By Moshood Oniyangi
A Yoruba adage says, “ojo ori ko’lagba laiye”, and as Ilorin people would usually say, “kagba f’olohun niisinmi, kadara koseko laigba”, meaning that seniority is not determined by chronology and that accepting Allah’s will is the source of rest because destiny can never be altered.
Lawyer Abdulrazaq Abdulganiy popularly known as ‘AGF Abdulrazak’, who is the father of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq had on several occasions denigrated the worthy achievements and accomplishments of the late Waziri of Ilorin, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
AGF Abdulrazaq was also fond of treating the late Saraki with high level of contempt. The climax of this was reflected in the controversial interview AGF granted a national magazine prior the conduct of 2011 general elections, where he made series of false accusations, lies and derogatory remarks against the late Oloye as he was fondly called.
One of such scathing remarks made by AGF Abdulrazaq was that the late Saraki did not belong here, insinuating that he was a bastard in Ilorin Emirate. This amidst other inciting statements of the foremost lawyer triggered divergent views among people within the state and beyond.
During the course of the interview, AGF Abdulrazaq also talked about the developmental strides, contributions and achievements of his family and that of the Sarakis to Ilorin Emirate while also undermining the contributions of the Sarakis.
Historically, Lawyer AGF AbdulRasak who hails from Yerimisa Compound, Idigba area, Adeta Ilorin, was born in Onitsha in 1927 in a community largely dominated by the Hausas. He had his primary and secondary education in Onitsha. He was one of the pioneer students of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan alongside Chinua Achebe, where he studied Law. Thereafter, he left the country for London to pursue his Master’s Degree in History, but later studied Law in a London University and was called to bar in 1955, alongside kayode Esho, a retired Justice from Osun State. He ran his private law firm and bountifully succeeded in it.
Indeed, he was the first university graduate in Ilorin Emirate and the first lawyer and second Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in the whole of Northern region. His renowned fame in legal profession in Nigeria earned him a prestigious status, the pioneer and the sole legal adviser of one of the First Republic political parties (Northern People’s Congress), the party which produced the first Premier of the Northern Region, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, and the first and the last Prime Minister in the political history of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
In 1962, Lawyer Abdulrasak, as a result of his tremendous accomplishments in his profession was appointed the Ambassador of Nigeria to Cote d’ivoire on the same day the immediate ex-Ado Bayero of Kano was named Ambassador of Nigeria to Senegal. This appointment eventually resulted to Lawyer AbdulRasak’s meeting with an Ilorin business mogul, Alh. Mukhtar Saraki, the father to the late Waziri of Ilorin, Dr. Olusola Saraki and grandfather to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose affluence positively impacted on the lives of uncountable people both within and outside Nigeria.
Alhaji Mukhtar was a very famous businessman in Lagos, Ghana, Ivory Coast now Cote d’ivoire and a host of other African countries. An undisputed fact has it that Mukhtar Saraki was not only prominent but also richer than the entire Cote d’ivoire, the country where AGF had gone to serve Nigeria as her ambassador.
It is on record that before business took Mukhtar Saraki to Cote d’ivoire, one Emmanuel Alabi was the leader of Nigerians in the country at that time, but following his arrival into the country and owing to his influence and uncommon service to humanity, he was unanimously chosen by Nigerians living in the country to be their leader. This is another testament that the Sarakis are naturally imbued with leadership qualities.
From the foregoing, one would agree that Saraki was an accomplished and very successful businessman who made his money out of politics. In fact, it was reported that Saraki never had interest in politics but was encouraged to join politics by AGF Abdulrazaq.
The success and impacts of AGF Abdulrazaq in Ilorin/Kwara..
In 1964, Lawyer AbdulRazaq contested for a seat in the House of Representatives and won. Having won the election and in line with the tenet of parliamentary system in operation as at that time, he was appointed Minister of State for Transport
He was appointed the pioneer Kwara State Commissioner for Finance in 1967, a position he held till he decided to quit and face his legal profession. One of the questions that will be racing through the minds of those reading this article will be that “What were his contributions to the development of his immediate community, Idigba not to talk of Ilorin and Kwara as whole when he held all these attractive political posts?.”
AGF is no doubt well educated and highly successful in his profession of choice. But to what extent has he been able to impact on the people of his immediate community? It is expected of an influential man in the caliber of AGF to have made significant contributions to the development of his community but this is not the case with Abdulrazaq. His impacts in Ilorin and Kwara State in general are abysmally low when compared to the contributions of the Late Waziri of Ilorin.
It is unfortunate that someone of AGF’s caliber cannot boast of any significant contribution or developmental stride in the entire Ilorin Emirate. Although he established a private school in Ilorin and that time, he declared that it was not set up for children of the less privileged. He was often quoted to have said “Mio ko School mi fun awon ti baba won n hun Aso ni Idi-ofi”, meaning “I did not build my school for children whose fathers are weavers of Aso Oke.” This clearly shows that his intention for establishing the school was not to serve the masses, and also revealed his contempt for the downtrodden in the society. Thank God the State government later assumed the ownership of the school and renamed it Government High School (GHS), Adewole, which made it possible for children of the less privileged to attend the school.
