Ilorin is undoubtedly a very important human settlement in Nigeria with universal fame.Its popularity,which is essentially premised on its harmonious multi-cultural heterogeneity,time-tested socio-political federalism and profound Islamic intellectualism,dates back to circa 1807 when Sheikh Alimi relocated to the then amorphous and semi-autonomous configuration of settlements,which Ilorin was on the invitation of Aare Ona Kakanfo Afonja. Alimi and his Jama’a were said to have been invited by Afonja, the then generalismo of the old Oyo Empire,to fortify his army spiritually, physically and materially, in order for him to tackle or ward-off threat and, if possible, defeat the then intimidating Alaafin of Oyo,Oba Awole, and his “decimated and demoralised”army who were preparing to wage a war against Afonja for rebelling and declaring his abode, Ilorin, independent of Oyo Empire.Afonja,a thoroughly misunderstood patriot and war-lord, was said to have based his actions on the need to adhere strictly by the age-long military etiquette that he was goaded to violate and which would cost him his life.
Subsequent to the collapse of the once dreaded and formidable Oyo Empire, due to a number of factors, and the attendant establishment of an Emirate tremendously populated by people of various ethnic backgrounds but with dominance of Yorubas, Ilorin became a uniquely remarkable cultural melting-point,which continuously attract trade,scholarship and settlement by diversed people from far and near due to its cultural complexity and yet amazing fraternity even till date.
Many of those who sought military refuge,spiritual protection and intellectual progress, from Yorubaland and beyond who could not find enough space around the city-centre and the survivors of the civil war, between the forces loyal to the first Emir of Ilorin, Sheikh Abdulsalam, and the multi-ethnic muslim group led by led by Sheikh Abdullahi Tahir Solagberu, who were inhabitants of the original Okesuna, found abode at and around Pakata.
The fame of Ilorin stemmed from its unusual and harmonious social and political structures and activities of the people who occupied her territorial space. It is also rooted in the several natural and man-made monuments dotting its landscape here and there.
Being a big polity, Ilorin is segmented into different residential quarters called “adugbo” in local parlance. Pakata is among those quarters and undoubtedly a very popular one at that.
Pakata, over the years, has been peopled by individuals whose diverse contributions led to the fame of their homestead and the city which incorporates it. Located within the area, are some enduring structures and fascinating facilities, which brought the neighbourhood and the entire city patronage and fame.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME PAKATA.
Just like it is applicable to many other places, so many explanations have been offered for the historical origin of the name–Pakata.There are,at least,four of such postulations none of which can be dismissed without proper empirical scrutiny.However, the most plausible of them was that the area now referred to as “Pakata” was a vast natural plantation where trees bearing calabash of unusually big sizes (called PAKATA by the Yorubas) grew extensively. It was because of the utility value of the produce and the fact that the area bore its largest plantation in the entire Yorubaland and the most popular hub for “Pakata- related commerce” in Yorubaland, that made the area to be known and called Pakata plantation and eventually shortened to Pakata.
LOCATION OF PAKATA IN ILORIN
Pakata is located in the South-Western part of Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital. Pakata consists of residences, which cut across the most parts of the present-day Ubandawaki and some parts of Ajikobi, Alanamu Central and Adewole political wards of Ilorin-West Local Government Area of Kwara State.That is to say that no political ward or traditional political institution, apart from the Emir of Ilorin, has total jurisdiction over the entire Pakata sub-community.
This piece will consequently examine the contributions of a few physical landmarks in Pakata area to the development and popularity of Ilorin. It shall also periscope the achievements of a few indigenes of Pakata, which greatly sustained and promoted the corporate image of the community and Ilorin Emirate at large.
Let me, however, apologise that the geographical scope of this exercise would be restricted to only Pakata,which delineation is well-known to the indigenes and residents of the area.It would not include all the places that are known and referred to as Pakata by “people of yesteryears” and our compatriots from other areas within and outside Ilorin who may see the present-day Pakata beyond the scope of this effort.
