Abdulrazaq Ganiyu Folorunso

Another complete Nigerian just left Planet Earth. Chief Abdulrazaq Ganiyu Folorunso [AGF], first Lawyer from Northern Nigeria, pioneer student of the University of Ibadan was an exceptional gentleman.

Born across the Niger to Yoruba parents, his early years in law practice were in Zaria. The man found a Yoruba wife, born in Enyimba City and was not only the father of a governor. one of AGF’S sons-in-law was a double governor and his senator daughter also married a former governor.

You could not separate Abdulrazag from Ndigbo. There were connections with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, Chief Emeka Ojukwu, the first university graduate to join the Nigeria Army and Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the first Vice President of Nigeria.

Professors  Ben Nwabueze and Green Nwankwo were his classmates. Another buddy, Prof.Aliu Fafunwa, the first Nigerian professor of Education, also had Igbo-in-laws.

AGF was born on November 13, 1927, in Onitsha, to Ilorin Yoruba parents. Zik was born in November 1904 and hailed from Onitsha. Ojukwu was not only born in November[1933], he also died in November [2011]. The Owelle attended CMS Central School, Onitsha. Abdulrazaq was there too. Ojukwu was at CMS Primary School, Idumagbo, Lagos.

After primary education, the Ilorin boy moved to Kalabari National, College, Buguma. He sure missed Onitsha and returned to the town to complete secondary education at African College. One of his teachers was Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.

When he qualified as a lawyer in the UK in 1955, he could not wait to get married. There she was. Alhaja Raliat Amope Abdulrazaq was born in Aba on May 26, 1930, just one year after the Aba Women’s Riot. A family of firsts.

She later became the first female councilor in Kwara State. The couple produced three lawyers: Dr. Alimi  Abdulrazaq, Senator Khairat Gwadabe and Isiaka Abdulrazaq.

The Abdulrazaqs gave out their daughter, Aisha, to Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal, one -time military governor of Ogun State and former governor of Kwara State. Khairat got married to Col. Lawan Gwadabe, former military governor of Niger State. They have another son, AbdulRauf, who stayed away from jurisprudence but is doing fine in his chosen field.

Kwara State governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak is the second son of AGF. He is neither a lawyer nor a soldier. He is like Abraham Lincoln. After failing many times to win elections, the oil man finally got lucky in 2019. One of his commissioners today is his niece whose father was also a governor.

Abdulrazaq was so proud of his Igbo connections. He once said: “I speak Igbo fluently and my most enduring friendships are with statesmen like Alex Ekwueme and both professors Ben Nwabueze [SAN] and Green Nwankwo, who were my classmates”.

Chief Ojukwu was sent to Britain by his father, Sir Louis, to study law. The Ikemba switched over to History and bagged a post-graduate degree. Khairat was in the UK to pick a degree in History. She ended up as a lawyer. They must have read Abdulrazaq’s mind.

According to AGF: “History is an essential subject that needs to be taught in our schools, to ensure that our youth are not goaded to rabid hatred, through biased social media or film narratives of Nigeria History.”

The Ojukwus and Abdulrazaq’s knew themselves. Zaria was the connection. The soldier began military training at the Nigeria Army depot, Zaria in 1957. The lawyer also set up practice in the same town.

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Ojukwu’s mother owned Jubilee Hotel which was very close to where AGF lived with his young family. That hotel unearthed a secret after the Ikemba’s death. He willed it to Tenny Hamman, his daughter that was unknown to many close to his heart.

AGF was Nigerian Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire between 1962 and 1964. In 1970, Ojukwu flew into that country, on exile. Much later, an Ojukwu also became an ambassador.

Mrs Bianca Onoh, a lawyer like Abdulrazaq, whose father Christian Onoh was also a lawyer and former governor, was appointed Nigerian Ambassador to Spain by President Goodluck Jonathan who adopted the name Azikiwe and gave Ojukwu full national burial. By the way, Ojukwu was also a governor, like AGF’s son.

Gov. Abdulrazak lived in Cote D’Ivoire as an oil magnet. Ojukwu also did business in the francophone country. His father, Sir Louis, a millionaire whose Rolls Royce was used by Queen Elizabeth in 1956, was a director of Shell, the oil conglomerate.

While AGF was a commissioner in Kwara State from 1967 to 1972 and now his granddaughter, Ojukwu’s son, Emeka Junior, was a commissioner in Anambra State.

Ojukwu’s mother later got married to a European, Bigger. Lt. Tom Bigger who died in Nsukka with Chukwuma Nzeogwu on July 29, 1967, during the Civil war, was the Ikemba’s half brother. AGF was also close to Lauretta,  from Europe and they had children together. The army officer had wives like Njideka and Stella before Bianca.

Sir Louis Ojukwu worked with West African Railway. AGF was minister of state, Transport in charge of Railway when Azikiwe was President. Zik established the University of Nigeria Nsukka [UNN].

The Owelle of Onitsha settled at Onuiyi Haven, Nsukka. Abdulrazak’s friend, Fafunwa, got a job at UNN and rose rapidly to become a professor. Fafunwa later caught the Igbo bug. His daughter, Sherifat, an ex-national swimmer, found love in Prof. Okey Ndibe. Fafunwa’s son chose an Igbo wife, Ifeoma.

I am not sure many remember that it was Abdulrazak that drafted the hand over note which gave General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi power to assume office as Head of State on January 16, 1966.  This is interesting because you had senior lawyers in that cabinet. Dr. Taslim Elias was the Attorney General of  Nigeria. Richard Akinjide was also a minister.

Abdulrazak died at 93. I doubt if Governor Willie Obiano has paid condolence visit to his brother governor in Ilorin. He should go with Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia. Alhaja Raliat Abdulrazaq is still very much alive at 90. Prof. Nwabueze may attend if Obiano beckons on him. I am also sure Eze Green Nwankwo will leave his palace to honour a soul mate.

Kwara has a lot o Igbo lovers. From  AGF to first governor, David Bamigboye, who went into an exchange programme with East Central State Administrator, Ukpabi Asika, we have had a Col. Frank Omenka playing soccer for Government Secondary School Ilorin.

That is also the town of Alyusufsalam Rocks, a team made up 90 per cent of Ghanaians which almost won the Challenge Cup in 1976. The only Nigerian in that team was Humphrey Okechukwu, an Igbo. And it took an Igbo team, Enugu Rangers, to stop the Rocks in the grand finale.


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