BY DELE MOMODU
“A lost nation is not one which lacks a ruler, but one that lacks law. Distortion of law does not mean there is no law. It means there is law but it is not applied.”
– Law Definition – Duhaime’s Law Dictionary
My dear Uncle Yemi, please, permit me to cut out the protocols and address you the way I always do. I have looked up to you as a big Brother for many, many years. I have the highest respect and regard for you personally and for your accomplishments as an academic, religious and political leader (please, note that I did not say politician, because I do not see you as one. You are honest, forthright and loyal unlike most politicians). I must also congratulate you on your election with President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term of office, even if I have reservations about the sloppy conduct of the election. I have never hidden my admiration for your commendable performance in office during your first term. You have been the major embellishment and strongest advocate of this government.
I know this open letter must come to you as a surprise because I have unlimited access to you on my own accord, and through family and friends. We’ve actually met a few times privately since you became Vice President. I have chosen to go public with this letter because it is not about you personally, even though it is addressed to you, but because it is about matters of a public nature that concerns you and your government. There may be lessons to be learnt by others apart from you. At those times when we have met one on one, I was able to express myself candidly to you. Our last private meeting was a secluded one, in Ikoyi, Lagos which happily was witnessed by one of your aides, Pastor Laolu Akande. At that meeting, when you and I sat and discussed for a considerable period of time, I had expressed serious reservations about the direction your government was headed, and you asked if it was that bad and I responded that it was “much worse.”
I have decided to write you today, Sir, after writing similar letters to your boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, in the past, without eliciting positive results. Our discussions have always been about our uncommon passion for Nigeria and not about anything personal. Long before you became Vice President, I had stumbled on you at Heathrow Terminal 3 one evening, and naturally, our interaction dovetailed to the State of the Nigerian nation. We were both concerned about the lack of progress and the usual sundries. By the grace of God, you are now the number two citizen of Nigeria, by virtue of your position as Vice President. I was very excited the day you were selected and even more so, the day you officially won the election. We all expected a new Nigeria, indeed. Our expectations were high.
As days climbed days and months mounted months, things began to fall apart. The last four years became a grand mirage of blame games. I watched you speak at different events and on varying platforms and could not believe how much blames you heaved on past governments without remembering that many of the called past actors are now in your party, warts and all. Things seemed to improve admirably whenever you acted as President. The sanity in the land was palpable. You took right decisions and made efforts to reach out to all Nigerians of different persuasions, tribes and tongues. Everyone praised you for your modern and cosmopolitan style of governance and the way you have embraced technology. But whenever the President resumed work, it seemed the unbridled conservatism and rigidity returned with him in full force, and with renewed vigour. Your exciting forward movement always appeared to go backwards, in reverse gear. It was as if some people were angry about your success and the relative peace and prosperity that you managed to secure.
I did not expect you to do anything other than to keep supporting your boss and espousing his policies. You’ve always been absolutely loyal and dependable since serving Prince Bolasodun Ajibola in the Attorney-General’s office, through to being Attorney-General, yourself, in the Lagos State Government of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and up to now as Vice President to President Muhammadu Buhari. This is commendable. My worry, and main reason, for writing you publicly today is because of the recklessness of your government in the last few months in its dealings with the Nigerian people. The immediate cause of this epistle is the issue of the ongoing elections. Nigerians had looked forward to these elections with both excitement and trepidation. The energy many put into it was unbelievable. Even after the first date was postponed, many still went out, against all odds, to exercise their rightful franchise. But what did they meet out there? A simple election was turned into an act and theatre of war. Many innocent souls were killed, wasted, maimed or injured. Properties were mindlessly destroyed including those of the umpire, INEC. There were reported cases of rape of INEC officials and some were forced under duress, at gun points, to declare fake or falsified results. In Lagos, your adopted home State, many voters were disenfranchised through malevolent beatings. Ballot boxes with ballot papers were seized and smashed and scattered into the wild winds or raging inferno. Yet, the security people, with all the braggadocio of the President could do nothing more than to watch the thugs of their own masters go on rampage, unhindered. Contrary to the provisions of the electoral laws, many States voted without their PVC or the card reader machines that were meant to capture data and reduce the usual electoral malpractices and general rascality, because they were faulty or unutilised, or deliberately ignored.
