By Ayo Akinfe
(1) Nothing has dominated the Nigerian political space over the last month like the creation of Amotekun. This idea that you can create a regional security outfit to effectively combat crime has sparked off a debate about decentralisation of both Nigeria’s security architecture and her economy
(2) Amotekun is so popular among Nigerians of all ethnic groups and religions that even the federal government has been forced to relent in its opposition to the development. I have never known the attorney-general of the federation say he was misquoted since he assumed office five years ago but hey, he had to look for a face-saving way out of the corner into which he painted himself. Amotekun was going to go ahead with or without his approval anyway, so Mr Malami had no choice but to back down
(3) Over the last fortnight, we have seen state governments in all other parts of Nigeria say that they too are considering similar regional security operations. These moves have been fuelled by the near total collapse of security nationwide. Boko Haram are on the rise again, while the recent grim figures from Niger and Katsina states show beyond doubt that the current policing arrangement is simply not working. Nigerians are being killed like flies and the government is powerless to arrest the situation
(4) To make matters worse for the opponents of Amotekun, there has been hardly any kidnapping incident in southwest Nigeria since the initiative was announced. Just the thought of a regional security network appears to have scared the kidnappers and armed hoodlums away. Hopefully, when similar projects are launched across all six geo-political zones, they will be scared out of Nigeria for good
(5) Like everything else, once you set an action in motion, it sets off a chain reaction. Amotekun is no different as its creation has led to a discussion about extending regional initiatives beyond security to areas like the economy, transport, housing, healthcare, education, etc. Could this be the start of genuine federalism in Nigeria and a return to the 1958 Lancaster House Agreement?
(6) If you ask me, nothing has enthroned poverty in Nigeria like the wholesale dependence on crude oil. When you are dependent on one primary commodity for your survival, you are asking for the bony hand of hunger to decimate you. Bear in mind that crude is a very volatile product, who price varies erratically in line with global developments. For instance, Chinese demand is likely to crash as a result of the latest virus, forcing global prices to plummet
(7) This is our opportunity to do away with the crude oil dependency madness once and for all. Amotekun has shown that our 36 federating units the states and the geo-political zones are fully capable of managing their own affairs with very minimal federal involvement
(8) Over the next two years, I expect each of Nigeria’s 36 states to latch onto this bandwagon and gradually move towards becoming self-reliant. Nowhere more do I expect this than in the northwest where they are sitting on a potential agricultural gold mine, which if tapped into, will make the current federal allocation look like the paltry peanuts it is
(9) Do you know that Nigeria is the world’s second largest sorghum producer with an annual output of 7m tonnes and we are also the planet’s second largest millet producer with a yearly crop of 5m tonnes. Both are widely produced across the northwest and they are key to the establishment of breweries. It is time for brewing plants to start springing up in their dozens across the seven states of northwest Nigeria
(10) One can also make beer from cassava, yam and maize but these are food crops, so there will always be competing demands for them. The beauty of millet and sorghum is that they are more or less wholly cash crops. If we invite the likes of Heineken, Molson Coors, Castel and Carlsberg to come and open breweries in say Sokoto, Birnin-Kebbi, Gusau, Kano, Daura, Zaria and Hadeija, we will be able to guarantee the supply of almost our entire crop. To do that, however, these states need to drop their aversion to alcohol. I can see that happening as the federalism debate gathers pace. One reality we have to accept is that we cannot afford the luxury of holding on to pious religious beliefs. What Nigeria needs now is socio-economic development!