Emir of Ilorin, Fulani group suppressing Yorubas, Afonja Union leader says

By Balkis Tijani.

The Afonja Descendants Union of Ilorin, has lamented the alleged suppression of Yoruba people by Fulanis in Ilorin.

According to the President-General of the group, Alhaji Abdulkareem Olola Kasumu, who spoke in an interview with the Punch, the Fulani people in Ilorin are hell-bent on erasing Afonja’s legacies from the annals of the town.

He narrated the alleged tireless efforts of the Fulanis in ensuring that no public institution or edifice is named after Afonja, who was a renowned ancient monarch in Ilorin.

He said, “The Fulani people in Ilorin are trying to belittle Afonja. They felt that Afonja’s name should be forgotten in Ilorin and that is why they made all efforts to ensure that no public institution, edifice or even street is named after him.

“For example, when the late General Abdulkarim Adisa established a Microfinance bank and named it after Afonja, the Fulani people did not like it; they asked him to change the name but he said no. He told them there was a bank named after Alimi and that it was not a crime to name the bank after Afonja. He named it Afonja Community Bank which later became Afonja Microfinance Bank.

“Also when Muhammed Lawal, a descendant of Afonja, came in as the governor of the state, the Fulani people, through diabolical means, set him against Adisa and started to fight him. Lawal stopped Adisa from constructing a building in the GRA which he said was opposite the Government House. Till today, the building has not been completed. Adisa is dead now.”

Alhaji Kasumu accused the Emir of Ilorin of playing a leading role in the alleged suppression of the Yorubas. He blamed the Emir for introducing the Durbar Festival which he copied from the North, while attempting to prevent the Yorubas from celebrating Yemoja Festival after Sallah.

Kasumu insisted that the Durbar idea was against the tradition of the people because Ilorin was not established by riding on horses.

He maintained that Ilorin was a Yoruba town which was established through “Yemoja.”

“Another thing which the Fulani group did to ensure that Ilorin people would forget Afonja was the introduction of Durbar Festival by the Emir. Last year, the Emir brought the Durbar idea, which involves horse-riding. It is against the tradition of the people because Ilorin was not established by riding on horses.

“Ilorin was established through “Yemoja”, which was brought from Oyo. There are lots of evidence to show that Ilorin is a Yoruba town and Alimi was brought to Ilorin by Afonja. Now, there are so many streets in Ilorin named after Alimi but there is no single street named after Afonja. Mogaji Are, Baba Isale and Isokun are the three Yoruba traditional chiefs in Ilorin, but we have Emir’s Road while unknown personalities who are not connected with Ilorin have streets named after them in the town.

“It is the Emir and the Fulani group in Ilorin that are behind this issue. They don’t want Afonja to be remembered and that was the major reason why he brought the idea of Durbar Festival which he copied from the North.

“The Emir knows about our tradition but when we wanted to celebrate Yemoja Festival after Sallah, he attempted to stop it. Our people said no. They organised themselves and there were radio and television programmes about the risk of (celebrating) the festival. We celebrated Yemoja after Sallah. Kudos must be given to the police who protected our people during the peaceful conduct of Yemoja Festival in Ilorin”, he stated.

Alhaji Abdulkareem Olola Kasumu

The Afonja Union leader called on the government to intervene on the issue, adding that there are several institutions in Kwara that can be named after Afonja.

“So, we felt that the government must do something about this. There is Kwara State Stadium and other institutions that can be named after Afonja. Speaking of Ilorin without Afonja’s name is zero; we want to remind the government that Afonja has many sons and daughters.

“We have Mohammed Lawal, a former governor of the state, whom no edifice is named after. Ilorin is a prominent town in Yorubaland and it has a founder in the person of Afonja. Something must be done to correct past mistakes”, he emphasized.

Stating his demands, Kasumu listed the following resolutions:

1. This is Yorubaland; they should allow the Yoruba to have a say in their own affairs. The Emir is suppressing all Yoruba people; he is oppressing Oba Jebba, Shao, Apado, etc., by not allowing them to be recognised. The man who gave him the title made it clear that he is the Emir of Yoruba and that the land belongs to the Yoruba.

2. What we now want is a Yoruba traditional ruler in Ilorin and not an Emir. “O to ge” (Enough is enough) should apply to the rulers; the slang affects the Emir too. We are saying “O to ge” to the Emir of Ilorin too. We don’t want Fulani people to rule us again. The Fulani rule in Ilorin must end now.

He also noted that Kwara was part of the South and not the North, stressing that the population of Yorubas in Kwara was more, so the minority tribe cannot be placed over the majority tribe.

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