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10.2d Alade, Busari Ajani. “The Effect of Kwara State Local Government Reforms on Ilorin Division.” B.Sc. (Soc. Sci.) diss., Sociology, Ahmadu Bello University, 1973.
Summary of major points provided by Ann O’Hear.
[Note: Ilorin Division at the time of Alade’s research included at least the city, plus the districts of Paiye, Igponrin, Oloru, Onire, Malete, Ejidongari, Afon, Akanbi, and Owode—most of the “Metropolitan Districts.” Was Lanwa District not part of Ilorin Division at this time? It is not included in the notes I took on the list of “ruling houses” and their districts, pp. 50-51; and on p. 89, Alade mentions “the nine rural districts of the Division,” not ten. What exactly was the status of Lanwa District? Was it considered a special case because as well as extensive rural areas very much like those in the rest of the Metropolitan Districts, it also included the railway town of Jebba? Lanwa District was (rightly) considered to be one of the Metropolitan Districts in 1955, though at the time there was some discussion of the anomaly that was Jebba: see 8.3d NNAK Ilorinprof 17/1 NAC/30/c.1, Local Government Reform in the Metropolitan Districts of Ilorin Emirate (except Ballah and Afon Districts). In 1976 the Metropolitan Districts were split into three new local government areas: Asa, Moro (which included Lanwa), and Ilorin (which comprised the city plus Akanbi and Igporin).]
p. 5-11. Alade used participant observation and interviews. Stayed at Oloworu village in Paiye District, and went out to many other villages, most within 15 mile radius of Megida.
p. 32. 1968 Local Government Reform initiated by Government White Paper, designed, e.g., to enable each District/Town Council to keep substantial revenue for local services and development.
pp. 45-46. District Council Area Administrations headed by District Heads (DHs). District clerks, Council Secretary, and Secretary’s assistant, who were Local Authority (LA) employees, performed administrative functions. Most Secretaries were relatives of the DHs.
pp.47-48. Councillors for each area were supposed to be representatives of the people. Their duty was to consult with and report back to the people. But this was “more theory than practice.”
pp. 50-51. Appointment of DHs remained hereditary. According to the White Paper they should be chosen by agreement of the people. In Ilorin Division no change was likely in near future.
DHs still chosen by “ruling houses”:
Balogun Ajikobi Paiye
Balogun Fulani Igporin
Balogun Gambari Oloru
Ile Oju’ekun Onire
Ile Oba Afon
[member of a] Fulani [ruling house] Owode
When new DH needed, the ruling house recommended a successor. Emir and Divisional Officer would not normally object. Loyalty of the DH was to his family rather than the community.
p. 58. Alade lists three groups in population:
1. traditional ruling elite
2. Native [Local] Authority bureaucracy; and
pp. 61-62. Educational achievement was necessary for NA [LA] administrative officers, but most important was the kinship ties between many of them and the traditional ruling group, whose power and privileges they supported.
pp. 62-63. Commoners: “Mekunnu/talaka.” Their perception of the reforms resulted from illiteracy and distance from political power. People Alade talked to felt whatever the change, they would suffer.
pp. 64-66. A weaver in Ilorin Town said: “We Mekunnu can never escape the many cunning ways of ‘you’ educated people in the government. You read the books and got new ideas . . . and we do not know how to read book neither can we write and you can always make us to do whatever you wanted . . .” A petty trader in Ilorin Town said he lived at “a far end of the city which . . . the government only knows for the purpose of tax collection.” He said, “the Baloguns have always been there and will continue to be . . .”
Local government and effects of reform.
pp. 67-72. DHs had claimed right to rule the districts for many generations. Their position was strengthened in colonial period.
DHs were Chairmen of District Councils (DCs). Alade found they handled their DCs in varying ways. Some were “active,” used “initiative,” some were “autocratic,” others were “indifferent” towards their Councils. Alade provides examples of individual DHs.
p. 72. Alade found the level of political mobilization of both people and Councillors “relatively low,” and believed if mobilization had been higher, DHs wouldn’t have been able to get away with many actions “unchallenged.”
On pp. 72-76, Alade gives detailed account of former compulsory gift giving and provision of services to overlords, who often used coercion.
The services were ishakole, gifts were aroja. Ishakole consisted of a day’s compulsory labour on the DH’s farm by a “delegation” from village at start of planting. Aroja was compulsory tribute in commodities brought to market. Every farm products seller had to give part to Baba Oloja (market owner) who passed it to DH.
