My dear Bob Dee!
One could have easily made up his mind not to read or respond to anything you wrote after seeing the rather unprincipled queuing up behind Senator Bukola Saraki and then abandoning him, moving on to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and then deserting him as well.
But I felt one should respond to your attempts to create a false narrative from the very hollow lamentation of the recent elections as the “worst in our history”.
In my view, those like your good self, veteran journalists, who have built a formidable platform in the public arena must strive always to use the platform for the larger public good. There have been several interventions from you that reflect such true public spirit, but some of us stridently disagree with what at times could be perceived as a self-serving journalistic conduct. Many would seem to agree that this was obvious in your recent open letter to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
But first, let me thank you for your gracious words of congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, and your admiration for the VP’s commendable performance in office. I am certain that your quest for public accountability derives from that admiration.
It is important to state that a citizen’s open letter to public figures or government authority is always welcome here and not necessarily a matter of right or exclusive access. For us, such matters of access for the people to their elected leaders is of normal cause and ought not to be a matter of exclusivity nor should we make a play of it as so special.
As is typical of your propaganda machinery, it begins with an outrageous lie by the principal then the operatives like yourself repeat it ad naseum. It appears you were not in this country when foreign and local observers accepted the results.Independent Foreign Observers commended the transparency and credibility of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Also, the Independent ElectionMonitor group, supported by the French Embassy, concluded that “based on the analysis carried out in this document as well as the actual observations of the election activities across the country, it is Election Monitor’s considered opinion that the 2019 Presidential Election results are consistent with the will of the majority of voters who took part in the elections notwithstanding the various infractions which also occurred as they were not on a scale significant enough to affect the overall outcome of the election.
YIAGA Africa’s Parrallel Voting Tabulation, relied on by international agencies, embassies and funders also said its “findings show that for the presidential election the All Progressive Congress (APC) should receive between 50.0 per cent and 55.8 per cent of the vote.” And that “the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) should receive between 41.2 per cent and 47.0 per cent of the vote; these figures are consistent with the official results as just announced by INEC.
“For both APC and PDP, the official results fall within the PVT estimated ranges.” That YIAGA AFRICA results statement was based on reports from 1,491 polling units which are 98.4 per cent of sampled polling units. YIAGA AFRICA’s projections were reportedly also consistent with the officially announced vote shares for the other 71 parties who contested in the presidential election. It is also believed that the group’s projections were based on the results announced in the polling units and would have detected any significant manipulation occurring during collation at the ward, local government area, State and national levels. Also, “INEC’s official results for turnout and rejected ballots were also generally consistent with YIAGA AFRICA WTV estimates.”
These are empirical facts, my dear Bob Dee, especially if you your analysis through any rigorous tests. Propaganda and falsehood only need a willing sponsor.
Yes, observers mentioned pockets of violence and some malpractices, but none felt that these were sufficient to affect the credibility of the elections or its results. Frequently cited is Ago Palace in Lagos. One unit in a city of 20 million! In any event, the real question is, how did the violence in the comparatively few places where it happened favour the President? And how come the strong allegations of foul play by the likes of Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom, George Akume in Benue and Ndoma-Egba in Cross Rivers State (all APC Senatorial aspirants!) escaped your eagle eyes?
It is sometimes forgotten, and Bob Dee , you chose to forget, that for the previous 16 years before 2015, the PDP governments had conducted elections. Everyone is familiar with the incredible excesses of the elections and the election-observer reports so poignantly describe some.
In the 2003 elections which gave Atiku Abubakar and his boss a second term, Wikipedia observes that “Millions of people voted several times. The police in Lagos uncovered an electoral fraud, finding five million false ballots.”
But the 2007 elections got even worse reviews: “Following the presidential election, groups monitoring the election gave it a dismal assessment. Chief European Union observer Max van den Berg reported that the handling of the polls had “fallen far short” of basic international standards, and that “the process cannot be considered to be credible”, citing “poor election organisation, lack of transparency, significant evidence of fraud, voter disenfranchisement, violence and bias.”
