58th IEDPU Conference: Matters Arising

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58th IEDPU Conference: Matters Arising

 

By Abubakar Imam

The opening ceremony of the annual national conference of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) has become a sort of “traditional engagement” among the good people of the southernmost Emirate. It is usually organised to herald the commencement of the two-day annual gathering of members of the Union, particularly, delegates from its over 150 branches across and beyond the shores of Nigeria.

My findings revealed that the tradition started in 1966 when members of the Union from all over Nigeria converged for its maiden national conference. It was at the conference that the pioneer National President of the Union, Alhaji Mahmud Bayo Baker, was elected. The same conference also saw the emergence of the current Executive Secretary of the Ilorin Central Jumaat Mosque, Alhaji Sulaiman Bayero, as the Union’s first National Secretary.

Yours sincerely, therefore, grew up to know December 25 every year, as a special day in the “cultural calendar” of the good people of the “frontier Emirate”. It is a day usually set aside for the elaborate opening ceremony of the annual national conference of the IEDPU, the community’s umbrella sociocultural organisation.

For many years before I became a functional member of the Union, I hated missing the yearly ceremony. I will always abandon my Idi-Ofi (weaving shed) and every other engagement to be part of the glamorous event. This is because my presence would always afford me the privilege of setting my eyes on established and emerging leaders of the community and their friends who usually honoured invitation to the ceremony.

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I can say that it was at the succeeding editions of the event that I first knew many big and influential personalities that I used to see only on television and newspapers as well as heard about on networks of radio stations. These include eminent traditional rulers, political office holders and top civil servants as well as seasoned academics and celebrated business moguls, among other distinguished personalities. The event simply attracts all notable movers and shakers of the Ilorin Emirate community.

This year’s edition of the event would be held on Monday, December 25, 2023. It is scheduled to begin at 9:00am and at the same venue it has been holding over the years, which is the forecourt of the palace of His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahiim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, and under whose auspices the event would, again, be held.

The Executive Governor of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, CON, would be the Distinguished Guest of Honour. He has been playing this role magnificently and consistently with his physical presence since 2018.

While a few indigenes and non-indigenes of this unique community are sometimes critical of the annual event as “just a mere ceremony for the monotonous unveiling of the Union’s annual calendar and shouting of Shehuuuuuu only”, the event has become a sort of ritual among the overwhelming majority of our people. This is because most people have become used to it and found it as a must attend event despite the retention of the same features and items every year. It is significant to say that our people have learnt not to fix any other social event on that date, which indigenes of other communities erroneously called “Ilorin Day”.

I can tell you for free that the outgoing National President of the Union, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman, fsi; ably assisted by his Deputy, ACG AbdulMumini Ayo AbdulMalik(rtd); and the Chairman of the National Conference Planning Committee, who is also a retired Permanent Secretary in the Kwara State civil service, Mallam Bolakale Abdullahi Yusuf; as well as members of the National Executive Council of the Union are not leaving any stone unturned at ensuring that the event turnout to be far better than any of the previous one.

This year’s event shall be presided over by a retired Grand Kadi of Kwara State, Honourable Justice Idris Abdullahi Haroon, OFR. The renowned cleric-jurist, I learnt, is prepared for the role previously played by his brother jurists in the past such as the Northern Nigerian first lawyer, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, SAN, OFR; a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Saliu Modibbo Alfa Belgore, GCON; the third President of the Court of Appeal, Honourable Justice Mustapha Akanbi, CFR; the longest serving Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Mahmud Babatunde Belgore; the pioneer Chief Judge of Kwara State, Honourable Justice Saidu Kawu, CON; the first Grand Kadi of Kwara State, Honourable Justice Abdulkadir Orire, CON; and his immediate successor, Honourable Justice Mutalib Ahmad Ambali, OFR, FISN, among several others.

The Chairwoman of the event shall be an Osogbo-based accomplished entrepreneur, who doubles as the Matron of the Western Zone of the Union, Hajia Fatimah Toyin Shuaibu. This is not her first time. She first did it in 2005. Hajia Shuaibu, who is also prepared for the task, would also be playing the role once played by a former Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Halima Tayo Alao; the immediate past Minister of State, Solid Minerals Development, Senator Rukayat Gbemisola Saraki,CON; and a high-ranking Judge of the High Court of Justice, Ilorin, Justice Halima Ayodele Saleeman; among several others in the past.

The Principal Launcher, who would be coming all the way from the city of Kano, is the Chairman and Chief Executive of A. A. Rano Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Mohammed Awwal. He would be proving his fraternity and love for Ilorin Emirate as done by several wealthy individuals especially the late Waziri of Ilorin and second republic Senate Leader, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki; a former Senate President and Waziri of Ilorin, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON and the Madawaki of Ilorin, who is also the Waziri Kasar Hausa, Alhaji Yakubu Garba Gobir, among others.