In 1972, the late Saraki and AGF were both made chief launchers for the execution of one communal road project in Ilorin, and at the event, they both individually pledged a sum of 10,000 pounds. But while Baba in his usual character fulfiled his pledge, AGF failed to redeem his pledge to the dismay of the organisers, despite the fact that he was even more financially buoyant than Baba Saraki.
For the avoidance of doubt, AGF only dropped 1,000 out of the 10,000 pounds he pledged, while Baba Saraki not only made a 10,000 pounds donation as promised but also added another 9,000 pounds for the successful execution of the road project.
As a great philanthropist, The late Abubakar Olusola Saraki was fond of being the highest donor during fundraising for any Community developmental project in Ilorin while he was alive. He was the highest donor during the launching of Ilorin City Hall in 1991, donating a sum of 1,000, 000 naira. During Ilorin Foundation Laying Launching, he donated a sum of 250,000 naira.
Baba was also the highest donor during the fundraising for the construction of Ilorin Central Mosque – he donated a huge sum of N250,000. He also invited friends,business and political associates across the globe who also made donations during the fundraising. The mosque was officially commissioned in 1981.
AGF Abdulrazaq was nowhere to be found during the fundraising for this significant project of the Emirate. Though he was financially buoyant — even more than the late Saraki – he always found it difficult to contribute to or participate in any communal project.
Apart from all these, Baba Saraki’s contributions to the renovation and construction of many mosques like Agbaji, Aberi/ Isale Aluko, Ode Alfa-Nda, Ali Agan and a host of others cannot be over-emphasised. The late Waziri sponsored large number of Kwarans to perform Umrah and Hajj every year. He also facilitated the rehabilitation and construction of roads within Ilorin such as the road at Agbaji, linking Ajikobi road to Popo-Igbona.
It was these kind gestures and other numerous humanitarian acts of Baba Saraki that endeared him to the people and earned him the traditional title of “Turaki of Ilorin” in 1974 following the demise of the previous holder of the title, Sanni Olanrewaju Buremo Okin. He was later decorated with a higher title ‘Waziri of Ilorin’.
It is instructive to note that AGF started politics before the late Saraki. However, his miserliness and I-don’t-care-attitude made him lose the respect, confidence and love the good people of Ilorin hitherto had for him. As one Yoruba adage says, “akilahun niyi”, meaning that stinginess and honour are rarely found together.
Having found in Baba Saraki, a great philanthropist and compassionate leader, the people of Ilorin showered him uncommon love and regard.
Saraki was altruistic in nature and approached politics with the intention to genuinely serve his people unlike the antics played on them by AGF. Baba Saraki explored his political influence to facilitate top federal positions for several Ilorites such as Alhaji Oniyangi, former Minister of Commerce, Defense and Industry, Alhaji Aremu, former Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, and a host of others.
In the Second Republic, Saraki was the major financier of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the ruling party in the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1st of October, 1979 to 31st of December, 1983. During this period, Saraki served as the Senate Leader in the National Assembly.
During the various military interregnums, the Late Saraki participated actively in the transitional programmes of these eras, which made him well-known across the country.
The late Saraki was undoubtedly the stabiliser of Kwara State politics. His integrity, trustworthiness and strong passion for the people stood him out among politicians of his time. He was the sole political godfather in the State.
Several Kwarans benefited from his political influence. He was directly involved in the emergence of all the civilian governors in the State – from Alahaji Adamu Attah (1979-1983), C. O. Adebayo (1983-1983), Alhaji Shaaba Lafiagi (!992-1993), Alhaji Alabi Muhammed Lawal (1999-2003), and Bukola Saraki (2003-2011).
It is clear from the foregoing that the Late Saraki’s generosity and humanitarian strides made him popular and influential than any other politician of his time, including AGF Abdulrazaq, whose influence is not in any way felt by the people of his immediate community.
AGF has no contribution to the development of his community, despite how wealthy he is. One needs to visit Idi-Igba/Oke-Agodi to confirm this and to also know what people say about him. Those who doubt this may wish to provide answers to the following questions:
When AGF was a member of the House of Representatives, what were his achievements?
How many people did he assist politically as at the time he was seen as the political champion in Ilorin, before Saraki fully came to limelight of politics?
What are AGF’s contributions towards the developmental projects executed by IEDPU?
*Has AGF’s family solely executed project for the sake of the masses in Idigba community or anywhere in Ilorin?
It is sad that an influential man like a AGF who was decorated with the traditional titles – Mutawali of Ilorin and Tafidan of Zaria and whose children are also rich, cannot boast of a befitting Family House. What can be seen at Yerimisa Compound are very old buildings. Could it be that AGF and his children have no respect and love for their family members or why have they decided to neglect them?
History has it that when the people of Idigba Community were planning to set up a community primary health centre, they contacted the late Gen. AbdulKareem Adisa whose maternal relatives were in Idigba and had been very useful to Idigba people. Gen. Adisa told them to go and meet the Abdulrasaqs because one of Lawyer Abdulrasak’s children was richer than him, and that was Abdulrasak Abdulrahman. Unfortunately, when he (Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman) was contacted, he failed to come to bring solace to his own people. This shows how valueless he is to his own people.
It was Gen. Adisa that later provided funds for the construction of the healthcare centre, drainages, graded and asphalted the Idigba community roads.
to be continued
Oniyangi writes via Kwaralefro