James Sowole writes that the ensuing controversies on the Federal Government’s position on the South-west security initiative, Amotekun, has become a campaign issue ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Ondo State
A major issue being discussed among the people of Ondo State particularly, in the political circle is the likely impact that the formation of the South-west regional security initiative, Amotekun, may have on the 2020 governorship election in the Sunshine State.
Of major concern is the fate of the incumbent governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who is the Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum and very outspoken since controversies ensued on the security initiative following the Federal Government’s pronouncement declaring the outfit illegal. Though, Akeredolu has yet to openly declare his intention for second term in concrete term, it is no longer hidden that the governor will run for second term.
The apprehension concerning Akeredolu’s fate may not be unconnected with existing controversies about the relationship between him (Akeredolu) and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the national level and within Ondo State due to the internal leadership tussle that led to the formation of Unity Forum championed by a former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi.
To some people, this is not the best time for Akeredolu to be in the forefront of the launch of any scheme or any programme that will go against the interest of national leadership of the APC.
It was the expectation of the people that Akeredolu should consolidate on the reported lifting of suspension placed on him, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and Senator Richard Okorocha over the alleged anti-party roles they played during the 2019 general election in their respective states.
The trio were alleged to have worked against the interest of the APC during the general election by sponsoring candidates for various positions against the candidate of the party that produced them.
Specifically, in Ondo State, Akeredolu was alleged to have sponsored candidates in federal constituencies where the party APC did not field his own people under the platform of Action Alliance (AA). The alleged sponsorship of AA candidates was blamed for the loss of the APC in the presidential election in the state and the loss of some federal constituencies and two out of three senatorial seats in the state.
So when the issue of Amotekun came up with Akeredolu in the forefront, the silence of the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on the matter raised suspicions that it would reawaken the sour relationship between the duo which many people thought had been mended with the last visit of Tinubu to the state during which he held meetings with warring party members and leaders in the Sunshine State.
The concern was more pronounced by the absence of the governors of Lagos, Ogun and Osun states and the fact that they were not as focal as Akeredolu, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde on the matter.
Understandably, Makinde could speak because he does not belong to the APC and has no election to contest in the nearest future just like Fayemi, unlike Akeredolu whose ticket was already being threatened by members of the Unity Forum with notable gladiators, some of who contested the 2016 primary that produced Akeredolu.
Those eyeing Akeredolu’s position in the Unity Forum are the Senator representing Ondo North, Ajayi Boroffice, Chief Olusola Oke, the pioneer Chairman of APC in Ondo State, Mr. Isaac’s Kekemeke, the Executive Director (Technical) in Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Mr. Ife Oyedele among others.
To those who want to seize the advantage of the perceived frosty relationship between Akeredolu and the leadership of the APC, his role in the Amotekun and his outburst has provided opportunity to cash on and paint him black, the governor’s role to many people has boosted his image among the people who believe that governance is about doing what the people want.
To Akeredolu’s enemies, the Amotekun saga has further exposed the governor as a person who cannot read in-between the lines on the interest of his party and the mafia that are deciding who gets what in the party at the helms of affairs, both at the federal level and in the state.
On the other hand, when talking about various incidents of insecurity such as kidnapping, robbery, killings and other violent crimes, residents of Ondo State have suffered in no small measure just as commuters on roads passing through the state are usually under palpable fear and tension.
Therefore, the launch of Amotekun and the frontal role of Akeredolu is welcome to the people of the state. If the governor’s role in this singular security project is all that is required for him to retain his position for another four years after April 2021, there is no doubt that he can score more than 50 per cent of the total votes if an election holds today.
In view of the security challenges in the state, Akeredolu’s stern position defending Amotekun is about the most popular and acceptable project of the administration.
In spite of the insinuation, calculation and the perceived apprehension however, Akeredolu looked unruffled on the security initiative declaring that safety of lives and property of the people should take priority over any other consideration because that is the essence of governance.
At different fora, Akeredolu as the Chairman of the South-west governors has reiterated that there was no going back on Amotekun that is only to complement the efforts of the nation’s security agencies.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, the Ondo Governor declared that he was not perturbed by the possible consequences of leading the Governors of the South-west in the formation of Amotekun.
He said, “Fears and apprehensions have been expressed in many quarters that his role in the formation of Amotekun could mar his second term chances. This is far from the truth because Governor Akeredolu is on the path of national cohesion through collaborative internal security.
“The decision taken in respect of Amotekun was in the interest of the entire nation but not the South-west alone. The political insinuations and blackmail are the required ingredients needed to make it credible. But such will not discourage the governor in any manner.
“Expectedly, there are possibly, political vultures waiting to reap from an imaginary scenario, especially as we approach the 2020 Ondo governorship primary of our great party. For Governor Akeredolu, everything that is desirable must be blessed by God. 2020 is a year that will be decided by the people of Ondo State; it can only be directed by God and His will alone shall prevail.
“In words and in deeds, Akeredolu will not sacrifice the compelling need to make lives safer in the South-west on the altar of political convenience, comfort and partisanship. The welfare of the people must come first.
“It therefore suffices that Governor Akeredolu considers more compelling, the need to institutionalize an acceptably complimentary and more enduring security framework in the South west.”
The governor said he was not bothered by those who want to seize political advantage of the situation.
“For those who have chosen to impose deceitful contentment on themselves for sake of political ambitions, especially towards Ondo 2020, the choice is free for them to make. The people are conscious and enlightened enough to discern the undercurrents; and more importantly, the consequences of those choices are lurking in the corners of our collective psyche, waiting to unleash on all of us.
“Of all vices, deception is dangerous. It becomes most lethal when it graduates to hypocritical humility and pretentious cooperation. It must be stated that Governor Akeredolu, not oblivious of human imperfections that are not peculiar to him, prefers to live life accepting who he is and loving it rather than pretending to be what he is not,” the governor said.
For the umpteenth time, Akeredolu reiterated that the security initiative, is neither a regional army nor an ethnic agenda aimed at obliterating and undermining national cohesion.
The governor therefore, advised against divisive statements and utterances that are capable of compromising the genuine intentions of the South-west governors.
He reiterated that Amotekun was initiated to compliment the efforts of the conventional internal security agencies that appear to have been hampered by the absence of local intelligence gathering architecture.
“Amotekun when fully operational, would serve the purposes of local information and intelligence gathering for processing and usage by the conventional security agencies. Amotekun is, therefore, merely supportive and not a replacement for the nation’s security agencies.
“The concerns expressed by individuals, agencies of government and several stakeholders are noted without bias. Where possible, the inexorable efforts of the South west governors will be deepened through relentless interface,” the governor said.
He said that the on-going discourse on the issue of Amotekun must not be misguidedly, used as a platform to ventilate personal or group views aimed at oiling primordial sentiments and grievances.
“Ethicizing the current situation is even more unhelpful. There should be no reason for such. This is more so that the Amotekun scheme is not targeted at any non-Southwest ethnic group just as its benefits are to be reaped by all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic or religious placements,” Akeredolu said.
He expressed confidence that the Southwest governors will not capitulate to blackmail either from within or outside the region but are ready to pursue the Amotekun security scheme through all permissible political and legal means.
Akeredolu was alleged to have sponsored candidates in federal constituencies where the party APC did not field his own people under the platform of Action Alliance (AA). The alleged sponsorship of AA candidates was blamed for the loss of the APC in the presidential election in the state and the loss of some federal constituencies and two out of three senatorial seats in the state. So, when the issue of Amotekun came up with Akeredolu in the forefront, the silence of the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on the matter raised suspicions that it would reawaken the sour relationship between the duo