Pakata Primary School, Ilorin, founded in 1934, is one of the infrastructural landscapes that brought remarkable glory to Ilorin Emirate. This is because, at its early age, it was attended by pupils from all-over the present-day Kwara State and beyond. The school was the second primary education facility and the third educational institution opened in Ilorin by the British colonial authority. A roll-call of prominent ex-pupils of the school,who later emerged among the nation’s “Who-is-Who”, included Alhaji Haliru Dantoro (1938-2015), who graduated from the school around 1950. He was an Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory from October,1983 to December,1983 and a distinguished Senator in the aborted Third Republic before rounding-off his public service career as the influential Emir of Borgu Kingdom in Niger State. Another notable product of the school was Alhaji Saka Sa’adu,OFR, (1938-2017),who left the great school in 1949.He was a seasoned educationist,respected scientist and accomplished technocrat who served as the Honourable Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Education between July, 1998 and May, 1999. On the list of ex-pupils of the school is also Alhaji Hamidu Gambari Erubu,CON, (b.1931),a foremost educationist and exemplary technorat. He finished from the school in 1945. He was the pioneer Registrar of the National Open University of Nigeria before retiring as a top-ranking official in the Presidency. Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali,OON, (b.1956), the nineth Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, graduated from the school in 1968. Another prominent Nigerian, who attended the school between 1943 and 1948, is Prof.Saka Nuru (b. 1935).Prof.Nuru has the enviable record of being the first Professor of Ilorin origin.He retired as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.This great son of Ilorin is also the first Professor of Veterinary Medicine in West Africa and undoubtedly one of the surviving ancestors of Veterinary Medicine as a modern profession in Nigeria.The Wali of Ilorin, Alhaji Shehu Usman Mustapha (b.1930), a distinguished politician,seasoned technocrat,venerable financial expert and renowned community leader, left the school in 1943 just as Senator Ayinla Olomoda (b. 1938), who represented Kwara Central in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1992 and 1993. Senator Olomoda,whose father was also a member of the National Assembly during the first republic, left the school in 1945. The school also produced Alhaji Abdulkadir Oba Shiru,a first class palace technocrat, who served as the Secretary to the Ilorin Emirate Council for so many years. He was also the Secretary of the Ilorin Central Jumaat Management Committee for many years under the chairmanship of the late Shaykh Muhammad Kamaluddeen,MFR,OFR,ORSA(1905-2005).Ambassador Abdulkadir Muhammad Sambo Imam(Okubiyi/Okekere),a distinguished scholar of Sharia and one of the pioneer career diplomat from Ilorin Emirate, who represented Nigeria in Egypt in the mid-1970s, among other countries, before his retirement as the Director of the Directorate of Pligrims Affairs in the Federal Ministry of External Affairs also attended the school just like his elder brother,Alhaji Shehu Ahmed Okekere, who was a first-class auditor in the office of the Premier of the defunct Northern Nigeria,Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello(1909-1966) in the 1950s.The incumbent Magaji Aare of Ilorin, Alhaji Shuaib Aremu Zubair,and the serving Balogun Alanamu of Ilorin, Alhaji Abubakar Akanbi-Jos, were also pupils of the school in the 1940s and 1950s, respectively.Each of these illustrious products of the school and hundreds of other distinguished individuals who are not mentioned here due to space took the name of the school everywhere they went and that advanced the fame of Ilorin throughout and far beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Another prime structure located at Pakata,which magnified the fame of Ilorin Emirate is the ancient Pakata Market.The market, which is about two(2) centuries old, became famous throughout Yorubaland because of the tremendous availability of a very essential ware-the jumbo sized Calabash (Pakata) and other agricultural produce as earlier explained .The remnant of the once large market can still be found around the famous Pakata Roundabout in Ilorin.The Market was indeed one of the most significant economic centres inherited by colonial administration in 1900. The Market,decades back, consisted of shops and outlets operated by those who controlled the economy of Ilorin Emirate.What marked the market out, among others in Ilorin, was the affordability of items sold therein and its close proximity to the agricultural-resourced segment of Ilorin Emirate.
Pakata Road, the major high-way, which connects the Aafin (Palace/Royal) segment with the Okemale axis of the city as well as the capital of the old Oyo Empire, through the ancient Pakata Gate of Ilorin is, yet, another remarkable landmark with a history that is unequalled in Ilorin Emirate.Oral accounts suggest that the Road has been in existence before the formal establishment of Ilorin Emirate. It was along that Road that the menacing allied forces of Oyo Empire and Borgu Kingdom personally led by one of the most dreaded Kings in the history Borgu,Woru-Kura,were miraculously crushed and exterminated by the less-formiddable Ilorin Army, the consequences of which gave Ita-Kudimo(arena of death for enemies) and Okekura(the place,which housed Woru-Kura) their names . The fact that that particular incident finally affirmed the “arrival” of Ilorin Emirate as a major political and military power, South of the Niger, rubbed on the arena where it took place around 1830.
