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The writing of “Ilorin At A Glance” was commissioned by the Durbar Committee to commemorate this year’s Special Durbar celebration as well as to serve as one of the takeaways, particularly, by friends of the Emirate present at the revived even.

The commissioning became a tall order for the two writers who had less than ten days to accomplish this write-up.
This effort, may, therefore, not meet certain expectations or cover all personalities as may be required due to the limited time at hands. Nevertheless, sincere and thorough efforts were made to ascertain and authenticate the historical claims therein.


AbdulMalik, A.A.

We sincerely acknowledge the works and writings of the eminent personalities listed under reference and reading list. In particular, we especially thank Alhaji L.A.K. Jimoh, who, despite his very tight schedules took time off to read through our draft and made valuable suggestions.

We give glory to Almighty Allah for His guidance always and particularly in this attempt.

Finally, we thank the Durbar Committee for the opportunity to contribute our own widow’s mite to this year’s Durbar celebration in the form of this piece.


AbdulMumini A. AbdulMalik & Abubakar S. Imam

AbdulMumini A. AbdulMalik is an Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration (Rtd). He was one time National President of Ilorin Students Union (ISU) and also one time National Secretary of Ilorin Descendants Progressive Union; now Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU). He holds B.A. (Hons) degree in English and Masters in Public Administration from Bayero University, Kano and University of Ilorin, respectively.

Abubakar Sidiq Imam holds a B.Sc. in Mass Communication and M.I.L.R of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Ilorin, respectively. He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) and the Nigerian Industrial Relations Association (NIRA). He was one time, Third National Assistant Secretary of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU). He works presently with University of Ilorin.

Central Mosque, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria 

Ilorin, Al Madinat El Islam and our beloved place of birth, is located in the southern boundary of old Northern region after River Niger towards the South West of Nigeria. It is on Latitude 8.30o North and Longitude 40.35o East in the North-Central Geographical Zone of Nigeria. It is the capital of Kwara State and about 700 Kilometers from Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. It is also about 300 kilometers from Lagos, the erstwhile capital of Nigeria and the commercial nerve-centre of the nation; while it is about 160 Kilometers from Ibadan, one of Africa’s largest cities.

What started as a small settlement, full of forest with wild animals, grew to become Ilorin Emirate that is generally blessed with undulating and fertile land attractive to herders, hunters and farmers. It is, however, dotted by a few hills and mountains prominent of which are the scintillating Sobi Hill in Ilorin East Local Government Area and Yowere Hill in Asa Local Government Area of Kwara State. Ilorin Emirate is additionally blessed with some Rivers and streams, the longest of which is Asa while others include Moro, Osin, Orere and Oyun.

Ilorin Emirate is endowed with healthy and friendly climatic conditions. It essentially witnesses moderate rainy and dry seasons year-in-year-out. Rainfall usually occurs between March and October while dry season follows from November to February with comforting harmattan season in between.

The Population of Ilorin Emirate, which consists of people from various tribal backgrounds, is about one million which is about 50% of the population of Kwara State. The people of Ilorin are hard-working, peaceful, friendly and are noted to be very fraternal with visitors. As hosts to the State capital, it is their friendly dispositions to residents and visitors that account for the enduring and beautiful appellation, “the State of Harmony”, for which Kwara State is known and addressed.

The territory now called Ilorin, according to folklore, had served as home to people for many centuries. While some historical records of the town put the beginning of its existence to about 1450 which is over four centuries ago; generally the beginning of its settlement is put at 17th century by most Historians. Then it was made up of some quarters among which are Gambari (Baruba area inclusive) under Ibrahim Bako, Idiape under Afonja, Gaa Fulani of mainly pastoralists under Olufadi and Okesuna Islamic community, under Sheikh Tahir Solagberu.

While some historians suggest that Ilorin derived its name from a stone located in Bamidele compound near Idi-Ape quarters and which was being used by hunters to sharpen hunting implements during the early days of the settlement; others suggest that the name is derived from the presence of elephants in the town at the beginning of the settlement.

Ilorin metropolis, as it was then and, indeed, when it later grew to become one of the Emirates of the Sokoto Caliphate, through to the present day, has been a melting pot of different tribes such as Baruba, Yoruba, Kemberi, Hausa, Fulani and Nupe, with diverse culture and languages.

Besides the diverse socio-cultural population that makes the Emirate thick, its location between the northern savannah belt and the forest belt of the south west, with good climatic conditions favorable to both farming and hunting, also makes it unique. This, in itself, attracted more and more settlers to Ilorin for agriculture as well as hunting vocation which leads ultimately to rapid urbanization.

