Operation Amotekun And Emerging Questions
By Rahaman Onike
What initially appeared to be a daydream or advanced fashion of it called nightmare turned to reality today with the launching of operation Amotekun by the governors of South-west states in the city of Ibadan.
By conceptualization and etymology of the word Amotekun in Yoruba, it makes a lot of sense, if performance and reality are judged from semantic viewpoints.
The message the operation code intends to pass across is that just like the leopard, the Yoruba are rarely aggressive. If nothing else, the operation code has the benefit of helping the region win the war against insecurity from the psychological front.
The word leopard by way of semantic transfer is sending a strong message to kidnappers, herdsmen, armed robbers, bandits etc that Yoruba can only get provoked when confronted and intruded upon.
By Yoruba historical antecedence, there is no denial of the fact that Yoruba people remain one of the ethnic groups that typically unite when they face adversity and take pride in being aggressive when it comes to defending their territories against intruding forces.
Six months ago when six governors of South-west Nigeria states met in Ibadan for a security summit, the idea of setting up a regional collaborative security agency was muted. Today, the western Nigeria security network was birthed.
I trust that the governors with the launch of Amotekun today will make way for further regional integration, growth and development in the South West.
The cynics have somehow been proved wrong with the launching and applause that greeted the birth of this jointly funded security outfit. In all intents and purposes, the formation of joint security force by the governors of South-west is long overdue, the fear from some quarters notwithstanding.
Whoever understands the kind of security challenges in the region is recently being confronted with, will appreciate the need for security task-force code-named Operation Amotekun.
Some Yoruba opinion leaders supported and rejoiced over the new formation in anticipation that such regional cooperation will lead to economic prosperity for the South-west geopolitical zone, while we still have well-meaning Yoruba Elders that do not believe in the initiative.
In the category, we have people like Comrade Yinka Odumaki who have expressed disagreement with those rejoicing that Operation Amotekun will rid South-west of security challenges.
Without prejudice to the numerical strength of those that opposed the idea of the joint security task force, what cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand is the premise upon which they based their arguments.
Any true observers of Nigeria’s political development will be forced to tolerate those that opposed the idea of Operation Amotekun giving their insistence on true federalism.
With the modus operandi of Operation Amotekun, nothing suggests that the new security outfit is equivalent to state police which has been a subject of agitation for long. It becomes worrisome when the calibre of the Publicity Secretary of Pan Yoruba Socio-Political Organization, Afenifere, Comrade Yinka Odumakin could have publicly declared that without true federalism the idea of Operation Amotekun will be a waste of time.
Given the position of Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland on the issue, he was optimistic that the initiative would suppress the vagaries of insecurity pervading the Yorubaland in the last five years. What this means is that not every Yoruba Leader is in support of this new mission.
The fact that some do not agree with the initiative doesn’t make it not workable.
As people continue to laud the idea and urging support for its effective performance, there are still some questions begging for answers. One has the federal government truly blessed and endorsed the formation of a regional security outfit. If Yes, what were the limitations set for its operation? Surprisingly, the presidential spokespersons or the National Security Adviser has not issued any statement up till this moment.
However, the report has it that the Inspector General of Police has endorsed Operation Amotekun in the South-west. This endorsement came at the wake of rumour making the rounds that the police and military are not ready to embark on a joint patrol with men of Operation Amotekun.
While congratulating the South-west governors for the feat, there is still need for further enlightenment as many are still in doubts of the statutes setting up this organization.
Despite my support for this initiative which was prompted by exigency, I still have my reservations, if truly the security apparatus does not have the power to arrest or directly prosecute offenders.
Even when there are plans to train members of this security outfit, backlashes are bound to occur, if truly men of Operation Amotekun are not authorized to shoot suspected criminals.
Another question begging for answer is how would the activity of the outfit not conflict with that of statutory and other legally constituted security agencies.
Again, there is also fear that what will become of Operation Amotekun in the case whereby these Regional Security Guards later turned into another extortionist security outfit of equal importance is the fear that there may be power conflict if there is no definitive chain-of-command structure for Amotekun Operation in the region.
Last but not the least is the question of how the governors who are the financiers of the security outfits not going to be using the organization to settle political scores or for the victimization of their political opponents. Which measures have also been put in place to ensure accountability and efficient performance of operation Amotekun?
Above all, I congratulate the initiators particularly the South-west Governors for this initiative despite the grey areas in their operational guidelines and questions begging for answers.
Rahaman Onike, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Oyo, Oyo State