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Still on Ilorin and the crisis of identity


Sir: Ilorin long ago came to terms with its identity. As a united community forged by the religion of Islam from diverse ethnic groups, Yoruba,  Fulani, Hausa, Gobir, Kanuri, Gwari, Nupe, Barba and Kamberi; disturbed only by those who cannot come to terms with the facts of history. If the harmony that exists among these ethnic groups is well replicated in this country, Nigeria would have been a great place.

The hijab case is indeed the Supreme Court, on appeal by the Kwara State Chapter of CAN. Judgement at both the trial court and the Appeal Court favoured government position that wearing hijab is an exercise of freedom of religion or words to that effect. The take-over of mission schools in the 1970s affected these institutions across the whole country, not just the North. The practice of grant-in-aid thereby ceased because they were now all public schools, maintained by government as such. In some states the names of schools were even changed to reflect public ownership. 

The Yoruba of Ilorin have no cause to struggle with the fact of being (mostly) Muslim and also Yoruba.  The religion is their anchor and what unites them with the aforementioned ethnic groups. They have always been accepted for what they are. Most of the Yoruba of Ilorin I have interacted with over the decades have both Islamic and Yoruba names.

Governor Abdulrazak undoubtedly has a Yoruba name and why not? His father, the first lawyer from the North, the late Abdul Ganiyu Folorunsho (A.G.F.) Abdul Razak had one. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is a title rather than personal name. Gamal Abdel Nasser was native name derived from his religion. 

Ilorin, alongside Bida and Kontagora were the southern-most Emirates of the Fulani Empire. British conquest of these kingdoms opened the way to the Empire’s centre. It would be illogical for them to treat Ilorin as part of any territory other than Northern Nigeria because they acknowledged them as part of Sokoto Empire. 

Obsession with Ilorin is unhealthy. It’s not the only territory Yoruba “lost”.  A chunk of Yoruba land is now in Benin Republic, lost to the French; why is no attention paid to its recovery to join Nigeria? 
M T Usman.


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