“The voice of the people is the voice of God”
It was only a matter of time before someone pulled the trigger on the political contraption called Nigeria’s current incongruous, pseudo-federalism. A weird federal structure that has the over bloated centre controlling what it should not, for instance, community security, cannot stand on one leg for too long! Or, how do we explain the array of impunities that has had the Boko Haram extremists and the bloodhounds called the bandits running roughshod over the north-eastern and north-western states? What about fully armed Fulani herdsmen turning Benue, Taraba and Adamawa amongst other states into Nigeria’s killing fields, while those who should care regale us daily with the rhetoric of bringing the culprits to book. But no one has!
So, how do we explain the sad scenario that no one has been brought to speedy justice, over the heinous crimes against humanity? Instead, the so called ‘repentant’ killers amongst them have been quickly embraced by the federal government with the spurious Amnesty programme at the nation’s expense! I do sincerely hope that some people do not have the erroneous belief that some citizens’ lives are more precious than that of others? Meanwhile, the killings continue, exacerbated by the recent beheading of Reverend Hassan Andimi, before now, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) in Michika LGA of Adamawa state. And some people thought that the days of mass resistance would not come? Now it has.
Welcome to the warm embrace of Amotekun. I do hope that you are not afraid of its cuddling claws? Well, those same claws could turn deadly, but only to those with blood on their hands. So good that the life-cherishing, peaceful and protective people of the South-West geo-political zone have come forth to say that enough is indeed, enough! Remember, that they are still grieving over the cruel, callous and conscienceless killing of Mrs. Olufunke Olakunrin, the daughter of Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere. The tragedy which took place in July, 2019 has since become the trigger for the coming into being of Amotekun.
Though Undie Adie, Commissioner of Police in Ondo State claimed that bandits, rather than Fulani herdsmen were behind Olakunri’ sudden death, it remains curious that investigations into that death have since stalled! That is, according to the respected father. The hasty response of the Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami declaring Amotekun as ‘illegal’ while he has kept mute over the Hisbah security outfit in Kano state and the Civilian Joint Task Force(CJTF) in the North-East leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Is what is good for the goose no more sweet for the gander, concerned Nigerians keep asking? Having involved the top hierarchy of the Police Force before its official launch by the state governors of Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Ogun, Malami ought to have urged for its statutory status at the states/regional level. But he didn’t, setting off an escalating wave of angst across the land.
So also has the injurious insult of the Miyetti Allah’s response to Amotekun. To have stated that the South-West stands to lose the presidency come 2023, if it insists on going ahead with it is arrogating to itself the people’s right to choose who they want to lead them. That is arrant nonsense! The National Secretary, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, says his organization is afraid that if the Amotekun security outfit is allowed to operate, it could turn out to be “a disaster for the country” and “a threat to democracy”. Have the killings by armed Fulani herdsmen not blown into an unmitigated “national disaster” and a clear “threat to Nigeria’s democracy”? It is high time some people cleanse themselves from the superiority complex mentality.
And that explains the position of the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams who reminded Malami that the problems of kidnapping, banditry and other forms of insecurity in the south-west led to the creation of the outfit by elected governors. He cited the killing of Funke Olakunrin, and reminded Malami that the people have a responsibility to defend and protect themselves.
Said he: “I find it disturbing your statement of Tuesday, January 14, 2020, declaring the security initiative of South-West governors ‘Amotekun’ as illegal. You also threatened that the full course of the law will be applied to anybody promoting the Amotekun security initiative. Maybe you have forgotten. I need to remind you that you are the Attorney-General of the country, not a section of the country,” he wrote.
“Your outburst against the governors who were elected, not selected or appointed, is against the spirit of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). “The right to life is universal and no government can legislate against that. One thing is clear: Nigerians have the right to protect themselves. This should be food for thought for Malami.
So also should the incisive response of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka to the unfortunate maligning and misinterpretation of the Amotekun project by Balarabe Musa, that it would lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic. Soyinka said, “Balarabe is sadly but I hope not tragically wrong. I invoke the tragic dimension here because the making of tragedy, especially for nations, often begins when fears are mistaken or promoted as facts…Such acts turn out, in the end, to be based on nothing but fears, sometimes generated by guilt over past injustices, such as inequitable dealing. That is the basis of tragedy, towards which nations are propelled by a partial, or wrongful reading of socio-political realities and – history. I would like to see this nation avoid such a blunder. So, I am certain, would Balarabe Musa”.
It was in a similar vein that Chief Olusegun Osoba, an APC Chieftain recently opined that the government has refused to restructure Nigeria because it is serving the interest of some section of the country. He cited the increasing agitation for what Nigerians term ‘true federalism. It is an offshoot of the agitations of the democratic transition that eventually led to civil rule in 1999. And it is an indication that all is not well with the existing practice of federalism in Nigeria.
The bitter truth therefore, is that several of our successive political leaders have thought that Nigeria’s unity was beyond questioning. No! Methinks that we need is to revisit the recommendations of the 2014 National CONFAB and begin the politico-economic restructuring process in earnest. Enough of the self-deceit. This contraption called Nigeria’s federalism cannot work.
Baje writes from Lagos