DIALOGUE WITH NIGERIA BY AKIN OSUNTOKUN, Email: email@example.com
“No state government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts”–Federal Government of Nigeria
Not surprisingly, the federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari has, once again, acted true to type. The type that personifies the notion that all public and political initiatives must take a cue and be subordinated to the hegemony of a unitarist Islamic North-led Nigerian politics. (Please note, I have no issues with our brothers and sisters from the far North- many of whom are equally unhappy with this trend).
As a brainchild, of those who should ordinarily be perceived as the fawning proteges of the President- the South West APC governors; the Amotekun initiative turned out an overachiever in terms of the public acclamation it received in the South-west and across Nigeria. And this was what, potentially, doomed the policy. If, before, the federal government viewed the policy as of no consequence to its unitarist vision of Nigeria, it rapidly became a big cause for alarm at its overwhelming resonance with friends and foes alike across Nigeria, especially the South-west. It thereafter became a problem for a president intent on keeping Nigeria on the short leash of a quasi unitarist state lockdown.
In what way can we possibly interpret this brazen obstructionist action as serving the best interest of the people of the South-west and that of a security crisis beleaguered nation? Isn’t this a dangerous escalation of the belief that citizens of this country can no longer take the goodwill of this government for granted? Would it not now amount to disbelieving the evidence of our eyes to dismiss conspiracy theories that attribute pernicious ulterior agenda to this government? Meanwhile, we can now hazard a guess at the probable cause for collective insomnia that General Theophilus Danjuma was warning about. This is a behaviour that is guaranteed to validate the position of all who hold this government complicit in the sponsorship of a sectarian agenda, including, instructively, the British house of lords- which recently raised the alarm that “Given the Nigerian Government’s apparent complicity in the persecution of Christians, there is a strong argument that international aid should be curtailed until Abuja fulfills its duties to protect and provide for its own citizens”.
If there is any blessing (in the disguise of this disappointment), it is going to be the further radicalisation and renewed focus on the demand for the restoration of Nigeria’s federalism aka restructuring. The action has brought out, in bold relief, how practically inconsistent with the welfare of Nigerians, is the prevailing status quo and how, mutatis mutandis, devolution and decentralisation of powers- as symbolised in Amotekun, is indispensable to the wellbeing of Nigerians. As we await the next government outrage and if indeed, there are no ulterior motive or pernicious ethnic agenda to the serial divisive aggravations Nigeria has experienced since 2015, now is the time to urgently rediscover our path back to ‘true federalism.’