ON April 1, 2021, Governor Dapo Abiodun decorated Professor Wole Soyinka as the Super Marshall of Operation Amotekun, the Ogun State chapter of Western Nigeria Security Network.
By accepting that investiture, the Nobel Laureate endorsed the growing need for civilians to acquire martial skills for self-defence.
Coming at a time that the federal agencies constitutionally charged with the mandate to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians have consistently failed to do their work, this should be a prompter for a wider programme of citizen self-defence to be considered.
When we glibly talk about the need to change our security architecture, it should not be only seen in the appointment of new military, intelligence and police service chiefs to operate the same failed centralised structure.
No one possesses the magic wand to convert a failed system into a successful one.
What is required is the shifting of more power to the people. There is no better way of achieving this than to let the citizenry play their natural role in their own defence.
Apart from introducing light firearms and martial arts training in the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, young Nigerians should also be encouraged to walk in and get the training for self-defence. At the same time, they should also be taught the need to be socially responsible by refraining from the illegal or unlawful use of arms.
We should not allow criminals and terrorists to enjoy overwhelming advantages over our law-abiding citizenry.
We believe that a well-trained citizenry will be a valuable asset to the nation, especially now that terrorist networks from the West African sub-region, Middle East and Asia have found willing tools among Nigerians in their cynical plots to destabilise the country.
It is perhaps the prevention of the kind of security threats assailing us that inspired 28 countries of the world to demand compulsory military service for all their citizens.
Some of those countries are Brazil, Belarus, Bermuda, Myanmar, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Israel, South Korea, North Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Turkey, Tunisia, Thailand and Taiwan.
Professor Soyinka pioneered the Road Safety Corps system in old Oyo State, after which the Babangida administration brought it to the federal level by establishing the FRSC in 1988.
Let his symbolic acceptance of the Amotekun Super Marshall title open the door to a new era of citizen direct but controlled participation in ensuring their own safety.
Nigerians should no longer be easy pickings for criminals, terrorists and ethnic expansionists.