. The migration of Mallam AbdulRazaq to the commercial city of Onitsha in the heart of Igboland and miles away from home was one of the darest steps anyone could have taken as at the time he did. He was a Kolanut trader who made a lot of fortunes in the course of his business across Nigeria,especially between the western and eastern parts of Nigeria.

His settlement in Onitsha, where he practised as a businessman and Islamic scholar, turned him into a cultural ambassador of Ilorin Emirate. His efforts and those of other few Ilorin people,who resided in the commercial city over a hundred years ago, not only exposed his progenies to sound western education, enviable multiculturalism and wider global perspectives but also gave Ilorin a very good image among the Igbos and the peoples of other ethnic origin residing in the city of Onitsha,which is now in the present-day Anambra State.

The family did not stop at the exploits of its founding fathers. The great family gave the community its first university graduate and lawyer through Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, SAN,OFR(1927-2020). Alhaji AbdulRazaq was also the first diplomatic Ambassador produced by Ilorin Emirate. He was also the first modern professional granted an honorary traditional title in Ilorin and the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate conferred with similar title outside his ancestral community. He was turbaned Mutawali of Ilorin and Tafida of Zaria. He remains the youngest to be so honoured and the longest serving traditional title holder in Ilorin. The two royal honours were bestowed on him in 1962.He was 35 years old then and held the two for unprecedented 58 years. He was the Nigerian Ambassador to Ivory Coast between 1962 and 1964.He was also the first federal Minister from Ilorin Emirate. He was a Minister of State for Transport(Railways) from 1964 to 1966.He was also the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate to serve as an Honourable Commissioner in Kwara State. He was the Commissioner of Finance on the creation of the State in 1967.He was equally the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State to be elevated to the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was so elevated in 1985.One very prominent role played by this illustrious son of Ilorin was his advocacy before the Sir Henry Willinks Commission on the Fear of Northern Minorities in 1957,which eventuated in the retention of the erstwhile Ilorin Province(now Kwara State and part of the present-day Niger State) in Northern Nigeria against the desires of the government and people of the old Western Region to get it merged with them. If not for the role played by him and other eminent indigenes,Ilorin would have lost its uniqueness. Alhaji AbdulRazaq was also the President, Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE) between 2000 and 2003.

A younger full brother of the first Mutawali of Ilorin and uncle of the new Mutawali,Alhaji Abdulmumini Abiodun AbdulRazaq, who died in 1972,was also an outstanding lawyer. He was,of course,a member of the first generation of lawyers from Ilorin Emirate and the 4th produced by "the frontier Emirate". Lawyer Abdulmumini AbdulRazaq was called to the Inner Temple in 1962 and the Nigerian bar on July 13, 1963.He was preceded by his elder brother, Alhaji AGF AbdulRazaq, Justice Mahmud Babatunde Belgore(1936-2010),the longest serving Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria from 1987 to 2001; and Justice Saidu Kawu,CON(1928-2013),the pioneer Chief Judge of Kwara State.

The spouse of Ilorin Emirate's first lawyer,Alhaja Raliat Amope AbdulRazaq,is also a rare woman and a lady of inestimable substance. Alhaja AbdulRazaq, who is the mother of the new Mutawali, was born in 1930.She is a member of the first generation of Ilorin females who had the privilege of western education. She grew up at Aba in the present day Abia State which shares boundary with Onitsha where her future husband was also born and raised. Alhaja AbdulRazaq was the first woman to drive a car in Northern Nigeria,which now consists of 19 states. She was also the first female to be elected a Councilor in Kwara State. Like her late husband, Alhaja AbdulRazaq is multilingual. She speaks English, Igbo,Hausa and Yoruba as her illustrious husband. She was also an effective Matron to the Ilorin Students Union(now known as Ilorin Emirate Students Union) many decades back.

The new Mutawali of Ilorin, Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq(b. 1956), is the first child of Alh AGF AbdulRazaq SAN . He is significantly the first son of Ilorin Emirate to earn a doctorate degree (Ph.D) in Law. An accomplished lawyer with over 43 years post call experience,the new Mutawali was the Chairman of the National Iron Ore Mining Company and a member of the National Council on Privatization . He is currently on the Board of FBN Holdco PLC and several blue chip companies. Dr. AbdulRazaq is also one of the four title holders who directly succeeded their fathers in the history of Ilorin Emirate title holders.