They described the election as “the worst they had ever seen anywhere in the world”, with “rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation”).One group of observers said that at one polling station in Yenagoa, in the oil-rich South-South, where 500 people were registered to vote, more than 2,000 votes were counted.”
Your choice of words such as “theatre of war” to describe the presidential polls is not only inaccurate and questionable by and large, but also surprising considering the recent history of past presidential polls. And you have to tell us who described the elections as “the most dreadful and desperate”?
Besides this facts that you carefully chose to ignore, the contents of your letter read in part like a brief for the opposition, and, at other times, a judgment of an electoral tribunal in favour of the opposition. And such bias undermines the credibility of the author such as yourself.
It could even render the write-up confusing rather than informing the readers. For good measure, Bob Dee, maybe we should just remind our readers that not only are you an active member of the opposition, you have also benefited from significant business relationships with some in the opposition circles. And this is entirely within your right.
But that certainly discounts your assessment about the direction of our administration. It also devalues your criticism of the narratives that hold those who raped this country in the past responsible for the consequences of their corrupt activities while in government.
One also wonders whether it is your well-known personal relationship with the opposition that has beclouded you so much that you seek to assail the anti-corruption efforts which ordinary and well-meaning Nigerians have embraced.
Let me make it clear that the facts show that while some old members of the opposition have joined APC, that has not shielded those responsible for corruption and graft. In any case, even if old PDP members are now APC members, the current leadership of the country under the APC stands out as it is made up of two gentlemen with impeccable integrity.
Old PDP members and all Nigerians are welcome just like sinners are embraced in the church, Inf act, the church was opened for sinners to be converted. And what is skewed about the anti-corruption campaign when the two governors who have now been convicted for corruption are both APC?
Having said that, be rest assured that the APC as a party will articulate its defences to any allegations. For the records, it is an obvious fact and this must be reiterated that the Buhari administration has a commendable record of respecting the independence of INEC, a clear departure from what occurred under previous administrations. This government also ensures that it provides all the support INEC requires, as well as respects the independence of the judiciary and has ensured that security forces act within the ambits of law. Even international observers have made their comments accordingly and positively.
As the Buhari administration always noted, every single loss of life is sad and lamentable. And previous elections have regrettably caused even far more losses. We must achieve an electoral system that doesn’t result in any such loss of life. However, the record of improvement from the past is clear as it were.
To characterize the will of the people as Pyrrhic victory represents what exactly needs to change in and about our nation. Indeed, our privilege as elites imposes the responsibility of trustees of power, wealth, values and direction of and for a nation in the interest of the people upon us. To narrow this interest or substitute our amplified voices as the vocal minority for the silent majority is not only taking liberties a little too far, but also losing tune and touch with our national realities. As leaders, we must reflect introspectively on how we have prioritized the people, and how we must continue to do so going forward.
This is what President Muhammadu Buhari is known for and it is what played out in the elections. It is the voices of the few and the devices of the privileged that the Opposition regarded and expected to hold up. That did not happen.
We respect the right to disagree and exercise that right through the established mechanisms, but we reject any denigration and the diminishing of the electoral outcome which is the true voice and expression of the people of this country.
As you noted, the whole concept of sin in the worldly context is a violation of the law of the land, and in the spiritual context, a violation against God. That you judge either as a matter of law, or ecclesiastically when you by yourself determine that this administration is “committing sin” is a departure from what your letter identifies as its objective. Victory in an election is a nation speaking up, while the victor is the symbol of that nation’s victory.
Both life, by its temporal nature, and the Constitution, by its term limitations and periodic elections, already ensure that we all know that everything but eternity is transient, and the example of that in our nation today is the rejection of the old order four years ago, and the most recent confirmation of that rejection by preferring the new and current order, and the Next Level of our national restoration and growth.
Finally, thank you for declaring your belief that the APC “would have won” a handsome victory because that was exactly what happened! It is your equivocation about Atiku’s loss expressed in the same letter where you said you expected an APC “handsome victory” that left me and other readers confounded. What are we to believe?
