Nigeria is an epitome of irony. It is a nation peopled by great men and women but ruled by puppets and nitwits; a nation rich in natural resources but it remains the poverty capital of the world; a nation where some groups and individuals are threatening a region that decided to take measures to protect itself amid serious security challenges.
Or what do you call the vomit that came out of the mouth of the national president of the Northern Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Alhaji Isah Abubakar, and national secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhassan Saleh? Abubakar said the recently launched South-West security outfit called Operation Amotekun was the military wing of the Oodua People’s Congress in disguise, and that it was not different from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Saleh, on his part, reportedly called on the Yoruba nation to “give up on this idea because it may affect the chances of the South-West to produce the President in 2023.” What impudence!
So, it has become the prerogative of Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen, to gift the presidency to anybody and any region it deems fit? Arrogance has no better example. This flippant talk is even surprising considering that the security outfit was established to help combat crime. We have not been told that it is to fight the Fulani.
Recall that what fuelled the quest for this regional security was the failure of the nation’s security agencies to adequately protect life and property of citizens. A few months ago, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), not only accused the Nigerian Army of ethnic cleansing, but also urged his people to defend themselves because the military, as presently constituted, would not defend them. Also, the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, recently threatened that they would mobilise and train their people (the Middle Belt) into an army to defend themselves, if government couldn’t protect them.
In practical terms, the South-West governors and other stakeholders in the zone conceived the idea of Operation Amotekun last June. It was when incidents of kidnapping and killings became rampant in the region and elsewhere. Thousands of innocent Nigerians had perished in the hands of sundry killers in such places as Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Katsina and many others. Just last week, some bandits slaughtered no fewer than 31 people in Zamfara. For the South-West, the last straw that broke the camel’s back last year was the killing of the daughter of a chieftain of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, on the Ore-Sagamu Expressway, by suspected herdsmen.
After each of these atrocities, what we normally heard were condolence messages and the usual refrain that the perpetrators would be brought to book.
Perhaps, that is the tradition the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, wants to continue with. The other day, he announced that the establishment of Operation Amotekun was illegal. According to him, the Federal Government was not carried along in the planning of the regional outfit. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State countered him on this. He said they had met with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, before the launch of the security outfit penultimate Thursday.
Malami and some other champions of northern interests failed to realise that Kano, Sokoto and some others have an equivalent of Amotekun. Hisbah is a good example. Recently, Hisbah Commission in Zamfara arrested a policeman for being in a hotel with three women.
There is the other group called Civilian Joint Task Force. They operate principally in some theatres of war in the North-East. They are known to have done a marvellous job in the fight against insurgency. This is possible because they know the terrain very well. Sometimes, the police dread going into the forests where kidnappers operate. But these local security operatives don’t have such fears.
Last week, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, contemplated strengthening the existing community policing strategy in his state. Even in the South-East, different communities already have vigilance groups.
Thus, it is curious that Malami did not find the operations of these groups illegal. It was also curious that the powers that be proscribed the IPOB in 2017 but deemed the herdsmen, who go about with AK47 rifles, kidnap and sometimes kill innocent citizens, a legitimate group.
It is good that the South-West leaders and senior lawyers have faulted Malami on Amotekun. Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, Lagos laywer, Femi Falana, and many others said it didn’t breach the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Akeredolu, who is the chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, said they would pursue it to a logical conclusion.
The question is: what are the opponents of Amotekun afraid of? Could it be part of what the Sarduana of Sokoto, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, reportedly told his people in October 1960, to use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory, that they must ruthlessly prevent a change of power and never allow the South to have control over their future?
In the same token, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, was quoted to have said in October 2017 that Igbo caused the civil war and so he did not understand why they turned around to demand presidency. With every sense of entitlement and authority, Mohammed asserted that the Igbo “will never get any hope for presidency because democracy is a game of numbers.”
Mohammed and his ilk forgot that Goodluck Jonathan from a minority tribe was the President of Nigeria between 2010 and 2015. They forgot that Buhari only succeeded in becoming president in 2015 after three previous attempts. The only reason such characters vomit nonsense all the time is because the South has refused to close ranks.
Until the South-West, South-South and South-East unite to pursue their common interests, until we serve divorce letters to treachery, double standard, ethnic hubris and nepotism, and until we restructure this country to give every region a sense of belonging, Nigeria will not have genuine peace.
Re: Biafra and 50 years of unending war
Good narrative, editor. But I observed the following: 1. Some Yoruba leaders were also killed in the 1966 coup and not only the northerners listed. We list Western Region Premier, Akintola. Also, the South-East has not played politics very well with other regions. The presidency was not handed over to Obasanjo as a gift. The South-West paid for it with June 12 and fought for it. On political appointments, Yoruba suffered the same fate under Jonathan. So, aspiring and getting the presidency is a game of numbers and not zoned by law. So, 2023 is still open to all Nigerians, including your humble self. You should also give it to Obasanjo, a South-West leader, that he ran an inclusive govt. Also, Igbo senators and House of Reps members should be more vociferous in confronting the present administration on the short-changing of South-East in political appointments.
– Moshood Isamotu, +234 802 321 9696
Casmir, injustice breeds unrest. The Biafran war cannot end until justice is done. And justice can only be done by granting a free Biafran Republic or, at worst, restructuring this country, where each region can grow at its own pace. You cannot stop a progressive group because you want other groups to catch up with them. Biafra is in the spirit, 50 years or 100 years, it will re-echo until justice is done. Biafrans should not lose hope. Rather, let them embark on massive development of their area so that there will be food, good health, shelter and jobs for every indigene.
– Pharm. Okwy Njike, 08038854922
Casmir, power won’t go naturally to the Igbo in 2023. Enough of sentiments and unnecessary emotional displays! Igbos worked for PDP. They should go to PDP and plead their case. Yorubas were smarter and would take it ultimately through APC. Buhari won’t work for an Igbo presidency. It will be payback time. Power is not given on a platter of gold. In politics, you reap what you sow. Be wise in 2031 to have it in 2047.
– Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +2348161114572
Thanks, Casmir. It is unfortunate that the Igbo are faced by not just marginalisation but also stigmatisation. The January 1966 coup was plotted to bring Obafemi Awolowo to power but was misunderstood as attempt to institute Igbo domination. Igbos are the major taxpayers in Nigeria; the best footballers and academics. If presidency eludes the South-East in 2023, it will tell on the status of social justice.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
I think they told us, “no victor and no vanquished,” but why are they treating Ndigbo as second class citizens in Nigeriam, 50 years since the civil war ended? Federal Government has not been carrying Ndigbo along in governance. They are pushing us to the wall, which is not good. Nigeria belongs to everybody; why must they treat Ndigbo like this?
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348115368466
Dear Casy, all the issues you raised in your last treatise were the indices that the Biafran war has not ended. Gowon signed the famous Aburi accord and returned home and jettisoned the accord and invaded Biafran territory. His army killed more than three million Biafrans. Ever since then, the war has been on. Recently, in his message to our people for Biafra’s 50-year unending war, in Lagos, Gowon blamed Ojukwu for the war. The man who killed three million unarmed civilians in Biafra is a saint but the man who defended his people is a villain.
– Eze Chima C. Lagos, 2347036225495
- First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 20, 2020