The family also gave Ilorin Emirate,Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq(b. 1960), the third indigene of the community elected to serve as the Governor of Kwara State. Mallam AbdulRazaq is a younger brother of the new Mutawali of Ilorin and the second son of the first holder of the title. Mallam AbdulRazaq was, prior to his election as Governor, the founding Executive Chairman of First Fuels,the Nigeria’s first fully indigenous crude oil trading company. He is the 7th elected Governor of Kwara State and has been making his marks since his election and subsequent inauguration on May 29,2019.

Prof. Muhammed Taofeeq AbdulRazaq(b. 1957), a first cousin of the new Mutawali of Ilorin, is also a man who has secured a space in the history of Ilorin Emirate through industry and integrity. He is the first son of Lawyer Abdulmumini Abiodun AbdulRazaq. MT AbdulRazaq was called to the bar in 1980 and he is the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate to emerge as a Professor of Law and as a Dean of a Faculty of Law. He was the Registrar/Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) and one of the most consulted experts on Taxation in Nigeria.

One other prominent member of the AbdulRazaq family who has registered herself in the history of the community is Hajiya Khairat AbdulRazaq-Gwadabe(b. 1958). She was the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the first to be elected from outside her ancestral Senatorial Zone. She represented the Federal Capital Territory at the Senate and remains the first and only female to be so privileged. Her election and tenure as a Senator between 1999 and 2003 gave Ilorin Emirate "two representatives" at the Upper Legislative Chamber at the commencement of the ongoing democratic dispensation. She served along with her ‘'young uncle'’, Dr. Ishaq Adebayo Salman,who represented Kwara Central Senatorial District at the Senate. Dr. Salman is a first cousin of the first Mutawali of Ilorin. Senator Khairat AbdulRazaq-Gwadabe is the current Chairman of the Nigerian Senators Forum(NSF),which is a body of all those who had served in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The AbdulRazaq family also gifted Ilorin Emirate with a son who promoted the human resources development of the Emirate like no other,particularly in the nation's power sector. He is Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq(b. 1963). This outstanding son of Ilorin Emirate is a multi talented and multifaceted professional. He is a lawyer,mathematician, chartered accountant and administrator. He served twice as an Executive Director in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).The last public office held by him was as the Chief Financial Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Hajiya Aishat Mohammed Lawal is another prominent member of the AbdulRazaq family. She is an economist and a banker. She was a first lady to the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate who served as the Governor of Kwara State, Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal(1946-2006).Aishat's late husband governed Kwara State between 1999 and 2003. Hajiya Idowu Laro,the spouse of Nigeria's Envoy to France,Ambassador Ibrahim Kayode Laro, fdc,(B.1959); is another remarkable daughter of the AbdulRazaq family. She is a daughter of Lawyer Abdulmumini AbdulRazaq and a younger sister of Prof. M. T. AbdulRazaq. The AbdulRazaq twins and daughters of Lawyer Abdulmumini AbdulRazaq have also distinguished themselves. Taiwo is in the familiar terrain of the family’s most preferred profession as a practicing lawyer while Kehinde who was a coursemate of the immediate past Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at the Economics Department of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, had an excellent stint in the banking industry before becoming an entrepreneur like the family matriarch. Alhaji Ahmed AbdulRazaq, the second son and last born of Lawyer Abdulmumini Abiodun AbdulRazaq, is a management staff of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission.

In the world of international business, the family also bequeathed Hajja Rissicatou AbdulRazaq Igue, who is a proud daughter of the pioneer Mutawali of Ilorin, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq. She is a Benin Republic-based successful businesswoman.Alhaji AbdulRauf Baba AbdulRazaq, who is the youngest offspring of the first Mutawali of Ilorin, is also a renowned business magnate.

Apart from Prof. M.T. AbdulRazaq and Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq, the family also has in its fold four Ph.D. holders. They are Dr. Salaudeen Funsho AbdulRazaq,who recently bagged the highest academic degree in Finance and is also a chartered accountant; and Dr. Hassanat Taiwo Ambali,an Associate Professor,former Head of the Department of Adult Education,University of Ilorin; and wife of the institution's immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, OON. The other are Dr. Hajarat Nihilola Malik,an expert in Public Health and wife of a veteran broadcaster and legal practitioner,Barrister AbdulRahman Malik; and Dr. Fatima Funsho AbdulRazaq, the spouse of Dr. S. F. AbdulRazaq and an Associate Professor at the Department of Private and Public Law,University of Ilorin.

