By Abubakar Imam.
“All conflicts grow from the hearts of people before they become manifest and we need to return to working on the hearts and minds of our people so that Nigerians would be good”.
Last Saturday(April 13,2019)was not palatable for me.The situation was not because of a personal loss.It was not even due to an official challenge.It was as a result of an unacceptable insuination I read on the social media as regard the continuous cohesiveness of the people of Ilorin Emirate.
It was a piece by some compatriots from the Ilorin East Local Government Area,to be specific as stated in the publication,from Isale Gambari, which if not swiftly checked or discouraged, could threaten the unity of Ilorin Emirate.
Those brothers of mine,who wrote anonymously, were evidently bitter about the pre-eminence of indigines of Ilorin West LGA in the scheme of things in recent time at the State and Federal levels compared with their compatriots from the remaining four LGAs constituting the Emirate,particularly theirs, Ilorin East LGA.
The piece also questioned the relatively huge official population figure of Ilorin West against its sister LGAs.The authors were also not happy that indigenes of the Ilorin West LGA have been cornering more elective,appointive and political positions and appointments at State and Federal levels.Some apparent cases were cited to back the views.
After reading through and perusing the divergent responses of many of those who accessed the piece,my spirit was seriously enervated and my fear about the danger such conceptions and misconceptions possed raised my desire to intervene with the hope that we will all reason together.
The diatribe just reminded me of previous related developments in the Emirate.
I,therefore,felt compelled to share some of them with you so that those who know better will enlighten the rest of us the more.
I remember that the 9th Emir of Ilorin,the late Alhaji Zulukarnain Gambari Mohammed CFR(1914-1992),was against additional local government creation, particularly in the Ilorin metropolis, during the Second Republic.His fear was that it will divide his people at long run.He reasoned that,if care was not taken,we might not see one another as brothers and sisters again.
Many of his subjects,then,thought otherwise.But with the vituperations referred to above,I think that great Monarch’s fear was neither baseless nor unfounded.
Permit me to digress that LGAs are like drugs needed to heal patients.Drugs, when prescribed and taken according to the prescription, are good but when administered otherwise they become dangerous to human health and the society at large.
In the same manner Local Government Areas are created to ease administration and to spread development.They are not intended to divide a people who share common history,faith and destiny just as the good people of Ilorin Emirate.
I,therefore, believe that it is high time our leaders,elders,opinion moulders and other well-meaning individuals called those “patriotic” youths to order and remind them of what Ilorin Emirate was,has been and should continue to be.
Ilorin Emirate,as we met it, is a conglomeration of a united people who see geographic delineation as a mere means of political convenience and infrastructural development.
I am convinced that it is important to appeal to all of us to eschew all forms of bitterness, bickerings,name-calling,character assasination and geographic dichotomisation.
We should wish for others what we wish for ourselves.We must see one another as brothers and compatriots and never as rivals.
For the benefit of emphasis,permit me to proceed by beginning with 1975 as a reference point.That was the year when the two Civil Commissioners appointed from Ilorin were from the same axis of the city and even products of the same western-oriented school who also attended the same “Ile-Kewu” despite the presence of several other compatriots from other areas of Ilorin who were also qualified and competent .The two were childhood friends.They were the late Alhaji Saka Sa’adu OFR (1938-2017) and Alhaji Aliyu Alarape Salman SAN(b.1942).They both served under the military administrations of Colonels Ibrahim Taiwo and George Agbazika Innih.There was no “cry” from their compatriots that the two appointees were from the same segment of the city.
What mattered then was their qualifications,capacities and qualities.They,indeed, served well and had to simultaneously resigned from that government at the instance of the Ilorin Emirate Commumity epitomized by the IEDPU.
Similar situation re-occured when two distinguished brothers succeeded each other as Permanent Secretaries at the Federal level.The death of Alhaji Yusuf Amuda Gobir OFR(1934-1975),the unforgettable and extremely patriotic Federal Super Permanent Secretary,eventuated in the appointment of his brother, Ambassador Abubakar Garuba Gobir(1934-1996),some years after,as a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Public Service while their elder brother,Alhaji Yakubu Amori Gobir, was a first-class Permanent Secretary at the state level with no complaints or petition from their compatriots that Ilorin did not belong to the Gobirs alone.
The period between 1984 and 1985 also presented similar scenerio.That was when the late General Tunde Idiagbon(1943-1999) was the Deputy Head of State.Some prominent Ilorin indigenes appointed into offices of high responsibilities shared one
“relationship” or the other with him.The Secretary to the Kwara State Government of the era,Dr.Abdulkadir Suleiman Oniyangi OFR(b.1935),was his brother-in-law while the then Minister of External Affairs,Prof.Ibrahim Agboola Gambari(b.1944) CFR is Dr.Oniyangi’s brother-in-law.
