OpEd: THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ‘AMOTEKUN’
By Olawale Rasheed
Something fundamental happened to the Nigerian federation last week.It was small but within it is a greater maximal political implication, especially for the much debated restructuring of the skewed federal structure.The South West region of Nigeria has consciously set the tone for national reforms in the security sub-sector.
The emergence of Amotekun is a bold message and strategic positioning of the region in the envisaged future balancing of power within the federation.
What is significant is the structure itself, and not the mobilisation or the available ammunition. Of the six zones,Yorubaland is the first to create a skeletal outfit with capacity and capabilities to be awakened and deployed in service of the motherland.Political leaders in the region may have been guided by considerations and developments beyond Nigeria. I bet there is a transnational perspective to Amotekun’s emergence.
Contrary to what most analysts identified,the threat to Yoruba nation is multinational rather than solely national in outlook.Infact ,the national threat most Yoruba are quick to a finger is itself under brutal siege of highly equipped and trained transnational bandits.Deep review of development across North East and North West region confirm that the source of threat Yoruba is afraid of are themselves under a brutal onslaught from forces beyond their control.
Most northerners, including those in a government, are themselves seeking protection, and security from deepening low scale insurgency that seems to be defying all solutions. The mess has degraded state Chief executives who had to openly romance and appease bandits, cattle rustlers, invidious jihadists and criminal insurgents.
The threat South West posits to tackle with Amotekun is from Greater Sahel,wider Sahara, and Middle East.With Libya degenerating,with Sahel region boiling ,with Niger republic bleeding,with a Benin republic as an explosion waiting to happen,with multinational forces with dubious records and with Cameroon deeply engulfed in unannounced civil war,the spillover into Nigeria is envisaged.Weapons and Insurgents streaming into Nigeria with the porous border is an established happening,painting the northern region as a cloudy battle zone.
The movement of bandits down South ,eyeing the luxurious life of coastal areas is real and therefore demanding immediate action.Worst still,the infiltrators bear all signs of Sahelian insurgents masquerading and defying surveillance of ill equipped official security networks.Put more frankly,the north that Yoruba traditionalists are afraid of herself is in trouble, as northerners are killed, maimed and assaulted by blood thirsty transnational criminal warriors.
The preceding thus implies that the significance of Amotekun transcends national politics. It is a strategic move to create a popular front to back up already overstretched and badly equipped security forces. The concept of popular mobilisation forces is gaining an increasing currency worldwide, as it guarantees local preparedness in case the official security architecture fail to counter insurgents and transnational bandits.This is a response to development within a Nigeria state that is perceived to be incapable or unwilling to secure internal security and protects law abiding citizens from free for all reign of terror by bandits
Leaders of South West especially the state governors deserve commendation on this tactical deployment.Great leaders are those who foresee and pre-plan for uncertain eventualities.In an era of unpredictability,those who survive have wider vision, and near precise analysis of events that are yet to happen.This is another golden example of ‘Ajise bi Oyo…’
It is equally sacrosanct to repeat what the South West governors said at the launching of the security outfit. Governor Kayode Fayemi with a PhD in War Studies stated as follows:
“Amotekun is a complement that will give our people confidence that they are being looked after by those they elected into office.So, we do not want this to create fear in the mind of anybody, as we are not creating a regional police force, and are fully aware of the steps we must take to have the state police.
”We do not want anybody to misconstrue the concept of Amotekun.It was in the context of the unfortunate development that we lost the daughter of Pa Rueben Fasanranti, the leader of Afenifere.And that further put pressure on us, as leaders in the Southwest, to do something about insecurity.
“As elected leaders, our primary responsibility, according to Section 14 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended, is the security and welfare of citizens.That was what informed the governors coming together to fashion out a way to complement the work of the mainstream security agencies overstretched in their efforts to arrest the menace that have afflicted the entire country” ,he clarified.
That clarification implies the commitment and loyalty of South West leaders to the supreme constitution and integrity of the republic. Amotekun is thus a smart creation designed to fill gaps and secure the lives and properties of Yorubas.It is not a regional armed force,nor a regional police.It will function within the existing official security structures, though manned by many retired security personnel from the region.
It is gratifying to note that Yoruba leaders, even amidst recriminations over the statusquo, are still able to hold out a flag of preparedness for all possibilities. It is therefore a really interesting, and intriguing reading how leaders of other regions are grappling to respond to this innovative but potent step.
It must be dawned on all that Yorubas are not ‘cowards’ afterall.
*Olawale Rasheed,publisher of Sahel Standard, writes from Abuja.His email: firstname.lastname@example.org