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Where does Ilorin really belong? ... As Ilorin elders brainstorm

Date: 2014-03-09


If what resonated at the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) secretariat on 8th of March concerning its position on the national conference were anything to go by, it is no moot point to say that the Ilorin elders see clearly through the maze where the Ilorin Emirate interest lies.

To make sure that Ilorin is not left with the short end of the stick in the scheme of things,  the elders on behalf of the emirate rolled up its sleeves on this day, steadied its hands on the plough, searching for solutions in response to the current breathless tempo of events convulsing the country.

Many controversial topics that have dominated pages of the media bordering on national questions were subject of intellectual contemplation at the gathering. These topics were examined with the view to see how Ilorin Emirate will not be as the receiving end of the imminent change that may likely happen to Nigeria through restructuring. The gathering was purely ethnic which of course satisfies the requirement of many citizens of Nigeria that such a gathering should be that of ethnic nationalities.

Coincidentally forth night ago, the Yoruba of the Kwara South comprising the Igbomina, Ekiti, Offa and others convened similar gathering at their end during which they came out with resolutions that they wanted to be merged with their kith and kin in the South-West. The resolutions of this meeting was taken to Ibadan for a wider meeting of the Yoruba nation a week after at which the two Afenifere rivals, that of Bola Ahmed Tinubu i.e Afenifere Renewal and that of sir Lanihun and Olufalae forgot their differences and came up with common position, aligning with the position of the Yorubas from Kwara South. What a pure ethnic agenda.

The emirate meeting selected brilliant sons and daughters of the emirate to consider various topics which they deliberated from the Emirate angle. They included papers delivered by Dr. Saliu Ajia, a consultant, public analyst and a part-time lecturer at the University of Ilorin. His paper was titled “The system, type and cost of governance best suited for the country that will accommodate the emirate’s core values”.

The second paper was presented by Professor Hassan Saliu of the faculty of Business and Social Sciences, Unilorin. It was titled “power structure in Nigeria that will take care of the interest and existence of Ilorin emirate”.

The third paper was presented by Alhaji LAK Jimoh and his paper was titled” History of Ilorin Emirate and the challenges of any new political and territorial architecture in Nigeria.” The fourth paper titled”. Religion fanaticism and the problems of insecurity in Nigerian, the Ilorin example”, it was presented by Dr. AS Arikewuyo, former provost, College of Arabic and legal studies.

The fifth paper titled “corruption and impunity: Role of the judiciary” and it was presented by Dr. Nimah Dupe Abdulraheem of the faculty of law, University of Ilorin.

The sixth paper titled “land use ACT, Government control and land owners’ predicament in Nigeria” was presented by Alhaji Muri Adi, lead consultant, Muri Adi associates.

Dr. Ajia, who is very brilliant and the first presenter, plaintively but with a lot of deliberate and calculated animation looks at how Nigeria came into being with emphasis on different types of government that have been in existence since about 500years ago when he said Ilorin has been in existence. For him, it was first the traditional system of government under the traditional rulers which had been in existence and ,from whom the British colonialists forcefully took over power and authority through the colonial rule to the post colonial rule up till the present. Various governments had evolved and had been practiced since then.

Ilorin also evolved during these periods under various governments and circumstances until present time. Though, he will not want Nigeria to go back to the traditional system of government under the traditional rulers but will still want the institutions to be left intact because of their role in preservation of  culture and traditional.

Where did and where does Ilorin stand here? He say it was because Ilorin had stood with the Arewa North under the Sokoto Caliphate right from history till the First Republic and now that the community has not only preserved its identity but attained its current height.

He attributed this working relationship with the Arewa to similarity of Islamic culture despite Ilorin being a predominantly Yoruba town. This means he still wants the present collaboration between Ilorin and the Arewa to subsist.

But he argues for a democratization of governance in Kwara state, fuming with arrangement in which an individual or few people will sit in a room and chooses whose peoples’ representatives should be, be it governor, commissioner, ministers, local government chairmen etc. “Who chooses peoples presently representing your interests at various levels of government, is it not one man?” He asks.