During the same 1984,General Idiagbon also facilitated or accomplished the elevation of the then Chief Judge of Kwara State,Hon.Justice Saidu Kawu CON,(1928-2013) as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
We must not forget the fact that the late Alhaji Akanbi Mahmud Oniyangi(1932-2006), who was the Minister for Communication,Defence and Industries,at various times,between 1979 and 1983, was their “brother” from more or less the same “adugbo”.Alhaji Oniyangi’s younger sister was a wife to the late Justice Kawu while Alhaji Akanbi Oniyangi’s mother originated from the same Agbaji,which produced the then Senate Leader,the late Dr.Abubakar Olusola Saraki(1933-2012),who facilitated Alhaji Akanbi Oniyangi’s appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic.
The man who represented the eastern part of the Emirate in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1983,Alhaji Aremu Babatunde Yahaya,who later served as a Minister between 1993 and 1995 under General Sanni Abacha(1943-1998) was/is Alhaji Akanbi Oniyangi’s brother-in-law.His own father,the late Alhaji Yahaya Madawaki(1907-1998) was a Regional Minister in the old Northern Region between 1952 and 1957!No body said all of them were somehow related with one another or from the same axis of Ilorin.
It should be noticed that at that material time all the indigenes of Ilorin who were on the federal bench were from the same segment of the Emirate.They were Justice Mahmud Babatunde Belgore(1936-2010),who got appointed into the Federal High Court in 1973 before retiring as the Chief Judge of the Court in 2001;Justice Mohammed Mustapha Adebayo Akanbi CFR(1932-2018),who was appointed into the same Court in 1974 before his elevation into the Court of Appeal in 1977 and from where he retired as the President in 1999 and the Hon.Justice Saliu Modibbo Alfa Belgore CON,GCON(b.1937) who was initially
appointed into the Court of Appeal in 1979 before he was elevated into the Supreme Court from where he eventually retired as the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 2007.
Even serving members of the federal bench from the Ilorin Emirate are mostly from the eastern side of the city of Ilorin.Such jurists include Justices Ahmad Olarewaju Belgore and Mudashir Oniyangi who are of the Court of Appeal as well as Justice Saliu Saidu Ajanaku of the Federal High Court while Honourable Justices Bolaji Belgore and Asmau Yusuf,a daughter to one of the highly celebrated indigenes of Ilorin Emirate,the late Justice Akanbi,are on the bench of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
Before then and way back in 1969,it was the duo of Alhaji Yakubu Amori Gobir,a serving Permanent Secretary, then, and Justice Saka Yusuf OFR,both of blessed memories,who encouraged and prevailed on a much younger Alhaji AbdulRasheed Salman( a.k.a Rasidi Alada of Pakata) to accept an appointment as the first degree holding indigine of Ilorin Emirate in the admninistrative cadre of the Kwara State Public Service against his desire to join the services of the Federal Government.The two gentlemen drove from their homes to meet their much younger compatriot at Pakata!
Ten years after,it was the same Alhaji Yakubu Amori Gobir who insisted that the “boy”he earlier attracted into the Public Service of Kwara State,Alhaji AbdulRasheed Salman(b.1938) should be appointed over him as the Secretary to the State Government under Governor Adamu Attah.
Alhaji Gobir was the leader of those Ilorin patriots who cleared the way for Rasidi Alada to become the SSG despite his relatively young age both in life and service,then.He was picked for the high office because he was qualified and competent for the job.
Inspite of their relationship,Alhaji Y.A.Gobir did not find it odious or demeaning to report to Alhaji A.R.Salman as one of the several Permanent Secretaries between 1979 and 1981 when the selfless statesman retired.
All those happened without anyone raising any question(s) being carelessly and dangerously raised today.
Our distinguished predecessors showed understanding because of their belief in the fact that “tiwantiwa” and that “Gambari pa Fulani koni ejo ninu”.
That was the Ilorin of yester-years where and when civility prevailed over emotions and where love for one another occupied the hearts of its indigenes.
My distinguished compatriots,please let us not share the feelings of those who say that that was then.It is never too late to say and do the right thing in the best of manners.
Despite the contemporary complexity and ceaseless modernity of our contemporary time,we can still re-enact an atmosphere of enduring fraternity and collective progress for the love of our people,most especially, if we are truly patriotic.
We must avoid sending out wrong signals that our cohesiveness is cosmestic.Let us be mindful of what, how,when and where we express our feelings so that those who love to hate us will not have anywhere or anything to hide under to divide us.
Nevertheless, I must urge those who are occupying offices of responsibilities in politics, business and public administration to emulate the statesmanship of the late Alhaji Yusuf Amuda Gobir, the emancipatory dispositions of Prof.S.O.AbdulRaheem, the selflessness of Alhaji Yakubu Amori Gobir; the egalitarianism of Justice Saka Yusuf, the righteousness of Alhaji A.A.S.Aliyu and the non-discriminatory tendencies of Alhaji Ahmed Bolaji Nagode and the open-mindedness of Engr.Kale Kawu Agaka,among other compatriots, who will not bother about the corner of Ilorin their intending beneficiaries come from before offering them enduring assistance.
Ilorin Emirate should be our constituency.We must reject parochialism,ethnocentrism and divisive tendencies. We must always do our best at every given time to respond positively to those who need our assistance with the belief that history is taking note of all we do.
This contribution is hinged on the possibility of all of us reasoning and working together for the unity and progress of of Ilorin Emirate.
Imam is the National Publicity Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union