Baraje: The Making of New Tafida of Ilorin

By Tunde Akanbi

Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, CON

It is often said that destiny is irreversible, and it thus presupposes that whatever has been destined in one’s lifetime would not go unfulfilled, notwithstanding the longevity of time. Perhaps, this assertion accounts for why it has been said that ‘we are nothing but pencil in the hand of the creator’.

One of those whose destinies have continued to single out for good reasons is the new Tafida of Ilorin Emirate, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, CON. Here is a man, who has been fortunate to have risen to various enviable positions in his lifetime.

In fulfilment of what has been divinely penned down in his lifetime, Baraje’s flagship in career progression was teaching before rising to the pinnacle of the civil service as a permanent secretary, and to the topmost position in his political circle.

He was first elected as the National Secretary of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP, hitherto known as the largest party in Africa, and was subsequently elevated as the acting National Chairman or even described as Chairman as admirably referred to by his contemporaries in the party. This is a man of destiny who has been described as a record breaker in his Baboko ancestral home of Ilorin, Kwara State and throughout the nation.

It is on record that he also bagged one of the most covetous National awards known as the Commander of the Order of Niger (CON). The record of his achievements, particularly in the aspect of discipline, internal democracy and the rule of law in party politics has no match.

In the religious circle, the new Tafida is versatile, deep and highly knowledgeable in the teachings of the noble Quran. And in spite of his eye catching positions, Baraje has maintained his being a prayer warrior.

His God fearing nature and act of generosity prompted him to establish an institution named Baraje Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies where he is the Mudir.

The establishment of the centre is one of his ways of reciprocating to the society what the Almighty Allah has done for him. At the centre which was established sometimes in 1991 , the pupils enjoy complete free tuition and transportation with no student paying a dime throughout their years of studies. The teachers and non- teaching staff are paid their monthly salaries and other emoluments as and when due.

To the glory of God, the centre is now an affiliate of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria and some other Arabic International Institutions in the Middle East.

His nomination and appointment as the second Tafida of Ilorin after the demise of the pioneer occupant of the title, Dr Amuda Aluko, was accompanied with encomium and overwhelming applause from the citizens of the Ilorin Emirate, who are curiously awaiting the day of his formal turbaning to the exalted traditional title.

His choice by Maimartaba, Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, came with a lot of excitement, considering his contributions to the economic, social and political development of the community.

The Emir, the custodian of all customary, religious and traditional titles in the Ilorin Emirate and its environs, has said it repeatedly that it is only those that are useful to the people or the Ilorin community that would be rewarded and not on account of their richness or positions of responsibility.

As far as the new Tafida is concerned, he has facilitated the appointment of a number of youth, both males and females either politically or in the civil service at the state or federal levels.

Historically, the title of Tafida is, no doubt, originated from the North of which Ilorin Emirate is proudly part of. The title is very crucial. And today, Baraje has been fortunate to be an important figure, a man with incalculable substance that would clinch it.

The philanthropy of the new title holder, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, CON, is not only felt among his immediate family, but extended family, friends, political associates, contemporaries and all and sundry. He is generous to a fault.

For about seven years now that he is not holding or occupying any public office, he has not relented in his humanitarian services or changed his infectious character to fellow human beings. Kudos to the new Tafida of Ilorin Emirate on the rare feat.

Alhaji Baraje takes delight in putting smiles on the faces of many either in terms of financial support, appointment, pilgrimages either to Saudi Arabia for the Muslims or Jerusalem for those in the Christendom.

The new title holder befits the astrological and horoscope meaning of Tafida, which says that Tafida is one with a sharp mind, one with a quick thinking ability and one that is blessed with the great powers of speech.

Tafida is one with an extremely active life, one that is always on the road and one that possesses great energy to accomplish even greater things.

The title can also be likened to a baby in an adult’s body that does not want to grow out of the teenage thoughts, mainly because his teenage experience is exemplary, keeps you happy and provides you with a strong motivating forward energy.

Tafida is one that looks younger than his actual age and one that is great at reading and writing and a strategic communicator.

No doubt, the Emir, Maimartaba, a highly knowledgeable, philosophical, futuristic traditional ruler saw the outstanding qualities in the new Tafida of Ilorin and Mudir, Baraje Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies before bestowing on him the title.

Chapter 43 verse 32 of the noble Qur’an is appropriate to describe the title the Emir of Ilorin bestowed on the Tafida.
In it, Allah says”Is it they who allocate the mercy of your Lord? We have allocated among them their livelihood in the worldly life and have raised some of them over others in ranks, so that some may put some others to work and mercy of your Lord is much better than what they accumulate”.

However, one thing that disturbed Kawu Baraje’s mind of recent was when he lost his childhood and bosom friend, Mallam Busari Alabi Ishola, a retired Immigration Officer and former Chairman, Kwara Football Association . Their friendship dated back to over fifty years ago.

