OPINION: Alimi AbdulRazaq: Unveiling The New Mutawali of Ilorin By By Abubakar Imam

Date: 2022-03-18

All roads would, today, Friday, March 18, 2022, lead to the ancient palace of His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman, Kwara State Council of Emirs and Obas, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, where a great son of the soil, Dr. Muhammed Alimi AbdulRazaq, would be turbaned by the first class Monarch as the new Mutawali of Ilorin. The event promises to be a great, colourful and historic one as dignitaries from far and near including the Vice-President,Federal Republic of Nigeria,Prof. Yemi Osinbajo,GCON,SAN; are expected to converge on the palace to witness it.

The ceremony will be the high point of the series of activities that had taken place and would still come up since Thursday, July 22, 2021 when the Emir announced Dr. AbdulRazaq as the man who the cap fits . His was one of the nine titles that the Emir announced on that day to the jubilation of thousands of indigenes of Ilorin Emirate and their friends across the world.

For those who have been very conscious of the sociopolitical environments of Ilorin Emirate, Kwara State and indeed Nigeria in the last three decades, the name, Alimi AbdulRazaq will definitely be ringing bells in their ears. He, just like his family in its entirety, has been a recurring decimal in the march to the progress of Ilorin Emirate for many decades. And so, many informed people were not only unsurprised but also very happy when he was named as the successor to his late father and as"the Chancellor Exchequer/Holder of the key to the treasury" of Ilorin Emirate.

Though the title of Mutawali of Ilorin is not hereditary and the Emir is not mandated by any law, custom or tradition to appoint any specific person to hold it, there is no doubt in the fact that Dr. AbdulRazaq deserves the honour going by his pedigrees. It was,therefore, not surprising that his feet was found to be big enough to enter the shoes left behind by his pathfinding father. The professional accomplishments, philanthropic dispositions and other glittering personal qualities, which Dr. AbdulRazaq possesses rightly earned him the prestigious title held by his illustrious father from 1962 to 2020.

Dr. Muhammed Alimi AbdulRazaq, a distinguished legal practitioner, foremost technocrat, political titan and shrewd business man, was born in the historic city of Zaria, Kaduna State to the family of the pioneer Northern Nigerian Lawyer who was also the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria from Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Folorunsho AbduRazaq, SAN, OFR (1927-2020). His mother is Alhaja Raliat AbdulRazaq (b. 1930), who hails from Oke-Apomu Quarters, Ilorin. The new Mutawali of Ilorin is a Member of the popular Yerinsa family in the Idigba Quarters, Pakata, Ilorin.

Dr. AbdulRazaq is not only the successor to his celebrated father in the comity of traditional title holders in Ilorin but also the Head of the famous AbdulRazaq family. The patriarch, Alhaji AbdulRazaq, was a pioneer in several realms in the annals of the Ilorin Emirate . His late father was the first University graduate , Lawyer (1955), Ambassador (1962),Federal Minister (1964) and Honourable Commissioner (1967). He was also the first to hold the traditional title of Mutawali of Ilorin as well as the first to be conferred with a traditional title by the 9th Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Sulu Gambari, CFR, who, incidentally,is the father of the incumbent Emir, and reigned between 1959 and 1992.The late patriarch was also the first son of Ilorin who held a traditional title conferred by a sister Emirate as he was appointed Tafida of Zaria in 1962.

Young Alimi attended the famous Capital School, Kaduna, from where he received his First School Leaving Certificate. He was equally trained at the popular St. Gregory's College, Obalende, Lagos, from 1968 to 1972.

The new Mutawali subsequently proceeded to the School of Basic Studies of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He had his pre-degree training at the school from 1972 to 1973.

He was thereafter admitted for his degree programme at the Faculty of Law, Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He pursued his legal training at the prestigious University between 1974 and 1977 at the end of which he was found worthy of the institution's LL.B (Hons) degree. Among his course mates at the University were Supreme Court Judges such as the Honourable Justices Suleiman Galadima, Amirul Sanusi, Paul Galinje,and Alhaji Munir Jaafar, the Madawakin Zazzau; and Barrister Aliyu Ibrahim, the Mutawalin Kano and,of course, Alhaji Muktar Ibrahim,a former Attorney-General and Secretary to the Katsina State Government. His contemporaries at the University also included Dr.Fatai Bello and the late General (Arc.)Suraj AbdulRahman, who was the Chief of Army Staff of the Sierra Leone Army.

