The first lawyer of northern extraction, Alhaji Abdul-Ganiyu Folorunsho Abdul-Razaq, popularly known as AGF, has passed on at the age of 93. Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN writes on the life and times of the political icon.
Foremost lawyer, Alhaji Abdul-Razaq (SAN) was a great man, a refined patriot and a thorough breed nationalist who played significant roles in the struggle towards the realisation of Nigeria’s independence.
He blazed trail in Nigerian politics during the colonial era when he joined the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) founded by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello. He was the first National Legal Adviser of the party and acquitted himself well in that responsibility.
As the Legal Adviser of the NPC which was the ruling party in the Northern Nigeria then, Abdul-Razaq was among the northern delegates to the 1957 London Constitutional Conference where he exhibited brilliance to the surprise of older delegates at the conference.
He played a major role at the conference and the commission of enquiry which was later set up to ensure that Ilorin and Kabba province remain part of Northern Nigeria.
In post –independence, Abdul-Razaq served as a special member of the Northern House of Assembly between 1960 and 1962. From 1962 to 1964, he was Nigerian Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire. He also served as Minister of State for Transport under the Tafawa Balewa regime between 1962 and 1966.
After July 29, 1966 coup, the then Military Governor of Northern Region, Major General Hassan Usman Katsina convened a meeting of leaders of thoughts in Kaduna. Abdul Razaq and the late Chief Josiah Sunday Olawoyin (a.k.a. JS) were invited to represent the then Ilorin province at the meeting.
It was at one of the sessions of the meeting that Olawoyin moved a motion that both Ilorin and Kabba provinces be merged for the creation of what is known as Kwara State today. As expected the motion was supported by Abdul-Razaq.
The struggle of both Abdul-Razaq and Olawoyin came to fruition when Kwara State was created by the Yakubu Gowon military regime on May 27, 1967. Thus, it is no gain saying that Kwara State was created through the patriotic zeal and relentless efforts of the two nationalists.
Having served at the Federal level with track records, the first Military Governor of Kwara State, Major David Bamigboye drew Abdul-Razaq into his cabinet and appointed him pioneer Commissioner for Finance and later Health and Social Welfare between 1967 and 1972.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Sunday Adebayo described the late Abdul-Razaq as a detribalised leader who put selfless interest above sectional, religious and personal interest. He said: “Abdul-Razaq’s heart of patriotism was displayed in 1979 when as governorship candidate of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), he stepped down in the governorship race for the governorship candidate of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) Olawoyin, a Christian and from the ancient city of Offa.
“The life sacrifices and times of this great Nigerian serve as an example and a point of reference to all our politicians of today; particularly Kwara politicians, most especially the youths in politics. We must endeavour to draw inspirations from the duo of late Alhaji AGF Abdul-Razaq and the late Olawoyin who were so selfless during their lifetimes, as they thoroughly put patriotism and selflessness ahead of personal and sectional interest. I consider it a blessing that these two core patriots hailed from our dear Kwara State.”
Adebayo said the death of Abdul-Razaq was not a loss because he had recorded feats feats in life with a solid foot prints on the sand of time and died at the ripe age of 93. “Baba AGF Abdul-Razaq died at a time he had fulfilled his mission and at an advanced age.”
He added: “It was reported that at the latter stage of papa’s life, he prayed that he wished one of his sons becomes governor of Kwara State, the office he once aspired for. His prayer was answered during his life time as his son, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq is the current governor of Kwara State. So, he died a fulfilled man whom God favoured by answering his secret prayers.”
The emergence of AbdulRazaq as governor of Kwara State is a reward from God to the patriotism and selflessness displayed by his father. It goes by the popular expression that whatever good or bad done by people shall surely live after them.
In recognition of his services to the nation and humanity, AGF was honoured with the title of Mutawali of Ilorin and Tafida Zazzau of Zaria Emirate. He was also an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR). The late Abdul-Razaq was a teacher, philanthropist and a Nigerian who love his people.
An elder statesman from Ilorin, Alhaji L.A.K Jimoh, hailed Abdul-Razaq for his leading contribution in the struggle for the creation of Kwara State and his inestimable legal victory for all traditional rulers and chieftaincy title holders to be turbaned, like in the rest of the north, alongside the retention of land resources by what is known today as Ilorin emirate. His singular effort in establishing the first private secondary school known as Ilorin College but renamed Government High School, Adeta, Ilorin made Abdul-Razaq a reference point in patriotism to the younger generation in the Ilorin Emirate and the state in general.
Another statesman and a leader of the progressives in the fight for the liberation of Kwara State in the last four decades, Chief Wole Oke, described him as the leading contributor, motivator and supporter of the creation of Moro and Asa Local Government Areas, more than 30 years ago, at a time when the majority of the elites in the polity could not see the benefits for the creation of the two local governments.
He said: “There is no doubt that the late Mutawali of Ilorin left indelible footprints on all areas of human endeavours in Nigeria. He had lived a fulfilled life worthy of emulation not only by the people he left behind in his family, but for all young Nigerians who aspire to live exemplary life.”
The Mutawali of Ilorin scored many first in his lifetime. He was the first lawyer from northern Nigeria made up of 19 states today. He was the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate and northern Nigeria to have acquired early education in the Southeast and South-south at both primary and secondary school levels.
He was also the first Ilorin indigene to gain admission for university education in both Nigeria and the United Kingdom and the first northerner to qualify as a lawyer.
He was the first Ilorin indigene to be appointed Nigeria’s ambassador to a foreign land; first to be a federal minister and the pioneer commissioner for Finance and later Commissioner for Health. He had been a member of the International Commission of Jurists since 1959. He was appointed Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1985. He was Vice President Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from 1983 to 2000 and President of NSE from 2000 to 2003. He served as member of the Capital Issues Commission between 1973 and 1978. He has been Chairman of the Nigerian Council of Human Rights since 1987.
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