The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has expressed concerns over the plight of the citizens of Kwara State who are of the Yoruba extraction, urging the state government to imbibe equity and fairness in governance.
The concerns were contained in a communique issued on Sunday after a series of meetings held by the group with traditional rulers and eminent persons in the state.
The communique which was signed by its Chairman, Olawale Osun, and the Secretary, Ayo Afolabi, stated: “It is sad that in an age where merit and innovation drive social progress, Kwara State still ties the progress of its citizens to ethno-religious affiliation.”
The Kwara government has, however, denied the allegation.
ARG noted that many of its people testified to being denied the opportunity to maximise their potentials and reach the zenith of their careers simply because they were considered not loyal to the diktat of the Ilorin Emirate System.
“The people voted for the government, not the Emirate and it is important that the instruments of governance are used exclusively to benefit the people and not for the use of feudal lords and their acolytes,” the communique said.
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It also demanded that the Government of Kwara State implements several court judgments regarding the grading of Yoruba monarchs in the state.
The obas, the communique observed, had been lawful and patriotic in their approach to their God-given, historically-sanctioned and culturally-approved rights.
“We think that no social group, not the least government should stand against these inalienable rights any longer. People should stop playing ‘god’. Those who did yesterday are not here today and they certainly do not have a space in the history of progressives.”
ARG also called on media houses, human rights organisations, civil societies, and community based organisations to focus their attention on Kwara State.
“Flagrant abuses of human rights and Rule of Law are being perpetrated which do not serve any good cause known to human history,” it said.
The group also advised religious and traditional leaders, particularly the Islamic and Christian clerics to use their positions to serve humanity, adding that religion should remain a vehicle for moving humanity towards piety but also progress.
“Similarly, traditional institutions are and must remain socio-cultural structures that exist by virtue of the consensus of the people,” the group held.
“Any religious practice or traditional structure that stands for oppression and regression cannot please the Almighty God nor serve humanity.”
The group however, regretted its inability to meet with the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, to extend to him the commendation of Yoruba people of Kwara State about his “pro-people posture.”
“We are not surprised by these commendable reports from our people, noting that the governor is the standard-bearer of the ‘O to gee’ political movement,” it said.
“We hope he continues on this trajectory to move the state from tokenism to fully institutionalized welfarist governance. We pray for God’s guidance for him.
“Kwara State is called the State of Harmony and we enjoin all stakeholders to ensure observance of democratic tenets, religious tolerance, and peaceful co-existence in order to make this beautiful state achieve its potentials.”
The national leadership of ARG arrived in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State on Friday 21st February 2020 and had a series of meetings and consultations.
It paid courtesy calls on dignitaries including former governor of Kwara State, Cornelius Adebayo, and the Chief Imam Yoruba of Ilorin, Abdulraheem Aduanigba.
The group also attended a Royal Banquet organised to celebrate Obas and heroes of pan-Yoruba causes who are of Kwara State extraction.
The series of engagements, the group said, were designed to have a first-hand knowledge of the plight of Yoruba people in Kwara State in view of their sustained agitation for greater collaboration with their kith and kin across the regional and national space.
“Although, we have always had reports and briefings but we consider it important that we come, see and hear in order to strengthen the resolve of the people, understand their strengths and weaknesses and collaborate with them to progressively uplift Yoruba civilisation and nationalism in a manner that is conformable with the standards of an open and democratic society,” the communique said.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor, Rafiu Ajakaiye, in his response, said the state government was chiefly concerned about the human capital development and wellbeing of all citizens.
“This administration has never looked at any Kwaran from the prism of ethnicity or religion,” he said.
“We are concerned only about human capital development and general wellbeing of everyone.
“Government’s programmes and projects have targeted everyone in equal measure, particularly the weak and the most vulnerable who the Social Investment Programme prioritises.
“Where there are misgivings of any sort, as is natural in human environment, the administration will look at such issues dispassionately and resolve them in the overall interest of the state.”