By Raheem Adedoyin
He is the humble, quiet type. He has sartorial taste but imbued with incredible simplicity.
Today, Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq will not have his quiet way as he is turbaned the Mutawalli of Ilorin Emirates. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is leading the A list of guests that will also include former president Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, state governors and many distinguished Nigerians and diplomatic figures.
Mutawalli (Chancellor of Exchequer or Minister of finance) is one of the most revered royal titles in Ilorin Emirates.
The drumbeat of celebration became louder long before today but the Kwara capital city literally goes agog this Friday for the turbanning of the newest title holder appointed by the Emir of Ilorin, His Eminence, Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR.
Dr. Alimi steps into the shoes of his late father, Alh. AbdulGaniyu Folorinso AbdulRazaq,( SAN, OFR), the celebrated first lawyer from Northern Nigeria, former, Chairman Nigerian Body of Benchers and the longest serving Mutawalli of Ilorin who died in 2020.
Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq is uniquely Kwaran. His first name Alimi, has a ringing historical significance in Ilorin Emirate. His surname, AbdulRazaq, belongs in the genre of famous family names not only in Ilorin or Kwara but in Northern Nigeria.
The new Mutawalli is a distinguished lawyer, a stately politician, an entrepreneur, a key corporate player, a remarkable public service figure, a notable community leader and an affable Nigerian patriot.
Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq (DAA) was a privileged child but who, in his own words, ” learnt the virtues of modesty, prudent attitude, honesty, humility, good disposition, patriotism and truthful perseverance.” from his path finding father.
Indeed, DAA is AGF in a millennial garb. In law practice, education, politics/ public service, Dr. Alimi is a chip off the old block.
A legal scholar with a doctorate degree in law, an Harvard alumnus, Dr. Alimi was exposed to the rudiments of law practice very early in life. At age 12, he was already following his celebrated lawyer father to the court.
He doesn’t hide the fact that his father, who rose to become one of the earliest recipients of the prestigious Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) influenced his study of law and choice of law practice as a career.
Expectedly, DAA joined the family’s law firm, House of Law, founded by AGF, where he became the managing partner.
AGF invested in education- quality education- not only for his children but as public service. Ilorin College, Ilorin which the late patriarch established in 1955 as the first private secondary school in Kwara (and some say in northern Nigeria) but now known as Ilorin Grammar School (IGS) following the government’s takeover, is now an iroko tree in Kwara’s education firmament.
Toeing his father’s line, Dr. Alimi also founded the famous Bridge College, Ikoyi. To butt, Alimi’s younger brother, Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq, is the proprietor of another famous secondary school in Nigeria, the Regents School, Abuja.
Politics runs deep in the family but the public service content of it is more pronounced. AGF was an outstanding political leader and public service General. He was commissioner in the old Kwara state and Member of federal cabinet as Minister of state for Transport of the federal republic of Nigeria, in addition to other public service engagements.
Dr. Alimi has not held any elective political office (he actually contested in 1999 to be governor of Kwara State but lost the election to late Admiral Muhammed Lawal). But he was an influential stakeholder in the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP), whose 16 years long- running reign as Nigeria’s flamboyant ruling party, was terminated by the All Progressive Congress( APC) in 2015.
In public service, Dr. Alimi was Commissioner, Legal Licensing and Enforcement of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission ( NERC), Chairman, National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe and Member, National Council on Privatization.
As his late father prospered in Corporate NIGERIA ( he was Chairman in Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange ( NSE), President of NSE, Chairman, Capital Issues Commission), so also is the new Mutawalli a key player in Corporate in the corporate world . He is Chairman of Forte Upstream Services Limited and was recently appointed to the Board of First Bank Holdings PLC as non-executive director.
Dr. Alimi is a silent hero of the OtoGe revolution in Kwara State. He hosted several strategy sessions in his in GRA, Ilorin, residence; he was the get-to, the Godfather of OtoGe movement.
What Dr. Alimi failed to achieve in 1999, his younger brother, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, achieved 20 years later. In 2019, AbdulRahman was elected the 6th Governor of Kwara State.
Dr. Alimi is not directly involved in governance in Kwara State, he lets you know the governor calls the shot as every governor should. But there is no gainsaying his guiding hand in political and policy matters. He is the un-obstructive Godfather.
Hajia Saadatu Modibbo Kawu, APC Chieftain and Honourable Commissioner for Education, Kwara State, vividly captures the DAA mantra: “Dr. Alimi is a father figure; he is a real fine crisis manager; he has great comportment, he is calm but gets things done.”
DAA rarely grants press interviews and shies away from publicized public engagements. But in a rare moment of candour with the press three years ago, he laid out his major challenge in life: to live up to the high-achieving status of his father.
Stepping into the shoes of the father as Mutawalli is a major step in that direction. The AGF legacy continues.
Congratulations, Mutawalli Muhammed Alimi AbdulRazaq.
*Adedoyin is a journalist and member of the executive board of the International Press Institute (IPI).*