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Amotekun: How much help is that?

Amotekun: How much help is that?
January 23
22:27 2020
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In many respects, last week’s launch of Operation Amotekun by the governors of the South-West region exposed the underbelly of the Nigerian federation.

It shows the loss of confidence in the ability of our almighty federal administration and its many agencies to tackle the increasingly worsening security situation in the nation. Every day you open the newspapers, you are assailed with an avalanche of gory stories, which highlight the incredible cruelty men visit on one another in Nigeria. And no part of the country is spared in the harm that people now inflict on themselves.

The other day, in the northeastern state of Adamawa, a university undergraduate confessed to abducting his sibling with the hope of extracting a ransom from their parents. His hope, on collecting the ransom, was to abandon his education and spend the dividend of his crime on procuring a visa to the United States of America, which he thought promised him a better future.

A couple of weeks earlier, in the city of Lagos, two artisans broke into the home of an expatriate company executive in search of money. By the time they were done, the man’s Hungarian wife had been stabbed to death, while he was left in-between life and death. There is no end to the fright that Nigeria has become and the glaring impotence of agents of the state to tame the madness.

To be fair to the Nigeria Police though, events in the recent point to more alertness on the part of some personnel of the force. However, there are clear signs that the institution still operates far detached from the sophistication that 21st Century policing and law enforcements require. The limitations of the police are glaring, potent and reflective on the psyche of the people, and when a people get to those junctures, self-help is inevitable.

The Amotekun reality and the furore attending it also speak to the joke that is on Nigerians when they claim that they have a country. For all intents and purposes, this society remains a mere “geographic expression” which has refused to harness its blessings, attain national integration and become a people with a common purpose and identity.

Ask yourself, for example, how many countries of the world are unable to speak in unison against the thing(s) that truly threaten their collective existence? That is exactly what the security situation in Nigeria has been for a while, yet it is impossible for the people to agree on how to deal with the issue. And if any part of the federation takes an initiative like the South-West recently did, suspicions as to the motive rent the air. It is like the leper who, because his fingers cannot pick from your food, would rather kick the plate with his legs than let you eat in peace.

There is even a more pathetic dimension to the  Amotekun case. Although there are six governors in the South-West where the idea originates from, only three speak up for the idea. It just seems that the other three subscribe to the idea only to the extent that it does not negatively impact on some interests not totally analogous to that of the people. That goes to say how much the primordial, political and economic interests of individuals detract from the common good.

So, since its launch, reactions to Amotekun have variegated from the security essence it bore to the politics of who will “be allowed” to be President in 2023 or suspicions that those behind the idea nursed a more hideous one– the fragmentation of the nation.

Yet, here is a nation where lawlessness has become the order. Just before the end of last week, the Emir of Potiskum, an elderly man with a decent appearance, told of how his convoy was attacked by bandits who engaged his security detail for two hours and left about 30 people dead on the Kaduna-Zaria highway. That is much like the typical story from the North to South and West to the East. Killings, maiming and kidnappings have become daily stories for which this Amotekun idea appears to present some feasible resistance.

This is not to say that those who complain about the idea do not have a point. Even the initiators agree that it is still an unfolding idea. There is the risk that the well-known totalitarian disposition of state governors may turn the vigilance groups into instruments of political victimisation or that members of the group may themselves become monstrous and violate the trust of the people, but then, these are state governors picking up the gauntlet and tackling the responsibility of office. This is some insurance against reckless attacks on the lives of innocent people.

All said and done however, Amotekun remains a palliative therapy only treating the symptom rather than the ailment. For Nigeria to really be at peace, government’s attention needs to be turned towards making life generally more liveable for people.

Kastina State Governor, Aminu Masari, who has confronted bandits for the greater part of his tenure recently hinted as much when he spoke to the media. Hear him: “We have problems now with the forest people because they have no education of any kind. They do not have Islamic education and they do not have Western education because they have been abandoned in the forest and forgotten. So, these are the kind of children who have come up today, fighting us, fighting society. If we don’t do more to address it, what will come out of the forest in the next 20 years compared with what we have today, will turn out to be like a child’s play… I was told that somebody can mobilise over 350 armed men from the forest and we are talking about 350 men without formal schooling, neither Islamic nor Western and they are all married and have children…” This is the real crux of the matter, the thing that should be most paramount in the minds of everyone who holds a position of responsibility in the Nigeria.

The facts are alarming: 13 million children of school age in Nigeria are roaming the streets while a substantial number of those who are in school are not really learning. Hundreds of thousands of primary and secondary school leavers are on the streets, unskilled and without anything to do but abuse prescription drugs and indulge in hard substances that bring temporary succour. Then, there are those who are out of school without gainful employment. Nigeria is blessed with a large army of youths, but it has no idea about how to turn this blessing into gain. Poverty has taken over the lives and swallowed a majority of Nigerians like oversized garments.

Now, when a nation is overtaken by the type of dilemmas that Nigeria faces, its only salvation is in concerted efforts towards a re-humanisation of its already de-humanised people. It needs radical reforms that prioritise the welfare of its people, educate and re-educate the children, provide jobs for the youth and generally give people hope. But that is not the way of Nigeria. Rather than fight the trouble headlong, Nigerians prefer to tiptoe around issues and even in doing so, they are usually so divisive that progress would hardly be made. This is the way Amotekun seems to be headed but if that happens, God help Canada and all those other countries whose doors are open to immigrants. Why? We all should flee from the Armageddon that is sure to come.

Twitter @niranadedokun

 

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