Along with the monumental historical structures mentioned above, which gave it a place of pride in the history of Ilorin, Pakata has also produced outstanding individuals whose interventions contributed in no small measure to making Ilorin what it is today. Those illustrious personalities and their contributions shall be considered in the realm of Religion, Culture, Politics and Public Administration, Education, Community Development as well as Entrepreneurship.
Shaykh Abdulsalam Oniwiridi,who died in 1942, undoubtedly led the array of extra-ordinary religious personalities from Pakata who sustained the reputation of Ilorin as a city of Islamic spiritualism.The unforgettable achievements of the Shaykh,who never ascribed any extraordinary spiritual position to himself apart from Mukadam conferred on him by the scholar who initiated into the order while on Hajj,as common nowadays,transcended Ilorin. He was a major purveyor of the Tijjaniyah suffisim in Nigeria who was deservedly credited with the re-introuction and strengthening of the Tijjaniyah Order in Ilorin upon his return from the Holy Land in 1900. His efforts subsequently led to the spread of the Order across Yorubaland.
Shaykh Yahaya Tajudeen (1875-1956) of Adafila Compound, Pakata, who was the first Central Chief Imam and the vibrant Leader of Ebira Muslim community in the present day Kogi State of Nigeria between 1915 and 1956, was another significant religious and Islamic intellectual figure of Pakata origin who advanced the fame of Ilorin as a centre of Islamic learning.His efforts towards the peaceful spread of Islam through knowledge-sharing and by practical demonstration, contrary to the brutal and
objectionable force adopted by the Nupe people who preceeded him in spreading Islam in and around Okene accounted for the overwhelming majority of Muslims among the Ebira people of Kogi State.The great unofficial Ambassador of Ilorin died and was buried among in Ebiraland. Similarly, Shaykh Muhammad Ghali Alaaya (1903-1973) was also a great son of Pakata who worked for the promotion of Islamic Scholarship as his illustritious predecessors did across Yorubaland. His sojoun in lbadan, between 1933 and 1961, left remarkable marks in the Africa’s largest indigenous city. Shaykh Ali Arazim Alaaya(1930-2002), the immediate past National Missioner and Chief Imam of the ubiquitous Ansarudeen Society Worldwide, who led the spiritual arm of the highy-organised Muslim body between 1974 and 2002, was another outstanding scholar whose contributions confirmed the position of Ilorin as an epicentre of Islamic Scholarship. Mention must also be made of Shaykh Ahmad Alaye (d. 2017), who was a foremost preacher of Islam, a distinguished Quranic Reciter and the most productive preacher on album of his generation. Other fascinating Islamic Scholars of Pakata origin operating all-over the world, along with their colleagues from other parts of Ilorin Emirate,are collectively affirming the age-long reputation of Ilorin as a fountain of Islamic civilization.
In the realm of cultural promotion and entertainment, Pakata has also produced many individuals who used their various talents to secure more than a page for Ilorin Emirate in the cultural history of Nigeria. Of particular importance was Shaykh AbdulRahaman Pakata (d.1933) who was a Waka Legend. He was a fine Waka composer and erudite chanter of Islamic exultation, which the original “Ilorin Waka” was. His roles and accomplishments were officially confirmed with his appointment as the pioneer Waka king of Ilorin Emirate around 1917. He was said to be a patriot who used his poetic talents to promote patriotism and douse the tension created by the unanticipated military subjugation of Ilorin by the forces of the Royal Niger Company in 1897. Another influential cultural icon of Ilorin whose fame went beyond the frontiers of the Emirate was Alhaji Akanbi Baba-Olobi (1927-2010) of Bolude family, Pakata. He was the Leader of the Ajisari-Ajiwere cultural sub-sector of Ilorin from about 1958 to 1980.That great son of Pakata employed his musical talents to encourage patriotism, literacy, social cohesion and community development in so many ways . Alhaji Adebayo Salami a.k.a Oga Bello (b.1952) is another outstanding son of Pakata whose professional accomplishments in the business of acting complemented those of his other compatriots in raising the fame of Ilorin. He is a widely respected artist, actor and movie-maker who has produced and acted in many plays promoting cultural values, social harmony and national development since 1964. He was a one-time President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners.
Alhaji Amori Gidado (1909-1964) of Tapa Compound, Pakata, was a remarkable figure in the annals of politics and public administration in the erstwhile Ilorin Province. He was an influential Leader of the Northern Peoples’ Congress and one of those who defended Ilorin Emirate ferociously against its attempted merger with the then Western Region. He was later appointed the pioneer Secretary and Head of Administration of the General Hospital, Ilorin, where he served between 1955 and 1964. Another outstanding Politician and Public Administrator of note from Pakata is Alhaji AbdulRasheed Salman (b.1938). Alhaji Salman, who is popularly known as Rasidi Alada, is the first indigene of Ilorin Emirate to reach the pinnacle of his career as the Secretary to the Government of Kwara State where he served between 1979 and 1983.He also has the record of being the first University graduate of Ilorin Emirate origin who served in the administrative segment of the Kwara State Civil Service.He contested for the Governorship of Kwara State in 1991 on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC).He is now a respected elderstateman and eminent community leader.
