Salus populi est suprema lest!
That is the standard legal maxim that swallows every imaginary legal and procedural obstacle anybody wants to throw at Amotekun.
The safety of the people is the supreme law of the land. The principle also operated in other maxims like “life first” among others.
The South West has blazed a most eloquent trail and the message is well taken. A Facebook friend, John Ogunlela, put it this way: “Will you quote the constitution when you are in the hands of kidnappers?”
Nobody denies the fact that security is the platform without which no sensible development could be erected or sustained. Nothing thrives without it. Indeed, it is probably the only prerequisite needed to grow a stable society.
My exertion in this piece, however, bothers on far reaching topics at the heart of politics and security.
I had a rare opportunity to sit across the table at the Koko Dome in Ibadan, Oyo State, to discuss with the late Director General of the Development Agenda fro Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Oladipo Famakinwa. I had heard so much of his vision and the iconic organisation he put together to beacon the path for South West Nigerian progress. I considered it a privilege to have audience with him as was arranged by a mutual friend.
I was touched by his prodigious brilliance and presence of mind. His vision made me restless. It was like someone who wanted to India in the African tiger. I felt something intangible was just out of place. The development of the talented people of South West Nigeria would kindle a knock-on effect on the rest of the country and birth regional competition. The result would be a scramble for progress.
The icing on the cake would be the effect on the whole of the Sahara and Africa. It sounded too good.
I lamented that Nigeria had lost a golden opportunity in 1984 when the then General Muhammadu Buhari, Head of State, chose to kill a steel industry that was almost ready for take-off. I lamented how that great industry was consumed along with the Lagos metro line in the inferno by the propaganda-driven Buhari-Idiagbon government.
Nigeria was taken back by at least 50 years in development. Famakinwa listened to me with some amusement. He tabled his vision with clarity. So uncomplicated, yet unassailable.
I hit Famakinwa with my fear: “Do you think some forces would let us do all these?”
“But we have no choice, Egbon.” That was his curt reply. He must have heard such reservations before. I must double back in time and space.
Adelabu Adegoke was the Ibadan icon, who mesmerised the South-West with his style and vision. His book, Africa in Ebullition, still commands such impact even today. He was simply an intractable political practitioner gifted with wit and unusual clarity of vision.
Ex-Oyo State governor, Victor Olunloyo, once told me how Adelabu came to UK and visited brilliant Ibadan sons in his search of a dream team. He was at the same time a hugely popular grassroots man who was more at home exchanging native wit with traders than the company of the elite. He was simply fairy tale.
Adelabu was killed in very mysterious circumstances. I believe he was murdered by powerful interests who also tried to pin the act on his innocent opponents. Well in espionage, an assassination would be classified a failure if certain facts are known as that would make a repeat or replication of methodology impossible.
I worried about Famakinwa’s safety and was little surprised when he died so suddenly with little or no coherent information about the cause of his rapid demise. I rummaged all over for some authentic sensible story and found none.
The rise of the Amotekun is proof of what Famakinwa and his colleagues could do. It is a pointer to the boundless talents available in Nigeria, all waiting to be unleashed on our numerous problems.
Fast forward to May 2019 when Seyi Makinde became governor of Oyo State with so much promise and momentum. He started so many things people thought had become impossible.
In August 2019, Makinde on seeing the proposal from DAWN had begun a silent effort to bring all the other governors on board. The equally visionary governors of the other states were understandably bound by loyalties and considerations initially, until in December last year, they firmed up a protocol of action and Amotekun was born. The die was cast.
Makinde instantly donated 30 vehicles for the project. It was just one out of many iconic achievements he had notched up.
If the Oyo governor continues along this trajectory, how long will it take for other states to query their own chief executives? Where is Makinde getting all the money from? I have asked before and I dare repeat; was there always so much money to undertake so much? And the people suffered so much. Needlessly.
Where does this leave us? How aware is this Makinde fellow that anybody who takes on the status quo of neglect and fraud becomes a marked man? Yes, an enlightened people will always be a reliable vanguard for a responsible leader, much the way Cuba protected Castro as he went to work for his countrymen.
It is always better to ensure the egg never gets broken, whatever the cost.
Powerful, angry ruffled feathers are all over.
Verbus sat sapientes.
•Dapo Ogunwusi, a former editor of the Nigerian Tribune, is a legal practitioner.