ALL Progressives Congress (APC) national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has finally broken his silence on the formation of the regional security outfit Amotekun saying it is a good idea in principle but more consultation is needed to make it work.
Over recent years, heavily-armed herdsmen have been running riot across southwestern Nigeria, engaging in kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry. To address the problem, the governors from across the geo-political zone decided to launch a regional security outfit named Amotekun, which translates to leopard in the local Yoruba language.
Within the last fortnight, the six governors have supplied Operation Amotekun with vehicles and equipment. Under the arrangements drawn up, the governments of the six states will train vigilantes, hunters and members of the Oodua Peoples Congress to provide security to provide intelligence for the official security services like the police, military and civil defence corps.
However, government supporters have opposed Operation Amotekun, with the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria saying that the creation of the body is a threat to national security. Also, the attorney-general of the federation Abubakar Malami said the federal government considers Operation Amotekun as an illegal police force.
Under pressure to give his thoughts on the matter, Asiwaju Tinubu has finally spoken, saying that the formation of Amotekun will not endanger the foundation of the country, rubbishing claims that the security outfit is a threat to national unity. He however, called on the governors to consult with the federal government on the matter and work on the operational side of things.
Asiwaju Tinubu said: “Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion, while those claiming that the federal government seeks to terribly suppress the southwest have also lost their compass. Those who occupy these two extremes have sunken into the dark recesses of fear and political paranoia that can undo a nation if such sentiments are allowed to gestate.”
“Distilled to its basics, it concerns how best state governments can assist with the safety and security of their residents and this is a matter of serious concern entitled to sober thought. However, it has been turned into a political tug-of-war, as fierce, often unthinking rhetoric, for and against, has crossed the lips of too many Nigerians. More subjective talking than objective thinking has been the fuel of this outburst.
Those who oppose Amotekun oppose the initiative not on its merits but merely because it was proposed by their political opponents or because they don’t see an avenue for personal gain from it. Too much energy has been spent distorting this issue instead of seeking a resolution that supports local enhancement of security while keeping the constitution intact. If this becomes the standard for how we handle disagreements then we will obscure Nigeria’s path forward with our own rubbish.
“Until now, I have deliberately maintained a studied silence regarding Amotekun. Many have tried to goad my swift public reaction. Those who have taken this road did so not because they care about Amotekun or even the people it intends to help protect. They did so knowing this had become a delicate and emotional issue for many. These cynics did so with the adversarial hope that, in haste, I might misspeak or misstep in a manner they could twist to their political advantage.
“Such people are possessed of a mercenary aspect that permits them to sacrifice almost anything, even jeopardise the very foundations of our political unity, if they might exact personal gain from the upheaval. In that they know no nobler purpose than their own appetites, we should feel sorry for them. However, we must not allow our sympathies for their barren condition to persuade us that there is worth in their destructive misconduct. They must be left to the consequences of their own devices.
“If truly I am a political leader as I am often described, then I have not the luxury of hasty, ill-conceived utterances. There are those who will use inflamed words to spark the passions of others. This may bring transient applause but when the cheers fade, we shall only have further descended because their words were never inclined toward resolution and long-term improvement but toward short-term popularity and perpetual confrontation.
“Equally, I do not cow to the demands of those who press for me to make a premature statement on an important issue. Again, that is a game devised by those who care more about political cleverness than the quality of governance. I chose to talk when my position has been made ripe by a collection of the facts and a reasonable assessment of those facts.”
“As I understand it, Amotekun is to be another set of eyes and ears to assist the police and as such, it is but the second generation of Neighbourhood Watch expanded to a regional scale. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with this as it does not appear to insult the constitution.
“However, my position regarding Amotekun is not blind or uncritical as there are several organisational and functional aspects of the proposal that could cause some problems if left unresolved. First, the stated mission is information gathering by civilians and such tasks are always and everywhere best done in low-key fashion and some aspects of Amotekun seem to undermine rather than enhance this function.
“Second, equipping Amotekun with showy paraphernalia may cause the public to misconstrue the role of Amotekun, incorrectly believing its mandate is more expansive than it is. This possible disconnect could impede the good aims of the programme.
“We have been fighting for local and decentralised policing for a long time because we know that too much centralisation impedes performance. In regard to actual performance of its appointed tasks, Amotekun should have focused on grassroots local organisation at the state level without a regional command hierarchy.
“The regional approach may undermine efficiency. There is no compelling logic why the same personnel providing security and informational assistance in Ado-Ekiti should be under the same functional and operational leadership as those providing assistance in Lekki or Akure as this will not lead to optimal performance.”