On March 29, the body of benchers honoured One hundred and thirty-two outstanding lawyers in Abuja. The Body of Benchers is a statutory body established by the Legal Practitioner Act of 1962 responsible for the call to the bar of persons seeking to be legal practitioners, as well as the discipline of the erring lawyers. Among those honoured by the body was Alhaji Abdul Ganiyu Folorunsho Abdulrazaq (91).
He is number 460 in the Nigerian Legal Practitioners list and the first lawyer from northern Nigeria. He was ‘call to bar’ on February 8, 1955, but was enrolled to practice on April 1, 1955. Among his colleagues at that time were Mr Justice Victor OrerekoOvie-Whiskey, who was number 437 call to bar on August 6, 1954, but was enrolled on December 18, 1954. Chief Michael AdedapoOmisade was number 513 call to bar February 7, 1956, but enrolled on March 23, 1956. Chief Richard OsuolaleAbimbolaAkinjide was number 509, call to bar on February 7, 1956, but enrolled on March 12, 1956, Chief AdeniranOgunsanya was number 535 call to bar on June 19, 1956, but enrolled on September 15, 1956, Chief Akin Olugbade was number 402, call to bar on November 24, 1953, but enrolled on January 2, 1954, Mr Justice Francis Ome Nwokedi was number 459, call to bar on November 23, 1954 but enrolled on March 26, 1955. Chief Nabo Bekinbo Graham Douglas (1926-2006), that tall imposing figure from Abonema, was number 493, call to bar on June 28, 1955, but enrolled on December 3, 1955. Chief Graham Douglas was the second Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) after Chief AladeRotimi Williams (1920-2005) while Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) was the third SAN.
Chief Awolowo was number 168, call to bar on November 18, 1946, and was enrolled December 24, 1946. Justice Sir Louis NwachukwuMbanefo (1911-1977), the first lawyer from the old eastern region, was lawyer 127, was called to bar on November 18, 1935, and enrolled on August 13, 1937. Justice O. Shomolu was lawyer number 178, was called to bar on January 27, 1947, and enrolled on March 27, 1947. Justice Godfrey Charles Ubaka Agbakobawas lawyer number 303, was called to bar on June 6, 1951, and enrolled on August 7, 1951. Chief Samuel LadokeAkintola (1910-1966) was lawyer number 262, was called to bar on January 26, 1950, and enrolled on March 31, 1950. Justice Timothy AkinolaAguda (1923-2001) was number 339, was called to bar on July 1, 1952, and enrolled on July 19, 1952. He was number 339. Chief OluAkinfosile was lawyer 665, was called to bar on November 26, 1957, but was enrolled on May 12, 1958.
It was a deserving honour for AlhajiAbdulrazaq, who because of his health was represented by his first son, Dr Alimi. But equally deserving was the award given to him by the people of Kwara State when they elected his son, Abdulraham Abdulrazaq as their governor on March 9, which was a collective effort involving prominent people of Kwara State, including Alhaji Lai Mohammed (67) from Oro and others. The governor-elect is the Managing Director of first fuels limited and an ex-student of Government College, Kaduna.
Nothing will please Alhaji Ganiyu Abdulrazaqas a proud father than for his son Abdulrahman to perform in terms of governance in Kwara State. There is a wall of difference between winning the election and governing well. Elections make fundamental contributions to democratic governance. The main purpose of democracy is not only to win elections but good governance. What the people of Kwara State want is not a mere change from Saraki dynasty to Abdulrazaq dynasty but a positive change for the better. The OTOGE movement was a clarion call for good governance. The same forces that drove the Saraki dynasty out of power are still around and more reinforced and alert. Between 1952 and early 70s, two important figures played prominent roles in the sub-region that we now callKwara. They are AlhajiAbdulrazaq and Chief Josiah Sunday Olawoyin who died in 2000 at the age of seventy-five. Chief Olawoyin was an ally of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the Asiwaju of Offa. Then came Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin. Then came Chief Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo (78) from Okeonigbin in Kwara State, who became a Commissioner in the state, elected Senator in 1979 and elected governor in August 1983. He became a Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo. Then came Chief Ayo Opadokun, the former Secretary of NADECO and now Alhaji Lai Mohammed. With the gubernatorial election last month, the torch has now been passed to the Abdulrazaq family.
Public Service runs in the family of Abdulrazaq in Ilorin. Twenty years ago, the first daughter of the family, Khairat Abdulrazaq Gwadabe was elected a Senator in Abuja.
Abdulrazaq himself entered politics as early as 1952. Between 1957 and 1960, he was a member of Northern House of Assembly. He became the Nigerian Ambassador to Cote Ivoire between 1960 and 1962. Between 1962 and 1964, he was a cabinet Minister of Nigeria Railway Corporation and a Member of Parliament.
Following the creation of Kwara state in 1967, he was appointed a commissioner for Finance and later Commissioner for Health and Social Welfare by Governor Femi David Lasisi Bamigboye (1940-2018). In 1975, General Murtala Mohammed appointed him as a member of the 50-man Constitutional Drafting Committee. He was later made the Chairman of the sub-committee of the Executive and the Legislature. Other members of the sub-committee wereDr. E. Eleazu, AlhajiSuleGaniyu, Dr I. Ahmed, Dr KoleAbayomi, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Dr G. A. Odenigwe, Mr S.G. Ikoku, AlhajiShehuMalami and Dr K.O. Mbadiwe.
It was at the Constitutional Drafting Committee that I first met Alhaji Ganiyu Abdulrazaq. He is a very simple individual. A gentleman to the core with high intellect. He lives in a world of ideas. I met him at the time he was losing grip on Kwara State politics. Dr AbubakarOlusolaSaraki (1933-2012) alias OLOOYE was emerging as the leader of Kwara state politics. Before 1974, AlhajiAbdulrazaq was the leader, especially in Ilorin. In 1976, I wanted to write a book on AlhajiAbdulrazaq. He insisted I should not pleading that “my story is not yet over”. Because of Dr Saraki’s dominance in NPN at that time, Alhaji Abdulrazaq opted for the GNPP of AlhajiWaziri Ibrahim in 1979. It was at the Constitutional Drafting Committee that he served the nation best.
He seconded the bill on the Presidential system of Government in the Constituent Assembly. Nothing will please him today than seeing his son, Abdulraham being sworn-in as governor of Kwara State on Wednesday, May 29. The inauguration will no doubt bring back his glory in Kwara State.
ERIC TENIOLA, A FORMER DIRECTOR AT THE PRESIDENCY WROTE FROM LAGOS