After all was said and done, your Party was declared winner of the controversial election by INEC. The election was rated among the most dreadful and despicable ever in the history of Nigeria. Despite this fact, I was one of the first to call on the opposition leader, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to rise above everything else and transfer the burden to your government by following the new tradition that was established by former President Goodluck Jonathan despite the fact that President Buhari had stated whether jocularly or seriously, we do not know, that he can never lose the election, so he would never have to congratulate his opponent!
Anyway. My painful and difficult request to Atiku was predicated on my good knowledge of our dear country. One. I didn’t want any violence to break out with more innocent people being killed. Two. I liked the example of former President Al Gore in America, who after fulfilling all righteousness, by calling his opponent, George W. Bush, still went to court, even if it was more of an academic exercise. 3. I have learnt some lessons from the wisdom of the Yoruba which says when your home is invaded by an armed robber, there is no point getting killed when you can pretend to be weak before you fight back later. Also, when a lunatic invades your wedding and says he is the groom of the day, don’t argue with, please tell him he is, and guide him out gently for you to continue your ceremony. 4. There were lessons to learn from how the June 12 crisis was handled and Atiku should know that most of his supporters will soon disappear in a short while due to various reasons, sometimes due to no fault of theirs but practical expediency and self-preservation. It seems to me that no government, in recent memory, has terrorised the opposition more than yours with a fickle and skewed campaign against corruption. Many have discovered and devised a practical strategy, join them and live in peace and prosperity, and the binge continues. 5. I have read a lot of books and interventions by your grandfather-in-law, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and most of the travails and prejudices he encountered then are still very much with us.
I have no doubt that the elections were not free and fair. I must hasten to add that both sides were apparently guilty of ensuring that this was the case. Not much has changed in Nigeria in this regard. I always say that people are able to rig in areas where they have the most influence. Nobody, least of all me, expected the elections to be perfect, but this one bordered on the ridiculous and, I daresay, was arrant nonsense. My grouse, and that of many people, including local and international election observers, was about the wickedness and intimidation visited upon the opposition by the excessive use of the military and agents and forces of violence and coercion. They acted in a most irresponsible and perfidious manner. I am certain you will not have known or approved of these excesses because I refuse to think you knew and looked the other way. You are far more of a gentleman for that. I suspect that your Party may still have won a handsome victory without resorting to the apparent self-help that some of your Party chieftains chose to adopt, tragically. What you have today is unfortunately a contested victory, blemished by the violence which makes me sad for you, in particular, since it seems many of your people are living in denial. All I can say is best of luck because you will always have my very best wishes.
On a personal note, I have chosen to hand over everything to God. Sir, you know more than me, as a Pastor, that God is the ultimate Judge of everyone, low and high. If I have been cheated and I choose not to fight, it is not because I’m stupid or squeamish but because I expect God to intervene on my behalf. Therefore, if indeed Atiku Abubakar and others have been robbed, the judgment of God will be harsher than that of the Supreme Court. But since I wasn’t the candidate, I accept whatever measures Atiku decides to take to regain his mandate (a tall order in this clime) and whatever psychological pleasure he derives from exposing the rot and corruption perpetrated by some of your operatives. It is after all his Constitutional right to challenge the result, as President Muhammadu Buhari did on three earlier occasions when it appeared that he had been short-changed. When tomorrow comes, truth will certainly come out.
Please, don’t be deceived by the deluge of greetings that you have received, and will be receiving from both well-meaning Nigerians or soldiers of fortune. Some would do it more out of protocol than sincerity. No matter how many of the revellers visit you and your government in Aso Rock Presidential villa, those visitors will never succeed in conferring legitimacy on your government until we know what actually transpired. Or maybe we will never know, as notoriously typical of our country!
Let me also plead with you to speak to your government most frankly, if anyone would listen to your admonition. President Buhari and his cronies should not over-celebrate and over-dramatise this pyrrhic victory. It is a victory littered with human blood. What you need urgently is to beg God to forgive all those who spilled innocent blood because they must remain in power. I can see that your Party’s army of occupation is still going on rampage in the South South of Nigeria, as if we are in a State of war. I read the article by the brilliant journalist, Comfort Obi, about the state of anarchy in the South South and I had tears in my eyes. Is it that there is more than this proclivity for power to control minds over matter? All parties and persons involved in this higgledy-piggledy need to sit back and remember how transient power is. What shall it profit a man who inherits the whole world but perishes in hell?
I just needed to pour out my heart to you, Sir. Instead of committing more sin by the way your government continues to pummel Atiku and his friends, I beg you to prevail on your people and the Party to be temperate and show great magnanimity in victory. The clock is ticking.
My warmest regards to you and yours, as always…
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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