By Fredrick Nwabufo
In my article of January 6 – a riposte to Isa Funtua’s prejudiced utterance on the Igbo — I wrote: ‘’Funtua’s statement reeks of corpulent arrogance, bigotry and acute sense of entitlement. It reinforces the stereotype that his section of the country bullies any region that does not kiss the ring of the caliphate.’’
I was not surprised that Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) reacted hysterically to the piece because the beneficiaries of the disequilibrium status quo will always seek to maintain it.
It is common knowledge that swathes of territories in the north have been overrun by bandits. At the peak of the menace — in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 — these grim reapers killed citizens in hundreds in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Kano. But what did the governors of the region and the federal government do in the face of this challenge? They took a pacifist perspective to it. Instead of facing the problem headlong, they invited murderers to a parley.
Mohammed Adamu, the inspector-general of police (IGP), was in one of such meetings with these bandits. In fact, he said this in one of the ‘’peace meetings’’: “We will take measures to dialogue with the bandits to become better citizens….’’
Also, it was even reported that the bandits were bribed to keep the peace. But this approach did not stop the killings. That fact is, the atrophic security threat assailing the country cannot be tackled by pandering to the whims of the antagonists. When there is no retribution for crime it festers.
And while the government was still ‘’dialoguing’’ with the bandits, they were spreading their tentacles into other parts of the country. Not long afterwards, the South-west became a flashpoint of banditry and kidnapping. The highways in the region became the quickest routes to hell. In July, 2019, Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Afenifere leader, was killed savagely by bandits on Ondo-Ore road. Many other citizens had been killed in a similar pattern in the region. And the killings continued unabated.
So, it is natural that the governors of the South-west, who are the chief security officers of the region, will rally to check the scourge. However, instead of appeasing the bandits like the governors of the north-west did, they dispatched ‘Amotekun’ to secure their area. I think, Amotekun, an ingenious security initiative, is the South-west’s response to the government’s propitiation of bandits.
Regarding the legality of the security outfit, I know the right to life is the crux of all human rights. You cannot fail to defend me, yet asks that I should not defend myself against certain death. If the government was alive to its responsibility of securing citizens, there would be no ‘Amotekun’. Though I admit there may be constitutional limitations to the purview of the outfit, there is no evidence that the recently launched operation has overreached itself in any way.
Also, the South-west governors have made it clear that the security outfit will not perform police functions. So, why the hue and cry?
As a matter of fact, the protest of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to governors of the South-West region over Amotekun reinforces the stereotype that the north bullies any section of the country which does not bend to its thrall. It also accents an acute sense of entitlement.
Really, it is upsetting that Miyetti Allah is asking the region to decommission Amotekun or risk losing the presidency in 2023.
To share in my despondence please read the statement of Alhassan Saleh, national secretary of Miyetti Allah.
“This Amotekun scheme is political and is not the solution to the problem of insecurity. What the South-West governors should have done is to continue to push for state police. Where did they expect to get the funding from at a time some of them are struggling to pay salaries?
“It is best they give up on this idea because it may affect the chances of the South-West to produce the President in 2023. The thinking is that if the South-West, a major stakeholder in this government, can be toying with this idea now, they may do worse when they get to power.”
“We are in agreement with the AGF that Amotekun is illegal. In fact, we are unhappy that it took the AGF this long to react.”
But can Amotekun cost the south-west 2023 presidency? To me, it is not for a group or even a section of the country to decide. It is the decision of all Nigerians. In 2011, a president emerged from the south-south, even from an ethnic nationality that is considered a minority in the country, against all odds. President Muhammadu Buhari himself had run for office thrice but failed. If it was possible for him to be president solely by the votes and ‘’machination’’ of his section of the country at those times he vied for office, it would have happened.
The point is no one region holds the ace to power in Nigeria. The perception that there is a ‘’kingmaker region’’ is only but a myth. All Nigerians are equal stakeholders in this entity.
*Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.