OPINION: Farooq Kperogi: An Insolent Character from the Fringes of Kwara By Dr. Muhammad Thanni Al Ilory

Date: 2020-05-14

The character under reference is an insolent charlatan who despite possessing a Ph.D. is not well schooled in the ancient African tradition of respect for elders and community. As a Bariba man, he betrays a shocking lack of a sense of history as the Bariba themselves are descendants of different populations of people who traveled from the Voltaic area (present day Burkina Faso)and some from east of the ancient Borgu region. In an ironic twist of fate, it was the Wasangari immigrant warriors/conquerors that imposed themselves on the Bariba and gave them a sense of identity.

His latest hatchet job on Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari demonstrates his acute cognitive dissonance when he stated that Professor Gambari "evinces what I call the overzealousness of the identitarian periphery, by which I mean people who are on the margins of a desired identity tend to go overboard to assert their membership of that identity in order to impress people who are rhetorically constituted as the core of that identity" – this is quite unfortunate coming from a Bariba man who possibly is a descendant of migratory hunters from east Borgu and one that tries fortuitously in claiming a core Northern Nigerian identity.

As an Ilorin man, Professor Gambari does not need to work overtime to prove his Nigerian bona fides nor his Fulani ancestry both of which are not mutually exclusive. In pre – colonial Nigeria, his ancestors were part of the Usman Dan Fodio Islamic revivalism and settled in Ilorin where they continue to hold sway as Amir ul Mumini. Professor Gambari did what responsible men and women of his day would; got a great education and this culminated in a Columbia Ph.D. He does not need to overcompensate and as his career showed, he has consistently thrived both locally and internationally based on his intellect - this is despite an impressive pedigree not because of it. The question is: what is Farooq Kperogi's pedigree? Who are his parents and what significant things as he achieved besides being rude to his elders?

Kperogi's idiocy wasn't limited to the paragraph earlier cited, he went further to disparage Professor Gambari and by extension Ilorin by stating the following "Gambari is an Ilorin prince, but his middle name (and the name by which his close family members call him) is Agboola. "Ibrahim" is just for show" – how much idiotic can it get by suggesting that bearing Ibrahim is synonymous with being Fulani or an attempt to identify as a northern Nigerian?

And yet he wasn't done, he went further to state "Although he traces patrilineal descent from the Fulani, he is culturally (and obviously genetically) Yoruba and doesn't look anything like a Fulani man, yet Yoruba people won't accept him as one of them" – it's strange that this idiot thinks its within his purview to define who is a Fulani and who is not. In one of Kperogi's former essays, he stated that Ilorin is an ethno - genesis. So, if Ilorin is an ethno - genesis, where is the conflict of identity that Kperogi was struggling to define? As an ethno - genesis, isn't it obvious that Ilorin has evolved its own distinct ethnic and cultural identity over time?

And if according to Farooq Kperogi, Professor Gambari and by extension Ilorin is "on the geographic, symbolic, and cultural fringes of western and northern Nigerian identities, but he identifies as, and indeed is, a northerner. People who know him say he works excessively, if quietly, hard to prove his "northernness" through exaggerated sub nationalist gamesmanship of the kind that someone from Kano or Sokoto with a similar educational and experiential exposure as he would find a little too extreme" where does Okuta where Farooq hails from belong in the scheme of things either within the larger Nigerian space or within the sub national Borgu enclave which he strenuously strives to claim?

He concludes by writing that "People like that are often happy and willing tools of puppeteers who come from the identity they want to be seen as central to but to which they are marginal" isn't it the case of the kettle calling pot black? Farooq Kperogi goes to great lengths to tell those who will listen that his mother is Fulani, however, the Fulani that settled in Borgu are historically former slaves and war captives. So, who is delusional here?

Curiously, this is not the first instance of Ilorin bashing by Kperogi because of perceived marginalization of his people which he ascribed to Ilorin hegemony. Recently, he demonized Professor Mohammed Mustapha Akanbi because his kinsman (Professor Saka Mahmud) lost out in the race to become vice chancellor of the Kwara State University. While some of us from Ilorin are not as parochial as Kperogi and also feels strongly that Professor Mahmud should have been appointed, ultimately the decision lies with the Governor of Kwara.

It is quite galling for someone that was birthed on the fringe of society and particularly from a low social status to continuously disparage more accomplished individuals from impressive pedigrees. There is a level of narcissism in there if one looks well enough.

Dr. Muhammad Thanni Al Ilory writes from the University of Ilorin


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