Dr. AbdulRazaq proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, where he was further grounded in Law between 1977 and 1978. He was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria along with the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onoghen, GCON; Honourable Justice Amina Augie, Honourable Justice Keji Ogunwomiju,and Honourable Justice Dupe Atoki of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, to mention a few.

This outstanding son of Ilorin also attended the School of Law, University of Hull, United Kingdom for both his master's and doctorate degrees in Law. He ran the two courses from 1982 to 1983 and between 1984 and 1986, respectively. He is the first son of Ilorin to hold a doctorate degree in Law. His Ph.D thesis, which is on Human Rights Protection in Africa, was a groundbreaking intellectual work as it prescribed the framework for the establishment of the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights, which was subsequently commissioned by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU).

Having qualified as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, this great son of Ilorin Emirate commenced his exciting career as a Legal Officer with A. AbdulRazaq (SAN) &; Co. which was established by his illustrious father. He worked under the watchful eyes of his father who ensured that he acquired all the basic practical skills between 1978 to 1986 during which he cut his professional teeth. From 1989 to 2005, Dr. AbdulRazaq served as the Principal Partner, House of Laws (Advocates &; Solicitors), a law firm, which has branches in Lagos and Abuja.He returned to AbdulRazaq (SAN) &; Co. in 2010 and has been the Managing Partner of the same law firm since then.

All in all, Dr. AbdulRazaq has handled several, diverse and highly significant legal matters in his almost 45 years of practice in the realms of commercial law and general practice. He is certainly a chip of the old block.

As a shrewd business man, this illustrious son of Ilorin Emirate served as the Director, Gateway Insurance Company Limited, Ilorin, from 1983 to 1989.He was also a Director in the Kwara Investment Company between 1985 and 1986.He also served in the same capacity on the Board of the defunct New African Merchant Bank Limited from 1992 to 1994.

As a lover of education and in emulation of his father who established and ran the then Ilorin College (now Government High School), Ilorin, before the institution was taken-over by the Kwara State Government, Dr. AbdulRazaq also founded The Bridge House College, Ikoyi, Lagos. He first served as the Chairman, Board of Governors of the College from 2004 to October, 2005 and since September 2010 till date.

This statesman was also the Chairman, National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, Kogi State from 2000 to 2005. He was also the Executive Commissioner, Legal,Licensing & Enforcement in the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). He equally served as a Member of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatization from 2011 to 2015.He is a non Executive member on the Board of FirstBank Holding Company, Plc. In each of those privileges, available records confirmed that he assisted quite a significant number of indigenes of Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State to secure employments and career progression.

Dr. AbdulRazaq was born into an enduringly notable family that has excelled in the field of law, politics and public service right from the nation's pre-independence era through the various facets of her political experiences till this moment.It was, therefore, not surprising when he started politics right from his days in the University. He was the Vice-President of the Students Union at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1975. He was also a gubernatorial aspirant in the defunct Social Democratic Party during the aborted third republic. He was also a Gubernatorial Candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State in 1999.

Apart from offering himself for elective offices, Dr. AbdulRazaq was a Special Assistant (Political) to Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, GCON, when the highly sophisticated politician ran for the nation's presidency as well as when he became Vice-Presidential flagbearer to the late Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola in 1993. He, along with late Alhaji Waziri Kyari Mohammed, coordinated the Northwest Presidential Task Force of the defunct Hope 93 of Abiola/Kingibe Campaign Team while the National Campaign Chairman was the late Chief Tony Anenih, CFR. He was also the Kwara State Coordinator of the Olusegun Obasanjo Campaign Organisation during the 1999 Presidential Elections which ushered in the Obasanjo/Atiku Presidency in May, 1999.