He died at the age of seventy one on Saturday, 22nd, January, 2022, exactly twenty eight days to the turbaning of Tafida.

His late friend, no doubt, contributed immensely at various meetings organised by the main Committee of the Turbaning Ceremony headed by Ambassador Shiekh Usman Abdulazeez.

Indeed, Ishola’s death is an attestation to the saying that man proposes, God disposes. May Busari Alabi Ishola’s soul rest in peace. Amin.

Who then is Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje?

Baraje was born to the extended family of Alhaji Usman Baba Erubu Baraje and Alhaja Aishat Omo-Agba Baraje (of blessed memories) about seventy one years ago. He attended Baboko Native Authority Primary School, Ilorin and at the same time attended Arabic and Islamic School for all round Islamic Education.

He started his Primary School at Baptist Primary School, Surulere, Ilorin and had double promotion as a result of his performance. He spent only one term in Primary One. In Primary Two, he also spent one term because he joined the school during the promotion examination into Primary Two and did brilliantly well. However, in Primary Three, he spent the whole year before he moved to Government-owned Baboko Primary School.

At that time, exceptionally brilliant students were being selected from schools in Baboko, Oke-Aluko, Pakata, Oke-Suna and other government primary schools. They all sat for common entrance examination and the successful ones among them moved to Primary Five and Six.

Baraje had his Teacher’s Grade II Certificate and National Certificate in Education between 1971 and 1978. He had a Bachelor of Education Arts from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1982. He worked with Kwara State Government as a Teacher, Education Administrator, Public Administrator and rose to the position of Permanent Secretary, a position from which he voluntarily retired without blemish.

After his retirement from civil service in 2006, Baraje ventured into politics. He was part of the national campaign of the PDP Presidential candidate for the 2007 General Elections. He was an Assistant Director in charge of Administration. He worked closely with late President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua, on the 2007 pre-campaign tours round the nation as well as presidential campaign rallies throughout the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory and the election was landslide victory for the party.

Also, immediately after that, he contested for the office of National Secretary of the PDP at the national convention and won. He was the acting National Chairman of the party for about two years between 2011 and 2012.

Looking at his performance, Baraje was one of the most successful National Chairmen of the party. Because at that time, the PDP was embroiled in internal wrangling and he was able to bring cohesion into the party. He received commendation for that effort. It was as a result of this performance and on his exit, the then President found him worthy of being awarded Commander of the Order of Niger (CON).

Markaz Baraje, Ilorin:

Madrasat Taleem Li-Arabiy Wal-Islamiy Baraje Baboko, Ilorin started as a Arabic home lesson for the children of Baraje Compound in 1993 through the sole effort and foresight of Alhaji Baraje, a civil servant of repute, who retired as a Permanent Secretary in the Kwara State Civil Service. As the blessings of Allah continue to manifest on the proprietor so also the institution that started as a mini-Arabic school continues to grow. Amin.

The School’s Vision:

To spread message of the Holy Qur’an and Islamic ideals and maintain learning community that produces leaders through faith, knowledge and inspiration.


To attain blessings and pleasure of Allah, the Almighty by delivering His message to mankind. And to offer education of the highest quality embedded in the value of the Islamic faith, to enable students become respectful, responsible, reliable and well-disciplined citizens.


To promote Islamic value in the society.

To teach the noble Qur’an with the applied rules of the science of Tajweed

To memorize noble Qur’an

To understand meaning of words and Ayat from noble Qur’an

To internalize the Qur’anic teachings in daily life

To propagate Islamic value (Da’awah) to the society in accordance with the established religious guidelines and Islamic ethics

To prepare our students for future challenges to enable them be the role models for other Muslims, especially female ones among them in the society through teaching and practicing the commands of Allah and Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him).

To establish and maintain an Islamic Centre (Mosque), library, hostel and translation arts laboratory

To bring the community together by providing excellence services via:

Five daily prayers

Friday congregational prayers (Jumuah)

Ramadan congregational prayer (Taraweeh)

Ramadan public lectures via televisions and radio stations

Weekly and public lectures at the central mosque

To provide educational, spiritual and counseling services to the community during school hours, summer school, educational seminars and workshops.

As Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, CON is formally installed into the enviable title of Tafida of Ilorin Emirate, it is our prayer that the Almighty God blesses him with long life, sound health, happiness and prosperity.

It is equally our prayer that the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR who has attained over eighty one years of age would live long to witness Ilorin Emirate and the citizenry of his dream to be more united and love another so that the community would, in turn, witness more development, particularly during his lifetime. Amin.

By Akanbi, an Ilorin-based Journalist, tundeakanbibabby.@yahoo.co.uk