Again, thank you for your open letter. Be rest assured that the Vice President and the President would continue working for the good of all Nigerians in the Next Level.
OKADA RESTRICTION: SANWO-OLU’S ACTION IN THE BEST INTEREST OF LAGOS
By Gboyega Akosile
‘’If you care about the security of Lagos State, support your Governor on the restriction of Okada and Keke.’’ This was the submission of the former Governor of Lagos State and current Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola at a recent interaction with newsmen in Lagos.
I have followed news reports, commentaries, opinion articles and street reactions for and against the restriction on the commercial operations of Okada and Keke by my principal, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu in some parts of Lagos State. While some appear as balanced argument, especially along the economic line, which can’t stand as good reasons for policy reversal, several others were pure sentiment and emotional outbursts, mostly lacking in logical reasoning. A careful analysis of the subject matter has shown that there is a consensus among the protagonists and the antagonists that commercial motorcyclists and tricyclists have become a danger in Lagos; everybody knows and agrees to this red flag! In fact many of those against the Okada restriction, whether knowingly or unknowingly have called for total eradication of bicycles and tricycles in the city of Lagos.
A columnist, Bimbo Adelakun in the back page of the Punch newspaper on Thursday February 6th wrote:
‘’In principle, I am not against the ban on those vehicles themselves, but the timing and the execution of Sanwo-Olu’s decision. I believe that okadas and kekes have to go at some point. They are an urban nuisance, an ungainly sight, a blight, and an ugly blotch on Nigeria’s botched landscape. Those vehicles desecrate spaces and painfully highlight the un-citiness of our cities.”
Same with Bashorun Dele Momodu in his pendulum column at the back page of ThisDay newspaper submitted that:
”Apart from the population explosion and the stupendous traffic jams, Lagos is bedevilled by a major security conflagration. This arises from its metropolitan nature and its willingness to welcome and absorb all those who genuinely want to be a part of its miracle. The flip side of this welcoming attitude is that Lagos will also attract shady characters and nefarious elements. The recent influx of unidentifiable immigrants into Lagos is just a sample of this major headache and has further compounded the bad situation.”
There are several other writers who have taken a position either for or against this restriction. Many of them have offered what they, in their opinion think should be the best solution to the Okada menace. I see this as a good development for our fledgling democracy. However, one must remind these opinion writers that most of what they offered in their write ups were at one time or another, part of several suggestions placed before Government. One must also educate them that Government didn’t wake up to place restrictions on the commercial activities of bicycles and tricycles in parts of the city.
Deaths were being recorded on a daily basis as a result of the reckless nature of Okada riders. Security of lives was threatened, as Okada became the easiest form of mobility for criminals. Recklessness, disorderliness and total disregard to the traffic rules reigned supreme among the Okada and Keke riders.
Their behaviour has taken a toll on the social and environmental well-being of the people.
Government has a responsibility to protect the lives and property of its citizens. As Governor Sanwo-Olu said during the flag off of the commercial operations of Lagos Ferry services, his administration deemed it necessary to restrict the operation of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in some parts of the State, especially in six Local Governments, nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDA), 16 major highways and 41 bridges, where there have been records of security breaches, disobedience to traffic rules, accidents and untimely deaths caused by motorcycle and tricycle riders. The decision of the government is definitely in line with what he promised over 22 million Lagosians during his inauguration on May 29, 2019.
“We intend to make history by making for ourselves and our children a better future…Let us vow to ourselves, and to posterity that we shall not just dream of a Greater Lagos. Let us agree this day that we shall collectively rise up to build the Lagos of our dreams.
“My administration will ensure that we walk the talk as far as transparency, the rule of law and fiscal discipline are concerned. We will make sure that we create the right environment in which security and safety of lives and property are guaranteed…On this day, I vow as your Governor that I will serve the public cause with my utmost ability and commitment,” Governor Sanwo promised while delivering his inaugural address titled ‘Awakening a Greater Lagos’ on May 29, 2019 at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.
