Transforming Ilorin Emirate Durbar to money spinning ventures

In Kwara state, the Ilorin Emirates is clamouring for the transformation of what had over the years been a mere display of their rich cultural heritage to a money spinning venture. UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB reports.

Ilorin emirate grand durbar

For four hours, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the state governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, accompanied by his elder brother and Mutawali of Ilorin, Dr Alimi AbdulAbdulRazaq among others, performed a durbar horse ride along designated routes within Ilorin, the capital of Kwara state in celebration of this year’s grand durbar and Eid-el-Kabir festival .
Mounted on the back of a colourful decorated horses, it was indeed an elegant display of strength and royalty as 500 hoarse ridders took part in the procession that electrified the major streets of Ilorin.
The procession also afforded the the Emir the opportunity to tour his community to see how his subjects are faring.
Linning up in front of their houses, streets and top of story buildings, enthusiastic residents caught a glimpse of the procession with residents in turn hailig the Emir with cheers of sheeehuuuu…!!!!!
Also on parade were some princes and royal chiefs including the Ciroma of Ilorin, Mayaki of Ilorin and Magaji Ngeri of Ilorin.
District heads, Daudus delegation of the famlies of Basambo, Abojumeji, Agaka Isale, Ajia Sakasaka, Bayero, Jiddah, Baboko, Magaji Ngeri, Taiwo, Ita Amodu, Afin, Ita Kure, among others also formed the procession .
Reintroduced in 2018, durbar is an annual socio- cultural festival of the Ilorin Emirate involving colourful horse riding and other local displays.
The Ilorin durbar is held every second day of Eid-ul-Adha or festival of animal slaughtering, bringing together thousands of citizens of the city and visitors from far and near.
This year’s event also featured cultural display, sporting events including soccer competition, fitness trek and Quranic competition which the organisers said was retained to encourage Islamic learning and spiritual growth among young ones.

AbdulRazaq, Mutawali steal show

Kwara state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq who participated in the durbar horse ride had earlier paid homage to the Emir after which his delegation went back home to mount their horses.
Doned in glamorous cultural attires, the Abdulrazaqs paraded several horses mounted by young and old members of the family to welcome the Emir’s large entourage of royal courtiers to their frontage.
After over four hours procession, the royal train retuned to the forecourt of the Emir’s palace at Oja-Oba for the grand dubar display and other ceremonies .
Speaking to reporters, the governor congratulated the people of the emirate on the annual cultural festival which is now targeted at attracting international investors and tourists.
He said, “We thank the Almighty Allah for making us to witness another Durbar of Ilorin Emirate. It is a significantly important culture to the people of Ilorin Emirate which we commemorate every year. This event unifies and brings us all together to be our brother’s keepers.
“We believe in our religion and of course our culture and our monarchy. At the backend of this is the economic benefit to the state and the emirate as well. Business activities are doing very well, hotels, commercial buildings and relaxation centres alike. You can see how the people are happy, the merriment, the horse riders and everyone. We are having a good time today in Ilorin. In fact, we are enjoying it,” he said.

Durbar for investors, tourists

But beyond the pump and pageantry, this year’s annual durbar festival is targeted at attracting investors and tourists into the capital city of Kwara state.
The chairman of Ilorin Emirate Durbar Committee, Engr Suleiman Alapansanpa had said while briefing newsmen on the activities lined up for this year’s durbar.
Alapansanpa had said that the festival would be used to showcase the economic potentials and rich culture of the various communities that made up Ilorin Emirate across five local government areas of Ilorin West, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Moro and Asa.
“The main purpose of showcasing the economic potentials and rich culture of Ilorin Emirate comprising Ilorin West, East, South, Asa, and Moro local government areas is to attract investors and tourists to our communities,” Alapansanpa added.
Going dowm memory lame, Alapansanpa said that this year’s edition was the fifth since the festival was reintroduced in 2018.
“Let me quickly put it on record that Ilorin Emirate Durbar Festival was reintroduced in 2018 by the Emir who felt that such an important aspect of our culture should not be forgotten but brought to limelight again and in a more glamorous style and manner. Since then, we have never missed any edition.
“Though durbar is durbar but the way we stage our own is unique. This uniqueness stems from our peculiarities. This is because Ilorin Emirate is an epitome of unity in diversity. This is the reason you witness in our durbar what is unobtainable in the durbar festival of the sister Emirates of northern Nigeria”, he added.

Gains of the festival

Appraising the benefits of rhe festival, Alapansapa said in his address at the grand durbar that, “Since its reintroduction in 2018, Ilorin Emirate has never remained the same especially in the realms of culture and economic development. The annual event has continuously served its essence as it attracted tourists and other stakeholders from far and near. It is also incontrovertible that the people of our community have benefited greatly from this annual festival.
“It is becoming clearer that the Ilorin durbar is proclaiming its uniqueness. It is becoming totally unique compared with what is obtainable in other emirates. This is due to the fact that our uniqueness is manifesting on Ilorin emirate durbar.”
But like Oliver Twist, the durbar committee chairman requested for more support from the state government for the durbar to achieve it intended purpose.
“As Oliver Twist, we appeal to your excellency to offer more supports to the annual festival. The support is needed for the festival to have greater impact and more colourful participations of tourists from far and beyond the shore of Nigeria. We believe that once that is achieved, the festival would be become more valuable to the people of Ilorin Emirate as its economic potency would become more apparent as more revenue would accrue to the government,” Alapansapa submitted.

The AbdulRazaq administration has made cultural festivals across the state a key component of its drive for a greater Kwara.
In a bid to explore the tourist potentials in the state, the AbdulRazaq ‘s administration has embarked on a number of projects such as the visual arts centre, innovation hub, sugar film factory, and international conference center, among others which the state government said are being developed to build a new economy around tourism eco-system, technology and innovation, and entrepreneurship.
If the request of the due bad committee to the state government receives the needed attention, Ilorin, among key states in the north, is on its way to becoming a tourist centre for global tourists with penchant for due bad rides.