Network, Amotekun by the Southwest governors is a positive initiative that promises to address the current insecurity in that part of the country, writes Kemi Olaitan
Last Thursday’s launch in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, of a regional security initiative, Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), code named, “Amotekun”, conceived to ensure peace and safety of lives and properties in the region, could not but be a huge relief, despite alleged underhand intrigues, which many believed were designed to stall the idea.
Thus, for the six Southwest governors namely Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, it was a collective success story in the bag.
The governors led by their Chairman, Akeredolu, supported by prominent Yoruba traditional rulers led by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and the socio-political leaders led by Prof. Banji Akintoye, converged with fanfare at the Car Park, Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan, for the unveiling of over 120 operational vehicles and 100 motorcycles for the security outfit. That the ceremony held at all, many reckoned was a big victory for the governors.
Although, the governors had at a security summit held also in Ibadan but in June 2019, mooted the idea of a regional security outfit, there had been fears in some quarters that the idea might not see the light of the day. It was also alleged that the federal government was not favourably disposed to it and might not approve of the launch, because it seemed more like an attempt to put in place state police through the backdoor.
In addition, the account stated further that the Southwest region being vocal and sophisticated, if allowed would be setting a dangerous precedent for the entire polity. There was also the fear that the regional security outfit could raise fears about the unity of the country.
It was on account of these intrigues that it was alleged that two days before the launch, the governors were summoned for a meeting by the Presidency while the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, also had a meeting with one of the governors.
But the governors, who felt that not going ahead with the idea would be sending a wrong signal to the people they swore to protect, however, came out with their heads unbowed and with assurances that they were committed to the unity and oneness of Nigeria.
Espousing their belief in the ideals that could make the country stronger and more united, Akeredolu, who is the Chairman, Western Nigeria Governors Forum, while delivering his keynote speech at the launch of the programme, said they were not out to confront the federal government but concerned primarily with the security of the region.
On the reasons behind the regional security outfit, he said, “The Southwest states of the federation believe in the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its indissoluble sovereignty. We are committed, in all ramifications, to the ideals that will make the country stronger and more united.
“The various nation-states within the federation are diverse, yet almost all of us agree that our strength is in our unity. Consequently, we shall continue to support the federal government, under the able and indefatigable leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, in its avowed commitment and determination to take the country to the next level. Let me on this note thank DAWN Commission for the wonderful job done in crafting the operational framework for Amotekun.
“The Commission has taken care of all grey areas that could cause friction in the operations of the personnel that will be deployed for the programme. As a matter of fact, the Nigeria Police will oversee and moderate the activities of Amotekun, thus making its operation conform to the acceptable standards. Amotekun is the Yoruba name for the Leopard.
“It is not the Tiger, Ekun. It is also important that I allay the fears of all those who have expressed misgivings as regards the quality of the personnel to be recruited to serve in the outfit. There is an adequate recruitment mechanism for the exercise. The conventional security agencies will participate, actively, in profiling the recruits.
“Nobody with questionable character will participate in the programme. We will make it difficult for undesirable elements to compound the challenges being encountered. Proper background checks will be carried out on personnel to be recruited while the needed registration/identification of such personnel will be done to ensure accountability.
“Let me seize this opportunity to once again appreciate the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police, State Security Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies for their unrelenting efforts in combating the various crimes threatening peace and security in the entire country.
“Your patriotism in keeping the territorial integrity of our dear nation is acknowledged. The establishment of Amotekun, is without prejudice to the expectations of patriotic discharge of your mandates as provided in our laws. We depend on you, mainly, to secure our territory. You are the experts with the requisite trainings. Your patriotic zeal must not wane as a result of this necessary intervention.
“The Governors in the Southwest Region will provide all the logistic support that will enhance seamless operations of the programme. Each of the six States has procured 20 Pick-up Vans equipped with communication gadgets and one hundred motorcycles for the takeoff of the Security Network,” he said.
With the governors still in the euphoria of successful launching of Amotekun and fulfilling a promise made to their people, many believed that the security outfit was not different from similar ones in some parts of the country such as Hisbah in the North West and Civilian JTF in the North East, all established to further strengthen the security in these areas.
Beyond the fact that whatever fears that might have been nursed over the security outfit was mischievous, close observers believed that Amotekun was, in the words of Governor Fayemi, a ‘confidence-building strategy’ by the governors as a response to a problem that the people of the Southwest region wanted solution to.
Fayemi added that the governors were not out to have regional police force but rather a step towards community policing, which the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Adamu, has shown interest in, stating that it was a response to a problem that the people of the region wanted solution to.
Makinde, in his welcome address, said it was the priority of the governors in the region to ensure that both indigenes and settlers living within the boundaries of their various states carry out their legitimate activities in a secure environment.
“As governors of these states, it is our priority to ensure that both indigenes and settlers living within the boundaries of our various states can carry out their legitimate activities in a secure environment. The security of their lives and properties should be of paramount importance.
“When we discuss the development potential of our states and talk about investment opportunities and growing our Internally Generated Revenue by exploring areas of comparative advantage, we remain keenly aware that we cannot achieve anything in a state of insecurity.
“And so, we are here. To those who are afraid, I say, when we assumed office, we all took the Oath of Office and promised to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to follow the dictates of the Constitution and protect the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We have not forgotten our oath.
“Our regional integration, our coming together, should be seen in one light and one light alone: that we are coming together to fight a common enemy. That enemy is not Nigeria; the enemies are the elements among us, and their affiliates that are determined to cause commotion within the borders of our states, and threaten our peaceful coexistence.
“As this launch proceeds today, we will find out that this architecture we have put together is in harmony with the Constitution that we swore to protect. We will also learn that everything we have outlined to do with Amotekun is in line with the existing security architecture in Nigeria. All we are doing is creating an appendage of local vigilantes that will feed the current state apparatus,” he said.
Speaking with THISDAY much later, Special Adviser on Security to Governor Makinde, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, a retired Commissioner of Police, said those to be recruited into the security outfit would be trained by the conventional police force, stating that they would more or less serve as neighbourhood watch in the six states of the region.
The Amotekun idea could not have come at a better time than now given the various misgivings allegedly expressed in some quarters especially, in Abuja, the seat of power. It was nothing but a result of the security summit, which the governors held in Ibadan in July, 2019, where they expressed anger over the spate of insecurity such as kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery in the region most especially, the killing of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
The governors, at the launch, said the region strongly believed in the unity of Nigeria and its indissoluble sovereignty, stating that they had agreed since last year to establish the security outfit to strengthen the security situation in the region.
Akeredolu therefore stated further that the Southwest governors were committed, in all ramifications, to the ideals that would make the country stronger and more united, and not to divide it, disclosing that the establishment of Amotekun, was without prejudice to the expectations of patriotic discharge of the mandates of the mainstream security agencies as provided in the laws of the land with the governors primarily concerned with the security of people and property.
Apart from Governors Makinde, Fayemi and Akeredolu, other present at the event were the Deputy Governor of Ogun, Noimat Salako-Oyedele; Deputy Governor of Osun, Gboyega Alabi; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Yoruba leader, Prof. Banji Akintoye; Otunba Deji Osibogun, Chief Gani Kayode Balogun, who represented the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, and representatives of various Yoruba groups. However missing at the event were the Commissioner of Police, Oyo State, Mr. Shina Olukolu, the GOC, 2.Division, the state Director, DSS, or their representatives.