Administration of Public Trust’: The Ali-Agan’s Example

Bureau of Public Service Reforms

Administration of Public Trust’: The Ali-Agan’s Example

By Abubakar Imam

Over the last three eventful decades, Prof. Abubakr Imam Ali-Agan, the immediate past Head of the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, has made a great name for himself within and around Ilorin Emirate and even beyond. This gentleman is widely respected and acknowledged as an erudite scholar, a seasoned academic and an uncompromising preacher of the words of the Almighty Allah.


Prof. Ali-Agan, who hails from the scholarly Ali-Agan family of Ilorin, started out as a prolific Islamic broadcaster in the employ of the Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Kwara), Ilorin. While serving as a media professional, Prof. Ali-Agan succeeded in cultivating tremendous listernership for his always thought-provoking and spiritually stimulating programmes on the network of Radio Kwara and the station as an institution. This admiration followed him to everywhere he went at the end of his exciting career at the oldest surviving radio station in Kwara State.


Apart from leading the efforts, which eventually culminated in the revolutionalisation of Islamic broadcasting in Kwara State, this versatile scholar was also the relentless initiator of the Ilorin Muslim Cementary, among many other services, which have won him a place in the annals of Ilorin.


Like many other public figures, thousands of ordinary men and women and a multitude of “extraordinary” people of Ilorin Emirate and beyond have divergent impressions about him.


While many love his unique style of presentation, quite a number of our people are often left disgusted with his characteristic rigid and consistently uncompromising tendencies as an on air personality and public speaker. He is a man who believes in saying it as it is, no matter whose ox is gored.


But the fascinating way he is handling the distribution of the rice palliative entrusted in him by the Governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, CON, would certainly endear him into the hearts of more of the ordinary people of the community who are the beneficiaries of the scheme.


I think he has been handling the assignment in a very fantastic and transparent manner, which justifies his calling. He is trying his best towards ensuring that only the truly deserving people benefit from the project, which is meant to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary people.


How did I know? It was a senior friend of mine who sent me five bags of 5kg of rice to help him share to the less privileged around me. I did as he requested.


Since I knew that, that friend of mine does not have the capacity to render such a help, I enquired from him where, how and from whom he got the bags of rice given to me for onward distribution.


My elderly friend explained to me that it was the seasoned cleric-don who gave him several bags of the commodity to help him distribute to the less privileged ones. And that he felt that I, as a community person, could also help him to discharge the responsibility.


Having explained the source, my friend appealed to me to also place a call to Prof. Ali-Agan for him to be convinced “beyond reasonable doubt” that he did as charged.


I wasted no time in calling the Professor of Islamic Studies on phone as pleaded. Prof. Ali-Agan was impressed that I was involved and asked me to see him.


When I got to him, he explained to me how the Governor enlisted his assistance in ensuring that the palliative gets to those who truly deserve it.


He pointed out that when the Governor first called him, he declined to serve. The Hadith specialist, however, explained that he later accepted the task when the Governor “threatened” that he (the Professor) should be prepared for blame if the target (ordinary) people did not get the palliative as intended.


On how he carried out the distribution, the Professor said that he would not explain to me in details but I should try to make myself available at his residence on any date of my choice in the course of the last ten days of Ramadan.


Without the Professor’s knowledge, I decided to do so on Monday, April 1, 2024, which was a public holiday. I got there about 10 a.m and I met a multitude of people representing different traditional mosques and groups from across Ilorin.

I instantly became a “participant observer” as I listened to his pre-distribution exultation or address to the people who had converged on the premises of his An-Nur Group of Schools, Shehu Shagari Estate, Oloje, Ilorin, on how he came about the task and how the palliative should be shared.

Prof. Ali-Agan was emphatic on who deserves it. He insisted that it is meant for the widows, the poor, the unemployed and the aged, among other categories of the less privileged members of our society. He made it abundantly clear that it was not meant to serve as political patronage or any form of “showmanship” but for all.

The prolific orator added that Christians and other categories of non-Muslims who are poor should also be given. He nevertheless said that the distributors could also take a proportional fraction of the item as he supported his position with a Quranic verse.

After doing what he knows how to do best, the distribution of the palliative began. He asked the representatives of the different communities present to come in with their vehicles in order to take delivery of the item. He would thereafter ask such individuals to sign for the item before departing. I was impressed that he supervised the entire processes by himself.

In my presence, he placed telephone calls to many of those who had previously registered with him. I later understand that it was the second time that he would be shouldering the responsibility.

I must add that yours sincerely was also given 20 bags of the 5kg of rice, which he has since distributed to those he was convinced deserve it by virtue of their socioeconomic status. Yours sincerely was also sent to two distinguished community leaders with the same number of the commodity for onward distribution to the needies in their vicinity too.

Reacting, those who gathered at the place assured the academic luminary that they would handle the distribution as he requested. They also assured him that he would not be disappointed with their handling of the task.

He bidded each of the groups of “collectors” with his “Iwonu Olohun nun”(I leave you with your conscience) mannerism.

Prof. Ali-Agan, a son of the legendary Sarkin Malamai of Ilorin, Shaykh Yac’qoob Muhammad Busary Ali-Agan, attended the famous Ansarul Islam Primary School, Okekere, Ilorin. He was also educated at the School of Arabic Studies, Kano.

He, thereafter, proceeded to the prestigious Bayero University, Kano, from where he earned his first degree in Islamic Studies. It was from the University of Ilorin that Prof. Ali-Agan subsequently received his Master’s and doctorate degrees in the same field of studies.

Having served as the Head of the Islamic Unit of Radio Kwara, Ilorin, for several years; Prof. Ali-Agan subsequently joined the services of the Better By Far University as a Lecturer at the Islamic Studies Unit of its Department of Religions. In appreciation of his consistently positive efforts in the realm of teaching, research and community services, this outspoken social critic and religious leader was deservedly elevated to the exalted rank of Professor by the authorities of the nation’s most sought-after University in 2020.

All said and done, one thing that impressed me most and which pushed me into deep thought was when the influential academic, who is also the Proprietor of the famous An-Nur Group of Schools, Ilorin; concluded by swearing with the Holy Quran that; not even a grain of the rice was and would be consumed either by any member of his family or pupil of his increasingly popular school. I sincerely regard his declaration as a perfect exemplification of the motto of the University of Ilorin, which is learning and probity. What a great instance of leadership by example!

Imam is National Secretary of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.