Thursday, January 9, 2020 10:58 pm
On Thursday January 9, 2019, the South West Governors and other eminent citizens of the region converged at the Oyo State Governor’s Office Park to inaugurate Amotekun, the joint security outfit set up to secure the region against insecurity.
Speculations that Federal Government might have stopped the inauguration of the security outfit pervaded the air until a white tinted coastal bus majestically rolled into Oyo State Governor’s Office Park, venue of the occasion.
First to come out of the vehicle, which, symbolically may be tantamount to leading the governors of the region, was the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, who, as usual, was clad in complete white apparel, with his staff of office at hand.
He was followed by Governor Oluseyi Makinde of Oyo State, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Osun State Deputy Governor, Mr Benedict Alabi, representing his boss, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele who represented the state governor, Dapo Abiodun later joined the gathering.
It was gathered that Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu could not attend the event because his helicopter could not fly due to bad weather.
In attendance were leaders and youth of Yoruba including the Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Professor Banji Akintoye, Chief Tola Adeniyi, Deji Osibogun, Retired AIG Chief Ade Ajakaiye, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, immediate Past Commissioner for Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige, Jubril Gbajabiamila, Akogun Kayode Balogun representing Otunba Gani Adams, Kunle Famoriyo and cabinet members of each governor of the states in the region.
The host Governor, Makinde in his opening remarks said that six months ago, the six governors of South West Nigeria states, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo met in Ibadan and agreed to set up a regional collaborative security agency, adding, “Today, we launched Amotekun, The Western Nigeria Security Network”.
“We are honoured to host the launching of Amotekun in Ibadan. I believe that this collaboration we are starting today will make way for further regional integration, growth and development. And will ultimately improve the lives of our people”, he added.
While stressing that no meaningful development could be recorded in the South West and by extension, in Nigeria without security, he noted that the priority of the region is to ensure that Nigeria is safe to live in.
Makinde pointed out that the establishment of the regional security network is in line with the constitution of Nigeria, and that the South West Regional integration should be seen in the light of the fight against the common enemy that keeps threatening the national security.
In his speech, Fayemi noted that the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network was a response to daily assault by terrorists, banditr, armed robbers, kidnappers, ritualists and other hoodlums in Yoruba land.
Lamenting the loss of prominent sons and daughters of the land like Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of one of the Yoruba leaders, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Fayemi pointed out that series of disasters being inflicted by criminals put pressure on the political leaders of the region to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the region.
He pointed out that the region acted in line with section 14, subsection 2 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, he said that no leader would fold his arms when security challenges have become so bad that the citizens could no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. “This is the reason for coming together to fashion a way to support the mainstream police to arrest hoodlums, not just in the zone but in the whole of Nigeria”, he added.
Fayemi disclosed that the police authority has embraced the establishment of the regional security network, stressing that the Inspector General of Police, IGP Abubakar Adamu Mohammed has publicly announced the support of community policing.
According to him, “The Western Nigeria Security Network, Operation Amotekun is a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to put an end to. But pending the time that the community policing strategy being put together by the Nigeria Police comes to fruition, it is clearly important that we give our people a confidence boosting strategy. Amotekun is a confidence building strategy for our people in the western zone. When those that are going to work in the joint task force with the mainstream security agencies undertake this assignment, they are going to do it with the knowledge of the terrain, language and culture of the community they are going to work”.
He said further: “Amotekun is not a duplication neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office. We do not want this to create fear in the mind of anyone. We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we need to follow in forming a State police. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know that will require a constitutional amendment and we are not there yet. I commend the role played by mainstream security agencies in tackling kidnapping and banditry in the south western zone, however, Amotekun would reduce the burden on the agencies which is currently overstretched”.
Fayemi added, “Our primary interest is the security and safety of our people, and we will continue to do all within our powers to push the frontiers of this security outfit. Some of us are unapologetic, inveterate advocate of state police. We are also law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know the process and the procedures that we need to undergo in order to get to that point. We know we need a constitutional amendment and we are not there yet. That would not stop us from continuing to campaign for a policing arrangement that is at multi-level and most importantly close to our people”.
While Governor Akeredolu pointed out that Amotekun is only one of the many solutions being planned to tackle the many social economic problems facing the region, his Osun State counterpart, Mr. Oyetola said that it is the constitutional responsibility of the government at all levels to secure its citizens.
Professor Akintoye thanked the governors of the Western Region for taking a proactive step in protecting the Yoruba race from criminals, noting that no one is in doubt that the nation is in danger and lamented the rate at which Yoruba people including farmers are being attacked on daily basis, stressing that the foundation of economic value has been eroded.
“When it started, we did not know what to do. Yoruba people are peace loving people and that is why we follow due process in whatever we do. With what we have done, we are ready to defend our land. We are proud to have all of you as our governors. We did not rear you to break the country but to be the leaders of the world. There might be difficulty in your way, but on this, we support you”, Akintoye stated.
Speaking on behalf of the monarchs, Oba Ogunwusi lauded the South West Governors for putting aside politics and party affiliations to put their people first and to seek the protection of their citizens.
Calling for unity and cooperation among the Yoruba, Ooni of Ife led a prayer session for all the governors in the region.
‘Amotekun’, the joint security outfit was conceived in July 2019 at the height of serious security challenges in the region. But its commencement was delayed due to hitches in the recruitment of personnel and the need to review operation guidelines.
Tagged, ‘Operation Amotekun’, the outfit is a product of the security summit organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, Commission on behalf of the six governors in June last year. The summit was organised in response to the wave of kidnappings, armed robberies and other forms of criminality which peaked in the region at the time.
The governors reasoned that a joint regional security outfit was necessary to confront crimes and prevent its continuation. But the security challenge has subsided as a result of individual efforts by the states. Operation Amotekun will be a two-layer operation – at the central level and at the local level. The outfit will be managed by a regional committee that will comprise representatives of each state. The committee’s office is expected to be sited in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
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