Other remarkable members of Pakata Community who are highly-valued technocrats are Hajiya Halimat Tayo Alao (b. 1956) who is the first female Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Ilorin; Alhaji Sola Isiaka Gold (b. 1957), the immediate past Secretary to the Government of Kwara State and the longest serving occupant of that strategic office in the history of the “State of Harmony”; Alhaji Mudi Adebayo Gold (b.1942), the first Ilorin Emirate indigene to serve as the Head of the Civil Service of Kwara State between 1999 and 2003 and Alhaji Kamaldeen Ajibade (b. 1963), the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria from Pakata Quarters.This seasoned jurist served two enviable terms as the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kwara State. Other indigenes of Pakata who have made significant marks in public service are Engr. Sulaiman Oba Saleeman (b. 1948) of the Ubandawaki chieftaincy family of Pakata and Barrister Saadu Duro Abdulkareem Alawaye (1951-1989),an Ilorin-based famous Lawyer of blessed memory, who served as the Honourable Commissioners and Members of the Kwara State Executive Council between 1985 and 1987 and from 1988 to 1989, respectively. Alhaji Shehu Ahmed Onigbari (1939-1989) of Alaro compound, Oke-Ebo/Oke-Pakata, who represented Alanamu Constituency in the Kwara State House of Assembly from 1979 to 1983,was another Pakata indigene who did well in politics and, of course, Alhaji Shuaib Baba Pakata (1938-1995), who was a versatile Local Government Administrator.
In the field of modern western education, Mallam Jimoh Imam Pakata (1931-2012) was the first son of Pakata to receive a professional qualification in teaching. He did so in 1954 from the then Katsina Teacher’s Training College, Katsina.Though, he had limited higher education, his career became remarkable for this study courtesy of the high caliber of individuals who passed through his pedagogy, which ran between 1955 and 1999. Alhaji Shuaib Baba Pakata (1938-1995) was another great educationist whose impact is still being felt all-over the country. He was a great teacher under whose tutelage and guidance Prof. Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem OFR (b.1947), the first indigene of Ilorin to serve as the Chief Executive of a University; and Prof.Medinat Folorunsho Salman (b. 1958),the current and first female Dean,Faculty of Education, University of Ilorin,who is also the first female Professor of Ilorin Emirate origin, were educated.
From evidence however, Prof. Shehu Ahmad Jimoh OON(1944-2014) was undoubtedly the most prolific and influential educationist produced by Pakata. He was a nationally acclaimed Scholar ,a fascinating Community Leader and an Orator per excellence who once headed the Kwara State College of Education, Oro, between 1985 and 1992, among other public service appointments. The late seasoned academic, who was among the first generation of members of the host community to be appointed into academic positions by the University of Ilorin, would continue to be venerated for deliberately keeping himself at home,despite his deep erudition and universal appeal,for the purpose of oiling the engine of the educational progress of Ilorin Emirate.
Another significant endeavor at which Pakata occupies leading position in the annals of Ilorin is social engineering, community development and leadership.The contributions of several leading indigenes of Pakata in the formation, sustainance and leadership of the foremost sociocultural organisation of the good people of Ilorin Emirate, the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU),cannot be over-emphasised .Out of the twenty National Presidents of the Union, three (3) are indigenes of Pakata.Pakata also produced three(3) of her previous National Secretaries. Alhaji AbdulRasheed Salman of Alada Compound, Pakata, who served as the National Secretary and National President of the Union between 1975 and 1978 and from 1988 to 1989, respectively. Alhaji Mudi Adebayo Gold, another son of Pakata, from Baale/Anifowoshe family, was also the National Secretary and National President of the Union from 1980 to 1982 and between 1993 and 1996, respectively.Alhaji Abdulhamid Adi(b.1949) is also a son of Pakata from the same family as Gold.He also served as the National President of the Union from 2013 to 2017. Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Hanafi, a son of the Sayodun family of Pakata, was also the National Secretary of the Union from December, 2004 to March,2009. It is significant to note that apart from being the location of the Headquarters of the Union between 1969 and 2013, no other similar segment of Ilorin has produced such a number of leaders for the Union as Pakata in almost sixty(60) years of its corporate existence.
