The entire universe has a comment on the raging issue of ‘Amotekun’, the collaborative security outfit put together by the states of the South West of Nigeria. I resist the temptation to join the fray to drop my own dose of vitriol in the already boiling cauldron. People like Gani Adams, Femi Falana, Prof Wole Soyinka and many others have already said enough while we all wait for our usually sphinx-like president and his boys to react. I also read a particularly telling piece by one Remi Oyeyemi, ‘Amotekun: Malami, Go To Hell’. Now, a reaction must surely come. It did come. Reports quoting the Presidency with sinister undertones reminded us all of the bitter Nigerian Civil War while others also quoting the Presidency encouraged everyone to sheathe their swords and mind inflammatory language. Nigeria is in danger.
The two most important conversations in the entire world right now are security and climate change. There is almost no part of the world that is not directly impacted by the two.
All over the Middle East to the countries of North Africa, there are wars and wars of terror, there are fears that the ashes of ISIS/ISIL may rise again, Al Shabaab in Eastern Africa reminds everyone that no one is safe and Nigeria has struggled for more than a decade against Boko Haram and now Islamic State In the Sahel, next door. California burns almost on an annual basis now and Australia has been on fire since 2019, the cities of Europe and Asia are on constant alert against terrorism while Wise King Trump of the United States of America takes his country back many decades in the fight against climate change and war against terror. There is a proxy war in Yemen, protests in Hong Kong and discontent in Taiwan with a scowling China clearly holding itself in readiness to jerk back misdemeanors. Volcanoes and tornadoes now line up to hit humanity with endless, ruthless violence.
It is therefore a surprise that a country, targeted by Islamic domination and terror forces like Nigeria would bicker over ‘constitutional rights’ and ‘exclusive lists’ while a section of its geography is under such sustained threat of violent take-over by forces no one apart from Miyetti Allah has owned.
It is a pathetic abandonment of responsibility and a bare-faced, sorry denial by a Federal Government which is insisting on dubious law and constitutional rights, couched in extremely confrontational language, totally insensitive to decorum, respect for office of the governors and the pain of the people of the South West whose governors pooled resources to activate this now controversial Amotekun. Mallam Malami, our Attorney-General and Justice Minister cannot at any point in the future claim that he acted on his own. We will not believe him and we will not believe those in the Presidency. Antecedents have put a lie to that.
We now know through Aare Ona Kakanfo Gani Adams’ Open Letter that less than twenty-four hours to the inauguration of the well publicized Amotekun, all five governors were summoned to Aso Rock in Abuja. The reasons for the imperial summon are not clear to the rest of us mere mortals but Gani Adams gave indication of how the governors may have been treated and how the first seeds of impending Federal Government reaction may be manifested. The Inspector General of Police who cannot deny knowledge of all the plans leading up to the launch failed to show up and we now understand why some of the governors may also have been hesitant to attend. The Abuja Amotekun Summons! Who knows what they discussed, who can tell what threats were laden into the Abuja Conversation!
No, I do not want to write about Amotekun. It is too hot and any self-respecting man with young children to care for will be circumspect in these times. These are sensitive and most unusual times and anyone, anyone at all can be arrested, locked up and rearrested and locked up again even if the court grants them bail. Which wise man will not remember the man that was locked away for ten weeks for legally buying a SIM card that happened to have been used by someone in power by proxy? Who was not alarmed that he was made to sign a document that conditioned his release on not taking any legal action to redress his unusual arrest?
And so Amotekun has been declared ‘illegal’ by the Federal Government and we have not heard a word from one of the best legal minds in the country who also happens to be the nation’s Vice President. We may excuse even that because according to the same ‘Constitution (1999 as Amended)’, the position is just a ‘spare tyre’, called to service when the President is sick, tired, recuperating or just wants to give the holder a sense of belonging. Otherwise, he is not allowed to air his own view, speak to the press or address the people unless his words have been vetted by his bosses. And so our legal authority, in a powerful position, is silent. And that, is one of the manifestations of the changed climate in the seat of power.
There was a time that Yoruba men and women of umph and integrity would damn all and speak their minds on the events consuming the country, but times and climate have changed, especially in Abuja. The man has died in him, choked out, suffocated by the pressures to remain, from his people who put him in impotent power and those who see a future where he or one of theirs can aspire to the position of the president. I merely conjecture. I conjecture because I find no other explanation for why a man reputed for his righteousness and legal brilliance would continue in a government where he has little or no say, is reported to be ridiculed on occasion by his juniors in the office and even the say about who and how many work for him is not his anymore.
I look forward to the day the Yoruba spine that threw men like his political hero and grandfather-in-law, Chief Obafemi Awolowo into global reckoning will manifest. I look forward to the day our Vice President will announce that he has had enough and is stepping down because he cannot continue to behold such barefaced victimization, draconian rule, sluggish reaction to urgent national and global issues, unapologetic nepotism, coordinated participation in archaic tribal domination using mighty instruments of central government and deliberate nonchalance at the suffering of the people he ‘co-governs’. We will all attend thanksgiving at the ‘Redeemed Camp’ with him the day he does and he will enter our history books as a man of mettle.
