Amotekun: Now that Tinubu has spoken
There is no doubt that southwest has had its share of wanton criminality, kidnappings and killings these the past years. From former Secretary to the government of the federation, chief Olu Falae, to the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Rueben Fasoranti, Mrs Toyin Olakurin, the list of atrocities is endless. It was to assure the people of the zone that government had not abandoned its primary responsibility, that of safeguarding the people and their investment that the governors of the zone summoned courage to establish the Western Nigeria Security Network, Amotekun.
The governors were joined by other stakeholders in the region including the body of traditional rulers and socio-cultural organisations, to agree on alternative means of securing the people, outside the normal and constitutionally recognised security agencies (police, army, navy, air force and other paramilitary bodies).
Although, series of consultations were carried out before the launch of Amotekun, notable of which the Inspector General of Police, military representatives and other functionaries of Federal Government made inputs, before the fanfare launch of the outfit in Oyo State, it was a surprise that the Federal Government was to wake up late to denounce the outfit as being illegal.
Most Nigerians had thought that Amotekun was a done deal given the political rapport between the Southwest and Abuja.As a matter of fact, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State who is the only governor on the platform of major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) jettisoned party affiliation to key into the Amotekun project, just like most Yoruba patriots set aside political differences to speak in one voice for the protection of their people and property, which records had shown was threatened by the alleged expansionists agenda of the Fulani, as represented by the lawless acts of herdsmen, of which the Buhari-led administration has refused to condemn. The suspicion is further fueled by the fact that the security agencies are headed and controlled by officers largely drawn from the North.
But no sooner Amotekun was launched, than the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami wielded the big stick by declaring it an illegal outfit not recognised by the Nigerian Constitution. This was followed by series of antagonistic tirades from some northern groups, who accused the Yoruba of trying to use the new security outfit to destabilise Nigeria’s and declare Oduduwa Republic.
What followed were largely unprintable diatribes for and against Amotekun. The heat generated consequently put a wedge between the Southwest and the Federal Government almost tilting towards a constitutional crisis.
In the midst of it all political leader of the Southwest and stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu refused to join the fray. Many thought the responsibility to take a position and clear the air fell of the Jagaban Borgu, as the leading political figure in Southwest APC.
Tinubu’s position is also critical because he is alleged to nurse presidential ambition to succeed President Buhari in 2023, therefore his critics believe that personal ambition must have necessitated his decision to keep mute while the controversies over Amotekun boiled over.
At a point some groups of Yoruba socio-cultural organisations gave him an ultimatum to speak, while others declared he could as well keep his view, as whatever he has against Amotekun cannot stop the organization, which has come to stay.
Exactly a week ago, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Afenifere, Yoruba Ronu, Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum and several individuals across the country challenged Tinubu to speak on Amotekun. Indeed some had even labelled him a traitor, who perhaps due to personal ambition decided to leave the governors at the mercy of the Federal Government.
However, when Tinubu finally broke his silence on the matter last Wednesday, he suggested a dialogue between the governors and the Minister of Justice, just as he dismissed the fear that Amotekun was capable of bringing to ruin the fabrics of national unity and peaceful co-existence.He was also quick to point out some grey areas of the new security initiatives without necessarily condemning it or betraying the course like some people had insinuated. He pointed out the need for it to be handled with caution in the interest of peace and development of Nigeria.
Tinubu’s position seems to put a lie to the allegation that he may have been constrained to speak on Amotekun due to his presidential ambition, when he admitted that no set of people or nation would fold (their) hands when life and property are endangered. That seems to suggest that he values the survival of his kith and kindred far more than a presidential ticket.
In his intervention, Tinubu called for private discussion between the Governors of the Southwest and the Federal Attorney General. He said the foundation of the country had not been put at risk by the regional security outfit launched by the governors of the zone in their bid to confront the insecurity in states.
The former Lagos governor, however, warned that, the peace of the nation could be torn to shreds by what he called the “dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better.” Asiwaju Tinubu said: “Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the Republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion.
