By Abdul Abdul
Growing up in the 80s with Kwara still wearing the near-past olden look, albeit rich culture and tradition, one of the ceremonial occasions that used to mesmerize us was the installation of an Oba or a Chief. Apart from marriage, christening, birthday or funeral ceremonies in honour of the dead, which obviously were instinctive and programmed, being conferred with a traditional title comes with its own exceptionality. Many a times, those being honoured were high-flying citizens who have made a mark in their chosen endeavours and distinguished themselves. Some, well-known to us in the community as kids, others total strangers who we were to later hear were sojourned in some foreign lands doing exploit. My mind was always hypothesizing that if one out of a mammoth could be singled out and bestowed with a non-family title, it is a momentous; a milestone.
That thought hasn’t changed really, despite the proliferation of unmerited titles in some quarters. Take a judicious look, you will come to the conclusion that some are well deserved, and anything short of it is a disservice. One of such is the Chieftaincy title being conferred on Dr Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim by the Elerin-in-Council under the Obaship of HRM Oba Abdulganiyu Ajibola Ibrahim Olusokun II, the Elerin of Erin Ile. Dr Rafiu Ibrahim has not only made that mark for himself, he has made remarkable impacts in the community, and thus carries a head that fits the cap.
As they say, records don’t lie. And I do not expect anyone to dispute this. If you do, you’re rather not in the know or blindfolded by sheer sentiments. None is excusable. Being one of his close aides, I remember the love and encomium traditional rulers in particular shower on Dr Rafiu Ibrahim, who represented Kwara South Senatorial District at the 8th Assembly. This isn’t out of the blues. He earned it because of the homage he paid, the regard he gave, and services he offered to traditional stools. The Senator indeed made me realize the pivotal significance of the traditional heads and other community leaders. The way he engaged them was a definition of purposeful representation. He made service delivery desirably smooth and gave impetus to the legislative assignment. They were never neglected in legislation or consideration of constituency projects – something many in government fail to do. For many who wonder what earned him so much affection from the Royal fathers and the people. It’s simple; his accessibility and swift result-oriented approaches to their yearnings is topnotch. Rafiu Ibrahim is adored for the construction of the Baale/Magaji secretariat at Ilemona, as well as landscaping and construction of mosques in palaces, including at the Elerin’s palace where he is being honoured with a chieftaincy title at a colourful ceremony. He also renovated some palaces with the provision of motorized boreholes and solar lights at some others. How will he not be held in high esteem?
Sen Rafiu’s performance in the Senate remains exceptional and that’s why he remains relevant in the political scheme, a condition that prompted the stanch, interminable clamour for his return to the upper chamber. I mean who would not, having considered his accomplishments and that of his predecessors/successor? It will not be bad to highlight, among many, some of his achievements while in office. Sen Rafiu influenced construction of Offa-Ojoku-Afon road, Ojoku-Ikotun road, and Ora-Agbeku-Edidi road. There was erosion control at Ajase-Igbonla-Agbengbe-Agbamu road not forgetting the rehabilitation of roads in Agbeku and Edidi in Offa, Oyun, Ekiti and Irepodun LGAs.
Having conducted his feasibility studies in his typical bravura, the people’s Senator pushed for the reconstruction of Ojoku Waterworks, construction of motorized boreholes with 3.5KVA generators and handpump boreholes in Isin, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Oke-Ero, and Oyun LGAs. He then took time to embark on assessment and repair works of all non-functional boreholes in the 83 wards that make up the Kwara South Constituency. Knowing the key role electricity plays, he embarked on provision and installation of 33KVA/500KVA transformers in Iloffa, Osi and Omuaran. He also provided and installed electricity poles in 23 communities cutting across Offa and Oyun LGAs. His constituency project also included the construction of modern public toilets in communities with water provision and power generating system.
In the area of education, one wonders how the Senator was able to accomplish the construction and renovation of several blocks of classrooms with offices and stores in primary and secondary schools across the seven LGAs that make up Kwara South. Under his constituency project, he facilitated the construction and equipping of a computer office building, ICT center at the Kwara State College of Education, Oro, the University of Ilorin Student Union Relaxation Centre, as well as the Renovation of Offa Township Library, in Offa. As part of efforts to support education, Sen Rafiu granted scholarship to foreign academic programmes. Back home, he also awarded scholarship to students, notably those pursuing expensive certification courses and license in aviation as well as students sitting for the JAMB/UTME examination.
Part of his vision was to cut down rate of unemployment in his constituency, and in doing that, the lawmaker sponsored training for many in the area of entrepreneurship so they can be self-employed. I remember that many went back home with the required tools after the trainings. There were also training and retraining for teachers to build their human capacities. As these were being done, he was using his influence to lobby at the central to get jobs for young and educated Kwarans at top ministries, departments and agencies.
Dr Rafiu Ibrahim, an experienced banker and financial expert, was never a bench warmer as some others have proved to be today. He is a representative who knows his onions. Sen Rafiu in the first 3 years in the Senate had sponsored six bills, supervised several bills. The Senator, who was Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions at the 8th Assembly, sponsored and co-sponsored several motions of national and sectorial interests. His brilliance and commitment to national tasks also earned him membership of the national team on Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business. His team replicated the gesture by helping Nigeria to move on Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business Index by 24 (145th from 169th) places in 2017 with specific Getting Credit index moving by 44 places.
There’s no gainsaying that Dr Rafiu raised the bar of that office. Like Manchester United’s never-ending search for who fills the big shoe that Sir Alex Ferguson left behind, the expedition to take up the gauntlet after Rafiu’s transitory time-off has remained a mirage. In fact, there has been no close call. It’s therefore natural to call on the people’s Senator to come back and occupy the gaping vacuum he created. Unlike the legendary Ferguson, our astute Rafiu is still young, energetic and willing. What a good omen for the good people of Kwara South.
As you add another feather to your cap today, I want to on behalf of my family and the Saraki dynasty congratulate you sir. Your choice as Bobaselu of Erin-Ile is well deserved. Thank you for making us proud always. This honour again is an indication of how much you are treasured and a clarion call on you to get back to service. As far as we can see, only you, Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim holds the magic wand.
Abdulganiyu Abdulqadir writes from Kwara State.