Amotekun – Leopard! A family of big cats: intelligent, swift, superfast, vigilant, extremely powerful, with precise reflexes. Allergic to irritations brooks no trespass or violations of its territory. It feeds on flesh and blood, a carnivorous, will never miss a target. This is the literary imagery of an Amotekun, which the South-West Governors wish to build their local security architecture on. The West, more than any other Region had suffered decades of security breaches on the lives and properties of her citizens. Many of the local leaders have been killed under mysterious circumstances and without trace especially from 1993 till date. Each of these killings only attracting the monotonous refrain: ‘killers shall be brought to book’ reaction from the Nigeria Police. Therefore, after patiently waiting this long, the Governors of the Region came up with Western Security Network initiative, and interestingly code-named it Operation Amotekun.
The cacophonous snapshots and babel of noises welcoming the launch of the outfit by the South West Governors (Yoruba land), are totally not unexpected or even out of place if cognizance of the barometer of the political shenanigans since the advent of party politics in the regions in the 1950s are well noted, and again, such should be factored in at the planning stage. The rages coming from the Northern and Eastern flanks of the country are most reminiscent of the First Republic politics; fear of superior intelligence and tardy reactions to such!
The 1956 experience should still resonate in the minds of a huge chunk of the Yoruba people. Late Pa Obafemi Awolowo had just formed the Government and installed as the Premier of the West Region. He was anxious to make his mark. He set up a committee led by late Pa Adekunle Ajasin. The Committee came up with a policy of ‘free, compulsory education primary education’. The Eastern Regional government-backed West African Pilot newspapers went to town twisting the policy. The newspapers paper had claimed in an editorial that ‘all children who attend the schools under the policy will end up becoming Awolowo’s children’. Only the Ijebus, Egbas and few enlightened ones did not buy into the propaganda. The mainland Yorubas largely believed the lies as belched from the East under the cover of a national newspaper. They subsequently, suffered educational stagnation. Those who accepted the policy then moved ahead.
But this is not 1956. We are in a different clime, only similar shenanigan are being employed to curtail the growth of a Region tired of the tardiness of the federal system. Kidnappers, assassins and all manners of underworld men have wrecked so much havoc in the West in the last three decades. From the dark days of General Sani Abacha when many of the bright lights of the Region were mowed down brutally, through the unspeakable murder of the sitting Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Uncle Bola Ige, Funsho Williams, Lola Olakunrin and many more. The Federal Police only issued impotent statements and nothing more. Soon, so-called investigations died off. The Region is now saying ‘enough is enough’ of these dastardly acts on her citizens.
But more curiously enough, at the launch of the local security outfit in Ibadan, the political capital of the Yoruba people of the South West, Lagos players were generally conspicuously absent, no representation at all and no statement ever since. The Satellite States, Osun and Ogun, perhaps watching the Lagos overlord’s footsteps, sent in only deputies. This leaves, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti in the forefront of the building of the unorthodox, but novel security architecture for the entire region. Also worrisome is the absence of some notable Obas and opinion leaders. Only the Ooni of Ile Ife was notably present and heard loudly. The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Lagos, Alake of Egbaland and so on were not seen nor heard, since the launch.
Lagos is not only askance, but ice-cold to the initiative. And her major players have been mouth cold on the issue. The visits of the Ekiti State helmsman and prime mover, Dr Kayode Fayemi on January 10 to navigate through the troubled areas failed to yield any positive signs. Ogun and Osun to have remained aloof to the idea. Truth is that the cockatoo noises in the streets or social media meant little or nothing to those whose calculations are political. The man in the Control Room has not pressed the button: be it pause, on, stop. They await his body language and none is coming yet.
With this obvious lacuna, the other side, perhaps the enemies of the Region, who those envious of the initiatives, snapped on. The Attorney General, Mr Malami, literally, turning himself in the law, and irritatingly still, the Miyetti Allah, the Cattle Herdsmen, using the 2023 Presidency as bait to tell the Yoruba people to leave their doors open for marauders and killers, of whatever colouration to prowl on. At the epicentre of the Amotekun, anyway lies the political calculus of 2023 Presidential calculations. Both the protagonists and antagonists are all too well aware of 2023 and what it may bring.