Therefore, as a man who is passionate about pursuing his dream of a Greater Lagos, it is expected of him to do the needful in protecting the citizens of the state who trooped out en masse during the March 9, 2019 governorship poll to elect him as the Chief Executive of the commercial capital of Nigeria.
There is also a need to remind these commentators that one of the rare qualities of a leader is his ability to make tough decisions especially in the best interest of the people. As a great leader, Governor Sanwo-Olu believes in the greatest good for the greatest number. On the strength of this, Mr. Governor has said his decision to restrict the movements of Okada and Keke in the publicized locations is irreversible because it was made in the best interest of the residents.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, while launching eight locally manufactured speedboats of the Lagos State Ferry Services, LAGFERRY held at Badore Ferry Terminal, Ajah, reiterated that the decision was for security and safety reasons.
His said: “We will sustain the restriction on Okada and tricycles, mainly because of security and safety reasons. The security and safety of citizens are paramount to any government. As a responsible government, we will not fold our arms and allow any security breach in the state.
“We will continue to ensure the safety of our people on all fronts. There have been reports of serious security breaches and safety concerns in areas where these operators ply. We had to respond to these concerns because lives and safety matter to this government.”
Reports from different quarters have shown clearly that more people, including opposition parties in the state are fully in support of the step taken by the Government. None has outrightly disagreed with the restriction policy but many of them have raised concerns about provision of alternative for commuters and riders who were affected by the order.
In answering the above question, less than 24 hours after the enforcement of the restriction, Governor Sanwo-Olu ordered the release of 65 buses to immediately begin operations. There are plans for additional 550 buses for the feeder roads. This is to ameliorate the challenge being faced by the residents. Also, the continuation of massive rehabilitation of roads across the state is part of efforts by the government to give the residents a great lease of life.
Corroborating the Governor’s position, the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr. Adejare Adeoye, in a press statement he signed and issued on Monday said: “Sanitising Lagos State and getting rid of these lawless miscreants that have been invading Lagos in droves for many years is a welcome development and good step in the right direction. Many of them hide under the pretense of riding Okada and Keke during the day, while they strategically distribute themselves in inner and exterior parts of Lagos State committing all manners of crimes and untold hardship on residents.
“Security of lives and properties in any part of Nigeria is a business of all citizens of Nigeria, so, undocumented invaders, should not be allowed in any part of the country, as there is serious need for vigilance due to the growing rate of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, thuggery, mindless killings and other criminal activities.
“Many of these guys are invaders, who must be checked and be sent back to wherever they came from. At least, on two occasions, they have shown their true colors, when they went to attack Ejigbo Police Station in Oshodi-Isolo, around 11pm at night, which caused panic in the area. At another time, they went to attack a local government, because a task force official of the local council demanded for the normal levy, which they refused to pay, hence their bike got confiscated, instead of following lawful ways to get the issue resolved, they resulted to lawless act by setting the local government council on fire. This is brutal, crude, mindless, and must be stopped.
“We cannot afford to open our eyes, while these aliens take over the entire Lagos, because if not quickly arrested, we won’t all be able to sleep, as another type of insurgents might spring up, and will be troubling everyone of us in the State. When our lives is threatened by invaders, we must learn to eschew politics of bitterness and stand by the truth.”
Also speaking on the issue, a security expert and President of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, said the restriction was necessary to bring sanity back to Lagos roads.
He disclosed this during an interview published on Saturday, February 1 edition of The Punch Newspaper.
Ekhomu said, “The ban on okada and keke on some routes in Lagos has some advantages. I think the government has done well in a civil manner by listing the roads where they are to stop plying. Any commercial motorcycle or tricycle rider that is affected should simply look for other routes to ply because it is good to have sanity on the road.
“Those that used to ply Ikorodu road around the Ketu and Mile 12 axis had hitherto constituted nuisance. A society without rules and regulations is a lawless society, so, I think that they should abide by it.”
A governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, without any iota of doubt is a passionate Lagosian who wants the best for Lagos State and this is the reason he contested to govern the State on three occasions. Despite the political differences between him and Governor Sanwo-Olu, Gbadamosi hailed Lagos State government for taking a bold step to restrict the operation of the commercial motorcycles.
“There is no doubt in my mind that something needed to be done about the clear and present danger that many Okada & Keke operators had come to constitute to the lives and limbs of Lagosians, as well as their safety and security, with the invasion of Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA HQ still fresh in our minds, as well as several recently reported incidents of attempted lynchings by mobs of Okada riders over traffic incidents. To that extent, one must commend the government for making some kind of decision,” he stated in a Facebook post titled “Transport for Lagos PT 2” on Tuesday, February 4.
The icing on the cake is the support by the ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress. Commenting on the restriction, the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Seye Oladejo, said people remained the focal point of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
His words: “Let me recall that the law being implemented has been in place for over six years after painstaking efforts by the Lagos State house of assembly to incorporate in-puts from all stakeholders. The gradual implementation of the law is a reflection of the thoughtfulness of the government not to create a shock in the polity.
“While he noted the reasons for the partial ban, it was convenient not to acknowledge the measures put in place by government to stem the impact. May I use this medium to acknowledge and appreciate the voluntary compliance of some operators in line with the laws of the state. We also wish to encourage the riders to take advantage of opportunities offered by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, the Lagos State Vocational Training Institutes, the ministry of women affairs and poverty alleviation, civic engagement etc. The people remain the focal point of the Sanwo-Olu administration while not losing sight of its onerous responsibility to ensure the safety of lives and property of the citizenry.”
Reading through the views of many people, it is clear to me that this action taken by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration is in the best interest of Lagos State and all the residents.
It should however be noted that this is not the first time that Lagos State government will be restricting the operation of commercial motorcycles in the State. Former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration in 2012 banned Okada in some parts of Lagos due to increase in crimes and high records of accident victims in government hospitals, a move that saw a drastic reduction in crime rate and Okada-related hospital enrolments.
NIGERIA DEMOCRACY, YOUTH RESTIVENESS AND DRUG ABUSE
BY: Ademola Orunbon
It is the belief of many that democracy should guarantee people good life. A stable democracy piloted by visionary leaders who possess the intellectual clouts to see issues at their broader and more complex perspectives should ensure a strong, stable, vibrant, virile economy with an enabling peaceful and stable political environment. Under a condition like this, the citizens can benefits maximally and fullest from democracy – good living condition, employment generation, security of lives, property and equal opportunities for self-actualization.
It must be the quest for a society where every individual can pursue his or her own aspiration using his or her God given potentials to the fullest that made many Nigerians take the battle for democracy with seriousness it deserved. But our democracy had been bastardized through bad leadership and non-challant of our leaders that tends to stay in power for the rest of their life, although Africa countries has trends of ‘sit tight’ syndromes.
Indeed, I don’t see any concrete reason why youths of nowadays will be canvassing people to vote for a 70 years and above old man into power, as they did in the last year general elections, while the youths of 40 plus roaming around the streets without job opportunities and which could not even have access to ordinary State House of Assemble ticket, instead of National House of Assembly due to the high cost of nomination forms and financial constraint to pursue his/her political carriers.
Imagine after Fifteen (15) years of uninterrupted military misrule during which the most cherished values of Nigerians were destroyed, with cavalier arrogance, by a band of ruthless, atavistic and self-seeking soldiers, the hunger of Nigerians for good governance can be understood. For fifteen (15) years, we all watched helplessly, albeit painfully, the systematic denigration of all decent norms and the deliberate pauperization of the citizens of this country. But for the pursuing of good governance and government of the people by the people and for the people ‘Democracy’ which ushered in our present transition that people earnestly eagering/aspiring for but the reverse is the case as we all watch without any rebuff, our activists had gone to sleep in the present of draconian legislation and military mentality/junta of the present administration.
