By OLUSESAN LAOYE
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja 11 has said that his presence at the launch of the Amotekun regional security boosting formation for the South West was as the representative of all Yoruba traditional rulers, affirming that they are all in support of the scheme as has been put together by the elected governors in the region.
Speaking at the launch event for the regional security structure in Ibadan last week, the Ooni said that himself, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111, the Awujale of Ijebu land, the Oba of Lagos, the Alake of Egbaland and other obas in Yorubaland had met on the security situation in the region and are quite happy that the South west governors have now taken a bold step to better protect the region from external aggression.
The Ooni’s speech at the event which was most moving and highly motivational was greeted with loud applause, with some members of the audience that BH spoke to after the event affirming that it had indeed contributed the much needed traditional stamp of authority that was required to back up the actions of the governors on the security situation in the region.
Indeed, when the South Western part of Nigeria was ravaged by bandits and was under the threats of kidnappers, ritual killers and all forms of criminals several months ago, the people of the region became quite worried because the menace was, at a point, now occurring on daily basis.
This also created tension and fear and the people were seemingly helpless and beginning to think that there would not be a way out.
During the few months within which these atrocities lasted, there were insinuations of all sorts, with some bordering on alleged plans to colonise the region by a section of the country, as well as attempts to forcibly take over South west lands.
The farmlands and motor ways became unsafe and this palpable state of fear was so intense that the people of the region now began to heavily regulate and censor their movements and also began to be suspicious of even themselves.
As analysts were to rationalize, the South west was in this predicament on account of a lack of adequate security which had clearly overwhelmed the regular police architecture that was meant to protect them. Indeed, at a stage, some conspiracy theories even began to fly around, insinuating that the regular police may have itself been compromised.
The complaints over the parlous security situation in the region were so much that it then got to a point when the people decided it was now time to resort to self protection and self-defense and this was when it was now distilled that if adequate measures were not taken, to arrest the situation, the actions of the people to defend themselves could lead to anarchy.
It was at this stage that the South west governors decided that they had to take it upon themselves to arrest the situation and assure their people of adequate protection.
This was what then informed their July 2019 meeting in Abuja under the auspices of the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN).
This body is saddled with various responsibilities which include infrastructural development that would benefit the six states in the region as well as the security of the people.
The body in his first major assignment organised a security summit where modalities for securing the region in the face of the growing security challenges of banditry, kidnapping, rape and other vices was addressed.
It was at the end of this, that they concluded on the formation of a security network tagged ‘Operation Amotekun’ (leopard). It is this body that has now been established and which was launched last Thursday at the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
The launch event which was witnessed by the governors, traditional rulers, Yoruba leaders and other bodies in the region was an occasionto spell out the mode of operations of the security outfit which the promoters pointed out would be for only the protection of the people of the South west and to complement the efforts of the regular police force. They were also quite emphatic that the initiative was not in any way targeted at breaking up Nigeria.
In his address, the chairman of the South West Governors Forum, and Governor of Ondo State, Ogbeni Rotimi Akeredolu said that Amotekun was the fulfillment of the desire of the people in the south West to secure them, and that fulfilling it was very important to the governors.
He said the formation of the western Nigeria security network had come into being in view of the recent security breaches that had even grown to become a daily challenge. “We were worried over what has been happening in Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Lagos. These incidents became so rampant to the extent that we were scared and even our children abroad were afraid of coming back home to invest. As a result, all South west governors had to come together to find measures that would save us and our people from this embarrassment”.
He said the sad situation gave them concern that the region that was known for peace had become so threatened that it was now almost being run over by bandits and that they had no other option than to set up a counter security network that would help in ensuring better outcomes as regards the safety of lives and property for the people of the South west.
He said while they acknowledged the efforts of the federal security agencies and the concern of the federal government, their action should not be seen as an affront but rather one to complement the existing security network in the region. “It is not our intension to create antagonistic structures whose operations would be at cross purposes with the existing ones but to work together.”
According to him “those who know us in the South west would agree with me that banditry, kidnapping and ritual killings are alien to our society that we always overcome after acts of sabotage against us. We inherited a heritage of magnanimity, love, accommodation and generosity from our ancestors but we are not stupid”
On his part, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said that the formation of Amotekun was aimed at building confidence in the people of the South west and that it was not a replacement for the police force; but a scheme to complement and work in synergy with them.
He pointed out that the governors were aware of the constitution of Nigeria and would not do anything to undermine it, saying that they have also not forgotten the oaths they swore to protect and ensure the unity of Nigeria.
As for the host, the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, the launch of Amotekun was to ‘stir fear in the hearts of those who think they can scare or create fear in us, the people of the South west.’
He said he was ready to throw more light on the impression and misconceptions about the creation of the security network for the region saying it was meant to provide security for the people and it would forever remain the priority of the South west.
In his own presentation the leader of Yoruba, Professor Banji Akintoye acknowledged that Nigeria was in danger. “Farmers are driven fromtheir farms out of fear for their lives making the foundation of our economic wellbeing to be eroded. With this, we cannot stand, watch and fold our arms. When it started, we did not know how to tackle it because the Yoruba are peaceful and accommodating and we were thus surprised that anybody from any part of the world would have an agenda
to wreck havoc on the security of our part of the world but now Yoruba have risen and are determined to act and the launch of Amotekun by the governors of the region is a good development and it is a great thing to say you are Yoruba.”
He pointed out that what the south west governors are doing is not to break Nigeria but to give higher level of protection to the Yoruba people. And in a veiled response to some speculations of division within the Yoruba nation on the project, Akintoye quipped in affirmation of the same point earlier made by the Ooni: “I want to assure you that all the Yoruba leaders are solidly behind you in whatever you are doing to uplift the people and secure their lives and properties.”