Amotekun as catalyst to decide future of Nigeria – Godwin Etakibuebu
By Godwin Etakibuebu
At times like this, in Nigeria’s critical journey of voyage of discovery into a dark ally of identification; reminiscing on the late Nigerian musical icon – Sunny Okosu’s lyric: which way Nigeria becomes a necessary inevitability.
Amotekun, having suddenly becoming a qualitative catalyst, may be able to help us in identifying that essential of discovering Nigeria.
l am not a Chemist, and l must not pretend to know anything about chemistry, as such l shall not attempt making incursion into defining what a catalyst is. It is for that reason that I will limit my understanding of the word catalyst to how dictionary defines it.
A catalyst is defined as “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change”, e.g “chlorine acts as a catalyst promoting the breakdown of ozone”. It is also defined to mean “a person or thing that precipitates an event”, e.g “the prime minister’s speech acted as a catalyst for debate”.
For the reason of the latter [definition] a catalyst [or the chemical in question] remains an “accelerator” or a “changer”, while it remains unchanged – simply and purely.
It is on the face of these definitions that Amotekun can be seen as the needed catalyst the Nigerian federation has been waiting for in other to [the federation] adjusts, re-adjusts, structures or even restructures itself.
Amotekun is now the game changer for restructuring the Nigerian loose federated fabrics. First, what is Amotekun and how did we arrive this point in our journey to an elusive federation?
To go into historical journey of the Nigerian federation’s development from the very beginning would be a cumbersome exercise for now because of a few militating factors. One, and most essential of them, is the fact of wrong historical documentation about the time and place the foundation of this Enterprise [Nigeria] was laid.
The history of that monumental beginning is highly distorted and ambitiously falsified by foreigners, who recorded what they called “our history” for us.
That ambiguity is the reason why the year when the “foundation of this area of Niger” was laid remains elusive for historical balancing. But for the purpose of this exercise, let us run with one version of the falsified thesis of when Nigerian federation began – it means we have to agree, loosely too, that it was either 1914 or 1960. The amalgamation of 1914, which was ironically carried out by some “trader-foreigners” [purely for their economic interests] on behalf of the aborigine, again, “around this area of the Niger”, brought together the South and North Protectorates. How that amalgamation amounted to federalism remains an elusive and mischievous aspect of historical documentation.
Now, let us fast-track the narration to 1960. Of course, we had Nigerian natives; educated enough in the game of politics and politicking. These participated in the volatile field; laid with political dynamites, of negotiation. That negotiation brought us into the system of Federalism and this was “a proper fiscally structured federalism”. Each of the participating regions had everything exclusively to itself except in three major functions, to wit: foreign policy, currency and armament, which were ceded to the Power at the Central, voluntarily. There was resource control of everything. Let me not waste time in elucidating all these as most of us – the older generation – witnessed it.
This fine structure was bastardised by the Military – demons that came in form of angels, and the beautiful federal structure was discarded along with its comely democratic ethos. The same military, in furtherance of its pretense, eliminated one of its very bests; Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi MVO, MBE (3 March 1924 – 29 July 1966), Supreme Commander, on the allegation that, by “Unification Decree Number 34 of May 24, 1966” [known as Decree 1, dated January 17, 1966, but not published in the Official Gazette until March 4, 1966] by the latter [Aguiyi-Ironsi], Nigeria’s structure was distorted, from being a Federation to Unitary system of government. That was the countercoup of July 28, 1966 that brought Yakubu Gowon to power.
The “properly federated system of government” which the counter-coup pretended to reinstall remains invasive till date as what Nigeria practices since then is unitary system of government, but not without “killing every glorious facets” of federalism. The federal government’s hijacking of all benefits, hitherto belonging to the regions, resulted into impoverishing of all social services the Nigerian people enjoyed under an entrenched fiscally prosecuted federalism – security of lives and properties of the citizenry inclusive.
It is no gainsaying that lives and properties of the Nigerian people is far from being secured by the Nigerian State’s apparatus of security. Like some hotels where a warning signboard tells patronizing quests that “cars are parked at owners’ risk”, Nigerians, either moving about around the country or remaining at their individuals’ home, do so at “the risk of their lives”. There is no more respect for the security agencies, mostly the Nigeria Police Force, because there are no performances from them – the security agencies. And if the truth is to be told, Nigerians have resulted into self-securing enclave long time ago.
It is this vote of no-confidence passed on the federal government’s security agencies, particularly the Police, which resulted into creation and sustenance of different security outfits across the country. In the North-East, the federal government, through effective collaboration with some State governments in that region and the Military, had to create and integrate services of hunters and other young people [known as Civilian Joint Task Force] to be able to battle the Boko Haram insurgency. The same federal government sustains them in salaries and issuance of arms and ammunition to keep them [the civilian JTF] going well at theatre of military operations. Without the innovation of bringing this people into the war, whatever gains of “decimating” the insurgents in the North-East wouldn’t have been recorded.
There are many other civilian “protective forces” around the country today. Bakassi at a time secured the South-East. Egbesu Boys helped much in the actualization of the Niger Delta people [South-South]’s struggle against federal government forces of oppression. Vigilantism is enterprisingly patronized by different governments across the country. Lagos State established the Neighbourhood Watch some years ago. And of course, many States across the North have the Sharia Police Formation known as Hisbah Corps. All these are complimentary to the unfulfilling police organization in Nigeria but not antigonising to it, and more importantly is the fact that all these locally arranged security outfits are “not defending territories”, but instead “complimenting the police in securing lives and properties”.
It is on the light of these facts that the Western Nigeria Security Network – Amotekun, made its grandiose, stylish and triumphant entry into the arena of securing lives and properties, just like many other ones mentioned above. Then suddenly, a “sleeping” Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; who had never made any negative pronouncement against Amotekun’s numerous predecessors, woke up to speak of illegality. Something like “oil must be under the water”, as the adage goes amongst the Urhobo speaking people of the Niger Delta. Let us run the summary very quickly.
Of recent the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore; the umbrella body for Fulani Herdsmen [both the killer militia and the peaceful ones] all over West Africa, has emerged, not only as the political power broker for Northern Nigeria, having successfully dethroned the once vibrant Arewa Consultative Forum, but has positioned itself adequately, without contradiction, as the most effective mouthpiece of the federal government of Nigeria.
The Miyetti Allah has succeeded into almost taking the entire country into captivity through the terrible way it unleashed deadly terror across the land – this is not controvertible. It once addressed a world press conference and declared it loudly that it will never obey the anti-open grazing law made by the Benue State House of Assembly. And most recently, the Association announced it to the whole world that the Fulani Herdsmen from other countries “don’t need visa to enter Nigeria”. The AGF did not say a word to counter the Miyetti Allah’s audacious pronouncement in illegality.
Until the metaphor of Amotekun, the fear of Fulani Herdsmen; seemingly well protected by the federal government, had almost become the beginning of wisdom in Nigeria by Nigerians [except the Fulani tribe].
The methodology and pattern of Amotekun’s entry into “securing the lost security of the people of the South-West geopolitical zone” is a pointer to a manifestation of a phenomenal with difference in Nigeria.
Amotekun emergence, with whatever flaws of omission or commission by the propagators or conveners; flaws that can easily be rectified as the “masquerade dances towards the market square”, has become the needed catalyst to deciding the future of Nigeria. And Amotekun; the catalyst, has come to stay.
End of story!
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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