The Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, says the claim by Prof. Wole Soyinka on disallowing traditional festival is not only nauseating but also uncharitable to the people of Ilorin emirate.
Soyinka had earlier written an open letter to the Emir of Ilorin on his position in preventing Isese festival proposed to be hosted in the ancient city of Ilorin.
The festival was organised by Yeye Ajesikemi Omolara, an Osun Priestess.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Emir’s Spokesman, Malam AbdulAzeez Arowona, in Ilorin on Friday.
Gambari said that the response was to provide clarifications to the highly respected scholar, who had for many decades, dominated the media as a celebrated academic Icon and promoter of African cultures globally.
“In order to set records straight, Professor Wole Soyinka tends to be economical with facts, forgetting that war is nobody’s want.
As he decided to settle with a factor that is capable of causing chaos in the society, if not quickly averted,” he said.
The first class traditional ruler said that the secret behind peaceful co-existence in the ancient city of Ilorin emirate and Kwara at large was the wisdom and ability of successive governments, with maximum support from traditional institution.
“This is to prevent crisis and not waiting until it erupts, because the cost of managing crises cannot be equated to the wisdom or courage required to prevent it.
“Such proactiveness is necessary in order to sustain peaceful co-existence in the society.
“It is therefore surprising to hear that the position of Professor Soyinka is identical to someone who does not consider what might transpire if the programme was hosted.
“It may result to issues which could also lead to reprisal attacks by sympathisers or promoters of such belief (Isese festival) in other parts of the country,” he cautioned.
Gambari noted that assisting the people of Ilorin emirate to shave their heads in their absence, by condemning a crisis preventive formula by constituted authority in the land is a great blunder committed by the professor.
He said that, Soyinka, a well-travelled scholar who had virtually became an ancestor in the land was expected to be an advocate of global peace and not fanning the ember of violence under any guise.
“There are many non-indigenes in Kwara who are serving and retired, including business owners who have vowed to move their families to the state, due to the peace and harmony enjoyed therein.
“Yeye Ajesikemi also confirmed that she has been living harmoniously in Ilorin for many years, not until she decided to go beyond her boundaries,” Gambari noted.
The emir said that it would be of great importance for Soyinka to use his intellectual prowess to promote peaceful co-existence in the society, rather than challenging constituted authorities on the reason why they averted crisis in their community.
He also noted that governments at all levels are overwhelmed by the numerous crimes and criminality happening in their domains and the people of Ilorin would not sit on the keg of gunpowder.
Gambari said that the emirate council would not allow violence of any kind to flare-up through hosting of Isese festival, which was not part of Ilorin culture and tradition.
“As an incorruptible former Judge of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, before I voluntarily retired in 1995 to become the 11th Emir of Ilorin, and having worked across the country after acquiring knowledge from the prestigious University of London.
I, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahim Sulu Gambari CFR, has remained father to all and sundry in the state, irrespective of tribe, religion or political affiliations with the main objective of fostering peace and harmony in the land,” he said.
The emir stressed that the cancellation of Isese festival by Yeye Ajesikemi was in cooperation with the law enforcement agencies and most importantly respect for leadership strides of the state governor, Malam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“The governor, also doubles as the Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, and the Chief Security Officer of the state, is saddled with the responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of residents of the state,” he stated.
Gambari, who is also the Chairman of the state council of chiefs, described the people of Ilorin emirate as tolerant and hospitable but they would not be friendly with anyone insulting the Emir.
“Dear Professor Soyinka, the culture of the people of Ilorin Emirate is synonymous to peace and unity, and it must be respected and adhered to.
“The stool of Emir of Ilorin belongs to the three monarchs accorded and answering the title of Shehu in Nigeria.
“Namely; Shehu Usman Dan Fodio of Sokoto caliphate, Shehu El-Kanemi of Borno Empire and Shehu Alimi of Ilorin Emirate.
“It will be wrong of anybody under any guise to relegate, throw or drag such status into the mud of controversies,” Gambari said.
The emir said that beyond the festivities, Ilorin could be described as a centre of peace and its strategic location as the capital of Kwara, which makes it a bridge between the north and south west of Nigeria.
“With its predominantly Islamic culture, the city embraces non-indigenes with open arms, treating visitors like emissaries from God almighty.
“This reverence is beautifully displayed during the Durbar, where the Emir and his entourage of horsemen parade through the streets, making stopovers at specific family houses to pray for and connect with his subjects.
“The sea of loyal citizens, admirers, and visitors chanting “Shehu! Shehu!!” further exemplifies their love and loyalty towards their Emir,” the statement read in part.