Presently, no activists, group of people dare challenge the government, if they dare mobilize for protest or anything else, they will be framed up and end up in questioning by the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) or Department Of State Security (DSS) for unknown reasons. People now opt to keep mum instead of reacting to their style of governance. When are we going to put enough to all these maladministration, witch hunting of innocent people of this country for goodness sake? After all, the era of military junta is over and our constitution entrench everyone free of association and expression which we are now depriving of.
Now, the consequence, of course, were devastating; hunger, disease and ignorance became the lot of Nigerians. Life became a thing to endure rather than enjoy. But with the birth of the democratic dispensation, in 1999, millions of Nigerians were imbued with hope, hopes that at last, beautiful things were about to happen to the country that their sorrows and distress would soon be the thing of the past and come to an end totally. What with the avalanche of promises made to the people by the democratically elected leaders! But after twenty-one (21) years of transition programme, the democratically leaders are yet to make the people see the difference between this civilian regime and the plundering military junta that for long held the nation hostage.
Although, it is commonly said that the worst civilian regime is much better than the best military administration, Nigerian will want to see this betterment in very concrete terms and forms. Nigerians will wants to see food on their tables, have access to effective health care delivery system, good roads, potable water etc. There must be a remarkable difference manifestable in the quality of life of the citizens of this country. The life become harder for the people, people are committing suicide by jumping into the rivers and hanging themselves for the fact that they cannot meet up with the present situation of the Nigeria’s economy, no more middle class, it is either you rich or you poor, corporate beggars become the order of the days, no one is now feeling shy to beg for money. Please, what sort of democracy are we practicing?
We surely know that the problems of this country are too numerous to be solved even within the short period of any administration irrespective of any political parties. But one would have expected that after twenty-one (21) years of civilian administration, any serious government should have laid the foundation for finding lasting solutions to these problems. Regrettable, however, our politicians have been busy chasing shadows. All we have been hearing are ganging-ups impeachments, combat between governors and his deputy, accusations and counter accusation of corruption both real and imagined – while the social problems of the people have been neglected. When will the politicians stop pursing all these fruitless ventures and for once start working to make life better for those who elected them into office or will they allow the hope of Nigerians to die off?
Imagine from obscurity, oil boom catapulted Nigeria into global economic limelight in the 60s and 70s, and the doom of a profligate nation was held in abeyance by time. Very soon, corruption came knocking, but boom wedged its foot against the door ajar, inquiring who the intrusive visitor was. Corruption is an albatross who never travels alone. Ethnicity, impunity, nepotism, arrogance, disunity and unimaginable leadership were on its entourage. Corruption shoved down boom out of the doorway, tearing down the door for his entourage to march in. Ever since, Nigeria has battled corruption, its entourage and other forms of evil without success.
Of all the evils bedeviling the country, however, none is as frightening and as potentially calamitous as the evil of drug abuse afflicting her youths. Not corruption. Not defections. Drug abuse is the very Sword of Damocles dangling high above the heart of Nigeria. Drug abuse has scaled the fence of higher institutions and entered into churches and mosques, the holy of holies. Indeed, the drug abuse has been on the increase, but I never knew it has entered into places of worship. Imagine the viral video of a young cultist girl in hijab then, who confessed of killing several people.
If you can recall then, when some Abia state University students beheaded fellow students and used their heads as goalposts, the federal and state government didn’t see drug abuse as a predisposing factor. When armed robbers killed over 50 persons in a bank robbery in Offa, Kwara state years back, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), didn’t see drug abuse as a factor. Government didn’t see drug abuse in the squishing of countless victims’ head by Badoo Boys in Ikorodu, and the ritual killings by Yahoo-Yahoo Boys. Oh Allah, where are we going in this country. We hardly govern ourselves successfully. Shall we call for emissary to do so? if we couldn’t do it then.