The second paper was presented by Comrade Abdulateef on behalf of Professor Hassan Saliu. In it, he awoke the consciousness of the Ilorin Emirate to resist current agitation for restructuring that will place Ilorin Emirate back under any regional block as it obtained in the first Republic. Presently regionalism is the tidal wave in all the Southern part of Nigeria, Yoruba of the South-West, Ibo of the South East and the South-South peoples including the non Hausa-Fulani Christian minority of the Middle Belt in north are agitating for it.

But if Ilorin is to be put under regional government, definitely, it will be under the old northern region, would this be in the interest of the Ilorin Emirate and its elite? Salihu seems to ask. Therefore he supports the present 36 states structure. He said if regionalism pays other ethnic groups in the country, the emirate is not strategically placed to benefit from it. He also said none of two forms of government, parliamentary and presidential is bad in their own right but where problem lies is the operators of the system which are Nigerians.

The third paper by LAK Jimoh disagreed in his paper that 1914 was the year Nigeria was created as an entity. He said rather that 1914 was only the climax of the amalgamation that had been in piece meal.

He also said it was the Sultan of Sokoto, Sultan Umoru who firstly ceded his territory to the British colonialist in a treaty he signed with Mr. Truban Goldiee in 1885. Though this was disagreed with by the Chairman of the occasion, Justice M.A Ambali who said this negated the theory in Islamic studies.

Justice Ambali said, Sultan Umoru did not understand English in which the treaty was written, thus he was tricked to give away his territory which stretched from Sokoto through other Western Sudan to Ilorin. What LAK Jimoh insinuated in his paper is that if current Nigeria will break or will be restructured, the territory of the western Sudan which stretches to the Ilorin Emirate should be returned back to the Sultan since it was seized in the first place from his ancestors.

Another serious implication of his paper is that since it was from the traditional rulers the British colonialists forcefully seized land, authority and power, the current likely restructuring should consider role for the traditional institution in the modern governance.

After all, British used them during the colonial government to rule. This was what is called “indirect rule system” Even the First Republic has constitutional role for them through Houses of chiefs in both the defunct Western and Northern Regions. He also advocated for wider expansion of jurisdiction for the Sharia legal system.

The fourth paper by Dr. Arikewuyo on religion looked at how the religious fanaticism could be prevented through proper monitoring of the religious propagation by the clerics. He called for the recognition of the Eastern education in Nigeria just as he advocated for the formal recognition of Arabic language in the national curriculum.

The fifth paper was presented by Alhaji Muri Adi on the land use Act in which he chronicled how the land was seized from the original land-owners in Nigeria by the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1975. Since then, community which is the original owner had been alienated from their land. The land used of Act 1979 confers land ownership on the governor of a state.

The implication for the Emirate in this is that quiet large number of the Emirate land had been forcefully seized and acquired for wrong purposes. In the course of this, the traditional areas in Ilorin that makes it intrinsically retains its local nuances, flavour and uniqueness had been violated in the name of modernization.

Dr. Arikewuyo, an Islamic Scholar also in his paper advocated for preservation of the traditional area of the ancient city, in order to preserve the ancient areas that makes community unique in its rapid transformation to mega city.

It will be recalled the Ilorin elders. i.e. IEDPU stood up in arm against the present administration to protect what they called the “traditional land areas” upon which irreverent march of modernization in form of “land acquisition for public interest” had stamped its footprint which they decided must be halted. Among this land is Yidi praying ground up till the Amusement Park.

So, for Arikewuyo and Adi, government must be prevented from taking the Emirate land under whatever guise. Therefore Adi called that the Land Use Act should be expunged from the Nigerian constitution and should be represented as Bill for exhaustive debate to the National Assembly. The sixth paper by Dr. Nimah Abdulraheem looks at the role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption and impunity, urging the bench to stand above board in the discharge of its duties.