Prior to that, the elite of the community had constituted themselves into a socio-cultural outfit called “Egbe Oredegbe”which successfully functioned between the 1930s and early 1970s.The association was one of the few semi-formal setups, which activated the development of Ilorin Emirate during the colonial era.The body was eventually transformed into what is now called Pakata Area Development Association(PADA) in 1974.Besides, there is also the “Pakata Patriots”, Ilorin, a body of selected modern professionals of Pakata origin, which has been in functional existence, among similar bodies working for the progress and development of the Pakata community and Ilorin Emirate at large.
While Ilorin is also known as a center of commerce and entrepreneurship, Pakata has not lagged behind in producing some successful business tycoons who promoted its image and placed Ilorin on the economic map of Nigeria, particularly through the wide patronage of traditional textile called Aso-Ofi or Aso-Oke. Pakata Quarters also contributed significant number of enterpreneurs who excelled in crafts, trade and other forms of entrepreneurship at home and beyond. Among such category of influential businessmen were Alhaji Abdulkadir Woli Alasinrin and Alhaji Bako Aladire who were based in Jos, Plateau State. Others were Alhaji AbdulAzeez Agaka and Alhaji Busari Ola Sayodun who successfully ran their businesses in Accra, Ghana and Freetown, Sierra Leone, respectively, before relocating home, as well as Alhaji Muri Adi, an accomplished Estate Surveyor, Manager and Town Planner.
Today, not a few members of indigenes of Pakata,who are also outstanding professionals,are doing well in their various establishments.Their positive contributions here and there are giving Pakata and,by extension, Ilorin Emirate, a more polished image.These gentlemen include but not limited to Alhaji Bello Oladimeji Hanafi, the Director, Finance and Accounts,Court of Appeal of Nigeria; Dr. Abdulwahab Salman Adisa, the Director, Counseling and Human Development Centre, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria;Prof.AbdulRasaq A. Alada,a distinguished scholar of Physiology,former Dean of School of Postgraduate Studies,University of Ibadan and National President, Physiology Society of Nigeria ; Ambassador Babatunde Ayinla Nurudeen,the immediate past Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the ECOWAS Commission,Abuja;Mr. Salman Garuba Dogo,the very patriotic Deputy Commissioner of Police(Operations) at the Zone 12 of the Nigeria Police,Bauchi; Alhaji Adesina Badir Shuaib, who is now based in the United States of America after retiring as an high-ranking official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Alhaji Ibrahim AbdulSalam of the Presidency,Abuja.
The list of the outstanding Pakata Patriots who are currently making Ilorin Emirate proud also include Hajiya Medinat Bello-Akanbi of the Federal Road Safety Corps; Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza Gold,the Director of Legal Services, Supreme Court of Nigeria;Comrade Abdulmumini Kareem Onagun, the immediate past Chairman of the Kwara State chapter of the Inter-Party Advisory Council;Dr.Ibrahim Layi Ghali Alaaya, a seasoned teacher of Veterinary Medicine and respected political technocrat;Dr.Raheem Iyanda Lawal of the Federal Medical Center, Lokoja; Prof.AbdulRasaq Abdulmajeed Alaro, a seasoned propagator of Islam and accomplished scholar of Islamic Law ;Dr.Isiaka Yahaya Alada currently of the European Union; Alhaji Mohammad Ajibola Shuaib, the Ag. Registrar, Kwara State University, Malete;Alhaji Saheed Tunde Yahaya, the Chairman of the IEDPU Northern Zone and of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria; Alhaji Shehu Usman Aladire of the National Insurance Deposit Corporation;Barrister Abdulateef Femi Adebayo,who has taken his famous father,Oga Bello,as a popular theatre practioner and Dr.(Mrs.) Sadiyat Ojuolape Shuaib of the Department of the Performing Arts, University of Ilorin.
From the foregoing, it is very clear that the history of Ilorin Emirate , both past and contemporary, cannot be exhaustively discussed without an extensive reference to Pakata and many of its illustrious indigenes who put up remarkable services in all walks of life. A number of edifying structures also stand tall to secure highly significant pages for Pakata in the history of Ilorin Emirate.
It, therefore, behoves on the younger generations of the Pakata community to jealousy guard this shining reputation built by their illustrious predecessors .This is necessary to preserve the corporate image of Ilorin so that the community will not only maintain its significant position, but empower us all to bequeath worthy legacies to posterity.
Imam is the Secretary, “Pakata Patriots”,Ilorin.