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One common factor or denominator all over the country today is insecurity. In the North-east it is the Boko Haram insurgency. In the North-west it is banditry. In the North-central or Middle Belt it is the murderous Fulani herdsmen. In the South-east it is the renewed and reinvigorated agitation for Biafra. In the South-south the Niger Delta militants have given notice to resume operations. In the South-west it is the Fulani herdsmen-cum-terrorists that have disrupted the peace of the region.
The Muhammadu Buhari/APC administration may delude itself that it has “degraded” or “defeated” Boko Haram or that it has performed better than the defunct Goodluck Jonathan/PDP administration; the truth, however, is not lost on the generality of the Nigerian people. Let presidential spin doctors play the ostrich! Their good grief! As they say, you can deceive all the people some of the time; and you can deceive some of the people all the time but you cannot deceive all the people all the time.
The international community has expressed worries over the parlous state of security in Nigeria. I have lost count of the number of travel advisories the United States and some other Western countries have issued to their citizens concerning this. Usually reticent Britain is even granting asylum to IPOB members and Presidency officials are now the wailing wailers. But it promises to get worse than that if the powers-that-be continue to dig their heels in the miry clay! Nigerians are neither safe nor secure – and it is now anywhere and everywhere!
And that is the crux of the matter! When insecurity was limited to the Boko Haram insurgency, everyone could understand, if you know what I mean, such that all attention and effort could be focused in one direction, but now that insecurity has spread to all nooks and crannies and the audacity and impunity of the criminals beggars belief, it has become a case of everyone for himself and God for us all.
The Defence Minister said let everyone rise up and defend himself however he can! Yet, the experience of other failed states teaches that self-help, rather than ameliorate, often accentuates the problem. Note that I said “other failed states”! The aggregation of views and opinions is that Nigeria, if it has not yet joined the league of failed states, is dangerously close to doing so. Admonitions from Buhari, VP Yemi Osinbajo, Lai Mohammed and others of their ilk that we stand back from the edge of the precipice, good as this may sound, fail to address the issue.
The South-west used to be calm; no more! The region’s age of innocence was brought to an abrupt end by murderous Fulani herdsmen invading and stomping everywhere kidnapping, extorting ransom, maiming, raping, killing, violating and destroying everything in sight. They spared no one – be they mighty or lowly. They feared no one – having understood, possibly, that they had the understanding, sympathy, support and the back of the powers-that-be.
The South-west was on the way to becoming another Middle Belt before its people stirred. Her slumbering, genuflecting, cowardly and compromising political leaders reluctantly birthed Amotekun but before the euphoria that greeted the effort could die down, the same leaders were brow-beaten by Abuja to starve Amotekun of “oxygen” and pay only lip service to its empowerment. So did it become that Amotekun existed in name but lacked substance. Forlorn of hope, crest-fallen and befuddled, South-westerners could only watch in wonderment!
But heaven helps those who help themselves, goes the saying! So, then, did the people begin to organise themselves to help themselves, signalling the birth of self-help in the South-west. Dangerous but absolutely necessary! The lesser of two evils! The road to Mogadishu (Somalia), as Prof. Femi Badejo would say, is paved with the good intentions of self-help. Warlordism is its end result. Somalia! And the South-west must watch it: Once the political wing of the struggle for self-determination is over-awed, overtaken or led by the nose by the military wing, another Frankenstein monster is born!
Check it out, be it Liberia or Sierra Leone, Kosovo or Rwanda, and witness what is happening right now in the South-east of Nigeria! Whenever the tail wags the dog, bedlam! Edmund Burke, the Irish philosopher and politician, said: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. In like manner, the only thing necessary for the triumph of warlordism is for the political leaders to abdicate duty and shirk their responsibility. That was the trend that led to the emergence and lionization of Sunday Igboho.
On the surface there appears right now a lull in the activities of militants in the South-west but is this a case of the proverbial ram that applies the reverse gear in battle only to muster more strength? Nevertheless, the lull presents the political leaders of the region an opportunity to seize the initiative and up the ante; especially so since the activities of kidnappers and murderous herdsmen have continued unabated in the region. The fury next time of the region’s emerging war lords is better imagined than said!
And such fury, I dare to say, will not go without justification. Despite Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu’s “quit order” on Fulani herdsmen illegally occupying Ondo State’s forest reserves, kidnapping and other sundry crimes continue unabated in the state. The state’s Amotekun keep confiscating errant cows; yet, the state has not heaved a sigh of relief. Judging by the arrests made, the criminals appear no longer restricted to the Fulani as crime, because of the high returns on investment it commands, has become “democratised” with locals and others now giving the Fulani a run for their money.
Ekiti appears worse off. The specialty of the Ekiti kidnapper is the traditional rulers. I have lost count of how many “Ori Ades” have been yanked off their throne and forward marched into captivity in the forests – until humongous sums were paid as ransom. In Ekiti, hapless farmers have become fair game for murderous Fulani herdsmen. In Ekiti state, which boasts a sitting governor, one that is even the chairperson of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and a touted presidential hopeful come 2023 (if that date ever arrives for Nigeria!), citizens going about their lawful duties are a sport for all manner of criminals.