Maternally, the first Mutawali, Alhaji AGF Abdulrazaq’s mother, Alhaja Muniratu Ashabi, was from Onikatapo Compound, Isale Jagun in the same Pakata Area of Ilorin as Yerinsa Compound. The two compounds are stone-throw from each other. She was the first daughter of Alfa Muhammadu Bello, an Islamic cleric, while her father's first first son was Alfa Salimonu, the father of Senator (Dr.) Ishaq Salman. Alhaja Muniratu had four children namely AGF AbdulRazaq, MA AbdulRazaq, Mahmud Ayinla Giwa and Kubura Giwa-Lawal. Alhaja Muniratu Ashabi’s mother was from Kubur Karatu Compound at Ita Elefun Area of Alanamu Ward also in Ilorin. Alhaja Muniratu Ashabi was an international trader who plied her business in far away foreign cities like Beirut, Libreville, Douala, Congo Brazzaville in the 1940s and 1950s.

Alhaji Mahmud Ayinla Giwa, (1934-2000) the second younger brother of Alhaji AGF AbdulRazaq was a banker in Lagos before he ventured into the business world. His first son, Engr. Abdulrahman Giwa, is an Ilorin-based consummate businessman, while his second son, Engr. Lukman Giwa, is a top management staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Alhaja Kubura Giwa-Lawal (1939-2012) was the only daughter and the last child of Alhaja Muniratu Ashabi and youngest of the siblings of AGF AbdulRazaq. She joined her mother in trading to many cities before joining her brother's private secondary school as a Matron at Ilorin College,(now Government High School),Ilorin. She was married to Late Alhaji Sani Adebayo Lawal (1933-2011), a Palace technocrat, local government administrator, broadcaster, politician and a former State Commissioner. Alhaji Lawal also played a prominent role along with his brother-in-law, Alhaji AGF AbdulRazaq, at the Willinks Minority Commission on behalf of the Ilorin community. Alhaja Kubura’s children and first cousins of the new Mutawali include four Directors at different government levels namely Abdulrahman Ajetunmobi (Lagos State Government), Dr. Yusuf Lawal (JAMB/University of Abuja), Barrister Hafsat Lawal (Nigerian Communications Commission) and Barrister Abdulfatai Lawal (National Open University of Nigeria). Others include Alhaji Hassan Lawal,Hajiya Raliat Lawal-Abdulrasheed Ijaiya and Hajiya Sefinat Azumi Lawal, all of whom are accomplished educational administrators and technocrats of repute at different Federal Government institutions.

Perhaps, the greatest footprint of the AbdulRazaq family,which would continue to stand the test of time, is the famous Government High School,Ilorin. The school was established by Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq in 1967 as Ilorin College, Ilorin. It was the first private secondary school established in Ilorin. The school has produced many graduates. Two of the products of the school are Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Several are Professors. One is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many had served as Commissioners and topmost technocrats in public and private establishments. Quite a number attained the peak in military and paramilitary services while innumerable products of the schools are patriots who are contributing to national and human development through various spheres.

Following the worthy example of their illustrious father both Dr Alimi AbdulRazaq and Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq established educational institutions. The prestigious Regents Primary and Secondary Schools, Abuja,was established over two decades ago by Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq and his wife,Hajia Amsa AbdulRazaq,who is a daughter of the late first republic Minister and founder of the second republic Great Nigerian People's Party(GNPP),Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim(1926-1992). The famous Bridge House College, Ikoyi,Lagos,was established 16 years ago by the new Mutawali of Ilorin, Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq,and his wife, Mrs. Kafayat Foluke AbdulRazaq,the first female Commissioner of Finance in Lagos State and who is currently the Vice-Chairman of Transcorp Group PLC. Both Schools have produced many outstanding professionals who are relentlessly contributing to national progress and human development.

The AbdulRazaq family has undoubtedly done very well for itself. It has also done superlatively outstanding for Ilorin Emirate. Going by the high qualities of the progenies of the surviving distinguished members of the family whose careers are enumerated in this piece,I think the family would remain an influential one. This optimism is premised on the assuring and acknowledged superlative calibre of members of the younger generations of this great family who are already ‘disrupting’ and impacting in their chosen careers but whose exploits would not be explored here to avoid overloading.

The enduring submission of historians,sociologists, anthropologists, religionists and scientists,among others, that there is a cyclical relationship among the past,the present and the future is obvious in the continuously outstanding relevancies and accomplishments of the AbdulRazaqs. It is clear that the family has used the past and the present to create an enviable future and would,therefore, continue to be one of the most outstanding families in Ilorin and the nation as the people of Ilorin Emirate and beyond expect more impactful contributions from this family whose accomplishments have defined the essence and history of Ilorin Emirate at least in the last one century.

Imam is Chief Scribe,Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.

 


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