From available historical records, the initial settlers were Barubas, followed by Yorubas in the persons of Ojo Isekuse and Emila. While Ojo and his men later took up residence at Dada in Okelele quarters, Emila retained his residence at Idiape quarters. It was much later on that Afonja’s lineage, through whom formally began the governmental relationship of Ilorin and the Oyo kingdom, settled in Ilorin. Both Ojo Isekuse and Emila, though Yorubas, are not the progenitors of Afonja. Afonja’s known progenitor is Laderin, the father of Pasin who is the father of Alagbin.
Afonja, the son of Alagbin and the great grandson of Laderin, was born and raised in Ilorin. He was said to be endowed with valor, as well as courage and, therefore, grew up to become a Yoruba military colossal of his time. He was subsequently appointed Aare Onakankanfo (Yoruba Military Commander-in-Chief,) due to his military escapades. His late father, Alagbin, was one of those who joined hands with Aare Onakakanfo Oyabi in the military attack that vanquished the notorious Bashorun Gaa who stopped the installation of Alaafin-elect, Prince Labisi as Alaafin of Oyo and who also saw to the demise of three (3) Alaafins he, himself installed. It was this same Bashorun Gaa that saw to the death of Pasin, the grandfather of Afonja for having the audacity to raise a voice against his extreme behavior.

Following the death of Bashorun Gaa during the reign of Alaafin Abiodun and his installation as Aare Onakankanfo, Afonja became too powerful in the administration of Oyo Kingdom to the annoyance of the rest of the nobility in the kingdom. Shortly after the death of Alaafin Abiodun and the ascendency of Alaafin Aole, the nobility started planning Afonja’s downfall and he was therefore asked to wage war against Iwere which is the village of the mother of one of the late Alaafins, contrary to Oyo tradition. Afonja rejected the Alaafin’s directive to that effect and deleted some of the conspirators. This led to his sour relationship with the reigning Alaafin and the rest of Oyo nobility. The whole kingdom therefore decided to wage war against him for what was considered as a rebellion against the Alaafin.

Afonja became apprehensive of the intended war against him by the Oyo kingdom. It was at this point that his deputy as Aare Onakakanfo, Toyeje, the Ba’ale of Ogbomosho, introduced Sheikh wa Alim Salihu, a contemporary of Usman Dan Fodio, to Afonja to assist him spiritually to defeat the Yoruba allied troops. Afonja then invited Sheikh Salihu (Alimi), who at that time, had traversed some notable towns including Iseyin, Ogbomosho and Saki, when he arrived Yoruba land about 18th Century before sojourning at Kuwo, near the present day Ballah. As a result of the invitation, Sheikh Alimi arrived Ilorin about 1816 (although recent researches put the date earlier). Before their contact, Sheikh Salihu (Alimi) was already popular as a pious Islamic scholar throughout the Yoruba towns and villages he had visited.

Consequently he had a number of followers being called Jama’a.
Fortunately, with the spiritual support of Sheikh Alimi, Afonja’s troops successfully rebuffed the Oyo invasion at Ogidi near the present day Federal Government College, Ilorin. This was followed by two other failed attempts by the Yorubas after the death of Afonja to crush Ilorin army in what were known as Ogele war, Mugba Mugba war and Woru kura war in which Woru Woko of Baruba land participated on the side of Oyo kingdom. The victories of Ilorin soldiers at these wars precipitated a wave of insurgencies which led to the beginning of the collapse of Oyo kingdom. What started as an assemblage of defensive soldiers emerged thereafter to become a formidable Ilorin army that prosecuted what later became expansionist wars.

Shortly after Sheikh Alimi finally settled in Ilorin alongside hitherto existing communities, particularly after the Ogidi war, relationship between his Jama’a and Afonja’s people became frosty leading to internal upheaval and subsequently the death of Afonja. Muslim communities in the town teamed up to defeat Afonja and take over rulership of the town:
” The Jama’a which took over Ilorin from Afonja was a conglomerate comprising the three Muslim Communities that existed in Ilorin before the arrival of Sheikh Alimi. The three communities were the Gambari community under Seriki Gambari, the Fulani community under Olufadi, the Okesuna community under Sheikh Tahir, nick-named Solagberu and the Yoruba community under both Usman who was nick-named Ajikobi and Huesini (contracted to Se’eni) as well as the Gobirawa under Sarkin Gobir. The Jama’a was under the leadersip of Sheikh Alimi”(1)

At infancy, Ilorin consisted of semi-autonomous communities which often confederated to douse internal wrangling and resist external aggressions. There were four principal sub-Communities then. There were aboriginal Yorubas who occupied Idi-Ape and Dada axis under the leadership of Afonja. There were the Hausas and people of other Northern extractions who resided in the Gambari Quarters and operating under the headship of Ibrahim Bako. There was also the Fulanis, most of whom were pastoralists, who lived under Olufadi and, of course, there was Okesuna, where principally Muslims from as far as the present day, Borno, flourished under the leadership of Abdullahi Tahir a.k.a Solagberu.

