How Kwara government canceled durbar festival over fear of Saraki


The annual Ilorin Durbar festival has become a political rally point over the years, as politicians use it to test their strength in Ilorin, the state capital of Kwara State since its rejuvenation in 2018.

The Durbar festival has been cancelled by the state government, acting on intelligence report, however, according to findings, it was cancelled for political reasons.

Saraki has been moving across some parts of the state for a couple of days. On July 17th, he was at Patigi where he visited the family of the Late Emir Chatta Umar and also visited the Ahman Pategi University, Patigi, which is located in Kwara North.

Kwara North will be strategic in the 2023 election, as the senatorial district has not produced a governor since the nation’s return to democracy.

The zone can either wait for governor AbdulRahman to finish his two terms, or go along with Saraki.

He was also at the house of the family of Late Balogun Alanamu, Abubakar Akanbi, where he paid condolence visit over the passing away of the Late Balogun.

People in the state see these moves by the former governor, as part of the move to regain his position as the godfather of the state.

Clashes at eid ground

The supporters of the incumbent governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRasak and supporters of Bukola Saraki reportedly clashed at the EID ground on Tuesday.

According to an eyewitness account, the governor got to the prayer venue with Saraki already seated, in the course of his entrance, his supporters chanted “Sai Rahman! Sai Rahman!

After the prayer, the supporters of Saraki also chanted sai bukky, sai bukki, disrupting the sermon after the prayers. The governor at the point exited the venue.

The chief of staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, was also at the Eid prayer ground.

On Wednesday, the government, in a statement announced by Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Communications, Rabiat Abdulrahman, said, “some forces plan to use the boisterous nature of the cultural event to instigate a breakdown of law and order in the state, thereby complicating national security challenges.”

The government cited a police intelligence report for the reason to cancel the event.

Bashir Madandola, the Chairman of Kwara South PDP Youth Stakeholders, said the decision to ban the Durbar festival was out of fear of the repeat of what happened at the EID.

“The governor did not expect that Bukky (Bukola Saraki) would be at the Eid ground. The governor is jittery as his popularity is diminishing.

“The governor does not want himself to be faced with someone more popular than him at the Durbar festival.”

It was also alleged that the convoy of Mr Saraki and Moshood Mustapha was attacked very close to the government House.

Horse parade despite the ban

Despite the ban on horse ride parades, several horsemen staged a parade across the city, blocking major roads on Thursday.

The carriage of the Emir, Zulu Gambari was also in the midst of the parade, although our reporter was unable to confirm if the Emir was in the carriage.

The Durbar festival involves the display of colourful horses, as it is done in other emirates in Nigeria.

In 2019, Governor AbdulRasak was criticised for not attending the Durbar and it was also alleged that he did not support the event with cash.

Although a group, Kwara Media Forum had issued a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Rotimi Sulyman, that the governor released N10 million for the event.

COVID19 did not allow the event to hold last year, as Eid and others were restricted.

Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor did not respond to calls and text messages sent to him.

APC infighting

The governor faces another imminent threat in his party as the fight between him and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has escalated.

Mr Lai recently claimed that he raised the entire fund for the prosecution of the elections in the state and even accused the lawmaker representing Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun federal constituency, Olatunji Raheem of embezzling over N70million of campaign funding.

Raheem in a swift reaction, debunked the allegation and claimed that Lai Mohammed “mismanaged N50million” the governor released for the 2018 bye-election.

The O To Ge movement appears to be collapsing on a daily basis, and Saraki appears to be the biggest threat to the re-election of the governor.

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