The Presidency and National Assembly are lost about redeeming Nigeria’s drugs-crazed youths, but are very much alive political pettiness. Cultism doesn’t reside in tertiary institutions and secondary schools anymore, it has moved into primary schools, mechanic workshops, hairdressing salons, butchers’ association, viewing centres, eateries and beer parlours. No family is immune; the threat is real. There are times when parents must maintain eternal vigilance on their children. While the children of the rich do cocaine, heroin, amphetamine etc, those of the poor sniff gum, human and lizard faeces, urine and gulp Tramadol. Marijuana is now like peppermints to our future generation.
Orunbon, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Can be reached via: orunbonibrahimademola@
Amotekun and why Oranmiyan should stay in its grove
By Dare Babarinsa
It is not too surprising that the Amotekun security initiatives of the South-West is creating a flurry in many quarters. The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami sees it as a challenge to the exclusive powers of the Federal Government as far as security is concerned. The irony is lost on Malami, a lawyer of great education but limited understanding, that it is the consistent failure of his masters that made the case for Amotekun and similar outfits in the federation so compelling.
The governors of the Yoruba heartland have not shied away from defending their position. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who is the chairman of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum, affirm that the governors are only doing their duty to their people. Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, a lawyer of national stature and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, reminded Malami that the Attorney-General of the Federation is not a judge. Only the court, according to the 1999 Constitution, can interprete the laws of Nigeria. In an interview, Ishola Williams, a retired major-general, said Malami must be suffering from Strategic Thinking Deficit, STD.
It is good that the governors and the people of the South-West are united in their support for the Amotekun initiative. Often in the past, it has always been difficult for the governors to seat together and hold regular meetings. Now something pressing is compelling them to understand the old dictum that unity is strength. Not everyone would agree to the strategies and tactics being used for this Amotekun. First what is delaying the bill for its establishment from being presented to the six Houses of Assembly? Why are Kogi and Kwara States not invited as strategic partners in this project knowing the importance of these two states with substantial Yoruba population and as gateways to the South-West? What are the structures and other modalities for its operations? We have seen the vehicles. We are eager to see it in action.
There has been rumblings from certain quarters over the true implication of all these moves. Aare Afe Babalola, the legal titan and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Abuad, said the laws and the Constitution permits the governors to take the initiative. “The Amotekun outfit is a protective and supportive outfit established by the governors of the Southwest,” Babalola said. “It has its roots in the 1999 Constitution and the previous Constitutions before it – 1960 and 1963.”
What I find strange is that some people who believe fervently that unity is good for Nigeria do not believe that unity is good for Yorubaland. Indeed, for the past 200 years, disunity has been the lot of Yorubaland where every little disagreement is allowed to develop into a millennia battle. The Action Group Party of Chief Obafemi Awolowo was able to bring a semblance of unity to Yoruba land when most of the Yoruba people found themselves under one government, the government of Western Region. Alas! It was not to last. By 1962, three years after Awolowo left the premiership, a rebel faction had ruptured the unity of the party and the effect lingers till today.
Nothing could show the weakness of the Yoruba more than the needless 100-years Civil Wars of the 19th Century which was ignited by the rise of the military class. Afonja, the Aare Ona Kakanfo, the commander-in-chief of Oyo Imperial Army, had rebelled against his overlord, the Alaafin and proclaimed the independence of Ilorin, the provincial town where he was based. The Alaafin tried to rally round the other commanders against the rebels but failed and that began the devastation of almost the entire Yoruba country. Other generals, perhaps envying the temporary success of Afonja in Ilorin, used the opportunity to seize the initiatives and in most places, the kings ruling in most of the kingdoms became nominal heads.
Despite the pressing danger to their independence, the Yoruba would not unite. Even after the Ibadan forces devastated the Ilorin hordes at the battle of Osogbo in 1840, the Yoruba could not press the advantage. The Fulani and their Yoruba supporters held on to Ilorin and later they took Offa and many towns in the Ibolo District. So much was the division in Yorubaland that when the Oba of Lagos, King Dosumu, sent emissaries to the Ooni, the Alaafin and the Awujale, to help him in his confrontation with the British, they were too busy to respond and it was easy, after a few artillery barrage, for the British to annex Lagos and turn it into their colony in 1861.
