Critics of Amotekun don’t want Nigeria to develop —Oweilaemi, IYC President

Mr Pereotubo Oweilaemi, the President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), in this interview with EBENEZER ADUROKIYA, speaks on the attitude of the North towards the Western Nigeria Security Network initiative code-named Operation Amotekun, set up by governors of the South West states and other national issues. Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the deluge of opposition from the majority of Northern leaders against Operation Amotekun security network set up by the governors of South West states? Is it justifiable?

I think that the those who are opposed to the creation of Amotekun don’t want Nigeria to develop into a nation. We are where we are today simply because the country has not developed into a nation. The idea that Nigeria is the property of the core north is very wrong. I think that is the reason why northern leaders are opposing every genuine step the south brings to build a virile nation. I see no reason why northern leaders should be opposing this laudable objective.

Nigeria is not a property of any particular region. The present Federal government has failed in its primary responsibility of securing lives and property. It’s justifiable for the people to device means to protect themselves within the confines of the law. The operation of Amotekun to my understanding will only help to complement the security agencies. It simply means community policing. Does it mean northern leaders were happy when Fulani herdsmen were terrorising the region? I thought security is everybody’s business. Why the uproar against this very important regional security scheme?

 

The North has also threatened to hold onto the presidency beyond 2023 without any consideration for the feelings of people from other parts of the country. What’s your take?

The earlier the north sees that Nigeria does not belong to them, the better for all of us. Holding unto the government of the federation for a longer period of time in this democratic dispensation as against our gentleman rotational agreement is a threat to our corporate existence. Nigeria belongs to all of us.

No single region has the monopoly of producing good leaders to rule the country. We need to apply equity and fair play in the handling the affairs of this country. Let the South East produce the next leader to rule the country. If after 50 years of our bloody civil war, we are still discriminating against one another it means we are not ready to work together as a country. We need to live above this ethnocentrism.

 

Many believe that with the worsening insecurity in the North-East and the North-West, it appears the security architecture of the country has collapsed or failed. Do you share this view and what’s your take on the insecurity situation?

Nothing is more correct than the assertion that the security architecture as presently constituted have failed the nation. The security chiefs are becoming redundant. They have run out of ideas as the situation we have at present requires fresh blood. President Buhari as a former military General ought to know this time-tested and universally espoused security principles. Keeping people in office who have not only exhausted their years of service but also ideas to confront the quagmires, such as we are facing only contributes to our present woes. The security situation has never been this bad before. The worst thing is that even the President’s home State is not secured.

 

What would you suggest as the way out of the security problem in Nigeria?

My advice to President Buhari is to immediately reconstitute a new security team. The composition should be in line with the constitution so much so that we don’t end up having one region or a tribe occuping  all the security positions.

One of the reasons why bandits operate with impunity in the country is because the security of the country is placed in the hands of one ethnic group. I am not surprised if the activities of bandits continue in the northern part because that is the expected result with the current lopsided security arrangements in the country.

 

Independent Nigeria will be 60 on October 1; would you say the country has been a success in any way?

Well, we have to thank God for keeping us together all these while. However, the minority ethnic groups have not gotten independent in the real sense. We are still being internally colonised.

For us in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s independence is designed to promote ethnic interest without restructuring. Our forefathers such Harold Dapper Biriye and others raised the fears of the minorities at the independent conferences. They were asking for a structurally balanced country but the British wouldn’t listen to them. Today, the larger population of the country have come to appreciate the fears earlier expressed by our forefathers. No average Niger Delta man sees himself as a free man in a country we all called our own where we are economically and politically marginalised by the larger tribes. Nigeria today is seen as an estate of some people in this country. How can we then be happy to celebrate the country’s independence? We need resource control and self-determination. That is what will make Niger Delta people to have a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project.

 

Governors from the South South appear to be dilly-dallying in emulating governors from Western Nigeria who have taken the bull by the horn to establish Operation Amotekun to save lives and properties in the region. How do you react to this?

They should copy it. Amotekun has come to stay. Even the Federal Government that was opposing it earlier has accepted it now. We need such regional security outfit in the South South too.

 

If the governors of the South South eventually meet to bring up one security outfit, what would be your advice and suggestions to them?

They should consult widely. All the stakeholders in the region should be involved in the arrangement and of course the Federal Government should be properly briefed. The concept should be made open for the society to understand.

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