We must give it to northern Nigerians. In any active or potential political showdown, they, as a group, always know where and when to stop. When the June 1993 presidential election result was halted and later nullified, the only ostensible reason was that it was taboo for the North to lose national political leadership, even through a democratic election. How that could ever have enhanced collective national sense of belonging was not clear. The war of attrition by pro-June 1993 presidential election agitators throughout the tenure of Ernest Sonekan, and his successor, General Sani Abacha, was complicated by the latter’s death in office after five years. Worse still was the political turmoil, which engulfed Nigeria with the death of MKO Abiola in captivity a month later.
The uncertainty portended Nigeria’s disintegration, against the silly miscalculation at the beginning that pro-June 12 agitators would wear out within weeks. At that stage, it became inevitable something had to give. The North had to face the reality that the erstwhile jealously preserved national political leadership must be yielded not only to the South but, specifically, to South-West. The only snag was that, down the line, the North still imposed its favoured candidate in South-West. So unhinged was that determination that even party regulations on eligibity of presidential nominees were patently rigged to ignore the imperative of winning ward/local government.
In effect, southwesterners were denied a nominee of their choice. The fact remains that, even with that, the injustice of June 1993 was partially redressed in 1999. South-West still made its point by rejecting from war to presidential level the candidacy of Olusegun Obasanjo, the PDP nominee. The point to note was that the fear of the North to be marginalised proved misplaced as the political leadership shifted to the South for 13 years (eight under Obasanjo and five under Jonathan). Heavens did not fall.
The row over Amotekun is one more example that the North knows when when to halt. On this particular issue, the controversy was on the imperative of each part of the country complementing Federal Government’s responsibility for security all over the country. Since the days of Obasanjo at Aso Rock, agitators of restructuring demanded devolution of some power to the states, all to lessen the strain on Abuja. The struggle was never easy. On his part, Obasanjo took it as an affront in a desperate bid to weaken his authority. To be fair to Jonathan, (his) south-southerners put up the resistance on his behalf against what they termed attempt to wrest from him what the agitators did not take from Obasanjo.
Eventually, group ethnic/political interest forced Jonathan to embrace the same restructuring only in the run-up to 2015 general election, which, unfortunately, he lost. But more than under Obasanjo and Jonathan, security situation in Nigeria today is so alarming, such that agitation for restructuring to empower the states (in effect, the zone) for local security is incontestable. It was, therefore, the same ritual as opponents of restructuring mount the guard in defence of Buhari. The only difference this time is the spread of insecurity to all parts of Nigeria. South-West governors, therefore, had to take the initiative to guarantee the security of all Nigerians in its (South-West) domain.
Rather ridiculously, North saw that move as a prelude to the declaration of an Oduduwa Republic. Hence, the threat of federal attorney-general Malami to enforce the law and the bragging of armed forces to perform its duty of protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity. Inherent in these scarcely-veiled threats of force is inevitable massacre and bloodshed such as during the civil war, 1967-1970. The same Nigerian armed forces held to a standstill for the past 10 years by Boko Haram? Will the unending operations against Boko Haram be abandoned or continued simultaneously against the various Amotekun forced on different states by the current insecurity in Nigeria? Instead, the money for purchasing arms for such needless war should be spent on developing roads and providing other amenities in various parts of Nigeria. This time, unlike 1967, that is our preferred choice.
Furthermore, any intimidation of force of arms must be bluffed as eventually suicidal miscalculations of countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Yugoslavia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eriteria, etc., all of which lived to regret their actions.
After glorifying in the blood of southern Sudanese for years all in the name of preserving Sudan’s territorial integrity, who is now to be handed over to International Court of Justice in Hague to be tried for crimes against humanity? Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir. Fifty years ago, as in Nigeria, al-Bashir would have been glorified. A case study for our warmongers. Nigerians must resist them.
