THE owners of Nigeria don’t pretend. They talk and dare you to talk back. One All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, a garrulous Garus Gololo, during the week warned that the ambition of the South West to produce the president in 2023 would die if the region insisted on having a truly Western Nigeria Operation Amotekun.
Before Gololo, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Amotekun would be tied to the apron strings of the Inspector General of Police.
Since the idea of Operation Amotekun was publicised by the governors of the six states in the South West, the federal government has not hidden its desire to quash the initiative or, at least make it a lame duck. And it seems that some leaders in the region through their actions are appeasing their northern gods.
There was unrelenting shadow-boxing against the initiative right from its announcement as many people in Arewa fell over themselves to denounce the move. The nearest we came to hearing the Federal Government about Amotekun was when Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the move was unconstitutional but soon after denied that he described it as illegal. The federal government followed up the prevarication by AGF Malami with the exhumation of the issue of community police. It was brought to the front burner and N13 billion was approved for its take off about one week ago.
Even the Fulani, through the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) also joined the vocal northern crowd against the formation of Amotekun in the South West. In reaction to Amotekun, MACBAN hurriedly announced that it would also launch its own security outfit nationwide, which it actualised in late July. National President of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Bello Boyejo and Secretary, Saleh Alhassan, reportedly said while announcing the birth of Miyetti Allah Vigilante that it would help the security forces in curbing kidnapping, cattle rustling and banditry. The Fulani vigilante will also protect Fulani pastoralists across the country from tribal hordes, ethnic militias and cattle rustlers, they had reportedly added.
There was not even a single mention or suggestion of how else a people can secure themselves from criminals or killer, itinerant herdsmen and from such other criminals. Yet there are sustained killings and destruction of farmlands everywhere. More disturbing is that the people no longer trust the regular security apparatuses because they have come to see them as a part of the problem. The people simply need security to be able to plan properly and live peacefully their daily life.
But crying Nigerians don’t seem to be getting the right response from the relevant agencies, while the federal government only regurgitates its assurances on security of life and property. Nigerians’ decision to look inwards for means of enhancing their security shouldn’t have come to the federal government as a surprise. It even has a psychological foundation in every culture, because survival is the very first human or animal instinct. American Psychiatrist, Judith Lewis Herman, in her book, “Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence”, says “the guarantee of safety in a battering relationship can never be based upon a promise from the perpetrator, no matter how heartfelt. Rather, it must be based upon the self-protective capability of the victim.”
From the point of view of the federal government as represented by the Mallam Shehu, the victims in the case of Nigeria’s festering insecurity must neither shout nor squirm. Just lay still while the evil festers and if you come out alive, you listen to the usual rhetoric by the government at the centre and the over-stretched security agencies.
Mallam Shehu said Amotekun and all the like would be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police. Garba Shehu’s position has further confirmed the contention by many Nigerians that certain forces don’t want the success of Amotekun, regardless of how useful and helpful the outfit might be in this era of obvious security inadequacies. And this is when we consider the fact that Garba Shehu is representing an interest of the owners of Nigeria.
Shehu’s submission is regardless of the hurried, haphazard establishment of the community policing scheme and its attendant confusion exemplified by the Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, who said the states will not fund the community police. Governor Seyi Makinde’s declaration that Amotekun in Oyo State will not be under any federal establishment is also clear enough.
While the Amotekun debate is raging, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and governors of South East states, after initial rise like a brush fire on the issue, have tucked their heads back in like a snooping tortoise. Amotekun in each state has laws by the respective state houses of assembly backing it unlike the Miyetti Allah Vigilante. Under which law would the Miyetti Allah vigilante operate in each of the states it finds itself? Meanwhile, our Igbo leaders are still crawling at the feet of the overlords, begging for permission to do in the South East what South West governors have already done.
The Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) rejected community policing and said they want “a viable, strong and technology-driven native regional security outfit.” This was six months ago. In March this year, the almighty South East governors said a name would be “adopted soon” for a regional security outfit. Maybe we have not waited long enough since February to confirm the description by Ohanaeze Youths of the South East governors as cowards!
Amotekun in its true identity isn’t a design of anyone in particular; it is a one-heartbeat demand by a people for security and protection. It is the people who own Amotekun, and the governors only needed to fall in line in response to the call. The hurried, haphazard response to the Western Nigeria Security Network by the Federal Government with its community police scheme is a pointer to the fact that there is no pure intent on people’s security of life and property.
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