Saliu Mustapha: Unveiling new Turaki Ilorin
On Friday, October 22, 2021, the ancient city of Ilorin was literarily ground to a halt. It brimmed with a mix of traditional, political and business class elite. It was the turbaning of Saliu Mustapha as Turaki Ilorin by the emir, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari. It was a carnival of sorts. It was also a ‘personal’ homecoming of sorts for the new Turaki.
Years ago, his late father, Alhaji Sanni Okin, held court as the first Turaki of Ilorin. Okin was installed in 1963. He died just a few weeks after the new Turaki was born in 1972.
The late orator and Danmasanin Kano, Yusuf Maitama Sule, used to say, “The joy of a dying father is the presence of a worthy successor.”
The new Turaki is certainly a worthy successor not by birth alone, but by personal industry, enterprise and selflessness
Turaki is a coveted title in any emirate. It is roughly the equivalent of Minister of Trade, Commerce or Industry. Holders of the title across the country have, at various times, exhibited outstanding entrepreneurial attributes.
Two such visible Nigerians who held this title in their respective domains were former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Both notable politicians are currently holding the title of Waziri, which automatically makes the holder a very senior Counselor of the emir.
Industry, enterprise and philanthropy define the life trajectory of the fourth Turaki of Ilorin, Saliu Mustapha. In this regard, he is a chip off his late father whose philanthropy is legendary. The passage of the first Turaki of Ilorin paved the way for the installation of Second Republic Senate Leader and kingmaker, the late Olusola Saraki. The third Turaki was former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Saliu is a tributary. His installation confirmed that. Among those who personally graced the occasion was Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, the emir of Bichi who, incidentally is the grandson of the eight emirs of Ilorin, Shehu AbdulKadir Dan Shuaibu Bawa,
He has an unusual ability to pull all Nigerians to him regardless of creed. In him, are the ancient values of the Ilorin emirate-of hospitality and accommodation. He embodies all that is positive of his generation. His personal industry places him in the ranks of exceptional entrepreneurs. Confidant, eternally cheerful and giving, his foray into the political grazing field catapulted him to even greater national reckoning within a short time than perhaps his business enterprise. His philanthropy, however, naturally endeared him to all and sundry and from far and near.
Disarmingly humble, he is without airs. He is progressively urbane, widely travelled and roundly exposed from childhood. As such, he has a vast social and political network populated by people from different walks of life.
Turaki Saliu’s compassion is blind to creed or class. He is at home with all manner of people.
His schooling prepared him for leadership in a pluralistic society like Nigeria and particularly his home state, Kwara.
He attended the famous St. Bartholomew Primary School, Wusasa, and Zaria, in Kaduna State from whence he moved into another missionary school, St John’s College, Jos, Plateau State. He completed his secondary school education at Command Secondary School, Kaduna.
The new Turaki of Ilorin is the product of Kaduna Polytechnic’s Department of Mineral Resources Engineering.
Growing up as an orphan made him mature early. He is the definition of “self-made”. His relentless urge to better society goaded him into politics. He is an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari and worked tirelessly to ensure his victory in the 2015 and 2019 elections.
It fell on him as the Deputy National Chairman of the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) founded by Buhari and his allies in 2010 to lead the party into merger talks with other legacy parties like ANPP, AC, APGA and the splinter group of PDP to register the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2014, when the late Tony Momoh, the CPC chair was indisposed.
Before then, he had walked, without changing course, with President Buhari in the 2003,2007 and 2011 presidential elections on various political party platforms.
His earlier contact with politics was when he served as the publicity secretary of Dr. Ezekiel Ezeogu’s Progressive Liberation Movement (PLM) and was a member of Fawehinmi’s Progressive Action Congress (PAC)
Saliu’s steady climb in party politics nationwide has engendered debate especially in his political party, the APC as to why he is seen as a contender to the office of the national chairman. His rising profile is such that a lot of stalwarts are comfortable with him. The only obstacle perhaps will be if the office is zoned to another geo-political zone.
Going for him is his unblemished integrity and character. Having held no elective legislative or executive office, he is not encumbered by any moral burden of excess baggage.
The turbaning is, indeed, a homecoming for Saliu Mustapha.
Ali M. Ali wrote from 1st Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja