The All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said that the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network, code-name Amotekun, might not live up to expectations.
In a statement titled “The Public Discourse Over Amotekun,” and signed by the former governor of Lagos State, Tinubu broke his silence on the controversial security outfit set up by governors of the six Southwest states, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti.
Tinubu, who said his silence on the issue was to ensure he didn’t jump to hasty conclusions, maintained that “Some things need to be corrected before Amotekun becomes operational, if not, it will not live up to expectations”.
“We have been fighting for local and decentralised policing for a long time because we know that too much centralisation impedes performance. In regard to actual performance of its appointed tasks, Amotekun should have focused on grassroots local organisation at the state level without a regional command hierarchy. The regional approach may undermine efficiency. There is no compelling logic why the same personnel providing security & informational assistance in Ado-Ekiti should be under the same functional and operational leadership as those providing assistance in Lekki or Akure. This will not lead to optimal performance.
“The regional approach has only limited benefit with regard to the procurement and maintenance of vehicles and communications equipment because this wider approach allows for economies of scale. The regional approach also helps tackle the growing incidences of interstate criminal activity. Some things need to be corrected before Amotekun becomes operational. If not, it will not live up to expectations. Thus, the current formulation of Amotekun is in need of repair before it takes to the road only to quickly slip into a ditch”, he said.
Tinubu also said that the statement of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, declaring the outfit illegal is because his office wasn’t duly consulted, though his statement wasn’t helpful.
He said, “While the Attorney-General is a conscientious public servant, he is also human. Not having been consulted, he was suddenly faced with an unexpected public announcement regarding a matter within his official ambit. He likely feared the failure to consult him meant that federal prerogatives were being encroached. To blame him for this conclusion would be to blame human nature itself. Though his negative reaction was understandable it was also unhelpful.
“The Attorney-General acted hastily in rendering a public statement that was more inaccurate than it should have been. Amotekun was never proposed as a “defence” agency; the Attorney-General erred in using this description. The use of uniforms and brightly coloured vehicles may not be the best ideas but they do not render Amotekun a defence agency or paramilitary group any more than a designated school van carrying uniformed students constitutes a paramilitary deployment.
“Believing the governors had crossed the line, the Attorney-General should have reached out to them. Before going public, he should have sought a private meeting so that he could have a better factual understanding of Amotekun. This would have enabled him to give the governors any specific constitutional or other objectives he might have. In this way, the two sides would have engaged in private consultations to reach agreement on the way forward. This cooperative process might have helped to correct some of the organisational lapses above identified. Such a diplomatic and wise step also would have prevented the current public acrimony now surrounding the issue”.
He, however, urged all parties to enter into private discussions to find the best way to resolve the issue amicably.
“This matter cannot be resolved on the pages of newspapers or by attributing negative motives to either side. The best way to resolve this is still for the two sides to enter private discussions. Either the governors should seek an official but private meeting with the Attorney-General or the Attorney-General can initiate the contact. Since Amotekun is their initiative, the governors bear the greater onus in seeking the meeting.
“The meeting will initiate further discussion on how to resolve what appears to be a misunderstanding caused by an unfortunate lack of communication. Remedy the gap in communication and the misunderstanding will begin to disappear.
He also urged well-intentioned Nigerians to shun those who employ heated language to inflame emotions as it does no good to rush toward exaggerated statements that suggest calamity of the highest order.
“The fabric of the Republic has not been put at stake by Amotekun. However, that fabric could be torn by the dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better. Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the Republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion. Those claiming that the Federal Government seeks to terribly suppress the Southwest have also lost their compass. Those who occupy these two extremes have sunken into the dark recesses of fear and political paranoia that can undo a nation if such sentiments are allowed to gestate.
“We are one nation, 200 million strong with 36 states and a great complex of federal authority residing in dozens of federal ministries and agencies. If everyone is allowed their democratic expression, there are bound to be disagreements. This is inherent in the federal structure. Nations that have practiced federalism much longer than us still frequently debate over where the line between state and federal power is to be drawn. They have hundreds of court cases each year on this very issue. Yet they do not attack each other as we do. We must all learn to be more restrained and judicious in our reactions when such disagreements arise.
“Before leaping from our seats to lift our voice to the high rafters in profound indignation, we first would be wise to properly discern the situation. We must ascertain whether it merely is a tempest in a teapot or whether our house and all its teapots are swirling in a real tempest. Despite the ominous headlines and heated talk, an objective analysis points more clearly to the former than the latter. The resolution of this matter is not beyond us if only we allow ourselves to be the democrats that our better conscience and the very documents of our national existence call us to be”, he said.