Buhari Mourns AbduRazaq, Says One of Nigeria’s Greatest Legal Minds is Gone

Muhammadu Buhari
  • Torrents of tributes as first northern lawyer is buried
  • Lawan, Gbajabiamila, Saraki, Tinubu, governors, others pay homage

Hammed Shittu in Ilorin, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Gombe

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, joined millions of Nigerians to mourn the passing of Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, SAN, Northern Nigeria’s first lawyer and father of the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq, who passed on at the age of 93 years in Abuja, the nation’s capital, saying the nation has lost one of her greatest legal minds.

In his tribute to the late First Republic Minister, Parliamentarian, pioneer Commissioner of Finance, Kwara State and until his passing, Matawali of Ilorin and Tafidan Zazzau (Zaria), Buhari said he was highly saddened by news of the demise of the statesman and outstanding parliamentarian of his time.

“We will remember him as one of this country’s greatest legal minds and a national leader. He garnered respect that transcended our barriers visible and otherwise. His enormous contribution to the welfare of the people of his community, Kwara State and the country as a whole will serve to inspire future generations of our citizens.

“Whenever our Nation loses an elder in the class of Alhaji AbdulRazaq, it should serve as a moment of reflection on how the lives they lived and their sacrifices built the foundation of what we must continue to strengthen.

“On behalf of my family, the government and people of our nation, I extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the Governor of Kwara – Alhaji Abdulrahaman AbdulRazaq and his family, His Highness, Emir Sulu Gambari of Ilorin, and the people of Kwara State. We pray for the eternal peace of his soul,” the president said.

Meanwhile, torrents of tributes, yesterday, enveloped Kwara State’s socio-political milieu as the late Abdurazaq, who died at the age of 93, in Abuja, the nation’s capital, was buried.

The late AbdulRazaq, who was the Mutawali of Ilorin, Tafida of Zazzau (Zaria) and Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers, reportedly died peacefully at about 2am Saturday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

A statement by Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq on behalf of the family, announced the passing of the patriarch of the AbdulRazaq family.

“With total submission to the will of the Almighty Allah, the AbdulRazaqs of Ilorin Emirate of Kwara State hereby announce the passing of their patriarch and statesman, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho Abdul-Razaq SAN (OFR) at the age of 93 in Abuja and was born in 1927.

“The Mutawali of Ilorin and Tafida of Zazzau(Zaria), who was Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers, died peacefully at about 2am on Saturday, July 25th, 2020 (the 4th day of Dhul-Hijjah 1441 AH.)

“The first lawyer from the Northern Region is survived by his 90-year-old wife Alhaja Raliat AbdulRazaq, illustrious children (including incumbent Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq), and grandchildren,” the first statement added.

In yet another statement, also by Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq, the family, while announcing the burial plans, said it would be strictly a family affair and low-key event and therefore appealed to members of the public to respect their wish in the collective interest of everybody and in view of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, emotions, and prayers that have greeted the passing of our patriarch AGF AbdulRazaq SAN (OFR). As a Muslim, the patriarch will be buried today (yesterday) in Ilorin.

“Given his stature as a national icon and a man of the people, the family understands that many people may want to witness the historic moment of his burial rites. However, we wish to make the burial strictly a family affair, because of the current mood of the world, which calls for physical distancing.

“We appeal to members of the public to please respect this wish in the collective interest of everybody. Those who want to have a feel of the moment may however join the funeral rites through live commentary on Radio Kwara 99.1FM.”

The remains of the elder statesman were however interred at his Idi-Igba family house in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, in accordance with Islamic traditions on Saturday.

The Janaazah was attended by a delegation of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) led by its chairman and Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, who was accompanied by the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni as well as their Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello.

A delegation of the House of Representatives led by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, also witnessed the arrival of Abdulrazaq’s remains at the Ilorin International Airport. Gbajabiamila was in company with Hon Kashim Ibrahim Imam, Hon James Faleke, and Hon Babajimi Benson.

Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Yakubu Danladi Solihu led a delegation of the state lawmakers, including the House leader, Hon. Olawoyin Magaji.

The Janaazah (prayer) was led by the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Muhammad Bashir Solihu and attended by the Imam Imale Sheikh Abdullah AbdulHameed and other prominent traditional titleholders and religious leaders from the Ilorin Emirate.

Governor AbdulRasaq later led a delegation of family members and government officials to the Emir of Ilorin, Dr. Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari to condole with him on the death of the statesman, who was till his death, the Mutawalli of the Ilorin Emirate.

Meanwhile, more tributes last night poured in for the distinguished Nigerian, with President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Osun State Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, and many other prominent Nigerians and groups, leading the pack.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the late elder statesman was a trailblazer, being the first in virtually all areas of his endeavour among his people.

According to him, the late Mutawali of Ilorin was the first lawyer in Northern Nigeria, who left indelible footprints on legal practices and public service in Nigeria, stressing that he lived a fulfilled life worthy of emulation by all.

The Senate President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, prayed Allah to accept his soul in the Aljannat Firdaus and grant those he left behind the fortitude to bear his loss.

In his condolence message, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, Gbajabiamila, described the passing of Abdulrazaq as a painful loss, saying the late former minister in charge of railways in the First Republic, was one patriotic Nigerian.
He recalled how his late father and the late Alhaji Ganiyu Folorunsho Abdulrazaq were best of friends, noting that the late Abdulrazaq would be remembered for his contributions to the development of the country.

