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Anniversary: Ahead 2023, secessionists drum take centre stage in Kwara

As the country continues it celebration of sixty years diamond jubilee with mixed feelings, the situation in Kwara is not any much difference as drums of secessionists have taken the centre stage. Acting Editor, Mumini AbdulKareem writes on the issue.
As Nigeria complete the first decade ahead of her centenary celebration which is forty years away, the drums of secessionists which has reverberated in the southeast and south-western parts of the country appeared to have found it rhythm in the north central state of Kwara.
For many Kwarans, although this is not the first time that such narrative will dominate discussion in the state, its resurgence coming just few years ahead of the 2023 elections coincided with a period that agitation for marginalisation and alleged exclusion in the governance of the state has reached a crescendo.
However, the question that some political analysts have asked is whether the renaissance of the agitation has any coincidence with the coming election in 2023 or its rebirth was just a happenstance in sync with proponents of the restructuring crusade.
It was from the Kwara North sensorial district that the agitation for marginalisation in the governance of the state first took off when top leaders from the zone across the five local government areas of Edu, Patigi, Baruten, Kaiama and Moro converged with a communiqué issued at the end of the summit.
Apparently wanting to avoid a situation of been beaten in the same whole twice following how the region reportedly fluffed a similar opportunity with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) pact during the 2015 gubernatorial election for power to return to the region after only one term of its then candidate, Hon Razak Atunwa, top leaders and elders in Kwara North rallied their indigenes to a pan regional action which cut across partisan, ethnic and tribal lines to form a common consensus on the issue of their son becoming the next governor of the state.
However, whether via planning or coincidence by the Kwara North elders, a precursor to their convergence had been initiated by the two local governments of Edu and Patigi three days earlier where some of the leaders rekindled partnership for the actualisation of Edu state to be carved out from Kwara and Niger state for the Nupe speaking people to be housed under a geographical location.
While submitting their memo to the office of the clerk of the National Assembly Constitutional Review Commute on Friday 25, 2020, the working committee which comprised Senator Bima Muhammad Enagi, Hon Saidu Musa Abdul and Senator Baba Ahmed Zuruq from Patigi noted that Edu State has been the aspiration of the Nupe people of Niger and Kwara States since in the 1990s adding that its creation is key to the harnessing of the huge economic potentialities of the places concerned.
Zuruq further noted that Nupe people ought to be given two states since the beginning of state creation in Nigeria but since none was exclusively given to them, Edu should be created in the impeding review of the constitution. They said the Nupe people are highly optimistic this time and pledged to ‘place all hands on deck’ to ensure that aspirations of those they represent come to fruition.
It was the third day of that submission on Monday September 28, 2020 that political and opinion leaders from the entire Kwara North region issued a communiqué at the end of their meeting to return power to the region after the tenure of Shaaba Lafiagi in 1992 before the late Sani Abacha junta terminated his tenure in 1993 after spending a year in office.
According to them, “the political and economic emancipation of their land and people is no longer negotiable”.
“All peoples and groups in Kwara North are hereby called upon to come together in unity under the same forum to pursue a common political agenda of developing the zone…”
“For equity, fairness and justice, the meeting called on the leadership of all political parties in the state that the Governorship of Kwara state should be rotational among the three Senatorial zones beginning with Kwara North in 2023”, the statement added.
Some of the leaders that endorsed the communiqué include Hon Bio Issa Ibrahim (Baruten), Alhaji Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (Edu), Chief Sunday Ogunniyi (Moro), Hon Alhassan Bagidi (Kaiama) and Alhaji Dabarako Mohammad (Patigi), among others.
While the political and secessionist bell is been rang in Kwara North in September, their counterpart in the South chose the same month to collaborate in the agitation when the Yoruba’s in the state joined their counterparts in Kogi to demand merger with South-West and thus making it a September to remember in Kwara.
The Yoruba group, which occupies seven local government areas in Kwara South senatorial zone and five in Kogi State, in a statement on Friday September 26, 2020 said it had forwarded a memorandum to the National Assembly Constitutional Review Committee on the platform of Kwara South Consultative Forum with a demand for the merging of the Yoruba of Kwara and Kogi with their kinsmen in the South-West through boundary adjustment.
According to the National President of the forum, Pa Joseph Aderibigbe, who was the first Secretary to Kwara State Government when it was created in 1967, “the Yoruba in the group should have their own administrative units like others within the proposed Western region through a referendum”. Among other basis why they want such merger according he noted was due to alleged “marginalisation”, a singsong that runs through all agitation.
Speaking on the issue, Hon Mohammed Guyegi representing Edu at the House of Assembly however noted that the region must speak with one voice to present a consensus candidate to further strengthen the realisation of their quest.
According to him, “The calibre of the people that converged and issued that communiqué cut across all the local governments in Kwara North, my but here now is whether we can be able to produce a single candidate from Kwara North and we must understand the importance of such position not to jeopardise our chances. I am fully supporting of the issue because I am here representing my people. In as much they have decided that this is the direction they are going, I don’t have any option. But like I said, there is the need for us in Kwara North to come up with a consensus candidate or we should work that out after 2023 and begin the preparation towards that now very strongly. Presently, I am in the administration of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and also representing my people”, he added. On state creation, Guyegi noted that “We want to join our brother from Niger to form Edu State. We have been on this issue for a long time since the late Abacha administration and we pray to almighty God to actualise it for us”.
Also commenting on the issue, Hon Abdullahi Halidu Danbaba said his kinsmen should support the governor now and wait for their time in 2023 adding that state creation may not be realistic in the light of the current situation in the country.
He said “This is democracy and in a democratic setting, everybody has the fundamental right to express their opinion. But democracy has also given the right to also assembly which of the leaders have done. Personally, Kwara north deserves to be given opportunity to govern the state but I think we should strategically support the present governor for 2023 for us to have his support and that of the central for 2027 because he will not have any cause then than to support our aspiration. To be honest, there is nobody that will want to run just one time as a governor. So we should be strategic about and especially since the Governor has been doing a lot to address some of the infrastructure deficit suffered in the past”.
On the timing of the agitation, Danbaba said “the 9th National assembly is at the peak of amending the Nigeria constitution and everybody wants to harness such opportunity to suit their communities which amount to the call for balkanization for people to align with kits and kin. He said the Barugu people of Kaiama and Baruten was at it sometimes during late President Umar Musa Yar’adua which brought up the issue of Edu and the Yorubas in Kwara South. “The Kwara North especially has not been too comfortable with past administrations over alleged marginalisation. But practically, I don’t see state creation being realistic in the context of this country any longer. He called on the constituent to continue to be supportive and draw us back when we are going astray with a lot of engagement and open dialogue and we are ready to take objective and constructive criticisms because we are not perfect as human in areas where they will benefit from this administration and the plights, yearnings and aspirations will be ventilated to the appropriate quarters.

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