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Ilorin is, no doubt, a very important human settlement in Nigeria .Its fame dates back to 1807 when Sheikh Alimi relocated to the then amorphous city 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 Oyo Empire, to fortify his army spiritually and physically,  in order for him to tackle and, if possible, defeat the then Alaafin of Oyo and his decimated army who were preparing to wage a war against Afonja who had rebelled and declared his abode, Ilorin, independent of Oyo Empire.  

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 in the city tremendously populated by the people of various ethnic backgrounds but with Yoruba’s dominance, Ilorin became a uniquely remarkable cultural melting point which continuously attract settlement and scholarship from far and near due to its cultural complexity even till date.

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 city, Ilorin is segmented into different residential quarters called “adugbo” in local parlance. Pakata is among those quarters and, undoubtedly, a very popular one. Pakata, over the years, is peopled by individuals whose contributions led to the fame of their homestead and the city which incorporates it. Located within the area, are some structures, which brought the neighbourhood and city patronage and fame.


Just like many other places, so many explanations have been offered for the historical origin of the name–Pakata. However, the most plausible of them was that the area now referred to as Pakata was a natural vast plantation where big calabash (called PAKATA by the Yorubas)-bearing tree grew extensively. It was because of the utility value of the produce and the fact that the area bore its largest plantation in Yorubaland which accounted its wide availability and patronage by users from all-over Yorubaland, that made the area to be known and called Pakata plantation and eventually shortened to Pakata.


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 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 place of a few physical landmarks in Pakata area in the development and popularity of Ilorin. It shall also periscope the achievements of a few indigenes of Pakata which greatly sustained and promoted the good corporate image of Ilorin.

Pakata Primary School, Ilorin, founded in 1934, is one of the infrastructural landscapes that brought remarkable glory to Ilorin. This is because, at its early age, it was attended by pupils from allover the present Kwara State and beyond. The school was the second primary education facility and the third educational institution opened in Ilorin by the British. 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 in 1950. He was an Honourable Minister (October,1983-Decembee1983) 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 respected public servant who served as the Honourble Minister of State in the Ministry of Education between 1998 and 1999. On the list of ex-pupils of the school is also Alhaji Hamidu Gambari Erubu CON (born 1931). 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 technocrat in the presidency. Professor AbdulGaniyu Ambali OON (born 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 Professor Saka Nuru (born 1936) who has the record of being the first Professor of Ilorin origin before retiring as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.The Wali of Ilorin, Alhaji Shehu Usman Mustapha (born 1928), a distinguished Politician and technocrat, left the school in 1943 just as Senator Ayinla Olomoda (born 1934), who represented Kwara Central in the Senate between 1992 and 1993. Senator Olomoda left the school in 1945. Each of these illustritious products of the school and hundreds of others who are not mentioned here due to space took the name of the school everywhere they went and that advanced the fame of Ilorin.                           Another prime structure located at Pakata which pronounced the fame of Ilorin 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-Big Calabash (Pakata) and other  agricultural produce.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 colonialists in 1897. The Market, then, 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 and its close proximity to the agricultural-resource segment of Ilorin.  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 were crushed by the Ilorin Army. The fact that that particular incident finally affirmed the “arrival” of Ilorin as a major political and military power, South of the Niger, indicated the greatness often attached to that episode and the arena where it took place at about 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 (died 1942), undoubtedly, led the array of extra-ordinary religious personalities who sustained the reputation of Ilorin as a city of Islamic spiritualism, and whose achievements transcended Ilorin. He was a major pioneer of Tijjaniyah suffisim in Nigeria. He is 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 YahayaTajudeen (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 figure of Pakata origin who advanced the fame of Ilorin as a centre of Islamic learning. 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. His sojoun in lbadan, between 1933 and 1961, left remarkable marks in that city. Shaykh Ali Arazim Alaaya(1930-2002), the penultimate National Missioner and Chief Imam of the ubiquitous Ansarudeen Society Worldwide, who led the spiritual arm of the Organisation 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 (died 2017) who was a foremost preacher of Islam and a distinguished Quraniic Reciter. Other fascinating Islamic Scholars of Pakata origin operating all-over the world, collectively affirm the age-long reputation of Ilorin as an Haven of Islamic civilization.

