Kwara State – Local Governments, Facts & History

Kwara State’s Overview

Kwara State is categorized as one of the northern states in Nigeria. It is one of the thirty-six states in the country. The capital of Kwara State is Ilorin. Kwara State is considered a northern state because it is within the north-central geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Other states within this zone include Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau. The slogan of Kwara State is the “State of Harmony”.

Considering that it is one of the states of the north central, it is expected to be surrounded by a number of states. Kwara State shares its eastern boundary with Kogi state, to the north is Niger state, to the south is Osun and Oyo states and Republic of Benin is at its west. The state itself is at the west of Abuja.

Kwara State comprises of sixteen local government areas. It is home to a considerable amount of ethnic groups such as Bariba, Yoruba, Fulani, Nupe etc. Kwara State is considered to be named after the River Niger, in which “Kwara” means river in the Nupe language.

History of Kwara State

Kwara State is regarded as one of the oldest states in Nigeria. Kwara state was established in 1967 under the General Yakubu Gowon regime. It was at this period that the first twelve states were created in Nigeria. The twelves states took over the four provinces that were available. Before the creation of Kwara state, this particular area was under the Northern Province.

It is important to note that Kwara State was part of the Northern Region before independence. The country used to run a regional system until it was dissolved in 1963. The regions were only three at that time and lasted for three years. It was later replaced by four provinces following the 1966 coup that put General Aguiyi Ironsi into power.

However, the counter-coup of 1967 brought in General Yakubu Gowon into power who later dissolved the provincial system and created the first set of states – twelve. It was the creation of these twelves states that gave birth to Kwara state. Though it was first referred to as West Central State before the name change to Kwara State.

What Is The Population of Kwara State

The population of Kwara State according to the 2006 national census was around 2.3 million. It is, however, expected to more than that now. Although, Kwara State is not among the top most populated states in Nigeria.


How Many Local Government Areas Are In Kwara State?

There are a total of sixteen local government areas (LGA) in Kwara State. The LGAs can further be divided into three zones or senatorial districts i.e Kwara North, Kwara Central and Kwara South.

Below is the list of local government areas in Kwara State:

  • Baruten
  • Edu
  • Pategi
  • Kaiama
  • Moro
  • Asa
  • Ilorin East
  • Ilorin South
  • Ilorin West
  • Offa
  • Ekiti
  • Oke-Ero
  • Ifelodun
  • Irepodun
  • Isin
  • Oyun

The individual local government areas can further be categorized into zones:

Kwara North Senatorial District






Kwara Central Senatorial District


Ilorin East

Ilorin South

Ilorin West


Kwara South Senatorial District








Facts About Kwara State

There Are Four Major Ethnic Groups In Kwara State


The Yoruba ethnic group is one of the major ethnic group in Kwara. Though these said Yorubas are part of the Igbomina Yoruba – a sub-ethnic group among the Yoruba ethnic. They are the major occupants of the Kwara South region. Inasmuch as they are a sub-ethnic group of the entire Yoruba ethnic, they have similarities with other Yorubas in the southwest.

Being one of the major ethnics in Kwara state, it is not uncommon to hear people speak the language. In fact, it is the main language spoken in Ilorin, the city’s capital. This does not mean it is only the Yoruba’s that occupy Ilorin. What is, however, common among the Yorubas in Ilorin is the way they end every sentence with ‘fa’.

The Ilorin Yorubas are often not regarded as pure Igbomina Yorubas. There are often claims by the Igbomina that they are more of a pure Yoruba people than the Ilorin Yoruba. Parts of Kwara State that are core settlements of Igbomina Yoruba include Omu-Aran, Oro, Ajasse, Illofa, Oke-Onigbin, Offa etc.

Other traces of Yorubas in the state include the towns that are closer to Osun state and Ekiti State. For instance, Oyun LGA is closer to Osun and the people speak more of the Osogbo dialect. Another example is the Ekiti LGA where the Ekiti State dialect is predominantly spoken.


The Nupes are another major ethnic group in Kwara state. They are the main occupants of the northern part of Kwara State. The LGAs in which they occupy include Edu, Pategi and some areas of Moro, Kaiama and Ifelodun. It is not unusual for people to always confuse the Nupes for Hausas or Fulanis. This is often due to the shared similarities like religion and quiet nature.


The Fulani group are another major ethnic group in Kwara State. They are arguably the largest ethnic group in the state. Though one might argue that the Yorubas are more. One thing that might make it hard to ascertain is that most of the Fulanis speak Yoruba too.

Though the entire Kwara State comprises of mix ethnic groups, most of them are of Fulani descent. Inasmuch as most of the Fulanis speak Yoruba, there are some core Fulanis in Ilorin.


The Bariba ethnic group are considered the minority of the four ethnic groups. They are mainly found in the Benin Republic. However, they occupy the Kaiama and Baruten LGAs. The Bariba people are primarily Muslims and are often mistaken for Hausa, Fulani or Nupe.


Kwara State Is An Old State

Another fact that you should know about Kwara state is that it is a very old state. It is actually one of the oldest states in Nigeria. As mentioned earlier in the history of Kwara State, it was part of the first twelve states. These states were created by Yakubu Gowon in 1967, which saw Nigeria drop the regional system.

It is also important to note that the state initially covered some parts of Kogi and Niger State.

Kwara State: The Old West Central State

After the creation of the twelves states, the present day Kwara State was named West Central State. That is the first name in which this area was known as was the West Central State. There was, however, a name change which brought about what we have today.

The name Kwara is a Nupe for the River Niger. Thus, it can be said that the state was renamed after the River Niger which flows through the Jebba, Edu, Pategi LGAs of Kwara State from Niger to Kogi state.


As stated earlier in the article, Kwara State is categorized as part of the northern states. Therefore, it is no longer news that the predominant religion in the northern parts of Nigeria is Islam. Though there is the presence of other religion. In Kwara State, most of its inhabitant are Muslims.

Being a northern state, there is arguably a place in the city without a central mosque. While you might not get to see any church in some parts of the city. However, religion as a whole in the state is peaceful because, despite the differences in religion, the people are tolerant.

Kwara State Is Peaceful

It is largely believed by most people that the northern parts of Nigeria are not safe, especially the core north. Inasmuch as their fears are valid considering the recent security issues, these opinions are usually blown out of proportion. The northern states are indeed peaceful than people care to admit.

Though Kwara State is not a core northern state, it is, however, relatively peaceful. Even despite the distinct difference in religion, there is a high level of tolerance and freedom within the state. Unlike other states where the cases of armed robberies, highway robberies are on the rise, it is not so in Kwara State. It indeed proves right its slogan as the “State of Harmony”.

There Is No Presence Of Sharia Law In Kwara State

Despite Kwara State being under the north-central geopolitical zone, it does not have an active sharia law system. One common feature of the core northern states in Nigeria is the presence of sharia law. The Sharia law is a combination of the Quran, the Hadith and fatwas.

However, it is important to note that Sharia law is not compelled in Kwara State. Though, there is the presence of a few Sharia courts in the state. There are, however, no legal backing for them in the state. Hence, Sharia law is not active in the state. Most of the things that might be considered “haram” in the core northern states are often overlooked here.

The Muslims here are likened to their counterparts in the southwest than in the core north. There is no doubt that Kwara state is more of an Islamic state, however, its laws are not strict. Ilorin as the capital of the Kwara State also has a more vibrant social life than states in the core north.

Kwara State also has a number of fun places you can visit. It is one of the most peaceful places you can live in Nigeria. If you have read the article to this extent, you definitely know a thing or two about Kwara state by now. Kindly share your thoughts and experiences with fellow readers.


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