But the climate has changed not just in Aso Rock but all over the country and the spirit of the Northern lords of the First Republic is reawakened in the regurgitation of those inflammatory words that put the nation on edge. The man will not leave office, he will not resign, he will remain till he and his people are maimed, subjugated, wiped out as the Igbo were almost obliterated in the Civil War we are being warned to remember.
He is captive to the Tinubus and other power-brokers resident in the South West who aspire to power and authority through him and I can imagine the lies and deception that have kept him in office. The only other explanation will be that he is enjoying his own ‘importance’ too much to give thought to these things. However, we are not in his shoes, we do not understand his dilemma and we can only judge from the street where the pain and anger against his regime resides.
This Vice President cannot be the same man the entire nation stood up for when the men left behind by Baba Buhari to mind the shop in absence during his sickness, tried to choke him into irrelevance. This cannot be the same man of honor we all hailed when he won the first election with the incumbent president. He seems a cowed man now, a man who has lost his way and only waits for the race to end so he can breath in relief. He is a man now akin to vegetable, limp, lacking uprightness and that key thing that defines true men, spine. The climate that accompanied his and his principal’s election into first term has changed. Now, it burns more fiercely that the fires of Australia, more tense than troubled Middle East, in graver danger than the rest of the world with Vladmir Putin as President of Russia and we all watch, hoping, waiting, for Samuel Becket’s ‘Godot’. Meanwhile, Nigeria totters.
We can doll things up all we want but this government will go down in history as the one that has done the greatest evil to undo all that our past leaders have done to move us out of the nineteenth century. They have moved us into moral, social, political and economic recession. We have regressed into the days of ethnic conquest. Just that back then, it was fairer because no one held the hands of one for the other to slap, kick, beat and pummel into submission.
Concerning the Vice President and whoever may be lying to him or holding him captive, we are forced to recall that Chinese proverb that warns: ‘Those who ride on the back of the tiger, end up in its belly’. Tinubu has shoved Buhari into power with the powerful hands of the South West, hoping that with his own political ‘protege’ in the room, hopefully to keep an eye on things and they may find a crack in the door for himself or his next pawn to enter but the wily serpent, cunning, patient and vicious has locked on to its object and it will feast till it is full. No one else is allowed, a serpent never shares its meal. Tinubu and his cohorts have ended up in irrelevance, no matter what they tell us by their posturing and they now must eat their just dessert.
They are the ones who declared ‘Operation Amotekun’ illegal, assured the continued exposure of the entire South West to invasion and twenty-first century ethnic domination and slapped the Yoruba in the face, an insult that this Alaafin’s father and his fathers before him would not tolerate, because they are slapped too. But the climate has changed, even in the hallowed chambers of the royal palaces. Even there, the government is in charge. We have lost count of how many royalties have been deposed, disgraced and dismembered.
But they forget that like the panther, the leopard, big cat, graceful yet possessed of unbelievable and ferocious hunting skills, able to adapt very quickly, The Yoruba is too big for the wiry serpent of the desert to swallow, he can stand for himself without fear, striking terror into the heart of those he hunts and liberal, never giving up his Omoluabi. This Amotekun is a lone ranger, mixing only on his own terms as nature demands and that is Yoruba, not given to sentimental appeals for support in causes of justice and fairness, the protection of its own and its territory.
That is not a game any gambler wants to play casually, the stakes are too high, the potential unimaginable. No one should be made to feel inferior in a collective and that in itself, as a philosophy in almost all the religions and cultures of dominance in the country, should be cardinal mantra we are all taught to imbibe in all relationships and description of social interactions.
But I did not set out to write about Amotekun. It is a matter for another day.
Here and now, is where we should focus without blinking on what is most important to the country and the well being of all its citizens. We have issues of potable water across the country, no predictable power to drive enterprise and give comfort, stagnated or receding economy, a dysfunctional foreign policy that has not reacted to the obvious isolation from the political realities of the West African sub-region, Africa and the world, nothing to make France feel that we need to be consulted in West Africa, a growing restive, drug-infested young population, atrophying manufacturing sector, the most unimaginative educational system in any equivalent set of countries in global standing and a host of other suffocating challenges.
If anyone of good will offers to take some of the slack in security, one of the biggest discouragements to business in the country, I would think that any government, confident in itself, would gladly embrace it, seek how to ensure that its operations are aligned with existing structures to ensure its deeper penetration and encourage replication in areas of the country where they can safely operate without raising any tension. That way, the existing police force strength that is already stretched beyond limit can be deployed to more useful purposes with more effect, instead of making political points over Amotekun that only strengthens the hand of some against others.
Let’s get serious, abeg…