It was, however, the arrival of Sheikh Alimi in Ilorin around 1816 (or earlier date being suggested by recent researches) which led to the total fusion of all the sub-communities into one united polity feared by enemies and respected by allies.

Despite the complex nature of Ilorin community at the beginning, the pioneering diplomatic prowess of the founding fathers of the Emirate account for the emergent unity and peculiar hybrid culture of the people. Nevertheless, in addition to proper management of the diversity of the people; two things facilitated and enhanced the peoples’ unity, namely the adoption of Yoruba as the lingua franca and Islam as her religion. This, apparently, led, in no small way, to the enduring “Unity in diversity” which ensured thereafter.

With the prevailing peaceful situation in Ilorin, it is very clear that the heterogeneity had been subdued to produce what is essentially called Ilorin. Ilorin is now, just as it has been over the years, a potpourri culture of a people who are united for the common good of all. It is, indeed, an abiding example of unity in diversity. It is a unique polity which is rare to come across not only in Nigeria but throughout the world. It is a Yoruba speaking settlement which operates an Emirate system typical of an Hausa-Fulani settlement but with Yoruba/Hausa titles and heritage that have endured the test of time.

The institutionalization of the Emirate system by Alimi dynasty brought about single ruler-ship for the people of the Emirate. Prior to 1816, the diverse Communities did not repose corporate leadership in any single individual or group but the amazing personality and superior intellectual prowess of Sheikh Alimi, which was inherited by his sons, subsequently accounted for the emergence of a central power-house for the Emirate. So, following the deaths of Afonja and Sheikh Alimi, the Sheikh’s first son, Sheikh Abdulsalam, assumed both the spiritual and political leadership of the Emirate about the year 1816. Since then, Ilorin Emirate has been led by ten other rulers who were nomeculated as Emirs. The longest on the throne, Sheikh Abdulkadir Shuaib Bawa (1877-1959) reigned for forty years (1919-1959) while Mallam Aliyu Abdulkadir (1918- 1995), who had the shortest reign, was on the stool for three years (1992-1995). The current Emir, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR, who assumed the ruler-ship of the Emirate in 1995, is the eleventh. Just like his two immediate predecessors, the Emir of Ilorin is the Chairman of the Kwara State Council of Chiefs and a member of the National Council of Traditional Rulers.

The Emir is assisted in the running of the Emirate by Baloguns, the Magaji Aare, Magaji Ngari as well as Baba Isale. The Baloguns are four in number and they are Balogun Gambari, Balogun Ajikobi, Balogun Alanamu and Balogun Fulani. The third layer of traditional leadership of the Emirate is symbolized by Daudus, Magajis and Alanguas.
Before the British conquest, Ilorin Emirate, in land mass, was far bigger than most modern African countries. It covered most parts of the present day Kwara State. It also extended to a significant portion of today’s Ekiti and Osun states. The superior military power of Ilorin between 1831 and 1897 accounted for her many wars with its southern neighbors and relentless expansionist tendencies. In fact, it was the frequent raids by Ilorin armies that finally led to the demise of the old Oyo Empire. The joint efforts of Ilorin and Bida led to the subjugation of Yagba and Kabba people in the present day Kogi State.

Before the advent of colonial rule, Ilorin had become a Muslim city where Islam remained the main religion professed by the overwhelming majority of the people of the Emirate and a citadel of Islamic knowledge recognized not only in Nigeria but across the West African sub-region.

Ilorin has been a fountain of Arabic literacy for centuries where many, from far and near, flocked to sip Islamic knowledge, in particular. The fame and flame of Ilorin, as a human settlement therefore began following the spread of Islam by many Islamic scholars of Ilorin origin to other parts of Nigeria as well as their great Islamic publications over the years.

