The recent appointment of Mallam Saliu Mustapha, a national chairmanship aspirant of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Turaki of Ilorin has attracted wide plaudits and deepened the historical course of the coveted title, Abdulkareem Alabi reports
The cancellation of the annual Durbar festival could not stop the grand post-Eid-el-Kabir celebration in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, which witnessed a massive turnout last week.
A major highlight of the annual 'Bareke' (the traditional Sallah homage to the State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq by the Emir of Ilorin) was the announcement of some new honorary traditional titles to illustrious sons and daughters of the emirate as decided by the Ilorin Emirate Council.
The new titles, including the revered Turaki of Ilorin, were conferred on nine illustrious sons of the emirate by the Emir, HRH Ibrahim Kolapo Sulu Gambari CFR.
The ranking title holders are Mallam Saliu Mustapha (Turaki of Ilorin); Sheikh Yaqub Aliagan (Sarkin Mallamai of Ilorin); Dr. AbdulKadir Alfa Oba-Solagberu (Mallami Ubandoma of Ilorin); Dr Alimi Abdulrazaq (Mutawalle of Ilorin); Sheikh Suleiman Faruq Onikijipa (Grand Mufty of Ilorin); Alhaji Yakubu Gobir (Dawaki of Ilorin); Alhaji Saka Onimago (Shetimma of Ilorin); Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje (Tafida of Ilorin); and Alhaji Kawu Agaka (Dan Iya of Ilorin).
But the announcement of the Turaki of Ilorin, due to its significance and the prominence of the previous holders was greeted with wild jubilation from the enthusiastic audience.
The responses were among others that, "'He's someone that everybody knows in Ilorin Emirate; He is someone who spends his wealth for the growth and development of the emirate; He is also trying his best to propagate Islam.'
"We do not just give titles; we bestow titles on the people who are deserving of them. The title we want to give him is the Turaki of Ilorin," HRH Sulu-Gambari said of the APC national chairmanship aspirant.
Shower of encomiums
Hardly had the Emir announced the coveted title than tributes and encomiums started pouring in for Mallam Mustapha and that continued to dominate the airwaves in Ilorin.
Kwara State Governor Abdulrazaq and many other dignitaries have congratulated Mallam Mustapha and the other title chiefs over the conferment of deserving titles on them.
The governor prayed to Allah to grant Mustapha success and long life in the service to the people of Ilorin and the nation.
"I congratulate all the new title holders as announced by Mai Martaba the Emir of Ilorin Dr Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari (CFR). I am convinced that the decision of the Emir is based on the track records of these illustrious sons of Ilorin over the years.
"I have no doubt that they will discharge the duties of their offices to the admiration of all," the governor said in a statement.
The immediate past Turaki of Ilorin and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, commended the traditional ruler for always striving to bring development to Kwara State and seeking the progress of indigenes of the Emirate.
"The new traditional title holders should see the conferment of titles as a challenge to work harder for unity, development and peace in the Emirate, in particular, and Kwara State, in general," he said in a statement issued by his aide, Yousuph Olaniyonu.
Also, the Correspondents' Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kwara State has felicitated with Mallam Mustapha, who is a patron of the union.
"Sir, we are incredibly proud of you. This is a well-deserved recognition going by your giant strides in the development of the Ilorin Emirate, and your indiscriminate philanthropic gestures that have impacted many lives and organisations in the state and beyond over the years.
"We are indeed very proud to be associated with you as the patron of our chapel. And as always, we assure you of our continued support and partnership," a letter signed by the chapel's Chairman and Secretary, Abdulhakeem Garba and Kayode Abdulazeez respectively, read.
Other individuals including eminent sons of Ilorin Emirate in different strata also praise the Emir for the worthy conferment.
A former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibbo Kawu, described the Turaki as a very important title in the community, which he said was conferred on Mustapha in recognition of his contributions to the development of the ancient city.
"The new Turaki is a very young man, but a young man with a tremendous sense of responsibility.
"Over the past three, four years, he has played a lot of roles in terms of contributing to community development efforts.
"That is what the emir recognized; that is what the community is celebrating. It is very vital that this has happened today," Kawu said.
Prof. Yusuf Lanre Badmus, a former Dean of the Postgraduate School of the University of Ilorin, said the conferment of the title on the APC chieftain was well-deserved considering his numerous contributions to the development of the ancient city.
"Turaki is a quality title. When you look at the first Turaki of Ilorin, he was a quality indigene of the city; the same thing with the second and the third, and this is the fourth.
"So it is a round peg in a round hole. The honouree has been a very big benefactor to many people, especially in things that he is doing without making noise; without calling journalists to come and see.
"So we are happy and proud and this is the greatest honour that the emir has done to Gambari environ," said Badmus during a thanksgiving visit to the Emir's Palace.
Justice Idris Haroon, a former Grand Khadi of Kwara State Sharia Court of Appeal, urged other sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate to emulate Mustapha's humility and sense of responsibility that earned him the recognition.
He urged the honouree to emulate the late political icon and second Turaki of Ilorin, Dr Olusola Saraki, by touching the lives of the downtrodden the more.
"The new Turaki has a role model to emulate and that is Baba Saraki who touched the lives of the masses particularly the downtrodden.
"So what I will advise as already advised by His Royal Highness is to continue on the righteous way he is living and do whatever he feels the city needs to promote its course.
I feel honoured - Mustapha
The newly appointed Turaki of Ilorin, in his reaction, said he felt honoured by his community for finding him worthy of the coveted seat, assuring that the people should expect more of his good deeds.
"I feel highly honoured and elated that I have been found worthy of this title - the Turaki of Ilorin.
"I want to thank His Royal Highness and the good people of Ilorin Emirate for finding me worthy of this title.
"I pray to Almighty Allah to guide and give me the wisdom, and good health to continue to do the good works that they have appointed me for.
"For my people, they should expect the good work that the title holds."
Mustapha, the founder of Saliu Mustapha Foundation, is the fourth Turaki of Ilorin.
He replaced former Senate President Bukola Saraki, who was promoted to the position of Waziri, Prime Minister of the emirate, in 2018.