Wednesday, January 15, 2020 4:55 pm
By Nehru Odeh
Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, has added his own words to the acrimonious debates going on about Amotekun which South West Governors launched on 9 January and which was waved off as illegal by Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation. Soyinka declared that there is no going back on Amotekun. In other words, according to him, “Amotekun has come to stay.” Soyinka said this at a press conference held at the Kongi’s Harvest Garlery, Freedom Park, Lagos on Wednesday, 15 January 2020
Soyinka who had always been passionate about the need for community policing said since the federal government had failed in its fundamental duty to protect the lives and property of citizens, it cannot deny people who are ready to do so. The Nobel Laureate further considered Abubakar Malami’s statement inhuman and unpatriotic to say people do not have the right to flush out the evil ones among them which the exiting security outfits have not been able to do.
“It is my personal new year present. I make no bones. I have always believed in community policing. My preference is always for all kinds of community policing as much as possible,” Soyinka maintained, adding that “Our responsibility as a citizen is to take actions against events, a phenomenon which militates against our existence, security, productivity and dignity as human beings.”
The Nobel Laureate, who said Amotekun had been in the offing for a very long time, challenged the federal government’s opposition to the security outfit, adding that Amotekun was necessitated by its failure to protect the people. He also said it was the collective decision of the people to protect themselves against the excesses of Fulani herdsmen.
“This has been a result of collective consciousness by people of this region. These governors met and they came up with this solution, Amotekun. Now, some people who have been sleeping all this time, taking belated actions in many directions, who watched the citizens of this nation decimated, villages wiped out, farmers chased off their land. They are now coming out to tell us that this initiative is illegal, unconstitutional. I think they should go back to sleep,” he maintained.
The literary icon also averred that not only is it the inalienable right of the citizens to protect themselves, it is their responsibility to take actions against forces which militate against their existence, security, productivity, and their dignity as human beings.
“Effective or not, it is a fundamental right for people to defend themselves against killer forces in their community. People are killing for money, known as ritual killing or whether killing in the name of religion, descending on villages, killing farmers. So this is far more serious.”
Soyinka also said we as a people must do whatever we can not only to protect ourselves but also future generations.
“The danger takes many forms as I have already enumerated but where ever the danger strikes, it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to eliminate such danger, not for ourselves individually alone but for those we bring into this world, for our children, extended family and the family of others who are incapable of defending themselves, the crippled, the handicapped in one way or the other, the women especially in our society who are generally the more handicapped but they also should be involved in this self-policing,” he said.
Soyinka, expressing his astonishment at the unpopular stand the federal government has taken over the issue. He advised it to tread cautiously, adding that not only has Amotekun come to stay, it should be complemented with Arosikun.
“I prefer to believe that the government itself has not spoken. I refuse to believe that any serious government will raise any objection to this kind of initiative,” he said
The literary icon then went down memory lane and narrated how he met the late National Security Adviser, O. Azazi on May 26, 2012, and alerted him about how expansive Boko Haram had become and how it had infiltrated various parts of the country in several guises, one of which was the Fulani herdsmen.
Soyinka also said he had always been a proponent of community policing and had been part of the decision making processes to make sure Amotekun became a reality. He spoke about how when he was sick and tired of teaching at the then the University of Ife ( now Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife) he sat down and sent a proposal to the Oyo State government and that was how the current Federal Road Safety Commission was birthed.
Soyinka later said though Amotekun was necessary, it wasn’t enough adding that the governors in the South-West must also think about how to take care of the welfare of the people.
“Amotekun is only a part of the story, we all know the criminality that derives from many causes, among them are poverty, hunger, desperation, sense of alienation. So Amotekun should not be crime prevention or the only solution to insecurity, to criminality, there has to be also social actions, proactive initiatives for the amelioration of the impoverished condition of our people.”
“We should move from Amotekun to Arosikun, both should be complementary, in other words, we should start thinking in terms of how to feed our own people, we must think outside the normal parameters of productivity and distribution.”
The literary icon said that hunger is not only real, it is palpable and that there is hunger in the land. He also said the welfarist initiative he is recommending shouldn’t be construed to mean stomach infrastructure, adding the term has a bad odour.
“Hunger is real, poverty is real, it’s very much with us and it’s reaching a critical mass. So we should start thinking of soup kitchens as obtained in other parts of the world, involve the millionaires, billionaires among us to contribute to the coffers of our state governments to establish these temporary agencies of amelioration of the condition of our people.
“I don’t want to use the expression of stomach infrastructure, that has a bad odour, for those who promoted it, we know whose stomachs they were looking after so I prefer just ‘Arosikun (food preparation) to end criminality once and for all in our community,” he added.