The impact of Ilorin in the propagation of Islam particularly in West Africa is incontrovertible. Beyond Sheikh Alimi and Solagberu’s immediate era, Ilorin could boast of other eminent Scholars such as Sheikhs Ojibara and Bature, who were Ajanasi at the Ilorin Central Mosque at different times. There were also others such as Sheikh Onagun at Ita-Egba, Sheikh Saliu Munabau of Oke-Okuta, Sheikh Matase of Popo-Giwa, Sheikh Ile Aladodo Adangba and Sheikh Busari Oloyin of Ita-Elepa.

Many Ilorin scholars of Islam, after securing deep knowledge of the faith, went to different places to serve as teachers, preachers and judges who assisted in no little way in establishing or strengthening Islam in their abode of residence. Of particular references, were Sheikh Mohammed Salisu Kokewukobere who traversed the entire West Africa land scape preaching and teaching Islam. We also had Sheikh Tajul Adab (1877-1923) who taught Islam all-over Yoruba land and parts of Benin Republic before his death at Abeokuta as well as Sheikh Salman Ake who concentrated his clerical and missionary activities in Egba land. Late Sheikh Murtala Tukur Alaaya, who died in 1947 and a very close associate of Sheikh Tajul Adab as well as Sheikh Oniwiridi Pakata contributed in no small way to Islamic Education in Ilorin.
Some other notable early Islamic scholars in Ilorin established Arabic schools and produced many students who later travelled out of Ilorin to teach others in the south west. These include Sheikh Abubakar Bube and Sheikh Mohammad Al-Nafawi. The likes of Alfa Belgore, Alfa Mukhtar Isale-koto and Alfa Ikokoro also swelled the numbers of scholars in Ilorin leading to her popularity as a citadel of Islamic knowledge. There was also the triumvirate of Alfa Nageri, Alfa Labidun and Alfa Olaoti at Okelele axis as well as Alfa Koro at Abayawo axis who were also in the forefront of Islamic teaching and propagation in their ‘Ile-Kewu’ and mosques. Most of their students became reputable Imams and Alfas in the south west and as far as Lagos. And of course, there was, Sheikh Kamaldeen Al-Adaby (1905-2005) who was reputed to have pioneered the synthesization of Islamic and modern system of education through his Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria and Schools. Similarly, Sheikh Adam Abdullahi Al – Ilory (1917-1992) not only wrote the highest numbers of books in Arabic Language in Nigeria since 1900 but also founded the famous Markaz Arabic and Islamic Training Centre at Agege, an institution of international repute reputed to be unequalled among its types in Nigeria. The institution has produced and is still producing many Islamic scholars.


Sheikh Al-Ilory’s close associates, namely Alfas Ghasali Isale-Koto and Yahaya Murtala followed his footsteps by establishing Arabic schools in Ilorin, running similar syllabi.
Late Alhaji Khidir Salaudeen Apaokagi, the second Mufti of Ilorin, also contributed immensely to the spread of Arabic and Islamic knowledge with the establishment of his Arabic School in Ondo State. The school, Al Adabiyah School for Arabic Studies, Owo, has produced a number of scholars which include Professors and Khadis. His contemporaries included Late Alhaji Abdul-Rahaman Sallah, a one-time Imam Imale of Ilorin and the Late Alhaji Abdulraheem Oniwasi Agbaye, a renowned Preacher of international repute during his life time.

A comprehensive history of Sheikhs and Alfas in Ilorin which would not leave out anyone would require special study to form a separate book and it is beyond this endeavor.
Despite the commendable achievements of Ilorin in Islamic learning, teaching and propagation, Ilorin Emirate has also produced outstanding modern educated elites who have achieved remarkable strides in various fields of human endeavors. As a result of deep knowledge and exposure to western education, Ilorin Emirate has, at various times, produced leaders of the two arms of the Federal Government. For instance, Justice Saliu Modibbo Alfa Belgore was the Head of the Nigerian Judiciary (Chief Justice of Nigeria) between 2006 and 2007 while Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has been the Head of the Nigerian Legislative arm (President of the Senate) since 2015 to date (2018). An Ilorin indigene, General Tunde Idiagbon was the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters by which he was defacto Deputy Head of State of Nigeria and was the face of that government which ruled between 1984 and 1985. Earlier on, we had General Abdullahi Mohammed (Adangba) as the founding Director of the National Security Organization (NSO) which metamorphosed into the Department of State Security (DSS) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), former Military Governor of Benue/Plateau State and member of the Supreme Military Council during the 1975-1979 military era. He was also the National Security Adviser and Chief of Staff to the President during the era of General Abdulsalam as Head of State and President Obasanjo respectively. Apart from them, Ilorin has also done well at the apex of the military, producing Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim (Rtd) and in other phases of national leadership since the country gained her independence in 1960.


