Again, Amotekunisation as solution to insecurity
The widespread insecurity and escalating threat to safety in the country can no longer be denied. The routineness of impunity, the aloofness of the law over transgressions, and the triumph of injustice are perceptible to discerning Nigerians. Every geo-political zone in the country is afflicted with gangs of gunmen on rampage. Kaduna State, reputedly the nation’s kidnapping capital, has graduated to become an expanding field of continuous massacres. Sporadic killings have resumed in Benue, while in remote places such as Uwheru in Delta State, Ohaukwu in Ebonyi State herdsmen are relishing a harvest of deaths. Nigerians have been killed in Yobe, Benue, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, and Taraba. Our people are being killed in little known villages in Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa states, and elsewhere, threats of more killing keep coming. Truly, no one can deny that Nigeria is under siege.
What is more, security operatives who are constitutionally charged with the responsibility of protecting lives and property and ensuring peace and order in the society, have expanded the class of lawless persons and institutions. They have imported questionable cultural practices of ‘appeasement of superiors, god-fatherism ‘settlement’ and ‘gift’ economy to oil the wheels of impunity. Security posts and checkpoints that should ordinarily deter bandits and other miscreants have allegedly become business ventures for some influential officers in the force. The impunity of trigger-happy policemen is still recorded everywhere. The nefarious activities of unscrupulous officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have diminished whatever modest achievements the police might have made.
Emboldened by the absence of diligent prosecution of crimes, and encouraged by the fact that law-breakers, including law enforcement operatives have gone scot-free with criminality, many Nigerians have also taken the law into their hands. With the disintegration of the traditional moral value system that preaches dignity and respect of persons and its replacement with a self-aggrandizing and exploitative morality, institutions of culture seem helpless. In this way, the cycle of impunity and lawlessness keeps expanding. All these have aided and continue to aid the collapse of institutional framework for the rule of law and social justice.
In response to the public fear, the other day, the Nigerian Police explained that, for them to adequately tackle internal insecurity and terrorism in the country, they would need N944.9 billion. In his presentation of the needs assessment of the police, the Inspector-General of Police Mr. Mohammed Adamu, at a public hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on police matters, stated that the police would require some sundry numbers of armoured vehicles, ammunition, tear-gas canisters, drones and others. He curiously claimed that it is only when such funding is executed that the police force would be better poised to adequately fight insecurity.
Undoubtedly, the Nigeria Police is a mockery of effective global policing. Despite its poor recruitment process and training, its destructive politicisation and absence of adequate funding, it is still a miracle how the force came about winning laurels in international missions. While it is understandable that the police would require adequate funding to become the kind of police service that Nigeria deserves, there is need for caution in the disbursement of funds for security purposes. For a country notorious for committing huge funds into proposals whose outcomes seldom materialise with success, expending N944.9 billion on a central police force would be freeloading for contractor-politicians. This is the way we are at this moment.
As precedents have taught Nigerians, when funds are earmarked for lofty government projects like this one, what it means is that the work is not going to be done. Like previous projects heavily funded by government, such as the power sector, the national healthcare project, rehabilitation of universities, amongst others, N1 trillion into the police force as presently constituted would not yield any result. The reason is simple: a remote, detached central police institution would not have the administrative capacity to effectively and efficiently oversee local and far-flung security matters. The problem of insecurity is not a bureaucratic activity: it is an everyday experience that must be confronted.
Based on the above analysis, this newspaper would like to reiterate its support for the Amotekunisation of the security system. By this we mean the decentralisation of the security management structure to reflect the principle of subsidiarity consistent with a democracy. As has been reiterated in many informed comments, which we have also highlighted here, local or community discipline cannot be carried out by a general, centralised police system. For security management to be effective and efficient, security services have to be piecemeal. It should graduate from personal individual security consciousness to intelligence gathering and neighbourhood watches, and then to community policing as evident in the emergent Amotekunisation of security services.
This piecemeal management of internal security would dissuade the impunity with which officers of the centralised police system carry out their duties. Nigeria is about the only federation in the world where the police system is inconsistent with its purported federalism.
Furthermore, such piecemeal security engineering requires a normative foundation built on consensus. To create this moral and legal foundation for adequate security, there is need for the cultivation of an elite consensus around values. This is necessary to promote the dignity and intrinsic worth of persons, irrespective of who they are, where they come from and what they do. Indeed, there is urgent need for the emergence of a vocal critical minority that must convincingly bring into the public space, the values of best global practices, a strong sense of justice and an unequivocal accentuation of the principles of natural justice. Nigeria is not short of this quality of morally conscious citizenry.
However, given the complexity of Nigeria’s ethno-religious divide and the glaring absence of moral refinement and principled life style amongst the political elite, it would be difficult for any elite consensus on sound ethical values to be formed around ethno-religion configuration. Therefore, Nigeria must turn to the judiciary for succour. The judiciary, given its remaining modicum of respectability, may offer promise for the needed elite consensus on a viable, moral and legal crusade against impunity and injustice. A critical mass of forward-looking luminaries in the judiciary must come out, through their pronouncements, and become the rallying point for elite consensus on sound moral values.
As this rallying point expands, it would become evident that an urgent need for total moral re-orientation would arise to restructure Nigerians’ ethical sense. Here, the concerted efforts of community associations, the educational sector and faith-based organisations would be required to manage professional conduct within the context of our culture. These cultural organs would, within their respective capacities, have to discourage and preach against cultural practices that promote corruption and impunity.
Finally, Mr. President should own up to his responsibility as the chief security officer of the country. He must recognize first of all that Nigeria is stuck in a horrifying state of insecurity. He must, as all well-meaning Nigerians wish he does, retrieve himself from the grandiose display of denial and insularity, and come to terms with the fact that the country is rumbling internally like a sleeping volcano smarting to erupt. He should by his action forbid the situation where posterity would find him grossly culpable in the event of an implosion. That is why the exemplary ‘Operation Amotekun’ by the southwest geo-political zone to secure the region within the construct of community policing should be allowed to trigger a bandwagon effect in the country. It is a masterpiece for this time – when federalism has become a desideratum!