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.
Lawyer raises alarm over N15 billion NDDC payments
A legal practitioner, Mr. Godwin Ojeh, has lamented what he called corruption of self-enrichment in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Nigerian Senate , Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to stop the payment of N15 billion to contractors.
‘’The Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission has thrown caution to the winds. It is about to pay for jobs not done. The committee is processing the payment of a whooping amount of N15billion on spurious contracts in the name of ‘’Desilting of Waterways’’.
He particularly decried the misappropriation in the management of the funds of the commission.
‘Is the 2020 budget of the commission ready? Where are they spending from? ’Recently, the Senate set up an ad hoc committee to probe the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over alleged mismanagement of N40billion. The Senate also requested for 2019 budgetary performance. The commission doesn’t have power to expend public money. There is no budgetary provision’’.
In a tone suggestive of his hatred for corruption, the Benin based lawyer asked the National Assembly and the executive arm of the government to stop the commission from wasting the country’s resources.
In a statement in Benin, Ojeh described the intention of the NDDC Interim Management Committee as ‘’a move that will endanger development of the region
‘’There is no greater danger to the development of the Niger Delta region than the payments for fictitious contracts’’ the statement said.
He also harped on the need for transparency in government organizations, saying ‘’it is necessary for the National Assembly and the executive arm of government to adopt a collective position on the allegation of corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)’’.
Credit: Ebireri Henry Ovie
ABEOKUTA AND ITS PERENNIAL FLOODING: GOV. ABIODUN TO THE RESCUE
By Elijah Udofia
Saturday, July 4, 2020, is a day the people of Abeokuta, particularly those living very close to the city’s waterways, would not forget in a hurry. Like in the days of Noah, the floodgates were opened and the showers came down heavily, causing floods of havoc that ravaged portions of the city. For somebody who was in the capital city of the Gateway State for the first time, the sight of flooded roads, with water subterranean enough to swim, floating household possessions, evacuated trees, washed way bridges and people congregating on high rise buildings, waiting for the water to recede, is something he or she will live to remember for a long time.
On that day, the heavens opened and brought with it sorrows, but thankfully, without blood. The torrential rain which started at about three in the morning did not stop until six in the evening, thereby thrashing hard on the ancient city for 16 good hours, non-stop. It is instructive to note that July of every year, has always been a period when the city experiences great flooding, occasion by torrential rain. Apart from the destruction of critical public infrastructures, mostly roads and bridges, it is always a time when those living close to the canals, have their hearts in their mouths. Hardly a year passes without these areas experiencing flooding which lead to loss of properties and in some cases, life or lives as the case may be.
The recent one affected mostly areas are; Isale-Oja, Kuto, Ago-Ijesha, Ijeun-Titun, Ijeja-Igbore road, Gbangba, Elite-Lantoro road and Oba Adeleye’s recreational park. One is however happy that areas like Ijaye and Isale-Igbein, which used to experience serious flooding had been taken care of, by the construction of Lafenwa, Sapon, Idi-Aba, Ajebo road and Onikolobo, Omida and Sapon road. It should be noted here that the issue of flooding in Abeokuta is not new, as previous governments, including military administrations, had course to contend with this menace. The presence of the Vice President, who came to inspect the extent of damage caused by flooding two years ago, is an indication that the issue is not a child’s play. What is disturbing however is that the damages caused are becoming more devastating, which calls for concern by all and sundry?
Being the head of a government that came to power on the popular mandate, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, immediately the rain ceased on Sunday morning, ordered a team of government officials, led by the Environment Commissioner, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun took a tour of the areas affected by the flood and came up with a report to enable the government to respond accordingly.
As if that was not enough, the Governor, the following day, personally went round the affected areas to see things for himself. Prince Abiodun who was shocked due to the extent of damage caused not only to public assets, but to the property of the people, there and then, promised that his administration would assist them in mitigating the effect of their loss.
“I am here to look at the damage caused by the rain that fell on Saturday. Though I have sent my Commissioners and other government officials to inspect the damages, I decided to also come and see things for myself. I am happy that no life was lost, though you lost properties.
“I want to assure all of you who lost property to the flood that we will support you. In a few days’ time, government officials will come to see you to take down your names and properties affected, so that we can look at how to compensate you”.
On what the government intends to do to settle the matter once and for all, Prince Dapo Abiodun said the dredging of the canal that crisscrosses the State capital was on-going, while clearing of refuse in the gutters, was also carried out. He then informed the people that the government has assessed the damage caused to the roads and bridges with a view to carry out a comprehensive and proper channelization of the waterways.
“I want to assure you that we will repair the damaged roads, expand the gutters and bridges so that when rain falls, the gutters and the bridges would be able to accommodate the large volume of water. With this, the problem of erosion would be a thing of the past”, he promised
Governor Abiodun attributed flooding in the State capital to rapid development, besought the people to desist from dumping refuse or building structures on the waterways as these also contributed to the flooding. Collaborating the position of the Governor on the ways to find permanent solution to the menace of flooding in the State, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, noted that regular dredging of the waterways, converting some old culverts to bridges as well as delisting drainages to allow free flow of water will be done by the government.
The Commissioner disclosed that dredging is currently going on at Isale-Oja to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library up to Orange Valley View Estate, adding that the government is not only looking at Abeokuta alone, as dredging is also ongoing in 16 places across the State. Though the government ultimate goal is to find a permanent solution to the problem, in the meantime, a temporary arrangement according to the Commissioner, was going on at the sites, as allowing the affected areas to remain unattended to, will adversely affect the socio-economic well-being of people and adds to their suffering. The Commissioner appealed to residents of the State to properly dispose of their refuse and desist from dumping them on waterways, to minimize the effects of flooding.
For Alhaji Bello Mohammed, Secretary, Isale-Oja, Kuto, Community Development Association, his community has been experiencing flooding on a yearly basis in the last 10 years. He opined that proper channelization of the canal with an adequate drainage system, would bring an end to the flooding. Also, Mrs. Abike Awosanya and Abideen Musibau, residents of Ago-Ijesha, in Abeokuta South Local Government, said that they want the government to urgently find lasting solution to the flood problem, as it has affected their means of livelihood and make life unbearable for them.
Also bearing his mind, Mr. Raphael Anthony, a motorcyclist, who plied Ijaye-Kuto route, appealed to the State government to regularly dredge the waterways and expand the drainages system as the existing ones can no longer accommodate large volumes of water, during heavy rain. More so, Mrs. Florence Adegbite, an apprentice hairstylist at Ijeun Titun, opined that, “from what I am seeing, I think the State government would need help, particularly from the Federal government to permanently address this problem, a huge amount of money will be involved.
Though Government has a big role to play in bringing an end to the flooding issue, l observed with pain that the actions and inactions of the people are not helping in this regard. A walk through the State capital, one will see the non-challant attitude of the people as they dump refuse even at places where they are not supposed to.
Some simple questions I would like to ask are, what is refuse doing on road medians? Why do people turn gutters, drainages which are supposed to carry water to the canal, to refuse dumpsites? Why do people find it difficult to clear gutters, even those in front of their houses? And most importantly, why do people build structures on waterways that were invented/constructed to serve as drains to the river. All these questions need urgent answers, if the problem of flooding in Abeokuta, is to be addressed.
Now that Governor Dapo Abiodun’s government is showing commitment by putting in place measures that will permanently solve the problem of perennial flooding in the capital city, it is imperative for citizens to also play their parts, because as the African saying goes, “one cannot clap with one hand”.
Udofia, Head of the Governor’s Press Crew, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
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