Our culture is basically Islamic based. In other words, our culture is interwoven with our religion. For example, when our children complete learning of the Holy Qur’an, it is in our tradition to celebrate them by staging what we call Walimatul Qur’an with funfare. In the process of learning the Holy Qur’an, particularly after mastering Qoidat, the celebration takes the form of cooking beans for ones mates in the Islamiyah. The cooking of chicken along with rice for other members of the Islamiya takes place at another stage of learning.
Durbar which involves parade of colorful horses and display of horsemanship during Eids and other important occasions such as installation of Emirs as well as turbaning of other traditional title holders has overtime developed to become a major cultural event in Ilorin. What has evolved to become Durbar started as a system to check military troops’ readiness status in those days of territorial protective (defensive) and offensive wars. Other cultural displays common in Ilorin in those days include ‘Eere Alagbee’ by Yoruba groups, ‘Ijo Olomooba’, ‘Ere Iyawo’, ‘Sisa Iyawo’ and ‘Dacee’ dance by young Fulanis around Emir’s palace during festivities.
“During Ramadan small boys went about the town in those good old days singing:
‘Loilo Ilahuwa’ ‘Loilo Ilahuwa’
(Corrupt form of Lailah Illalah)
‘Iya mii Loilo Ilahuwa’
‘baba mii Loilo Ilahuwa’
‘emin gungun, Alafia, Loilo Ilahuwa’
‘iwoyi emii, ti owo ti omo ni ode de re’
‘iwoyi emii, owo tuntun ni ode de re’
‘iwoyi emii, alhaji le maa je’
‘ iwoyi emii alhaja le maa je’
‘Loilo Ilahuwa’ ‘Loilo Ilahuwa’