Those claiming that the Federal Government seeks to terribly suppress the Southwest have also lost their compass. Those who occupy these two extremes have sunken into the dark recesses of fear and political paranoia that can undo a nation if such sentiments are allowed to gestate.” Two significant developments however followed his speech, one there was a dialogue between the Office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Southwest governors, Malami and the IGP, to look at the legal areas where Amotekun has come short. His intervention seems to have calmed frayed nerves as parties involved have now agreed to work together.
Speaking on the matter yesterday, a former federal lawmaker who represented Ogun East Senatorial District, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye commended the spirit of oneness with which Yoruba stakeholders embraced and supported the new security outfit.He also commended Malami and the remarks by Tinubu. The elder statesman said while it is true that no reasonable set of people would sit and fold their arms when attacked, killed and traumatised by criminals, he said dialogue would resolve the controversies surrounding Amotekun.
“It is not only in the interest of Yoruba race but also non-Yoruba people, Nigeria and also the image of the Federal Government,” he said.Durojaiye said if proper dialogue is put in place as suggested, the outfit would be of immense blessings to the Federal Government, which appeared to have suffered serious image problem because of the rising wave of insecurity in the land.
The senator added that it is imperative of the governors of Southwest and critical stakeholders including security experts especially from the region and who understand the terrain very well to sit and fine-tune whatever grey areas there are in Operation Amotekun so that the purpose would not be defeated after it takes off.
While he advised against any confrontation with the Federal Government over the issue of Amotekun, Durojaiye said, “I hope and pray that Yoruba will also embrace the spirit of taking a collegiate and common front on several other crucial issues relating to Southwest and Nigeria generally.”The octogenarian also dismissed the fear that Amotekun was created with the intent to declare Oduduwa Republic as some had insinuated.
In his remark, a former Minister of Defence, Dr Olu Agunloye advised against too much noise about Amotekun, saying more of strategy should be adopted than talking and confrontation. As for those condemning Tinubu for keeping mute, Agunloye said the former governor’s position was strategic and he cannot be seen to talk carelessly on delicate security issues like this.
“If Tinubu actually wants to contest for president or probably wanted the presidency to shift to Southwest after Buhari, he cannot be seen to be championing Amotekun the way those who actually don’t understand politics do.
“Amotekun is for the preservation of the life and property of our people but then it is delicate and must be handled carefully.” He said, “There has been too much talk, too much armchair analysis and even jokes. We need to start operating the process, start raising funds, raising men, raising equipment, raising technology, raising strategy, raising legislative framework and building data and defence. Implementation of the project is a serious matter.”
But while giving kudos to Tinubu, President Yoruba Ronu, Akin Malaolu said, “We must confess that the resolution of Amotekun impasse came quickly after the involvement of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He not only gave a qualified analysis of the errors of the Federal government, he also pointed out the mistakes made by Southwest Governors.
“At this stage, with deep cogitation we can proclaim that Tinubu is truly a loyal leader to Nigeria and Nigerians. Nigerians should remember the economic position of Southwest for diverse investors both local and foreign. Without peace in the Southwest, the growth envisaged by all Nigerians and government cannot be easily achieved.”Malaolu noted that the present security challenge is a common menace to everyone including foreign friends.
The Conference of Speakers of Southwest State Legislatures, have thrown their weight behind Amotekun, which may facilitate its legal backing. Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Oleyelogun Bamidele David explained that the core objective of the new security network was to complement the efforts of existing security agencies in the country with a view to restoring public confidence that government remained committed to securing life and property.
A Nigerian in the Diaspora, Sola Oyeyipo who spoke with The Guardian from United States urged every other region in Nigeria to emulate Southwest, saying the wicked expansionist agenda of the some groups will be halted and it will breed the confrontation that will lead to a war. “Mark it! They are of the opinion that they own every part of Nigeria. They consider us as occupants of their annexed territories.”
But The Guardian reliably gathered that the Federal Government is still opposed to Amotekun and may be scheming to do everything to stop it for the fear of what it could lead if it succeeds.
Critics of government also faulted Buhari’s decision to push Osinbajo to mediate among Southwest governors, Malami and the IGP, where as the National Security Advise (NSA), Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff and other security chiefs were not present. Time will tell how the matter would be finally put to rest. But for now, the people of the Southwest are more than resolved to push through with a much-awaited idea.
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