If the political trajectory of past holders of Turaki title in Ilorin is anything to go by, a former national chairmanship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Saliu Mustapha, may be creating a political dynasty for himself as the country approaches the 2023 elections, writes Adedayo Akinwale
If the record of past holders of Turaki title in Ilorin Emirate has proved anything, it is that their advancement in politics begins just after being bestowed with the prestigious traditional honour. So more often than not, it has always been a boom to the politicians who have been fortunate to be conferred with it.
Beginning with the first ever Turaki, Alhaji Sanni Olanrewaju Okin, who was turbaned in 1963 and was already well established as an entrepreneur of note. His rise politically was further boosted by his historic turbaning as the first Turaki by the 9th Emir of Ilorin, Shaykh Sulu Gambari. He became first the representative of Ilorin Native Authority in the Northern House of Assembly on the platform of Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), and a Senator respectively.
So by the time he eventually bagged the Turaki title, Okin had sufficiently displayed the force of character and individual achievements necessary to carry the title.
Similarly, the political evolution of late Dr. Olusola Saraki was fast-tracked by his appointment on April 12, 1974 as the second Turaki of Ilorin. In fact, many believed that his conferment with the title gave his political career a stronger push and transformed him into the enigma he became in his lifetime.
Upon his elevation in 2006 to the rank of Waziri, the late Saraki was succeeded by his son, Dr. Bukola Saraki as the third Turaki of Ilorin. Like his father before him, his political career also got a boost and his national influence expanded after he bagged the title, becoming the Chairman of the influential Nigeria Governors Forum just a year after, and later elected Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District before being Senate President in 2015.
And from all indications, the current holder of the title, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, with his generosity and large-heartedness, appears to be walking in the shoes of all previous Turakis before him.
Mustapha, a development consultant, business mogul, philanthropist and politician, hails from Ilorin, Kwara State, North-Central Nigeria.
With a portfolio of business cutting across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy, he is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding and successful business personalities of his generation.
Born in Kaduna, Mustapha attended St. Bartholomew Primary School, Zaria and Command Secondary School, Kaduna before proceeding to Kaduna Polytechnic where he earned a qualification in Mineral Resources Engineering.
A consummate politician of over two decades, he ventured into politics at an early age, becoming the National Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Liberation Party (PLP). He also served as the first National Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Action Congress (PAC).
From 2005 to 2008, Mustapha served as the National Organizing Secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and in 2011, he was elected as the Deputy National Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recently, in his quest to ensure that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is well managed to deliver the much needed reforms in Nigeria, he joined the contest for the National Chairmanship of the party.
Beyond politics and business, Mustapha is a passionate humanitarian who caters to the welfare and wellbeing of his people. Through his NGO, the Saliu Mustapha Foundation, he continues to impact lives and improve the living conditions of young people, the aged, women and children in several communities across Kwara State and beyond.
In 2021, in recognition of his contributions to the development of the state, and especially his interventions against poverty and deprivation, he emerged the new Turaki of Ilorin Emirate, a traditional title conferred on the most eminent sons of the Emirate by the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari.
In evaluating the political trajectories of all the previous Turakis, it must be observed that there is a shared sentiment that often works in their favour. Having acquired the Turaki title and effectively integrated into the traditional political system of the Emirate, the people often have a special affinity towards them, and this is exactly what is playing out in the instance of Saliu Mustapha via-a-vis his senatorial run in 2023.
The Turaki title, which in traditional politics of Nigeria’s northern Emirate, is usually described as “the face of the kingdom,” has placed bigger responsibilities on Mustapha who must, more than before, feel the pulse of the people and represent them at different levels.
This may therefore inform why, in a bid to effectively discharge the responsibility of his traditional office better, he is currently standing as the APC senatorial candidate for Kwara Central in the 2023 elections.