What initially appeared to be a daydream has become reality with the launching of Operation Amotekun by the governors of South West states, in the city of Ibadan.
By conceptualization and etymology of the Yoruba word Amotekun, it makes a lot of sense, if performance and reality is judged from semantic viewpoints.
The message the operation code intends to pass across is that just like the leopard, the Yoruba are rarely aggressive. At least, the operation code has the benefit of helping the region win the war against insecurity from psychological front.
The word leopard by way of semantic transfer is sending a strong message to kidnappers, herdsmen, armed robbers, bandits etc that Yoruba can only get provoked when confronted and intruded upon.
By Yoruba historical antecedence, there is no denying the fact that Yoruba people remain one of the ethnic groups that typically unite when they face adversity and they take pride in being aggressive when it comes to defending their territories against intruding forces.
Six months ago when six the governors of South West Nigeria states met in Ibadan for a security summit, the idea of setting up a regional collaborative security agency was muted. Today, the Western Nigeria Security Network was birthed. I trust that the governors with the launch of Amotekun today will make way for further regional integration, growth and development in the South West.
The cynics have somehow been proved wrong with the launching and applause that greeted the birth of this jointly funded security outfit. In all intents and purposes, formation of joint security force by the governors of South West is long overdue, the fear in some quarters notwithstanding.
Whoever understands the kind of security challenges the region is currently being confronted with, will appreciate the need for Operation Amotekun.
Some Yoruba opinion leaders supported and rejoiced over the new formation in anticipation that such regional cooperation will lead to economic prosperity for the South West geopolitical zone, while we still have well-meaning Yoruba elders that do not believe in the initiative.
In that category, we have people like Comrade Yinka Odumakin who have expressed disagreement with those rejoicing that Operation Amotekun will rid South West of security challenges.
Without prejudice to the numerical strength of those that opposed the idea of joint security task force, what cannot be dismissed with a wave of hand is the premise upon which they based their arguments.
Any true observer of Nigeria’s political development will be forced to tolerate those that opposed the idea of Operation Amotekun giving their insistence on true federalism.
With the modus operandi of Operation Amotekun, nothing suggests that the new security outfit is equivalent to state police, which has been a subject of agitation for long. It becomes worrisome when the calibre of the Publicity Secretary of Pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Comrade Yinka Odumakin could have publicly declared that without true federalism the idea of Operation Amotekun will be a waste of time.
Given the position of Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland who was optimistic that the initiative would suppress the vagaries of insecurity pervading Yorubaland in the last five years, it means is that not every Yoruba leader is in support of this new mission.
However, the fact that some do not agree with the initiative does not make it not unworkable.
As people continue to laud the idea and urging support for its effective performance, there are still some questions begging for answers. One, has the federal government truly blessed and endorsed the formation of a regional security outfit. If Yes, what was the limitations set for its operation? Surprisingly, the presidential spokespersons or the National Security Adviser has not issued any statement up until this moment.
However, reports have it that the Inspector General of Police has endorsed Operation Amotekun in the South West. This police endorsement came at the wake of rumours making the rounds that the police and military were not ready to embark on joint patrol with men of Operation Amotekun.
While congratulating the South West governors for the feat, there is still need for further enlightenment as many are still in doubt of the statutes setting up this organization.
Despite my support for this initiative, which was prompted by exigency, I still have my reservations, if truly the security apparatus does not have the power to arrest or directly prosecute offenders.
Even when there are plans to train members of this security outfit, backlashes are bound to occur, if truly men of Operation Amotekun are not authorized to shoot criminals.
Another question begging for answer is how the activities of the outfit would not conflict with that of statutory and other legally constituted security agencies.
Again, there is also fear of what will become of Operation Amotekun in the case whereby these regional security guards later turn into another extortionist security outfit. Of equal importance is the fear that there may be power conflict if there is no definitive chain -of -command structure for Amotekun operations in the region. Last but not the least is the question of how the governors who are the financiers of the security outfits are not going to be using the organization to settle political scores or victimize their political opponents. What measures have been put in place to ensure accountability and efficient performance of Operation Amotekun?
Above all, I congratulate the initiators particularly the South West governors for this initiative despite the grey areas in their operational guidelines and questions begging for answers.
Onike, a public affairs analyst, writes from Oyo, Oyo State. Email: [email protected]