‘There is no other deity worthy of worship except Allah’
‘Mother, I bear witness that Allah is one’
‘Father, I admit that there is only one God deserved to be worshipped’
‘Long-life and sound health, I bear witness that Allah is one’
‘By this time of next year, may you be blessed with wealth and children’
‘By this time of next year, may you be granted with abundant prosperity’
‘By this time next year, may you become an Alhaji’
‘By this time next year, may you become an Alhaja’
‘There is no other deity worthy of worship except Allah’
There is also ‘Wowo’, mock fighting with burning dry weeds among the youth to toughen them for challenges of warfare and to mark the end of Ramadan.
Ilorin Emirate values integrity, honesty, transparency, good neighborliness and diplomacy. The Emirate appreciates good leadership and fraternizes with responsible followership. It loves visitors, sometimes more than its own people, and can defend righteousness to any level allowed by sanity, the law of the land and the limits of its religion.
The people of Ilorin Emirate love and values family live. They attach very great importance to the institutions of marriage and family as provided by Islam. It practices both polygamy and monogamy and frowns at deliberate and unwarranted single-parenthood, broken home and other forms of social delinquency.
The language of the people of Ilorin is Yoruba. Many of her indigenes also speak Hausa and English languages depending on their level of exposure and education. Many also speak Arabic and other modern European languages fluently.
Typical dressing of an Ilorin man is simple, neat as well as elegant and more like that of his Hausa/Fulani brothers even though he may not be able to speak Hausa language. But a typical Ilorin woman emulates her Yoruba counterparts in her costume. Most importantly, the acceptable norm is that all forms of dressing should not leave any sensitive part of human body uncovered in strict adherence to Islamic culture.
Ilorin people also enjoys listening to music. The popular music subscribe to by Ilorin people include Pakenke, Baluu, Were which developed into Fuji, Apala, Toobeeni, Dadakuwada and Sewenle. No Ilorin man or woman also jokes with traditional Waka music during joyous social ceremonies.
The people of Ilorin are dexteric in arts, handwork and other traditional vocations. We are leaders in the weaving of ‘Aso-Ofi’, pottery and embroidery which, more often than not, serve as our sources of income.
Ilorin has always been in the forefront of modernization and development. As far back as 1920s,
“Ilorin was already a home to a Confectionary factory. Tiles factory (because of the abundance of clay materials available), Spinning Industry (at Oke-Ebo Alaso, Pakata) and a few others.
The story of the Tiles factory was reported by H.B Hermon-Hodge in 1929 Gazetteer of Ilorin province”(4)
Ilorin Local Government of the 20s was ahead of many other local governments in terms of developmental strides. For example:
“….by 1925, Ilorin was so developed that it was the only Native Administration with electric light installation in the entire Northern provinces. The plant which was usually operated between 7pm and 11pm daily was serving mainly the Emir’s Palace, Native Treasury and Emir’s market. Mr. Hermon-Hodge similarly reported this on p 212 of the Gazetteer of Ilorin province, published in 1929. The plant was ordered by Captain Lon Sdale and commissioned in 1925 by his Honor, Mr. Palmer, the then Lt Governor of Northern Nigeria” (5)
Between then and now, Ilorin Emirate has witnessed tremendous transformation in every phase of human life. There has been great expansion in the area of education with establishments of many higher educational institutions, health institutions and sports stadium within the Emirate. Ilorin has also witnessed establishments of more and more private and public industries over the years. The town has also recorded and still recoding geometrical expansion in the inhabited territory compared with what it was in the 1960s. The transformation has also impacted on the pattern of settlements in the town, world-view and inter-personal relationship as a result of exposure to modern education and foreign influence.
Ilorin of today is quite different from what it was in every point of view and assessment at both the corporate and individual levels decades back.
Ilorin Emirate now consists of five different Local Government Areas which are Asa, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Ilorin West and Moro Local Government Areas. At state level, the leadership position of Ilorin is without controversy. The Emirate has had the privilege of producing her Chief Executives while at National Level it has produced leaders whose contributions have influenced the course of national history.
For instance, in the First Republic, Alhaji Yahaya Ori Okoh was a Regional Minister and Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho AbdulRasaq was a Minister at National Level. During the military era, the roles of Major-General Abdullahi Mohammed and Major General Tunde Idiagbon, among others, remain imperishable. In the course of the Second Republic, the contributions of Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, as a leading political figure and the Senate Leader of the era cannot be forgotten in a hurry. In the current dispensation, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has become a political national leader; taking along Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje who at one time rose to become Acting Chairman of the then ruling national party.
Other influential political actors in the past include, Alhaji Sule Maito, Hon. Ibrahim Musa Laaro, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki and Alhaji Akanbi Mahmud Oniyangi who held sways between the First and Second Republics. Dr. Amuda Aluko is another grassroot politician of note and one-time gubernatorial candidate in the state. Alhaji L.A.K. Jimoh, Alhaji AbdulRasheed Salman and Alhaji Folorunsho Ayinla are politicians of note who at one-time or the other were either gubernatorial candidates or gubernatorial aspirants in the State. Late Alhaji Pharmacist Musa ‘Musayo’ and Late Alhaji Usman Laaro were also serious politicians during their lifetime. There is also Lawyer Kunle Sulyman who has been featuring in politics for decades and was the foundation Chairman of People Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State. General Adisa and Admiral Mohammed Alabi Lawal were also great politicians during their lifetime. In fact, Admiral Mohammed Alabi Lawal was the first Ilorin Civilian Governor during this Fourth Republic. Late Alhaji Babatunde Alanamu and Late Alhaji Babatunde Kasum made their marks in politics of the state. In the on-going fourth Republic, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman and Prof. Shuaibu Oba AbdulRaheem are currently among the leading lights of national politics. Alhaji Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN), Dr. Alimi AbdulRasaq and his younger brother, Alhaji Abdurrahman AbdulRasaq, too, have always been major players in the state politics.
The Emirate has produced Senators, some members of Regional House, House of Representatives, four Speakers of State House of Assembly namely, Lawyer Ismail Sadiq, Alhaji Saidu Ajao Gomih, Alhaji Razaq Atunwa and Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad. In addition, Ilorin has produced many members of the Kwara State House of Assembly.