Though the Yoruba had 500,000 men under arms by the end of the 19th Century, the British seized Yorubaland and make it part of their Nigeria experiment. They quickly built the Agodi Prison in Ibadan and when some of the old commanders, including Ogedengbe of Ilesha, were reluctant to cooperate, they simply threw them into prison. Note that most of the towns destroyed and devastated in the 19th Century wars; Owu, Igbon, Iresa, Ikoyi, Ijaiye and others, met their fate in the hands of Yoruba soldiery and not their enemies.
It is good to learn now at this early stage that the enemy within is more dangerous. That is what should worry those who are in charge of this new initiative. In recent years, the Federal Government has shown disturbing incapacity to rein-in the terror gangs of kidnappers, robbers and sundry merchants of death. There is no doubt that the police have made tremendous progress especially with the special unit of the Inspector-General of Police, but a lot still needs to be done. It is good now that the governors are doing something.
The challenge would not only come from the Federal Government and those who fear that the Amotekun initiative is a ploy to break the country. The governors need to do the needful quickly and get the law passed in the Houses of Assembly. One ridiculous man always in funny headgear who called himself a professor was reported to have said that Amotekun was a ploy to oppress Muslims. How many Nigerians can recognize a Yoruba Muslim from a Yoruba Christian and one who is an Ifa devotee? There are many who navigates between the three!
The truth is that Yoruba don’t care too much about religious differences. It is of very little consequence or relevance to them. In his heydays as the Father of Nigerian Nationalism, Herbert Macaulay’s strongest support base were the Muslims of Lagos. So influential was he that he got one of his supporters elected the Chief Imam of Lagos. Alhaji Azeez Arisekola Alao, the late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland contributed in building many churches across Yorubaland. My friend, Prince Bisi Olatilo, a staunch Christian, contributed in building a mosque in memory of his father-in-law in Ibadan. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a Baptist Christian, led others to raise money to build a mosque as part of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library complex in Abeokuta. Therefore, we need to watch out for this funny professor who may be serving the interest of foreign masters who are not necessarily in love with Yorubaland or Nigeria.
Amotekun is here to stay. The genie is out of the bottle. This initiative would serve as inspiration to other geo-political zones to come up with ideas about how to safeguard the Nigerian Commonwealth. It is also a pointer to us that we need to look at the grassroots for the Constitutional changes that people like Aare Babalola are advocating for. It is no good expecting the President and the Federal Government to take all the initiatives. What is important is that whatever is done must take into account the good of the majority of our people.
Amotekun has simply put paid to any attempt at self-help as some people have been advocating earlier especially after the brutal murder of Papa Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter by suspected rogue Fulani herdsmen. In 1969, peasant farmers, fed up with what they alleged was punishing taxation, organized a revolt against the government of Western State. The Agbekoya Revolt was a serious challenge to the Federal Government of General Yakubu Gowon who was then pre-occupied by the Nigerian Civil War. To bring peace, Chief Awolowo, who was now the Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council, volunteered to meet the Agbekoya High Command.
The meeting took place at Akanran village near Ibadan. Members of the Agbekoya High Command, led by a gangly old man, Chief Tafa Adeoye, wore the old purple uniform of the traditional Yoruba officers corps (the ordinary soldiers wore indigo blue). They had with them the Apete Oranmiyan (Oranmiyan Standard) which were only brought out in times of war. The last general to take it to war was Aare Latoosa who died at the Igbajo camp during the Ekiti Parapo campaign. After negotiation was concluded, Awolowo persuaded them to return the standard to its groove.
Every Yoruba should work hard to keep the Oranmiyan Standard in its grove for war and upheaval cannot benefit anybody. Amotekun should be used to keep that peace so that everyone living in Yorubaland should feel safe and secure no matter his or her roots or ethnic background. That is what the ancestors would want. That is what would keep the Oranmiyan Standard in its resting place.
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