“Quantity for sale Amount that went for Aroja
3-6 yams 1 yam
9-12 yams 2 yams
15-21 yams 4 yams
24-30 yams 6 yams
33-60 yams 8 yams
63 and over yams 10 yams
3-5 measures of grains half a measure
6-12 measures of grains one and a half measures
13-20 measures of grains 2 measures
half a bag grains 4 measures
1 bag grains 6 measures
subsequent bags grains 2 on each bag” (pp. 73-74)
Similar portions were collected on women’s commodities. Alade concludes that ITP era abolished ishakoleand aroja “in theory” but local government reform achieved it in practice. DHs now had to appeal for gifts. The bureaucracy was not involved. Alade witnessed a request for foodstuffs from a DH, who acted through an influential villager with no connection with the bureaucracy. It was a humble request, and it was said categorically that anyone who couldn’t afford to give was free not to give. Alade concludes that abolition of gift/service provision started in ITP days, was continued by military government, and completed by local government reform.
p. 77. Local Councillors arbitrarily chosen by the state government.
p. 78. Alade found consultation between people and Councillors “inadequate.” Councillors he interviewed believed “poor man” had nothing to contribute. Only subjects of particular interest to Councillors were discussed in detail.
pp. 79-80. One “experienced Councillor” said people were “apathetic” while in ITP days they had been “enthusiastic.” He said selection of members for present Councils had been done without people’s consent and many didn’t know what Councillors supposed to be doing. In ITP days, people believed they were fighting for a cause (abolition of taxes, etc.) through Councillors. He said: “the topic which mostly interested them: tax abolition.” In present Councils, just a government slogan, “bringing government nearer to the local people,” which they didn’t understand or didn’t think possible.
pp. 82-83. One Councillor told Alade: “Because [they] did not know how we came to be selected . . . , there have been allegations of a conspiracy between us and the government. Since about four years ago, my village has ceased to give me the [annual] communal service . . . because they were of the belief that I decided on my own to join the government. Thus if I was interested in farming I must do it myself or I hire labourers on commercial basis.”
pp. 83-84. Councillors tended to take over baba kekere role, acting as intermediaries with bureaucracy, or in court cases. This made direct communication between people and officials impossible and reduced the justice that people could obtain.
pp. 84-87. Before the reform and setting up of Councils, certain NA employees had caused major problems:
Wogi-wogiwere forest guards. Went looking for what they termed igi-oba (Emir’s trees: trees of economic importance), which shouldn’t be destroyed. To average farmer only shea and locust bean were igi-oba, but forest guards could declare any tree to be such. When farmers were clearing new land they had to remove trees. Forest guard could declare as igi-oba as many trees as they liked from those a villager had tampered with, and villager was taken to court.
Wole-wole(sanitary inspectors) operated similarly. If any household was found “unsanitary,” its members were taken to court and fined.
Onise-obawas name given to DH’s messenger, and owo-onise was the fee he charged when he carried a message to a village or individual. Five shillings was minimum for message to individual. Between 20 and 30 shillings when message was for village.
Informants—Councillors and villagers —confirmed these abuses now stopped with help of Councils.
Fees collected at markets had also been problem. Everyone coming to market with goods for sale was expected to pay threepence before leaving. But collectors insisted on payment on arrival, which meant sellers who came without money might be delayed or prevented from selling wares. This made life difficult until Councillors came along. Collectors had been warned to stop harassing people, and Council workers had been reminded that they were servants of the people.
Alade concludes that the achievements listed above could be credited to Councils, Councillors and the recent reforms.
p. 88. Educational development. The Councils’ introduction of free primary education in the rural districts met with favourable response. Cause of parents’ previous negative attitude to education was difficulty paying school fees and other expenses. Emergence of Councils, on advice of LEA, ushered in system of “Education Rates,” so that cost was shared among the population.
p. 89. Government decided 1969-70 to establish Government Secondary School Malete, the only one to serve all the nine rural districts of the Division. Parents indicated difficulty in payment of fees, hence limited enrolment.
pp. 91-92. Community development had not become common. Little indication of substantial self-help projects. Alade suggests two factors: illiteracy of Councillors and Chairmen who were responsible for advising communities; and small size of villages, many of which would not cooperate with each other due to long-standing disputes. Alade’s observation was that spirit of community development was low compared to divisions like Igbomina-Ekiti and Oyun.