The communiqué of the papers all put together include the followings: call for the parliamentary system of government which is said to be cost effective, Land Use Act should be expunged from the constitution, local government should be made independent of the state government, jurisdiction of the Sharia legal system should be expanded, immunity should be removed from the constitution and the chapter two of the Nigerian constitution should be justiciable.

Other include, corruption and impunity should be waged battle against, access to equal justice should be encouraged and Plead Bargaining should be condemned, state police is not supported, electoral system should be strengthened while on resource control, recognition should be given to states with the mineral resources but not at the expense of other states. IEDPU also strongly supports the present 36 states structure against regionalism.

During the questions and answer period, Engineer Lanre Shagaya raised the tempo of discussion when he called the attention of the gathering to the publication in The Tribune newspaper of the forth night ago in which a popular columnist retold the history of Ilorin from the pure Yoruba angle. Another version of this historical revisionism came out in another edition of The Tribune newspaper the following week, this reporter read the two publications, one came out two Sunday ago, the other came out in the following week.

The point they were making is that the Ilorin people should forget their traditional history of how Alimi conquered Ilorin, a Yoruba town saying this was not true. They came up with what they dubbed “authentic history” of how the Yoruba people of Ilorin came under Fulani till today with hint of the Yoruba’s determined efforts to take back their town at the appropriate time. This is hidden in the current Yoruba nationalism blowing all over the world among the Yoruba elite.

This is how Engineer Shagaya put his fear “we are on fire and it is burning us without knowing it. We are sitting on serpent and we are lethargic. Those around us are not sleeping, they are working. We are in a situation in which a Shao-man and a man from Asa are ready to take us to the south-west, among their kith and kin. Where does Ilorin belong? Arewa or Youruba? We need to rise up from our lethargy and stop pretending that things are normal. You need to read these two Tribunes which I have decided to call the attention of the national chairman of IEDPU to.”

Among those who made suggestions during questions and answer period was Alhaji Ayinla Folorunsho who called for a change in the name of Kwara State to Ilorin State. He was opposed by Alhaji Alaya who tutored him that Kwara was coined from the “Kwara River” “please do not put Ilorin State in the proposal to the national conference as this is not possible. Are Igbomina, Offa, Ekiti would accept this? We own Kwara together with other ethnic groups in Kwara, he says.”

Another person asked for the creation of Ilorin state out of the present Kwara State to which Justice Mustapha Akanbi and other opposed. Justice Akanbi said “we cannot stand alone as Ilorin state because we do not have resources to do so”.

In the Justice Akanbi’s remarks, he supported the scrapping of the Land Use Act from the constitution just as he supported free education for the Ilorin people “the problem we have in Ilorin is that we have poor education standard. Most of our school pupils cannot converse in English.

“Also, in Ilorin, we do not normally confront government when it is necessary. We are too fearful and accommodating of government especially we the Ilorin people which is the reason why we often suffer at the expense of our rights. This I believe is because of the little benefits we derive from government; we need to change from this attitude”, he says.

The National chairman of the union, Ahaji Abdulhamid Adi in his address say though the proposed national conference may not necessarily accommodate all their views but it is necessary for Ilorin to also participate. A mild drama ensued at about 2.17pm when the communiqué was being read, Senator Bukola Saraki amidst crowd, with a broom in his hand breezed in to acknowledge the sitting.

Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion were: Representative of SSG, Vice National Chairman of IEDPU, Northern Zone, Engineer Lanre Shangaya, Justice M.A Ambali, Chairman of the occasion, Hon. Justice Baki, Retired AIG, Alhaji Ojibara, Alhaji Baba Aiyelabegan, former commissioner, Alhaji Issa Malete, former Minister, Alhaji Aremu Yahaya, Alhaji Olesin, Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi, Hon. Justice Saka Yusuf, Dr. Yusuf Lawal, Dr. Hamzat Abdulraheem, National Secretary IEDPU, NLC Chairman, Alhaji Akanbi Farouq, NUJ Chairman, Kwara State, Comrade Abiodun Abdulkareem all Magaji and others two numerous to mention.


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