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By Uthman Yusuf

On Friday October 22, 2021 the city of Ilorin, the renowned “sanctuary of saints, scholars and soldiers”, hosted thousands of people from far and near at a major sociocultural event, which historic, exciting and monumental.

The event was the turbaning of a celebrated patriot. wonderful philanthropist, unassuming community leader and remarkable politician, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, as the new and fourth Turaki of Ilorin.

The ceremony was held at the instance and in the ancient palace of the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman, Kwara State Council of Emirs and Obas, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR.

The Emir, who is also the Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, had on Thursday. July 22, 2021 announced the appointment Of Mallam Mustapha as Turaki of Ilorin. The appointment was announced along with those of eight other equally distinguished compatriots who bagged one traditional title or the other in recognition of their pedigrees and varied contributions to the progress of the nation’s most unique traditional polity.

As someone who had established a very firm reputation for himself, at least, in the last one decade or thereabout, the appointment of Mallam Mustapha as Turaki of Ilorin did not come as a surprise to the overwhelming majority of the people of Ilorin. This is because most people believe that he had paid his dues. It was and still the conviction of the people that the conferment was well deserved as it would spur him and others to do more towards the continuous positive and all- round transformations of our homeland.

Yet, many people of Ilorin, until very recently, did not know Saliu Mustapha as much, due largely to his being self-effacing and limelight shy. Though, he is not an homeboy like yours truly, he is no less an llorin man. He is in many ways like all the previous holders of the prestigious title of Turaki of Ilorin.

Then, who is Saliu Mustapha? And why is he such a plant phenomenon in the social-political firmament of Kwara State, albeit Nigeria?

The new Turaki is from Ile Ilorin, Bamidele Quarters in the Baruha axis of Ilorin. His ancestral home is the very location from where the blessed city of Ilorin took its exciting name. He is a descendant of a great man with fascinating pedigrees.

His grand father, Alhaji Mustapha Ibrahim, who died in 1993, was one of those young men who left Ilorin during the colonial era for other places in search of the proverbial greener pastures. It was to Ekpoma in the present-day Edo State that he went and settled. After trying his hands on many productive activities, the Turaki’s illustrious grandfather became a very successful Cocoa Merchant, who was blessed enough to establish glowing reputations as a man of industry and philanthropic disposition.

The new Turaki’s paternal grandmother was a sister to Salamatu Jimoh, mother to one of the most accomplished patriots and influential academies of Ilorin origin, late Prof Shehu Ahmad Jimoh, OON (1944-2014). As a proud son of Ilorin, he never forgot to send all the products of his marriages, including the Turaki’s father, to Ilorin either for acculturation, Islamic education or marriage. He did that as if he was too sure that today would come.

Mallam Saliu Musrapha’s {direct} father, Alhaji Issa Ibrahim Mustapha, was born in 1947 at Ekpoma, Edo State. It was at the present-day University Town that he had his infancy. When he was growing up, he was initially taken to Kaduna where he commenced schooling at UNA Primary
School, but he was eventually brought to Ilorin and registered at the Baptist Primary School, Surulere, Ilorin. It was, however, at the famous Okesuna Primary School, Ilorin, that he completed his elementary studies.

The Turaki’s father eventually left Ilorin for Kaduna in furtherance of his education. He was subsequently trained at Commercial School, Tudun Wada, Kaduna. He, thereafter, began his sojourn into the business world.

The mother of the new Turaki of Ilorin is Hajiyat Maryam Abike Mustapha. She is a daughter of the Toba family whose ancestral home is Odo-Ero, Kabba town, the headquarters of the Okun people in the present-day Kogi State. It was, however, at Kaduna that the two parents of the new Turaki met, fell in love and got married.

The marriage is blessed with five children; three boys and two girls. Mallam Saliu Mustapha is the surviving eldest son as he lost his elder brother, Dr AbdulRasaq Mustapha, a medical doctor. His other siblings are Hajiya Aisha Mustapha, Hajiya Farinas Mustapha Bello and Mallam Muhammad Kabir Mustapha, all of whom are doing very well in their various professions.

Mallam Saliu Mustapha hails from Ilorin East while his paternal rural is Arobadi in the Moro Local Government Area. His paternal grandmother hailed from Ilorrin West and Asa Local Government Areas and one of his aunts’ marital home is Ilorin South. Little wonder, Mallam Mustapha always felt at home with every cause brought to his attention from any part of
the Local Government Areas constituting his beloved Ilorin Emirate.

Saliu Mustapha, a distinguished politician, successful businessman and outstanding entrepreneur, remarkable philanthropist, was born some five decades ago. He started his early education at the famous Sr. Bartholomew Primary School, Wusasa, Zaria, Kaduna State, which was the school attended by Nigeria’s longest-serving military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR(1934). He then preceded to St John’s College, jos, Plateau State. He was also trained at the Command Secondary School, Kaduna.

On completion of his West African School Certificate (WASC) programme, the new Turaki of Ilorin proceeded to the famous Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna. He studied Mineral Resources Engineering at the institution.

As a young man, he had always shown interest in business and politics, which he was introduced to by his friends most of whom were from different states of the defunct Northern Nigeria, and no sooner than he graduated that he became a full time businessman mingling it with politics.

His conviction that Nigeria deserves to be properly governed informed his association with leading and Spartan political figures like Chief Olu Falae CFR, onetime presidential candidate; and AIhaji Balarabe Musa 1936 to 2020 the first elected Governor of old Kaduna State as well as President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.