This great son of Ilorin Emirate was also recorded as being among those who contributed towards the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the Vice-Presdential candidate to Chief Obasanjo. This much was alluded to by Chief Tony Anenih on page 157 of his autobiography, "My Life and Nigerian Politics" where he states:

we both decided to get a lawyer to advise us, and Barrister Alimi Razaq of Kwara State was sent for.

He came and advised that there was nothing in the Nigerian Constitution that prevented Atiku from being running mate , especially as Atiku Abubakar had not been sworn-in if Chief Obasanjo chose Atiku as his running mate, stating further that all Atiku needed to do was to resign his position as governor-elect of Adamawa State.

The contributions of Dr. AbdulRazaq to national development transcended party politics. He was the Founder of the Nigerian Council for Human Rights, which he also served as the pioneer Executive Secretary between 1983 and 1993. He also cosponsored the groundbreaking Alhaji AGF AbdulRazaq Professorial Chair in Public Law,which was instituted at the University of Ilorin in 1999.

Dr. AbdulRazaq has also been a distinguished Patron to several organisations such as the Law Society of the University of Benin and the University of Ilorin's Law Society. He is also a Patron to the Ilorin Emirate Students Union (IESU), the National Association of Kwara State Students (NAKSS) as well as the Institute of Chartered Training Managers (ICTM).

The Mutawali of Ilorin has an intimidating profile as a national figure. His network of mentors include President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR;General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, GCFR; and the late Justice Mustapha Akanbi, CFR,who served as the President of the Court of Appeal between 1992 and 1999.He was a contemporary of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo,GCON,in the course of their postgraduate law programme at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London .The former Vice-Presdent Arc. Namadi Sambo, GCON, was similarly his contemporary at ABU, Zaria.

Dr. AbdulRazaq equally has an extremely wide network of friends and particularly cherishes his relationships with old friends some of whom are former Governor Chief Niyi Adebayo, who is the current Minister of Trade and Investment; the Mutawali of Borno and Chairman, TETFund, Alhaji Kashim Imam; the Turakin Gwandu and Chairman, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mallam Bello Ibrahim Gwandu; the Sardaurna of Katsina, Senator Ibrahim Ida; the Emir of Lafia and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Alhaji Muhammed Bage; as well as a former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Ken Nnamani; to mention a few.

Though not your typical homeboy, Dr. AbdulRazaq has a good number of indigenes of Ilorin as friends;many of whom are his seniors in age and with whom he consults closely. They include the author of "Ilorin: The Journey So Far", Alhaji L.A.K. Jimoh; the Za'ana of Ilorin, Engr.Yusuf Olanrewaju Sagaya, MFR, OFR; the Jarma of Ilorin,Alhaji Aliyu Kola Belgore, OFR; and Engr. Muzamil Abdulkareem.

Considering his huge investment in education and the establishment of Bridge House College, Ikoyi, Lagos and awards of scholarships to many indigenes of Ilorin and Kwara State, Dr. AbdulRazaq has attracted quite a number of national and international recognitions. In 2016, the University of Hull in the United Kingdom awarded him the Distinguished Alumni laureate of the University in recognition of his intellectual endowments and legal scholarship. He was also conferred with the Distinguished Alumni Award of St. Gregory's College, Lagos in 2003. He was equally honoured by the Kwara State chapter of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Alumni Association for his distinguished contributions to national development. Dr. AbdulRazaq is as well an elected member of the Royal Institution of International Affairs and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Dr. AbdulRazaq is happily married to Hajia Kafayat Foluke AbdulRazaq, a distinguished Banker, foremost technocrat and one-time Honourable Commissioner for Finance, Lagos State. She is currently the Group Vice-Chairman of Transcorp Nigeria Plc and a member of the Governing Council of the Lagos State University, Ojoo. The lovely couple is blessed with children who are doing very well.

As Dr. AbdulRazaq is turbaned as the new Mutawali of Ilorin today, may I join his relations,friends and colleagues as well as other well-wishers across Nigeria and beyond to wish this great patriot a very gracious, peaceful and fruitful tenure as I also wish him many more years of services to Allah and humanity.

The author,Imam, is the National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.

 


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