Why Nigerians see Amotekun as alternative security —Otegbola
Senator Ayodeji Otegbola, is a former chairman, Federal Housing Authority and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State. He speaks on the state of security and restructuring. BOLA BADMUS brings the excerpts:
The six governors in South-West recently launched Operation Amotekun as a measure to combat the worsening state of insecurity in the geopolitical zone. What is your view on the security outfit?
My view cannot be different from those of other Nigerians who have expressed their opinions on the formation of Amotekun as a desirable option to protect our people. To me, the interpretation of the use of Amotekun is to protect the inhabitants of our region, especially when it was pointed out that similar outfits have already been established in the North and nobody has made any pronouncement as to whether it is illegal or not. This has always been the bane of the country. We have what I called ‘double standard’ in our politics because we don’t maintain a uniform standard. If we are one Nigeria, then we should be treated equally and not arbitrarily, thinking that one part is preferred specie and the other region does not worth it. This is what the North has done for more than two occasions and the South-West is just suggesting doing it. They have not even implemented it but you have already declared war against it. Unless we stand up and are fair to all, we shall be in one place like the barber’s chair, no moving forward and Nigeria will continue to be in trouble. I would have thought that if the Federal Government was sincere, it should bring everybody having similar opinions together and find a way to protect everybody since armed bandits, kidnappers and terrorists have taken the show off the hands of the government. It is my opinion that any opposition to Amotekun is against the interest of Nigeria and the interest of Nigeria is good for me. So, the Federal Government, through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), should find a way of making good what has been suggested, instead of declaring it illegal.
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For the first time, we have seen governors of the South-West speaking with one voice, irrespective of party leanings. What does that tell us about the issue of restructuring?
In a way, I know we have not seen the end of this. Very soon, you will see other regions doing the same and, like one commentator said recently that the South-West is always leading in everything that is innovative and productive and that very soon, other regions would start to copy from the region. But if the Federal Government had succeeded in declaring Amotekun Illegal, other regions would be a little bit weary to introduce it. I don’t think our leaders, wherever they are, should open their eyes and allow us to experience another civil war. It should be avoided at all cost. But whatever it is, Amotekun is just doing what some states in the North-East and North-West are doing to protect their people against criminality in those regions. So instead of declaring it illegal, the Federal Government should find a way to feel the pulse of the people by welcoming any initiative that would ensure the security of lives and property in the country. This is because apparently, it looks as if the government hasn’t got the capacity or the strategies to protect us and that is why other people are thinking of alternatives. If we are properly protected, there is no need having another security force to protect our interest. Whatever we are doing now is to supplement what the government has provided in terms of securing the lives of our people. As we speak, people are still being killed, ”people are still being abducted and no one has been able to apprehend the killers. The situation we found ourselves in this country is so serious that my heart bleeds when I see innocent people being killed wantonly, kidnapped and tortured and authorities are looking the other way. For how long shall we let this continue? It is about five years now that this government has been in power and has been battling insecurity. If they have no solution, then they should call the experts together, proffer solutions and, if necessary, seek outside help to protect our lives.
Recently, the Olota of Ota issued a statement to the Alake of Egbaland over a disputed Gbalefa Peninsula which has been the object of disputations between the Egba and Awori. As the Asiwaju of Aworiland, what is the true story concerning the land?
I am advanced in age now. Ever since I was born, up till now, I have never heard of a peninsula in Aworiland and we have been saying it that they (the Egba) should produce evidence where Gbalefa Peninsula was situated. I have never heard of any peninsular. Nobody has ever showed me any peninsular in the state. There is no historical evidence and I am challenging, if anybody has any document, let him or her show it and in any case, we are not in the Stone Age. You don’t annex a place by conquest in Nigeria anymore because we are ruled by the constitution. If I have a piece of land that I want to dispose of, people in the area would have knowledge of it and you go ahead and do it. So, the question of conquest does not make sense in today’s Nigeria. There has never been history of conquest in any part of Aworiland, either by the Egba Dahomey or anybody. In a nutshell, from the little history I have read, there is no iota of truth in the claim that a section of Aworiland was conquered by the Egba. I am already doing a lot of work now to find out the truth. But the truth cannot be that hidden that it takes me so many years. So, we are still at it and I am sure we would overcome the whole problem without fighting.
The 2019 elections turned out to be another big disappointment to your people in Ogun West as the zone failed to produce the governor, a position which had eluded them since the state was created. What is your opinion on the issue?
For some time, I think we have been deluding ourselves to think that one day, the Egba would leave it for us or the Ijebu will give it to us. We have always been looking for consensus from either of the duo in order to become governor. Both the Egba and the Ijebu don’t ask for our help to become governors; what they probably have ahead of us is because of the financial position of our people. The Egba and the Ijebu seem to be in wealth in terms of the capability to run successful campaigns, whereas the Yewa Awori people don’t have enough to go round for campaigns. For example, see how long Gboyega Isiaka (GNI) has been contesting for governorship He has done it four times and each time he runs dry half way to the campaigns and when he runs dry during the campaigns, candidates from Ijebu and Egba would come in and use their wealth and position to overwhelm us.
My worry really is that the Egba and the Ijebu have more money to spend against us and as long as this trend remains, the situation is likely to remain as it unless there is a legislation that says position of governor should be rotated among the zones otherwise known as zoning arrangement. But, if we don’t have that arrangement, then every time, we would have to wait on them, begging them to concede to us. The moment we start campaign now for 2023, you continue to see division among the Awori, division among the Yewa, even you could have four to five factions in Yewa alone; ditto the Awori. This is not good for us as a people and I am advocating that we sink our differences work as a united force and pray that same day, we shall overcome.