Our women too are not lagging behind in political theatre both at the state and national levels. The likes of Sen. Khairat Abdulrasaq- Gwadabe , Sen. Ruqoyyat Gbemisola Saraki, Hajia Muinat Shagaya, Amb. Nimata Niyilola Akanbi , Alhaja Halimat Yusuf and Arc. Hajia Halimat Tayo Alao have also been political amazons.
Ilorin Emirate has produced so many outstanding luminaries in various sectors of national life over the years. The gentlemen and ladies concerned gave very good accounts of themselves in such a way that the good image of the Emirate has been seriously polished and sustained. Apart from male ministers, academicians, legal luminaries , judges, ambassadors, uniformed service men, and so on, Ilorin has also produced women of honor in all notable fields including politics, judiciary and academics to mention but a few.
In Islamic learning and propagation, besides the older brigade in the early 19th Century, Sheikh Mohammad Kamaldeen Al-Adaby and Sheikh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory, undoubtedly, led the pack of those we can refer to as modern outstanding scholars of Islam who continued the promotion of our Islamic heritage. They dominated the scene in the second half of the last century. Although, the two are late, the impacts of their contributions are still being felt many years after their demise.
In the realm of judiciary specifically, the record of Ilorin remains unbeaten. The Emirate has had the privilege of producing Heads of the three layers of the judicial arm of Government. Hon. Justice Saliu Modibbo Alfa Belgore was, between 2006 and 2007, the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Honorable Justice Mustapha Akanbi was the President of the Court of Appeal from 1992 to 1999 while Justice Mahmud Babatunde Belgore was the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court between 1987 and 2011. Justices Saidu Kawu, Saka Yusuf and Raliatu Elelu-Habeeb, too, held sways as Chief Judge of the state at different times. Justice S.D. Kawu, the current Chief Judge of Kwara State, is the son of the Late Justice Saidu Kawu who was the pioneer Chief Judge of the State and a retired Justice of Supreme Court. Similarly, the pioneer Grand Khadi of Kwara State Shariah Court is our own highly referred retired Justice Abdulkadir Orire. Other retired Grand Khadis from Ilorin Emirate include Justices Abdulmuttalib A. Ambali, Abdulkadir Oba Imam-Fulani, Idris A. Haroon, S.O. Mohammed and Late Abdulbaki whose appointment was in acting capacity. The incumbent Grand Khadi, Justice Ola Abdulkadir, is also from the Emirate. Apart from those respected priests in the temple of Justice, the Emirate has also produced about ten Senior Advocates of Nigeria, one of whom is the first Lawyer produced by Northern Nigeria and two of whom currently sit on professorial chairs in two different universities. The two are Prof. Mohammad Mustapha Akanbi (SAN) and Prof. Abiodun Amuda Kannike (SAN) of University of Ilorin and Kwara State University, Malete respectively.
In the Foreign Service, Ilorin indigenes have made their marks and are still making their marks as Ambassadors and High Commissioners representing Nigeria in foreign lands. Some of which include Amb. Garba Gobir, Amb. Abdulkadir Imam, Amb. AbdulRahman Assouyotti, Amb. M.S. Abdulwahab and the current National President of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Amb. Sheikh-Usman Abdulazeez.
As far as the military, as an institution, is concerned, Ilorin Emirate has produced gallant officers out of which ten attained the rank of two stars General. Prominent of such include Major General Abdullahi Mohammed, Major General Tunde Idiagbon, Major General Shehu Layiwola Yusuf, Major General Abdulkareem Adisa, Major General Abdulwahab Ayo Garba (Rtd) ,a one-time GOC, Rear Admiral Mohammed Alabi Lawal, Rear Admiral Musa Ajadi and, of course, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, a three-star General, who retired as the Chief of Defense Staff.
Before Nigeria independence, Mallam Abdulsalam Ebun Agbabiaka, was a very Senior Police Officer. He retired as Assistant Commissioner of Police shortly after the independence. He was the one that commanded the Independence Parade in 1960 and perhaps would have been the first indigenous Nigeria Inspector General of Police but for being caught up with age. The next person to him then in hierarchy, Louis Edet, therefore became the first Indigenous Inspector General of Police. The Emirate has, thereafter, produced a number of Assistant Inspector Generals and Commissioners of Police too numerous to mention. In the Paramilitary services, particularly Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and Nigeria Security Civil Defense Corps, Ilorin has produced two Deputy Comptroller Generals in the Customs Service, one each in the Immigration Service and Nigeria Security Civil Defense Corps. Ilorin has also produced at least one Assistant Comptroller General in the Customs and three in Immigration Services with many Comptrollers. In the Nigeria Prison Service, the Community has produced a number of Comptrollers.
As early as 1930s, Ilorin has been blessed with a qualified pharmacist in the person of Mallam Gidado Fa’agba and followed by Pharmacist Babatunde Buhari who qualified in 1954. In Medicine, Dr. Amuda Aluko and Late Dr. Olusola Saraki were the trail blazers in the Emirate. They were both duly registered by Nigeria Medical Council in 1963 as qualified Medical Doctors.
The history of Ilorin will not be complete without mentioning the likes of late Alhaji Yusuf Amuda Gobir, a one-time Super Permanent Secretary at the Federal Level, Alhaji A.A. Jimoh and Alhaji. Ayinla Olomoda. Late Alhaji Yusuf Amuda Gobir was, during his lifetime, a one-man crusader that saw to the development of Ilorin in the areas of education, employment and infrastructure.
At the State level, Ilorin has produced Eight Secretaries to the State Government, three Heads of Service (including the current Head of Service) and so many Permanent Secretaries.
In the realm of Academics, Ilorin has registered its presence with a very loud voice. Since 1976, when the Emirate produced her first Professor and a specialist in Veterinary Medicine in person of Professor Saka Nuru; the community has produced about 50 others who are sitting on professorial chairs of several disciplines in various Universities within and outside Nigeria. Many are also respected teachers in Polytechnics and Colleges of Education at home and abroad. In addition, the Emirate has had four of her indigenes as Vice-Chancellors of Universities. They are Prof. Shuaibu Oba AbdulRaheem, Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali and Prof. Dayo Alao. Other notable academics of Ilorin origin include Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs who later represented Nigeria as Ambassador at the United Nations for about a decade. He later became one of the Under Secretaries there. Of course, there was Late Prof. Shehu Ahmed Jimoh OON, who was the first to head an institution of higher learning i.e. Kwara State College of Education, Oro.
Our achievers are too numerous to mention in this write-up due to space and time.

