If not handled with utmost care, even the best public argument can be lost through tactlessness, like playing into the hands of desperate saboteurs. This seems to be the case facing the row over the compelling need (or otherwise) for state governments to assume authority for local security in their respective areas.
Insecurity, which triggered South-West states to act in defence of local residents, is not peculiar to only that part of Nigeria. Indeed, other parts of the country (especially the North) are even more ravaged by the criminal activities of bandits, night marauders, rapists and religious/ethnic fundamentalists. Southwestern states or any other group of states setting up a security outfit may lose the argument if they pursue the issue of insecurity/restructuring from a position of rigid persecution complex.
It is even worse to pursue security/restructuring issue as an anti-Buhari agitation. Protagonists of the so-called Amotekun security outfit for South-West have rightly explained it as a vivid example of restructuring often demanded by political agitators. In that case, the agitation (and resistance against the agitation) did not commence ONLY under President Muhammadu Buhari. Throughout his eight-year tenure as an elected civilian, former President Olusegun Obasanjo never yielded one inch to restructuring. In fact, when Lagos State government, under Bola Tinubu, signed a contract for a power project to improve supply in the former federal capital, Obasanjo frustrated it on the same excuse that elctricity in Nigeria was the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government. Still under Tinubu, Lagos created more local governments, Obasanjo went as far as witholding revenue allocation of even existing older councils.
His successor, Goodluck Jonathan, initially made it clear that he did not believe in restructuring, until his fourth year in office. While eyeing re-election in the next two years, Jonathan suddenly came up with the idea of a constitutional conference, which, as expected, recommended restructuring. But Jonathan, instead of implementing the recommendation immediately, rather predicated the report on his re-election. But he was defeated in the 2015 election. It is, therefore, clear that, since 1999, political restructuring is an anathema for the establishment, whoever is the tenant in Aso Rock. Unfortunately, agitating the South-West security outfit is self-defeating as it is being exploited to mischievously whip up sentiments as anti-Buhari/anti-North.
Both Buhari and fellow Nigerians in the North must also develop a broader view. What is more, state governments, (some seven) in North Central zone, only lately, were compelled by deteriorating insecurity to opt for community policing. That is neither anti-Buhari nor anti-North politics. North-West, for now, is merely vacillating. Eventually, activities of bandits and other criminals like religious fundamentalists in Kaduna, even Buhari’s home state of Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto will compel a local security initiative completely separate from the exclusive preserve of nation-wide security in Federal Government. Therefore, by whatever name it is called, be it Amotekun in South-West or community policing in North-Central, the difference can be only in name. But no separate security outfit in the states must be pursued or operated necessarily as anti-North or anti-Buhari.
The truth is that there are always elements influencing the wrong notion that any concession or further autononomy granted to the states by the prevailing establishment portends gradual erosion of the authority of the man in charge. That opens the way for creeping authoritanianism. This should not be so, even under a military regime. Instead, in matters of security/authority, no nation develops with rigid status quo. Tensions intermitently arise and are accordingly doused. That is why, with Amotekun or community policing, or any autonomy to the states on security matters, the change must be total and residual in the states, rather than Police Inspector-General.
In that wise, any tenant we have in Aso Rock at any time will be able to sleep soundly, instead of being disturbed at dead of night with alarming security reports on the latest religious/ethnic massacre of innocent Nigerians.
Nothing so far could warrant the twin blackmail of imminent Oduduwa Republic or threat to Nigeria’s territorial integrity made by Nigerian armed forces. In recent years, the army in particular had been getting involved in open partisan politics, a dangerous venture. To worsen matters, no present serving military officer, whatever his rank, could have participated in the civil war, which ended 50 years ago, or such officers would not be less than 68 years, since they could not have joined the army before the age of 18. If any of serving Nigerian soldiers fought in the civil war, at 68 or even older, he should have been retired. Nigerians must, therefore, on the legitimate exercise of political agitation, not be threatened with the use of force in the bogus claim of preserving Nigeria’s territorial integrity. Those of us who, as adults, witnessed the civil war, will never allow a second civil war. We lost relations, friends and schoolmates as dollar millionaires and billionaires emerged under our “very very” eyes. Nigerian armed forces particularly and constantly irritates us. Yet, we are their masters who maintain them with our taxes.
Nigerian armed forces should have been taught at National War College, Abuja, or Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Jos, Plateau State, that, in modern times, no country has right of violent repression against secession. Such is now crime against humanity and culprits face the music at the International Criminal Court. Those who failed to accordingly behave in the defunct Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and countries in Latin America are either serving terms in ICC-specified prisons in different parts of the world or, even if acquitted (very rare), are roaming about in Europe without daring to return home to be lynched by angry fellow citizens.
We should worry about silly political and threatening behaviour of our armed forces, an essential service, which should either get updated or, at any rate live to expectation. While rattling the citizenry against an imaginary secession, our armed forces need to be informed as seems necessary: This is 2020, a time in world history when, at the slightest massacre of a people, rather than unilateral declaration of secession, United Nations recognises the principle of self-determination for the aggrieved party, on mere submission of the necessary petition. The issue of secession or independence in modern times is peacefully solved through referendum conducted by the United Nations. All the threat of forcefully preserving the territorial integrity of the country or the law taking it course is no more than indulgence in the expired conquest/overlordship mentality of 1970.
Retired military officers who fought the civil war over 50 years ago, therefore, regularly sue for mutual tolerance of give and take. We must support them because, more than in 1966, Nigeria today is so fragile and must be handled with care.
Armed forces in any civilised society must not get itself involved in politics, even on matters of secession. Only politicians, agitators and those in government have that authority. Whoever heard United Kingdom military officers vowing to preserve the country’s territorial integrity against the demand of Scots for independence? Only successive Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson had been talking and, even then, only persuasively. That is education and civility. Any military officer interested in politics should retire and join a party, instead of threatening Nigerians like slaves.
Failure to keep away from partisan politics by Nigerian armed forces reached intolerable height when, in the run-up to the presidential election in 2015, publicly ridiculed their former C-in-C and potential C-in-C General Muhammadu Buhari in favour of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Against their wish, Buhari won. Also in 2019, the army, during the campaigns, openly distanced itself from rival candidate and former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar. Would the armed forces in Britain, Europe or United States ever disown any rival candidate in elections?
Why the hoax that, in establishing a security outfit to defend its helplessly beleaguered people, South-West was planning secession? Did former army chief General Theo Danjuma not instruct Nigerians to defend themselves against the widespread insecurity all over Nigeria? Could Danjuma have expected victims of violence to fight back with bare hands? Or was Danjuma nececessarily supporting secession of South-West? In coming out to supportt the security outfit in South-West and against declaration of such by Federal Government as illegal, could former Vice-President Atiku Abubarkar have been supporting proclammation of Oduduwa Republic?
Fake security report writers.