Also, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his condolence message titled, ‘AGF Abdulrazaq: Kwara has lost a Statesman’, described the death of Abdulrazaq as a loss of one of the statesmen produced by Kwara State.

He said, “The late AGF as he was fondly called by people, who knew him will be sorely missed and I believe he did his best in the service of our people in Kwara State and Nigeria as a lawyer, politician, diplomat and President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”

Saraki, therefore, commiserated with “the entire family of the deceased, the Emir of Ilorin, Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the entire Ilorin Emirate, and the people of Kwara State. He also prayed that Almighty Allah forgives the sins of the late Abdulrazaq and grants him a place in Aljannah Firdaus”.

On his part, Tinubu, in a statement personally signed, described the death of Abdulrasaq, as the end of an important era in this country.
“A nationalist in its true definition and a pan-Nigerian in all its adoring flavours, Papa Abdulrasaq did a lot for this country. He was an educationist, who founded the first privately owned secondary school, Ilorin College, Ilorin, now known as Ilorin Government High School, in the old Ilorin Province.

“He was an active player during the nascent post-independence period of the 1960’s, helping to stitch together the multi-interest and diverse expectations of the peoples of this country.

“AGF gave his very best to our country as a top legal practitioner, indeed the first lawyer to emerge from the Northern part of Nigeria, who also rose to become the Chairman, Council of Body of Benchers.”

He however maintained that, “The departure of the highly revered AGF, the father of the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, has left a huge vacuum in our national life.”

Sulu-Gambari, in his capacity as Chairman, Kwara State Council of Chiefs, in his condolence message issued in Ilorin, yesterday, specially condoled the Abdulrazaq’s family, widow of the deceased, Hajia Raliat Abdulrazaq, Governor Abdulrazaq and his siblings over their loss.
Sulu-Gambari, however, urged the governor and the Abdulrazaq family to find solace in the fact that their late father lived a remarkable life worthy of emulation.

Condoling with his Kwara State counterpart over the demise of his father, Oyetola in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, also commiserated with the entire Abdulrazaq family, the Ilorin Emirate and the people of Kwara State over the sad incident.
The governor, who lamented the demise of the patriarch and elder statesman, urged the bereaved family to take solace in the fact that their father lived a fulfilled and memorable life.

“Dear Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, accept my deepest condolences over the death of your father, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho Abdulrazaq. I also commiserate with the entire Abdulrazaq family, Ilorin Emirate and the people of Kwara State.

“AGF Abdulrazaq was an accomplished lawyer, a distinguished public servant, loving father, community leader, elder statesman and devout Muslim, who devoted his lifetime to the service of God and humanity,” the statement closed.

Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, in a condolence message by Ismaila Uba Misilli, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said he was deeply saddened by the news of the demise of the legal icon, whom he described as a principled, disciplined and humble statesman, who dedicated his life to the service of Almighty Allah, growth of the nation and the good of his community and humanity.
“We must take solace in the fact that the late diplomat left behind a lasting legacy through his progeny and exemplary life, which will continue to be cherished not only in Kwara State but across the nation,” he said.

The immediate past governor of the state, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, while commiserating with the Abdulrazaqs in a condolence message described the late Abdulrazaq as an enigmatic statesman and one of the state’s most accomplished indigenes.

Kwara State Chairman of APC, Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa also described the passage of Abdulrazaq as a colossal loss not only to the family, but also to the nation at large.

In a condolence message issued in Ilorin yesterday by his media office, Bolarinwa said, “The late Mutawali of Ilorin, Tafida of Zazzau (Zaria) and Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers was a quintessential legal role model and a potent voice in the politics of the old Northern region. He was a shining light in the Nigerian firmament.

“His wealth of experience has remained invaluable overtime. We are indeed saddened by his exit at this time, however we take solace in the illustrious life he lived and the worthy legacies he left behind.

Kwara State Speaker, Danladi-Salihu, described AbdulRasaq’s demise as a loss not only for Abdulrazaq’s family, but the entirety of Kwarans and Nigerians at large, given his monumental sacrifices and commitment to the socio-economic and political development of the state and country, in his personal, professional and political capacity.

“Aside being the first Lawyer in Northern Nigeria, Alh. AGF Abdulrazaq served Nigeria as a special member of the Northern House of Assembly from 1960 to 1962, following the Country’s independence.

“He was also the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Ivory Coast between 1962 and 1964 and later, member of the Federal Parliament from 1964 to 1966 as the Federal Cabinet Minister of State for Transport, before he became the first Kwara State Commissioner for Finance, Health and Social welfare from 1967 to 1972. Baba was also reputed for establishing the first private secondary school in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.”

Sending their condolences too, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) described AbdulRasaq’s death as a loss to the progressive community.

Bagudu, in a statement said, “We received the news of the death of Alhaji Abdulganiyu Folorunsho Abdulrasaq SAN) with heavy heart but with gratitude to Allah (SWT) for a life well blessed. His demise is a loss to the Nigerian Progressive Community and indeed the entire nation.

“We, the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), commiserate with our brother, Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrasaq, people and government of Kwara State and the nation on this sad loss and pray for the repose of the soul of our dear and beloved father and statesman,” Bagudu stated.
The national leadership of the APC, in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, said the elder statesman, diplomat, first lawyer from Nigeria’s northern region and Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers, was an accomplished man.