None of Ogun, Oyo, and Osun is spared as kidnapping, killing, raping, maiming go on unabated in all the states. Amotekun in the South-west states is shackled by the hostility of the Presidency and the “good boy” disposition of the region’s political leaders to Abuja. On the surface, Lagos appears peaceful but the influx of unemployed Northern youths into the state should tell any discerning mind that this is a time bomb waiting to explode.
Sunday Igboho might have “liberated” Igangan from the vice-like grip of murderous Fulani herdsmen and the OPC might have arrested Wakil but the locusts, according to reports, have since returned to avenge their defeat and reclaim lost territory. If Igboho adopts Uncle Bola Ige’s “siddon-look” approach and the OPC is infuriated that its boys who arrested Wakil were allowed to be hauled into jail, who now bells the cat?
The incessant road carnage in Ogun state and Customs officials that crush innocent citizens while in “hot pursuit” of smugglers are trouble enough; kidnappers recently added their own “wahala” with a successive run of kidnappings that set tongues wagging. One such “tongue” was Chief Olumide Aderinokun’s, a PDP chieftain, who put Gov. Dapo Abiodun on the spot for the worrisome spate of kidnappings in the state.
Where is the recently-launched Ogun Amotekun corps, Aderinokun asked as he reeled out the recent instances of kidnapping in the state – two female students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (Ayetoro campus); a medical doctor and a nurse kidnapped along the Abeokuta-Imeko road; a dental therapist working at the General Hospital, Ijebu-Igbo, etc triggering strike action by doctors and nurses in the state.
I took notice when Ogun launched its own Amotekun after what had appeared like an eternity. The rumours had been that godfathers and political affiliations tied the hands of Gov. Abiodun in that direction. Another reason given was that the immediate past governor of the state, Ibikunle Amosun, “full ground berekete” at the seat of power in Abuja and Abiodun must carefully navigate the political landmines thus strewn all over the place for him.
Naming the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as the Super Marshall of Ogun Amotekun could not have escaped anyone’s attention. To have accepted the “appointment” must mean that WS, as Wole Soyinka is fondly called, has confidence in what Abiodun is doing – or is going to do – with Amotekun. It must also mean that Ogun Amotekun cannot be just any contraption or smokescreen meant to deceive. Will Soyinka lend his name to hypocrisy? Will he allow his integrity to be tarnished and his hard-earned reputation dragged in the mud? What for? Not for the best wine in the world! And not even for the other one! I am sure you know the other one!
So, I asked questions. And I got answers. One is that Ogun will be deploying technology (High-Tech ICT equipment) to fight crime. Towards this end, the state is building ICT infrastructure that will connect all parts of the state. Penultimate Thursday, it launched the Ogun Digital Economy Infrastructure project to link every nook and cranny in the state to the internet. This will enable the quick gathering and dissemination of information/intelligence to security agencies and appropriate authorities.
Equipping security agencies in the areas of transportation and communication and deployment of helicopters and drones to fight crime are also being given priority attention. The issue of drones will particularly interest Comrade Femi Falana, SAN. As we rub minds frequently on national issues, FF, as we fondly call him, and I have always wondered why the South-west governors are not applying modern technology – especially the technology of drones – to fight crime. Maybe now they are starting! With Abiodun in the lead, the other governors should follow.
Funding should not be a problem. Governors collect a humongous amount as security votes every month. It is time we ask them how much and what for! During the last Ondo State governorship election, the estranged deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, alleged that his principal’s security vote was N750 million monthly. While Gov. Akeredolu denied this, he, nonetheless, would not divulge how much. With governors all over, security votes are treated as top secret. And this makes many to suspect that the votes are treated mostly as slush funds.
A certain governor in the South-west is said to collect a security vote of N1.2 billion monthly. For me, the amount is not the issue – if it is available – but let it be spent on the purpose for which it is meant. If security votes are diligently spent everywhere on security, our security situation will not be as parlous as it is today. True or false?
RE: Is Makinde aware of this?
The governor is fully aware. In truth, the newspaper (Daily Trust Saturday’s) investigation was not deep enough. Otherwise, it would have discovered the latest developments on the matter. The governor visited the Minister in Abuja and the then Minister came physically to see the site. The State has set aside hectares of land to serve as a standardized market and has handed over the same to the FG, since solid minerals are under the control of the FG. Right now we are awaiting the FG to build the market and then for joint-ownership (with the State Government to commence) because the state’s land will serve as equity. The Minister of State again visited about three weeks ago to reassure (us) that the plan for the market is already in the 2021 budget. – Taiwo Adisa, Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Seyi Makinde.
Published in the Sunday Tribune newspaper of Sunday, April 25th, 2021.