But in the West, in Yoruba land, we must be very mindful of the dangers the scheming of both the centrifugal and the centripetal forces could pose. Irredentism in both positions portends nothing but danger. Yes, the old horse, a self-acclaimed leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo has spoken so much against the initiative, so also has the spokesman, Yinka Odumakin. Apparently, the pains of the Afenifere’s elements, most especially, the duo of Pa Adebanjo and Odumakin, is understandable. They have lost relevance and recognition in Yoruba land, they are no longer in the Protocol lists, so are always ready to rock the boat, at every slightest opportunity.
Whatever the problems Pa Ayo Adebanjo have with the current political leaders in the Region should be limited to that arena. If Papa wants an Igbo Presidency, he is more than justified. But, one thing it is wrong of the old man to want to drag a whole Region into his ignoble political shenanigan. His platform, Afenifere is strong enough to mobilize for s candidate of his choice and not at the expense of our collective security.
However, snippets gathered from the Lagos angle is the suspicious surrounding the involvement of Iba Gani Adams and his group. This is quite tenable if one rewinds the tape back to the activities of the group in the run down to the 2014 presidential elections. The group actively led by the new Aare Ona Kakanfo took over major Federal Highways in Lagos, disrupting traffic and damaging anything Lagos State and APC at sight. From the old Toll Gate, from Mile 12, along Ikorodu Road to Lagos Mainland, the rough-looking operatives left in their trails, tales of blood and destruction. The Federal Police simply looked the other way. No action was ever taken. Also, the pipelines security contract the government of President Goodluck Jonathan dubiously awarded to the duo of late Dr Fredrick Fasheun and Iba Gani Adams, OPC leaders without races of executing and billions of naira paid to them also surfaced. But that was yesterday song. Today’s song is the untied efforts to fight criminals infiltrating our land. No effort should be spared; all should be involved.
But if it is true that Lagos contribute to the funding of the purchasing of the equipment, then she may only be playing the Ostrich here. Osun and Ogun have no excuse either. This is about the mass of the people, and not one political overlord. The truth here is that the vast majority of the people want the swift, fast, powerful and precise reflexes and the response of an Amotekun. No more. The State has contributed funds for the purchase of equipment earlier cannot maintain any other course now. You are either in it or not.
The East, like the North, are probably also looking for ways to Obfuscate the architecture. Responding in a way that can only blight the brilliant initiative of the others only show the complexity of the minds at work. The nonsense from that fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu of the IPOB promising a million fighters to help the Yoruba fight the Fulani is just balderdash. Who told the indolent mind that the Yoruba are fighting anyone? Amotekun is simply to fight criminality and social vices. This has no target. It could be Ijebu Yoruba, Oyo Yoruba or Igbo, or Hausa and if it’s Fulani, let them face the wrath of Amotekun.
Attorney General, Abubakar Malami and the garrulous Miyetti Allah spokesman may be unaware of this fact. But they should be told in the clearest term. Their irresponsible comments were the elixir most Yoruba needed to jump into the train of the initiative, despite initial scepticisms. If the Ooni of Ife is to be believed, and I think he deserves that singular honour of believability, having met with the Federal Government team and getting the nod of the Presidency, before settling up the outfit, this insensitive volte-face by the Attorney General is not only reckless but also professional grossly unethical.
The North, under any colouration, cannot and should not dictate how any other Region handles her affairs, much less security that has consumed important sons and daughters of the zone. This is the point the arrogance of the North should be reined in. This is a federation and if the terms of the federal arrangements are not comfortable for any Region again, such should be quietly allowed to ease out. If the North feels they own the country, they are free to take their inheritance and go and let others build their lives the way they want. The era of a Region holding down another is gone. It is either you fasting your pace or you stagnate where you are.
The Yoruba people have moved with Amotekun, the next thing should now be economic integration of the Region.
Cover image: Courtesy of Freepik
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Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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