OPINION: 50 Years of Statehood: Kwara Has Every Reason to Celebrate. By By Abdulraman Salami
As the government and good people of Kwara State look forward, with gratitude to God, to the 50th anniversary of the creation of our state, those who delight in dragging the name of our state in the mud are already hard at work questioning and condemning our very existence as a people.
They are saying we have no right to celebrate our own achievements, no matter how modest they may be.
Apart from the sporadic recall of certain points in Nigeria's national history, the piece titled KWARA FIFTY YEARS OF FAILED STATECRAFT as posted and shared on social media represents another attempt to denigrate Kwara State and its people - the stock in trade of those who see nothing good in the state for as long as they don't control the polity or hold the reins of power.
The writer of the piece, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, made veiled attempts to smear some leading figures and iconic institutions that represent our collective aspirations as a hardworking, peaceful and indisputably cultured people.
His beef with the government and people of Kwara seems to be the very thought that we chose to mark the Golden Jubilee of the creation of our state.
Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo dismisses Kwarans as lacking in vision and knowledge; says the whole state is a grave yard. He also slanders all the members of the anniversary committee.
He raises unsubstantiated issues for which he blames Lugard, Gowon, and every Kwaran except himself.
The whole world is aware that the masterminds of the counter coup that ushered Lt. Col. (as he then was) Yakubu Gowon into power did not conduct a plebiscite before deciding on the number, ethnic composition and even the need (or lack of it) to create the twelve states, that the writer complained of, in 1967.
The same can also be said of the decision by Lord Lugard to create what is today known as Nigeria back in 1914.
However, he failed, albeit deliberately, to disclose to his readers that the same State that he sees nothing good about today made him and gave him everything he has.
He failed to mention that he benefitted from the same state that he is now struggling to demonise.
He failed to mention that he played roles in public positions at crucial times in the same history that he now seeks to denigrate and dismiss.
Akogun failed also to mention that he was actively involved in the affairs of this state as a Commissioner; that he was also at a point in history a member of the legislative arm of government saddled with the responsibility of legislating for the progress of the state.
If indeed, nothing good has happened in the last fifty years as he claims, then, he is as culpable as any of those he has indicted without facts.
Kwara, like all its peers, has had its share of the effects of protracted military rule which eventually ended in 1999.
With a total of 19 governors (military and civilian) in its 50 years of existence, the state is on record as one of those with the highest turnover of governors. And it cannot be denied that each of them have proud records of varying achievements within the limits of priorities, time and resources available to them.
But for differing reasons, even the most developed states have areas where they are lagging behind. Therefore, that we, as a people are not yet where we aspire to be, or that we have widespread yearnings for further progress cannot be reasons to despondently dismiss everything else that our leaders past and present have achieved. After all, development is a continuous and gradual process.
Real Kwarans have no reason to complain or cry over the ethnic plurality of our state. Indeed, we can hold our heads very high at 50, that notwithstanding our ethnic differences, Kwara continues to accommodate various ethnic groups from all parts of Nigeria.
We all have found a home in Kwara State. Not even the most ardent hater of the success of our state can validly contend the record that we in Kwara State have continued to live without any serious ethnic, political, or sectarian crises.
We have lived; we are living; and will by the grace of the Almighty continue to live peacefully together as the State of Harmony, our diversity notwithstanding.
Yes, we may not boast the nature and extent of resources available to some other states of the nation, we are happy and hopeful because peace is a desideratum for the entry and thriving of big businesses like KAM Industries Limited, LUBCON Limited, Dangote Group, TUYIL Pharmaceuticals, among others.
Mass Media companies, public and private institutions of learning, major financial/banking institutions, hospitality businesses, agro-allied ventures, are among the discerning players in the real world who can see and tap into the diverse opportunities that Kwara has to offer.
Our vast and fertile land mass, generous annual rainfall, numerous mineral resources that far outstrip crude oil in extent and values, rich cultures with irresistible destinations for tourists, an upright and hardworking population, added to the fortune of being equidistant to all parts of Nigeria by air, road and rail, are further reasons why we are happy and hopeful of a greater tomorrow for Kwara.
We have every reason to be happy because in fifty years of existence, Kwara has never ceased to sparkle like a stellar in the fields of sports. We have produced numerous superstars and champions in boxing, table tennis, football, weightlifting, athletics, badminton, wrestling, among others.
We are happy and proud to be Kwarans because even many more are doing our state proud within Nigeria and in the Diaspora in diverse fields like academics, law, medicine, engineering, music, theatre, creative writing, business, and other professions.
What is man without God? We are happy and grateful that Kwara ranks among the best in the practice of world religions. Indeed, the state has a long list of prominent religious pioneers and leaders who are well known around the world, Christians and Muslims alike. They are also key players in our development story as a people with the spiritual guidance and employment opportunities they provide vide various faith-based initiatives.
Salami writes from Abuja.