By Ahmed Zakaria
With the recent agitations for “Yoruba Nation” and “Middlebelt”, it is pertinent for Kwara State indigenes to review their relationships with other groups, narrate their stories by themselves and resist all efforts at manipulations of the narratives.
Some raucous voices have always taken it upon themselves to categorise Kwara State where it suits their tribal, political, religious and sentimental inclinations without considering the choice of the state’s indigenes.
Just because the Yoruba language is the Lingua Franca in Kwara doesn’t separate Kwara from the northern states. But, that does not also mean only Yorubas reside in Kwara, or only they “own” Kwara, as there are many other tribes, like Nupes, Barubas, Kanuri, Fulani,
Some people wrongfully assume the scale to be a Northern State is being above River Niger, which is absurd and wholly superficial and unwarranted.
Others use Hausa or Fulfulde language as a yardstick for grouping northern and southern states, which is also fallacious. A lot of people in northern Nigeria do not speak Hausa or Fulfulde.
Others use religion as a criterion, which is also untrue. For example, many communities in northern Nigeria have large populations of Muslims, Christians, and worshippers of traditional religions. Most recently, agitators of the “Middlebelt” have used religion as a basis for dividing northern Nigeria.
With the recent agitations in the South West for “Oduduwa Republic”, many people encourage Kwara Yorubas and even Kogi Yorubas to join the struggle. They claim they will regret being part of the North or be oppressed by the “Northerners” or that they won’t gain anything from the North. Many other things they enjoy saying without knowing the repercussions of what they are saying or putting into consideration the emotions of others while saying it.
It is all due to utter historical ignorance. It is highly offensive to assume Kwarans are Northerners by chance or are “Northerners” for the benefit of what they “gain” from the “North”.
Kwarans are unfortunately projected as “power-hungry” folks, making them seem all their decisions are guided by the love of money, power or recognition, which is wrong, untrue, and humiliating.
Adding more salt to injury is to assume that other “Northerners” will “oppress” Kwarans or take away their “rights” or “resources”. It is more painful and mischievous. Nothing as such exists in the dictionary of the good people of Kwara State. It is a lack of understanding of the historical relevance of the current nomenclature of Kwara State that leads to all these unfortunate and insincere utterances and views.
No one can take away the “rights” of Kwarans or “resources”. We are focused on what “we” can sincerely offer this nation and region and not what this nation or the North can offer us. We do not discuss our “rights” when we haven’t discharged the “obligations” upon us.
The people in Kwara State have a strong ideological and religious association with Northern Nigeria, which is stronger than mere tribal and geographical relationships.
Those who wish to project Kwarans as unclear of where they belong or are lost, looking for an identity, or seeking acceptance are deceiving themselves, not Kwarans. They deny the obvious.
Many Kwarans welcomed the news of the raid on Sunday Igboho’s house and the arrest of his criminal associates for their effrontery towards Kwara State heroes and monuments.
They employed their propaganda machines to tarnish the good image of Kwara as well as to portray them in a negative light. They rubbished our traditional institutions and had the audacity to instruct their foot soldiers to be insulting Our Royal Father, the Emir of Ilorin.
He thought the hooliganism and thuggish behaviour he exhibited in Oyo State could be condoned and replicated in Kwara State. He does not know the bonds that bind the people of Kwara are more robust than what people like him could ever break. Many sacrifices were made to build, foster, and develop these bonds and brotherhood, but his followers kept praising him till he met his Waterloo.
No true son of Kwara will support the criminal attitudes of Igboho. That is why some people believe that most people causing trouble and tribalism today in Kwara State are not true sons of Kwara. No true son of Kwara will support the disrespect meted on the state by Igboho and his propaganda machines.
It is harrowing and highly disappointing to paint Kwarans as people without an identity, just like it is a blatant lie to assume Kwarans don’t know their identity; that was what Igboho worked extremely hard at achieving.
It is unfortunate to assume Kwarans don’t know where they belong to or are looking for love and affection from any people or group of people. But, on the contrary, Kwarans respect everybody and bear no grudge towards anyone.
The mere thought of what Igboho represents is distasteful, extremely humiliating, and deeply heartbreaking. Kwarans are not troublesome; they are warm-blooded, unlike their counterparts in other parts of the country.
That is the opportunity Igboho seized and the reason he dared to insult, belittle, humiliate, and threaten Kwarans. Yet, he dared not threaten Kano, Sokoto, or Borno in the same fashion he threatened Kwara.
Those supporting Igboho’s antics, methods, styles, and methodology do not and will never represent Kwarans. The attacks on our Emir and traditional institutions even made us more united behind our Emir despite all our differences.
Igboho consistently portrays hatred for those he terms the “Fulanis”, but we all in Kwara State fall under that category. He has been blinded by deep-seated tribalism and hatred that he views all of us in Kwara State as Fulanis and “Eru Fulanis” to the extent that it is absolutely impossible to convince his myopic mind that not all people in Kwara are Fulani and that Yorubas, Nupes, Barubas, and Fulanis live side by side, peacefully since the time of Shehu Alimi, that’s two centuries ago.
We thank the swift intervention of the DSS in tackling the menace and criminal activities of Igboho and his cohorts, for if the government hadn’t intervened, other non-state actors would definitely spring into action to counter his illegal activities and unguarded utterances against Kwara State. He and tribalists like him are not welcome in Kwara State.
May ALLAH bless Kwara State and the whole of Nigeria, amin.
Ahmad Zakariyah writes from Kwara State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.