These apart, even God must have endorsed the imperative of Amotekun as a complement for Nigeria’s national security. Hence, as the air was being polluted with false allegations of an imminent Oduduwa Republic, events were virtually springing out of control to, more than ever before, vindicate Amotekun. Plateau State, where mysterious religious/ethnic killings intensified? Borno State, where at least 30 innocent fellow travelling Nigerians obeyed curfew by stopping at night with the aim of resuming their journey in the morning, were killed by bandits? Kabali village in Kaduna State, where 16 members of the same family were locked in a room and roasted? Niger State with its share of fatalities intermitently recorded by anarchists?
Remarkably, not a single state governor in the North has condemned or even ordinarily opposed Amotekun. All state governors under siege support state police or community police. Both or any of these two can ony complement Amotekun in South-West. The situation in the country is such that no security can be excessive, and must be directly guaranteed by each of the 36 state governors for his respective area.
In the face of these developments, the allegation of Amotekun being a prelude to Oduduwa Republic gradually died. Whoever any longer heard the alarm against an impending false republic? However, there should be no gloating. Instead, the South should learn from the North on the ability to know where and when to halt, if not reverse.
On the other hand, the South, in fact, South-West, should be appreciated for acting in the national interest to unleash Amotekun against the anarchists. Imagine the following. The private home of former President Goodluck Jonathan was violently vandalised. An ex-President of the federal republic? Suppose Jonathan was around to be confronted by the violent criminals? Anything could have happened. Ordinary shock could have proved fatal for him. How would Nigeria have coped with the unpredictable consequences? Is Jonathan the only former Nigerian President with private home in Abuja? In any case, such a house owned by any dignitary in any part of the world would have been fortified all the time, such that no vandal would risk his luck around. With Amotekun, no such criminal breach would have been recorded.
As if the vandalism of the house in Abuja was not daring enough, Jonathan’s country home in Otueke, Bayelsa State, was invaded by armed men who reportedly killed a soldier on duy. Can we, for a moment, reflect on a possible tragedy God spared Nigeria on that incident? Anything was possible for the armed criminal to inflict on Jonathan if met in the house. Have we forgotten the consequences of the fate of less fortunate past leaders like former Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and first military Head of State General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi? The situation was not better in Rwanda, where the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana in a mysterious plane crash provoked a backlash of genocide of almost one million innocent souls. Amotekun in Bayelsa, if established by the incoming governor, would have scared the bandits. And, of course, with Amotekun in South-West, Jonathan will be safe in his house in Lagos more than in Abuja and Bayelsa. How is such guarantee related to bogus prospects of an Oduduwa republic?
Very often, the wrong impression is that Nigeria is a sole island or the only federation in the world. Otherwise, the Constitution must not be rendered rigid or unworkable. When necessary, desirable changes must be made to meet challenges as they arise. No constitution operates or should be operated to enslave or dehumanise any component part of a federation.The most powerful and yet most flexibly run federation in the world is United States, where the federal government is saddled with the power for nationwide security. But the right of every citizen under the constitution to own a gun virtually made it unduly burdensome, if not impossible, for the federal government alone to guarantee security of every citizen, almost three hundred million. The federal government rose to the occasion by ceding power of gun control to states, to complement federal powers. Some states uphold the right of a citizen to shoot to neutralise an unprovoked aggressor. Indeed, in the southern state of Texas, any gun owner has the right to openly display even sub-machine guns and rifles to alert the other guy of only fifty-fifty chance in the event of some threatening misconduct.
In other states, there is a specific law with the title Stand Your Ground, under which ordinary citizens have the right to shoot first, if threatened. Such states are Alabama, Louisiana, Alaska, Michigan, Idaho, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, etc. The gun owner in these states is officially enlightened that he/she has no obligation “to retreat.” Cowardly Nigerian bandits would not dare in such environment.
Is that law necessarily a prelude to secession of these states from America? What is more, only Amotekun or community police would be shooting to protect unarmed innocent Nigerians. In short, in a much more controlled form, Amotekun in Nigeria does the job for the unarmed citizen to Stand Your Ground.
And how about the wrong perception of a so-called POLITICAL solidarity among southwesterners on Amotekun? Nothing of the sort. The solidarity on display was for collective security of all Nigerians in South-West. That is a national obligation.