By the middle of 19th Century, the Emirate had so developed to the extent of having a buoyant economy:
“Many factors were responsible for the rapid economic progress of Ilorin then. First was the excellent marksmanship of her soldiers which led to the conquest and subjugation of many towns in as far away as the present Ondo State. Such conquests made cheap slave labor available to Ilorians in their agricultural endeavors. Ilorin people also appropriated meaningfully, the spoils of the wars.
Another important factor was the business acumen of Ilorin merchants. The merchants made positive use of the location of Ilorin on the Trans-Sahara route as well being the gateway between the north and south. Ilorin thus became the connecting points of the economies of the people of the north and south. As one of the leading emirates of the Caliphate, it enjoyed the confidence of the Arewa people as a whole. Similarly, it enjoyed the respect of the south western people in particular (taking advantage of their knowledge of Yoruba language), and up to the present day Edo State” (2).
“it is this trait of business know-how seen in Ilorinans that made the Europeans to ensure the establishment of virtually all their trading companies such as CFOA, PZ, john Holt, SCOA, GBO and so on in Ilorin. Their concentration in Ilorin city was uncommon in similar cities of the North at that time.
While commence played important role in the pre-colonial economic growth of Ilorin, the manufacturing sector contributed highly to it too”(3).
Some notable Ilorin indigenes that served as credible Agents to some of these trading companies mentioned above include Late Alhaji Omo-Olumo and Late Alhaji Mustapha Idi-Agbede among others. They formed the nucleus of the wealthy Ilorin merchants in those days.
In addition to the above and for decades, ordinary people of Ilorin Emirate derived their means of livelihood through weaving, pot-making, agriculture, blacksmith and other vocations. Through these, ordinary Ilorin people of the past succeeded exceedingly in feeding themselves and maintaining their families as well as created aura of dignity and integrity for themselves at home and away.
Regrettably, the buoyant economy of the past which was in the hands of Ilorians such as Alhaji Amuda Kannike, Alhaji Toyin Baruba, Alhaji S.K. Dan-Alhaji, Alhaji Olowo-okere, the Olumohs, the Oloriegbes, and others has become history. The Emirate economy is now purely and essentially civil service-oriented, agrarian in nature and trade-based. Many indigenes of the Emirate are now Public Service employees who depend on salaries and wages for survival.
There are, however, few federal government establishments and few industrial outfits within Ilorin providing means of livelihood for some people who are directly or indirectly engaged in the production of goods and services.
The people of Ilorin have, for long, cultivated the habit of coming together to protect, project and preserve their individual interests and corporate existence using the platform of formal social organizations. Prominent of such social outfits is the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) which was formed in 1941 under the name of Ilorin Progressive Union (IPU). The organization, which is the umbrella socio-cultural organization of the people of Ilorin Emirate, has not only survived the vagaries of time but has impacted significantly on the progress of Ilorin and its environs in many ways such as in education, social welfare, infrastructural development and many others. Other social organizations are the Ilorin Fronts, Ilorin Emirate Compatriots, Club 2-7, Ilorin Emirate Forum, Ilorin Joint Wards Development Association and Wards Development Associations.

Jimoh, L.A.K. – “Which is which: Ilorin Afonja or Ilorin Garin Alimi?”. Prepared paper for presentation at the 2nd edition of the public lecture series of the Centre for Ilorin Studies of University of Ilorin Thursday, 12th December, 2013. Page 6 – 7.
AbdulMalik, A.A. – “Traditional Economic activities of Ilorin People”. A lecture delivered at IEDPU Northern Zonal Conference held in Sokoto, Saturday 26th November, 2011. Page 2-3.
Ibid, page 3
Ibid, Page 4


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