By Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon, Ola Ajayi & Rotimi Ojomoyela
TWO months ago, chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum and governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu said plans were underway to launch an outfit tagged: Operation Amotekun, to curb the security challenges in the South West Zone.
Amotekun is the Yoruba word for leopard.
But two months down the line, it appears the governors of the region have embarked on a motion without movement attitude to the security outfit.
Recently, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Donald Ojogo, had told newsmen in Akure that the exercise was an all-encompassing security initiative.
Ojogo said: “In a matter of weeks, this security outfit will be unveiled and the spate of insecurity being witnessed in the last three or four months would have been reduced to the barest minimum.”
The south-west governors had held two security summits in a bid to find a lasting solution to the state of insecurity which led to the loss of many lives in the zone.
Perhaps re-echoing Akeredolu’s earlier remarks, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, in October, said that the security challenges confronting the people of the Southwest will be a thing of the past as governors in the region were working on the launch of a joint security outfit codenamed: Amotekun.
Governor Makinde said the decision to launch the joint security outfit was part of the resolutions reached at the various security stakeholders’ meetings held in the region at various times.
Makinde said: “We want to have OYODASER and apart from this, we will have the Southwest-wide initiative known as “Amotekun,” with the operatives known as “Irunmole.” But the government cannot do it alone when it comes to the issue of security. We need to work together.”
Aare Adams knocks govs
Perhaps not satisfied with the governors, the Aare OnaKakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams, at a function in Ilorin, threw mud in the eyes of the South West governors.
He accused the governors of recruiting private individuals to form state security apparatus, which he described as uncalled for and unacceptable.
Aare Adams said: “Do you know that some South-West governors are recruiting their political errand boys for security purposes without consulting me or the OPC anymore. And when issues of security threats come, they will remember to call the Aare-Ona Kakanfo to come and intervene. I’m not getting a salary from the government, but I’ve been using my money to run this position and for this organisation.
“When a government politicizes security, it’s doomed to fail. It’s a signal to Nigeria.”
Govs yet to get green light
Observers of events in the zone are beginning to wonder whether the governors are sincere in ensuring that the Operation Amotekun kicks off.
A source familiar with the workings of the Operation Amotekun, disclosed to Vanguard that asides Oyo State, which is ready for the take-off of the security outfit, the governors of Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti are awaiting directive from the Federal Government.
It was gathered that the Federal Government wants the security outfit to be in line with the vision of the APC at the centre.
Besides, Vanguard gathered that the Presidency, through the nation’s security apparatus, was yet to give the governors the go ahead with the launch of the security outfit.
But a reliable source in Ondo State said that workings on the procurement of arms and ammunition were still been worked out by the governors.
Mixed reactions trail delay
Meanwhile, mixed reactions from prominent Yoruba leaders and groups in Yorubaland, have trailed the delay in the commencement of the security outfit.
Let’s not push them, security issue sensitive—YCE
Speaking on the issue, President of Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Justice Ademola Bakre (retd), said since six governors from the South West zone are involved, they should be given more time.
He also noted that the security issue is a sensitive matter which demands careful attention.
He said: “I feel the governors should be given more time to plan how they would implement it. I know six governors in the southwest zone are involved and I believe they have different programmes. Security matters cannot be discussed openly or anyhow. They must have been doing some things underground.”
“Let us give them about two weeks more. Let us not push them”, he advised.
In the same vein, a traditional ruler, Baale of Ekotedo, Ibadan, Chief Taiye Ayorinde, said: “The governors would want to make it work and they would have to plan well. I suggest we give them some more time to plan it well so that we can benefit from it.”
Governors must be proactive — S’West PDP
But the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South West tackled the governors except that of Oyo State noting that the governors must be proactive.
Speaking on this, the South West Zonal Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Ayo Fadaka said: “We are amazed at the lethargy with which our security is treated across the region and this is disappointing.
“This is more troubling because political considerations continue to play a dominant role in the evolution of policies that will shape our security as a people and this is very wrong.
“We already told the APC Governors in the region that they bear a responsibility to our people to ensure that our security is uppermost in their scheme as we all are firstly Yoruba’s before any other partisan political considerations.
“The Operation Amotekun security outfit is an adhoc security arrangement to provide answers to the scourge of Fulani banditry across the South West and a proper analysis across the region will reveal that except in Oyo State where Seyi Makinde is Governor, there is nowhere else new legislations have been put in place to arrest this scourge, and we commend him for the seriousness that dictates his actions in the respect, in fact, the PDP in the South West is very proud of him.
“Our Governors must be proactive and still put on their thinking caps. Our people too must not relax but continue to stand in the gap to defend their neighborhoods.
“We remind the Governors to be mindful of their actions and work very fervently in the interest of our sub-national interests. It is time to insist that only Yoruba officers in the Police and other Security Agencies are posted to police our region.
Outfit, a waste of time—Afenifere
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, described the outfit as a waste of time.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, said: “To me, it is a waste of time but as a short time measure maybe but the way out for the south west governors is to support the demand for federalism in Nigeria.
“The south west governors must have the power to set up their police to tackle insecurity in their regions. So, all these Amotekun is a waste of time because to actualise this, they will need clearance from the Inspector General of Police. The centre is too choky in Nigeria they control everything. They are just dancing around the issue. What they should insist is to have proper federalism, the state governors must have the power to set up their police, arrest and prosecute criminals. There is no way out to it.”
We’re set —Ondo govt
On his part, the Senior Special Assistant to the Ondo State Governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said all is set for the take-off of the security outfit in the state.
Dojumo said: “We don’t want to recruit people with questionable character or those that will mess up or compromise the security outfit”, he said.
“In Ondo State, our governor, who is the chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum had purchased over 20 Hilux vans, 120 motorcycles and communication gadgets for the security outfit in the state.”
Operation Amotekun has come to stay — Ekiti govt
On its part, the Ekiti State government has reiterated that the state is an integral part of Operation Amotekun, as it is a joint effort of all the Western States.
Speaking with Vanguard, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Olumuyiwa Olomilua, said the idea is still very alive and the states involved are working assiduously on the modalities of the operation.
On the composition of the outfit, he said: “It will be comprised of the regular security agencies, Police, NSCDC, et al, with the collaboration of certain informal security organizations.”
Olomilua, who explained that the operation would be funded by all the collaborating Western States, added that Operation Amotekun has come to stay and not abandoned.