This admirable son of Ilorin Emirate consequently began a very fascinating political career, which saw him serve as the National Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Liberation Party (PLP) at one time. He was once also the National Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Action Congress (PAC)

Mallam Mustapha was one of the early believers in the political aspirations and leadership capacities of President Muhammadu Buhari to serve the nation as its elected chief executive when he teamed up with other to form and run “The Buhari Organization (TBO).

He was also a leading member of the Buhari Campaign Organization for several years and has been a notable associate of President Buhari for the past seventeen years.

This illustrious son of Ilorin demonstrated unflinching loyalty to President Buhari and his political aspirations throughout his struggles for power. He followed him throughout his adventure into the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) where he contested for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2003 and 2007.

He was also a Foundation and National Executive Committee Member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). l-le was the National Deputy Chairman of the Party which was chaired by a former Minister of Information, Late Prince Tony Momoh, when the party contested and lost the presidency in 2011.

Following the imperativeness of the merger of CPC with other political parties on the path to forming the All Progressive Congress (APC),
Mallam Mustapha played a leading role. He was among those who did the magic, which eventually led to the displacement of the then ruling party by the opposition at national level; the first instance at which such would happen in the history of Nigeria.

Mallam Mustapha. who aspired to contest for the office of Governor of Kwara State under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019, is also the founder and Chairman of Saliu Mustapha Foundation. The Foundation is a philanthropic organization through which the leading politician has been offering multidimensional supports to individuals and organizations within and outside Kwara State, particularly across Ilorin Emirate in the last few years.

His philanthropic gestures have turned his name into an household one in Ilorin Emirate and beyond as hardly will any development campaign holds without his name and contributions being associated with such.

Mallam Mustapha is a well travelled gentleman. He has been to almost every part of Nigeria and the world for either business or leisure. He is also a polyglot who speaks English, Hausa. Igbo and Yoruba languages, including its Okun dialect fluently.

One aspect of the life of this young man many have found very astonishing is that despite the fact that he was neither born nor raised at Ilorin, he has shown so much fraternity and commitment to the progress of the community which confirmed his patriotism. He has been moving up and down in ensuring that he offers his contributions ¡n a magnificent manner that one would think he had his childhood in Ilorin.

This outstanding son of Ilorin Emirate, who has a greater future before him, is happily married. His wife is Hajiya Bilikisu Mustapha, who hails from Kano State. The two love birds are blessed with lovely children.

Just like in every situation, the question on the lips of a few unrepentant cynics is “why Saliu Mustapha”? The response of those who know is “why not him”? As it is becoming clearer that His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, does not take any action without historic basis, contextual congruity and divine guidance, Saliu Mustapha incontrovertibly shares so many phenomena with his illustrious predecessors who held the title in
Ilorin. He is, indeed, a round peg in a round hole.

Like the last two holders of the title, he was not born in Ilorin. As his three predecessors, he was also not raised in Ilorin. Just like his last two predecessors, his mother does not also hail from Ilorin. He also became the Turaki of Ilorin at a relatively young age just like his last two predecessors who did in their 40s. Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki (1933-2012) was conferred with the title in 1974 when he was 41. Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki CON, became the Turaki of Ilorin at the age of 44. It was only the first holder of the title, Alhaji Okin, who was so conferred at the age of 53.

Two other common denominators among the four are unquantifiable philanthropy and extraordinary national politics .The first three holders of the title were also foremost parliamentarians and professionals. Time would tell of the future political career of the new Turaki.

The new Turaki also married from outside Ilorin like his last two predecessors. He is also associated with the “Ilorin-centric” Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria through his father who was a member of the Kaduna Branch of the Society just like his three illustrious predecessors. Ansarul Islam, an association established by the highly venerated first Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Kamaldeen Al-Adabiyy, MFR,OFR,ORSA(1905-2005), is the first voluntary Muslim organization in Northern Nigeria. What a coincidence!

Mallam Mustapha, deserves this illustrious honour. He has left no one in doubt of his dignity integrity; patriotism and commitment. He has offered his services very well and with uncommon humility Only very kw community development project has taken place in florin in the last few years without his magnificent contributions.

He has donated hugely through his foundation regularly to the empowerment of widows, women, youths and students and the maintenance of the Ilorin Central Jumaat Mosque. His financial and material contributions to the successes of the last three editions of the annual Ilorin Emirate Grand Durbar Celebrations have also been mind blowing

The moral, material and financial support of the new Turaki of Ilorin to the community’s foremost sociocultural organization, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, in the last few years had also been exceptional. What about his donations to the building of mosques and other infrastructures across Ilorin Emirate?

He has also been a regular feature on invitation to book launch and similar events on and about Ilorin and its people. Anyone who does what Mallam Mustapha is doing ought to be rewarded, celebrated and retained by an appreciative community.

That is exactly why the people and friends of Ilorin joined hands with the Emir, Alhaji lbrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, and honour a great icon and one of the shining stars of his Emirate in order to stimulate more patriotism among his subjects.

Mallam Saliu Mustapha is, no doubt, a man of history who is also marching into history, He is affectionate and loyal to the Alimi dynasty and the Ilorin project at large. It is the conviction of this author that he is not only fully prepared for all the responsibilities of the title in which is providing leadership for the people, but would make success of it.

As this great son of Ilorin was turbaned, I pray Allah to grant him sound health, more wealth, greater wisdom and all other endowments he would need to serve Ilorin Emirate community and humanity to the fullest. May he also live long and enjoy greater career progressions far beyond those of his accomplished departed predecessors.


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