The Honourable Grand Kadi of Kwara State, Honourable Justice Abdulateef Kamaldeen, would also be discharging a service he “inherited”. This youthful jurist is scheduled to be the Guest Speaker at the event as his illustrious forebear and pioneer Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Kamalud-Deen Al-Adabiy, MFR, OFR, ORSA(Egypt), FISN; the celebrated founder of the Arabic and Islamic Training Centre (Markaz), Agege, Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory, ORSA,(Egypt),FISN; and the late Chief Missioner of the Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Shaykh Ali Arazim Alaaya as well as his counterpart in the Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria, Shaykh AbdulRaheem Ameen Oniwasi-Agbaiye Al-Adabiy and the Grand Mukadam of Ilorin, Shaykh Sulaiman Abubakar Dan-Borno; among others,did at various times in the past.

Aside from the outstanding individuals and anticipated guests mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, invitations have also been dispatched to and received by many other distinguished persons, groups and organisations from within and outside Ilorin. No one is exempted as the event is for all Ilorin Emirate patriots and their friends, regardless of gender, political affiliations, philosophical tendencies and socioeconomic levels and other forms of social segmentation.

For the sake of emphasis, I must say that all former and serving members of the National Assembly and former Ministers of the Federal Republic, who are indigenes of Ilorin Emirate, are invited. All former National Presidents and former National Secretaries of the IEDPU are also expected as well as all holders of hereditary and honourary traditional titles of Ilorin Emirate are also expected to grace the ceremony. The attendance of all serving and former members of the Kwara State Executive Council, who are indigenes of Ilorin Emirate, is anticipated. Invitations are also extended to all retired and serving Permanent Secretaries and Directors-General as well as all Professors of Ilorin Emirate origin, including serving and former Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Just as all serving and retired Chief Judges and Judges of the State and federal courts of records, who are indigenes of Ilorin Emirate as well as former and serving Heads of institutions of higher learning and research institutes and security agencies in Ilorin Emirate are similarly invited. The same goes to all the sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate holding key positions in the government of Kwara State and federal institutions and parastatals as well as retired and serving high-ranking personnel of military and paramilitary services.

Despite the effort of the Conference Planning Committee towards ensuring an all- encompassing attendance, it is not impossible that some very distinguished individuals and groups among the categories mentioned above or those whose categories are not captured may not have received their invitation cards. This does not mean that the Union is selective or discriminatory towards such individuals. It is certainly due to the limitations of human capacity. And so, such categories of individuals and organisations are also cordially invited and most welcome.

Since no community could be developed solely by its indigenes, the annual event is also open to residents from other places who have adopted Ilorin as a home. In this case, all the “Ilorin-Gbemis”(those who are favoured or blessed as a result of their settlement in Ilorin), apologies to the former Chief Imam of the University of Ilorin Central Mosque and Grand Mufti of Erin-Osun, Prof. AbdulGaniy Abdulsalaam Oladosu, are welcomed to the ceremony.

The event would witness an assessment of the progress recorded in all sectors by the Union and the community at large in the last one year. It will also feature critical discourse on the state of the nation as it affects the Ilorin Emirate and most importantly fund raising towards the completion of two key projects such as the Ibrahiim Sulu-Gambari Skills Acquisition Centre and the IEDPU Jumaat Mosque as well as for the running of the Union for the next one year.

The working session of the conference slated for Tuesday, December 26, 2023 would be held in Afon, the headquarters of Asa Local Government Area of Kwara State. Asa is one of the five Local Government Areas constituting Ilorin Emirate and the working session of the conference is often rotated among the concerned LGAs to encourage a sense of belonging.

The Day Two of the annual event would witness its most important segment. This is the election of the Union’s new National President as well as other officers who would run the affairs of the Union for the next two years.

Two candidates have since “emerged” for the top, energy-sapping, time-demanding and “thankless” position. Their names and resumes are being shared and assessed by members and stakeholders of the Union. May Allah give the Union the best.

Yours sincerely, Insha Allah, will also be a candidate in the contest for the position of the Union’s National Secretary, which he is currently holding. Yes, I am contesting again. I am because I believe that I still have more to offer, if elected for a second and final term in office as the Union’s Chief Scribe. I hope and pray to win. If I win, I will continue to do my best for the Union and our great community. If it happens the other way, I will still continue to work for the love of our people in my inalienable personal capacity.

Lest I forget, I must say that everybody, including you and your friends, is invited to the opening ceremony of the conference while only card-carrying delegates from constitutionally recognised branches would be allowed to be part of its working session.

Please make it a date with the Union on Monday, December 25, 2023. It is an act of patriotism to participate in events as this. I pray to Allah to grant us the privilege of living beyond the date and the event. Aamiin.

Imam is National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.
Friday, December 8, 2023.

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