In the realm of cultural promotion and entertainment, Pakata has produced many individuals who used their various talents to secure more than a page for Ilorin in the cultural history of Nigeria. Of particular importance was Shaykh AbdulRahaman Pakata (died 1933) who was a Waka Legend. He was a fine Waka composer and erudite chanter of Islamic exhultation which Waka was. His roles and accomplishments were officially confirmed with his appointment as the pioneer Waka king of Ilorin Emirate at about 1917. He was said to be a patriot who used his poetic talents to promote patriotism and douse the tension created by the 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 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. Alhaji Adebayo Salami a.k.a Oga Bello (born 1952) is another outstanding son of Pakata whose professional accomplishments complemented those of others in raising the fame of Ilorin. He is a widely respected artist, actor and dramatist who has produced and acted in many plays promoting cultural values, social harmony and national development. 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 an attempted merger with the then Western Region. He was later appointed the pioneer Secretary 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 (born 1938). He is the first indigene of Ilorin 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 contested for the Governorship of Kwara State in 1991 on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NEC) and has remained a frontline Politician since then. Other remarkable members of Pakata Community who are technocrats are Hajiya Halimat Tayo Alao (born 1956) who is the first female Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Ilorin; Alhaji Sola Isiaka Gold (born 1957), the serving Secretary to the Government of Kwara State and the first Kwaran appointed to serve a second term as the Secretary to the Government of Kwara State; Alhaji Mudi Adebayo Gold (born 1941), the first and only Ilorin indigene, so far, to serve as the Head of Civil Service of Kwara State between 1999 and 2003 and Alhaji Kamaldeen Ajibade (born 1963), the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria from Pakata Quarters. He is currently serving his second term as the Honourble Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kwara State. Other indigenes of Pakata who have made significant marks in public service are Engineer Sulaiman Oba Saleeman (born 1948) and Barrister Saadu Alawaye (1951-1989) who served as the Honourable Commissioner and Member of the Kwara State Executive Council between 1985 and 1987 and from 1988 to 1989, respectively. Alhaji Shehu Ahmed Onigbari (1939-1989) 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 1955.Though, he could not receive higher education, his career became remarkable for this study courtesy of the high caliber of individuals who passed through his pedagogy. Alhaji Shuaib Baba Pakata (1938-1995) was another great educator whose impact is still being felt all-over the country. He was a great teacher under whose tutelage Professor Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem OFR (born 1947), the first indigene of Ilorin to head a University; and Professor Medinat Folorunsho Salman (born 1958) who is the first female Professor of Ilorin origin, passed through.

However, Professor Shehu Ahmad Jimoh OFR(1944-2014) was, undoubtedly, the most prolific 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. Late Professor Shehu Ahmed Jimoh of blessed memory has been posthumously profiled on this platform.

Another significant endeavor in which Pakata occupies a unique 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 people of Ilorin origin, the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) cannot be over-emphasised .Out of the sixteen (16) 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, 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.The current Head of the Union, Alhaji Abdulhamid Adi(born 1949) is also a son of Pakata from the same family as Gold. 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 providing a location for the Headquarters of the Union between 1969 and 2013, no other similar segment of Ilorin has produced such a number of leaders of the Union as Pakata in it’s over fiftyv(50) years of corporate existence.

Ilorin is also known as a center of commerce and entrepreneurship. Pakata has not lagged in producing some successful tycoons who promoted that 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 craftsmanship, trading and other forms of entrepreneurship. Among such category of influential businessmen are 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.

From the foregoing, it is very clear that the history of Ilorin, 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.

It, therefore, behoves on the younger generation and those unborn to jealousy guard this shining reputation.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.

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