By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
THE Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has said the failure of the centralised police to respond to numerous distress calls informed the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun.
The elders who spoke through the scribe of YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide at the end of the national executive council meeting also formally reacted to the comments of a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the security outfit advising him to show his allegiance more to the South West zone than Federal government.
YCE said, “The centralised police system does not appear to respond to us. They claim that they have no mandate to go into our forests. So, Asiwaju as a foremost leader in Yorubaland must be seen to be part of us. In any case, his political party which he leads nationally controls five states in the South-West zone. So, we imagine him to be in constant communication with the state governors so that he feels our pulse and knows what we are feeling.”
At the meeting which was held at the YCE national headquarters, Old Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State capital,
Dr. Kunle Olajide, who read a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting said further,”The statement came a bit too late because Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is part of us in Yorubaland. We expect him to share our joy and share our pains. In other words, when we are in pains, he must sympathise with us. He must come and talk to us in such a way that will soothe our nerves.
“Yoruba nation has been offended and grievously assaulted in the last three years. Chief Olu Falae (former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former presidential candidate of Alliance for Democracy in 1999) was kidnapped, a professor was killed, the daughter of Chief Reuben Fasoranti (an Afenifere leader) was killed and so on. Our women were raped and our children were also raped as well. Our farmlands are destroyed and all these are being done with arrogance.
“So, we had expected in YCE that he(Tinubu) was part of the process of bringing Amotekun to life because majority of the governors of the South West are members of his party. So, it came to us as a surprise when he said that he just initiated discussion with the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu. For us, we are not happy about that.”
“So, we want him to be as regional as he is federal. We want to see him with us. When we were launching Amotekun, we expected him to be there. When we are doing good things, he should be there. God forbid, if any misfortune befalls us in the South West, he should be part of us to sympathise with us.”
“So, for him now to react more than two weeks after the Amotekun was launched is belated and for us, we are not excited because he did not come out pointedly to blame the Attorney-General of the federation. We believe the AGF was wrong to have declared Operation Amotekun as illegal and unconstitutional. Every Nigerian has a right to protect himself. Any group of Nigerians can come together and arrange for their protection in communities, estates, streets, towns and so on”.
“So, what our governors have done is not against the constitution. It is only defence that is in the constitution and that is in the exclusive legislative list. Then, decentralised policing system. But that the state governors cannot decide to protect their people and complement the efforts of the Federal Government, and the AGF would go ahead and insult them, is not acceptable to us.
“AGF is an appointed officer. Our governors are elected, and they have our mandate. We are told in Section 14B of our constitution that the primary purpose of government is the protection of lives of people and their welfare. So, our governors have done the right thing. We are now urging Asiwaju to now be more close with us here. We are happy, he has opened the communication link with Governor Akeredolu. He should keep that communication link open and we should see him more regularly. We love him and we respect him. But he should not leave us and become more federal than regional.”
Still making reference to Tinubu’s action, Olajide said: “Of course, any tree that is cut off from its roots, what will happen to it? It dies. If you cut off a tree, come back in few hours, its leaves would already be drooping. This is his root. He performed effectively when he was governor of Lagos State. We are proud of him. He held his own against the overbearing Federal Government at that time. Then, why will he now not be on our side when the AGF is attempting to intimidate or harass us? So, he should be with us.”
In a communique jointly signed by Justice Ademola Bakre(rtd) and Olajide YCE appealed to South-West governors to pursue the regional integration agenda of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission more vigorously by paying very special attention to human capacity development, education, health and agriculture.
He commended the determination of the six governors of the South-West states in organizing the Security Summit of 2019 saying “We salute their determination to protect the lives of the citizens who elected them. YCE urges the Federal Government to commend these governors and encourage other governors to emulate the South-West governors.
“The Federal Government is also advised to give necessary support to the outfit as all the ‘Amotekun’ seeks to do is to collaborate with the Federal Government in securing lives of Nigerians”, adding, “‘ Amotekun’ is designed to prevent, detect crime and apprehend criminals and hand over such criminals to the police for prosecution”, the Communiqué added.
Reacting to the recent celebration of 50 years of the end of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970, YCE, though congratulated the country for the grace and privileged, but cautioned that the celebration must not be allowed to becloud the nation’s sober reflection on the State of the Nation.
“Nigeria is indeed in trying times, confronted by challenges of insecurity, hunger, unemployment, very poor infrastructure and low human capacity development in education and health sectors.
“YCE calls on the President of the country, members of National Assembly, state governors and their lawmakers to sincerely reflect on the state of the country and proceed immediately to take necessary steps to put the country on a strong footing for the forward march to progress, unity and development”, the Communiqué added.