Ilorin is the state capital of Kwara in North central Nigeria. As of the 2006 census, it had a population of 777,667, making it the 6th largest city by population in Nigeria.
Initially, Kwara State had only a few major industrial companies, notably Global Soap and Detergent Industries Nigeria Limited and the International Tobacco Company. Successive administrations have attempted to attract industrialists to the state. Several meetings were held with Kwarans across the federation, in order to attract investments. Former Governor Bukola Saraki made some progress in his efforts to lure more investors, demonstrated by successes in the fields of finance, education, health, water and rural development, agriculture, and industrial development.
With such efforts, Ilorin has become the hub for cashew processing in Nigeria and Olam International has set up Africa's biggest cashew processing plant. The plant processes 100 MT of cashews every day and provides employment to over 2000 workers.
Recently established industries include Dangote Flour Mills, Tuyil Pharmaceutical company, KAMWIL, Golden Confectionate Food Industries, Chellaram Motor-Cycle Assembly plants, and Rajrab Pharmaceuticals.
To encourage both local and foreign investors, the state government provides various incentives, such as a 100% waiver on statutory payments on land, which was also made available to the Dangote Industries Limited for the flour mill complex.
The city is a confluence of cultures, populated by the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe, Bariba, Kanuri and Malian tribes, as well as other Nigerians and foreign nationals. There are large Christian and Islamic populations, and many ceremonial activities, mostly with religious aspects, take place in the city throughout the year.
Ilorin has a friendly environment (generally called the "Home of Peace") and hence hosts different religious practices and training institutions. Located on the city's GRA, the degree-awarding United Missionary Theological College (affiliated with the University of Ibadan and University of Ilorin) produces many church ministers, teachers and theologians of all denominations. The College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies in the Adeta area trains Muslims in various Islamic, Arabic and social science disciplines. Alfa Alimi's Mosque and residence is said to have been built in 1831. It was the first Juma'at Mosque in Ilorin.
The city also has a range of tourist attractions such as the imposing Sobi Hill, said to have offered protection to natives during intertribal wars in ancient times. The Okuta Ilorin is located in Asaju's compound, Idi-Ape Quarters. It is the stone on which Ojo Isekuse, one of the founders of the city, used to sharpen his metal tools. It was actually called "Okuta ilo irin" (meaning stone for sharpening metals), and Ilorin is said to have derived its name from there. The stone was a deified object of worship and sacrifice offerings in the past.
Pottery is a big business in Ilorin. The city has the biggest traditional pottery workshops in Nigeria. They are located in the Dada area of Okelele, Eletu in Oju-Ekun, Okekura, Oloje, Abe Emi and Ita Merin.
The traditional textile industry also thrives in Ilorin. In various parts of the city, aso-oke, textiles hand-woven on simple looms, are made in large quantities. Aso-oke is purchased by traders and fashion designers from Kwara State, other parts of Nigeria and abroad.
The cultural center houses the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture, its performing troupe, and a gallery with artworks and antiquities. Souvenirs of cultural and historical values are also available.
Planning for the rehabilitation, refurbishment and redecoration of the Central Mosque started in 2007 when Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahim Zulu Gambari, CFR, the eleventh Emir of Ilorin, with assistance from Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the Turaki of Ilorin, and the former Governor of Kwara State, set up a technical committee headed by Alhaji Shehu Abdul-gafar on the rehabilitation and enhancement of the central mosque. The committee has invited expertise from specialists in mosque construction from around the world, especially from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria.
In addition to the general restoration and enhancement of the mosque, it will now have a total of 99 domes of different diameters, 75 feet above the floor. The large dome will be of gold finish while the four big domes around it will be coated in green with reflective illumination. The mosque form is enveloped within a pyramid shape with a square base and 45 inclinations for the faces. It has four accessible minarets, each standing at a height of 150 feet. Moreover, all the dilapidated domes and minarets with mosaic finishing will be restored and finished with cut-to-size marble. The exterior and interior will also be covered by special marble while the expanded courtyard will be constructed with heat-absorbing granite (marble) finish. The doors and windows will be replaced with specially designed ones befitting the new mosque concept.
Industries in the state include Dangote Flour Mill, Lubcon Lubricant Company, Kam Industries Nigeria Ltd, Tuyil Pharmacy Nig Ltd, Padson Industries NiG Ltd, Kwara Breweries, Ijagbo Global Soap and Detergent Industry, United Match Company, Tate and Lyle Company, Resinoplast Plastic Industry, Phamatech Nigeria Limited, Kwara Textile and Kwara Furniture Company all in Ilorin. Others are Paper Manufacturing Industry, Jebba, Okin Foam and Okin Biscuits, Offa, Kay Plastic, Ganmo and Kwara Paper Converters Limited, Erin-ile. Others are Sugar Producing Company, Bacita, Kwara animal Feed Mall, Ilorin and the Agricultural Products Company.
Ilorin | Nigeria