On The Shelf of Eternity: A Preview of Abubakar Imam’s “Ilorin Emirate’s Frontliners”

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By Mubarak Oladosu

At this very moment, in Ilorin, a most important city in Nigeria, one man has literally captured the imagination of the truly high and the absolutely mighty, the distinct among the distinguished, the best among the very best, the lucky ones and the privileged.He has captured the imagination of these categories of people,along with the imagination of common folks in the remarkable city of knowledge, history and Islam, with a single stroke.

The man, by the name Abubakar Imam, achieves this, by effectively declaring a once in a lifetime festival after the fast approaching Muslim festival of Eid-El-Kabir also known as Eid-El-Adha (The Festival of Sacrifice). At his own festival, which comes after the city’s cultural festival of Durbar, he presents what he has penned as the profiles of people whom he considers the creme-de là creme of the fascinating city, throughout its existence and across its days as a corporate entity in history. He calls his book , “Ilorin Emirate’s Frontliners”.

Fron the moment the sun shines on the book and it goes public on the first day of July 2023, its contents will undoubtedly echo through time to come , and into eternity through libraries, through hearts, through conversations and through debates. On that day, the book; “Ilorin Emirate’s Frontliners”, would complete its gestation in the womb of time and assume its own identity and life, like a newborn with a freewill to make friends and upset others, some of whom would reconcile with it overtime.

Naturally, therefore, important personalities and those who think themselves so, who have close affinity with the city of Ilorin, who have walked the streets and traversed the alleys of the city, along with others who once dominated its cloth-weaving corners and word-weaving centres, local cheese and traditional pot making workstations, as well as people of high-offices, and yet other people with sundry close relationship(s) with Ilorin, within and beyond the shores of Africa, and the descendants of these categories of people, are all awakened into curiosity about who is in and who Is out, in the list of the “who is who of Ilorin” .We all have our “antenna” on in anticipation of the day while standing on our toes like young children in expectation of a day which promises to excite.Each one of us wants to know the very people who have collectively shaped Ilorin since it became an Emirate with their knowledge or piety, valour or cunning, wisdom , craft or commerce , and such other skills and distinctions, that might stand them out for such recognition, across the walks of life and across time.

Without doubt, the book like its author, will be born into historic immortality and intellectual royalty on Saturday,the first of July,2023, as a reference material which does not only document profiles, but one which as a fall-out of its very essence, passes judgement on the people who are or were prominent in determining what Ilorin has become, and what it would become.

Inevitably, the book, ” Ilorin Emirate’s Frontliners”,would generate different shades of conversations, as it potentially seals the fate of how history might judge personages who collectively make the Emirate tick.

I understand that the work is only about profiles of eminent individuals who are or were prominent in Ilorin and it makes no deliberate attempt at passing any moral judgement as it chooses to close its eyes to all infamy, notoriety, controversy or even mundane flaws, which are only natural sides to the holiest of men and women.

I also anticipate a situation in which the author would have omitted the profiles of a number important personalities as part of his own human limitations, for Ilorin’s chequered history dates back to a couple of centuries before British colonisation. One form of mistake or the other may also be found in the highly anticipated work given that absolute perfection is beyond human capacity but an exclusive preserve of the Almighty.

Beyond the above, a thousand and one other people who are not featured in this collection must have played “frontline” roles in the development of Ilorin , apart from the three hundred and twenty-two individuals who appear on the list. This possible gap however provides an opportunity to others to advance the history of the city so close to their hearts.

Ilorin loves to be considered as a city not far from paradise and quite a distance from hell. Imam’s highlight of distinguished personages make bold to tell us the personalities who are responsible for this reputation, invariably, and it highlights the author too as a wonderful son of Ilorin’s soil and a professional at work, who is distinguished by his industry with memory and words.

I first met Mr. Abubakar Imam when he joined the Directorate of Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin, as my senior colleague and professional mentor some seven years back. He has consistently delineated himself as a born teacher, trained journalist and practising Public Relations professional who has carved a niche for himself by deploying these three dispositions of his in the service of his people and humanity in general.

Fondly called Toyin Pakata, his courage to engage herculean projects in his labour of love for his people first saw him publish a book entitled ” Our Illustrious Icons: A Biography of Selected Prominent People of Pakata Area, Ilorin 1831-2015″.

Subsequently, over the years, he has celebrated many distinguished sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate as they attain different milestones in their respective lives and as they reach the ultimate milestone of their demise. This latest work by Imam announces itself as a befitting culmination that crowns his earlier efforts at a most auspicious time of the year, the Eid-El-Adha season, to highlight some of the people who have elevated the city.

“Ilorin Emirate Frontliners is a number of notches above its predecessors for its anticipated comprehensiveness, its envisioned presentation and for going ahead to embrace and celebrate some of the people who deserve honorary “indigenship” of Ilorin, on account of their unquantifiable contributions to the progress of Ilorin, in the contemporary.

Since it is the people that make societies and cites, nations and cultures, when the day, July 1 2023 comes, and natives and residents gather to smile at each other, hug and pat each other to celebrate the heroes of contemporary Ilorin, they would literarily be smiling at Ilorin, hugging and patting the city affectionately, for each of the congregants would be a piece of the city’s personification.

“Ilorin Emirate’s Frontliners” has definitely come to claim its space on the shelf of the city’s history.In the same vein, the author; Abubakar Imam, has also secured his place as a worthy role model who has ascended the podium of Ilorin’s frontline patriots.

Oladosu is an Assistant Director (Information), University of Ilorin.

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