Opinion: The Plight Of Kwara South (Igbomina, Ibolo & Ekiti) Communities In The Democratic Process Of Kwara State, Nigeria

Democracy is said to be the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A system predicated on inclusive and collective governance for the overall good of the people and society. Interestingly, democracy is a game of numbers, therefore, the concept of the majority is sacrosanct to a productive and developmental approach in any democratic dispensation.

This concept of majority is what determines the stake of any socio-cultural, tribal, or ethnic group in a democratic society. A cluster study of the Kwara political landscape, reveals that Kwara Central so far demographically dominates other political constituents of the State, given its ever-increasing population of migrants’ settlers especially in the cosmopolitan city of ILORIN and its environs. Factors motivating the incessant rural-urban migration are not far-fetched with predominant economic factors. This circumstance thus far has jettisoned the Kwara Southerner especially the Igbomina extractions the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the development of their aboriginal communities. It may interest you to know that migration has historically been a defining factor in the prosperity and underdevelopment of Igbomina land. At the inception, migration was a rewarding exercise for the Igbomina people, they move out of their ancestral home to seek greener pasture in Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, and the Benin Republic among others, starting from the 1920s. The first generation of migrants left home with the determination to return to their community with the dividend of their lifetime investment in the host society. This communal consciousness and determination contributed immensely to the age-long rapid development in Igbomina communities from the 1980s up to 1990s, abounding testimonies of this short-lived development were the moribund industries and gigantic edifices located across Igbomina land. Pitifully, the story was to change for the worst with the new generation of migrants who were sons and daughters of the early igbomina migrants born in the host society. Their philosophy was completely different from that of their fathers, to them, the host community is home and primary while the aboriginal community of their forefathers is secondary. This philosophy was to determine their roles in the development and emancipation process of the people of Igbomina land.

A typical Igbomina man is characteristically an industrious businessman who strongly believes in what his wealth can attract to him. This justifies the popular Igbomina maxim “Owo ni e je” ( Money is all that is required). This communal ideology of what money can do has hitherto denied the Igbomina extraction the possibility of looking beyond the lens of business and academia to understanding the might of Power Politics. They were oblivious of the power of a signature in a constituted office over an individual or group’s wealth. Only a few Igbomina participated in politics in the 1950s and 80s although supported by well-to-do business moguls among them. The few politicians never had a succession plan to accommodate more progressives like them which pave way for the Ilorin dynastic perpetual political domination. This political dilemma contributed to the unequal and divisive partitioning of Kwara South LGAs.

In contemporary times, the underdevelopment of Kwara South has not been approached tactically using the most effective mechanism of Power Politics and Diplomacy. Statistically, just 40 percent of Kwara Southerners at home and in the diaspora contribute to the democratic process of Kwara South. A significant population of the people of Kwara south are disconnected from the political realities of their homeland. Hence, giving room for irresponsible and selfish representation leading to marginalization during political decision-making. At home, 70 percent of youthful Kwara Southerners living in Kwara State reside in Ilorin the capital city. Factors motivating the Rural-Urban migration include economic opportunities, access to social amenities, good road network, employment opportunity, availability of education institutions, social lifestyle, etc. This situation has so far profited the Kwara Central political district since a vast number of the resident Kwara Southerners register as eligible voters in Ilorin with their polling stations located in Ilorin districts. Thus, the justification for the increasing voting strength of Kwara Central compared to Kwara South. This situation has continued to deny our people their legitimate role in deciding who represents their interest at the helms of affairs.

OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE

The technological improvement in the INEC voters’ registration and revalidation process is about to change the narrative if the Kwara Southerners (home and abroad) are politically conscious enough to rise to this occasion.

INEC voters’ registration, transfer, and revalidation can now be done online at the comfort of your home. Interestingly, Kwara southerners who reside in Ilorin or migrants in Lagos can apply for voters transfer to their aboriginal community, this will allow them the opportunity to vote in their hometown during the election and contribute immensely to the social and economic development of their community through political inclusion.

Meanwhile, despite the opportunity created by the advancement in technology the illiterate old and young people who stay back and serve as the custodian of the Kwara South community may again be disenfranchised through the process. The registration requires online voters registration initiation which will be completed through data capturing at the designated INEC centers. The emerging challenge is how to educate them on the process and support them to claim their rightful position as eligible voters through effective voters’ registration. Each community of Kwara South may have to take responsibility for emancipating their people through voters’ enlightenment and support for registration.

Essentially, this is a clarion call to the migrant Kwara southerners to rethink their strategy and consider being an active part of the emerging political revolution in Kwara South focused on rejuvenating the glory and pride of the constituent through political inclusion and quality representation.

A keen observation by – Amb. S.O. Boladale

To be continued…

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