Recruitment Into Amotekun Has Been Heavily Politicised –Gani Adams - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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Recruitment Into Amotekun Has Been Heavily Politicised –Gani Adams

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Iba Gani Adams, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland was a guest on Arise Television on Sunday morning where he spoke on the #EndSARS crisis, the attacks on Lagos and solution to the crisis. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI who monitored the interview for Daily Independent brings the excerpts:

 end on the #EndSARS crisis whereby you said Nigeria is a country in perpetual conflict. What informed that statement?

Well, we have to look at the genesis of the grievances of the youths on the #EndSARS protests. When you see some of their demands, they were demanding for a change of the constitution. Don’t forget that the #EndSARS protesters do not have a spokesman to articulate their demands. They have made a lot of sacrifices to make positive changes in Nigeria in order to ensure that we have a country that we can be proud of. After they were attacked on Tuesday by the military, a lot of thing has happened. We realised that our security architecture solely relies on the federal level. The governors do not have the power to respond to any crisis and even the regions are not coordinated in terms of security network. We have been agitating for restructuring as the solution to move Nigeria forward. We can see the situation we are now. If care is not taken and we don’t take lessons from the current developments, the future of Nigeria is bleak. When a crisis like this happens, a good leader is expected to calm the people down and proffer a solution. I have listened to lots of statements that doesn’t suggest a solution to the problem. It is our right as citizens of Nigeria to ensure that we calm our youths, preach peace and at the same time, use that opportunity to suggest a solution to the people in authority. On the #EndSARS issue, a single attack on these youths have generated a lot of interests even in the international community. I believe that if this country is not restructured within the period of two years, the country will result into war. Our crisis did not start from #EndSARS. About 70 percent of North-West states have a lot of security threats from bandits and also from the North East, the issue of Boko Haram and different organisations is the order of the day. Even in the Middle-Belt, about 50 percent of people there are crying over attacks by Fulani herdsmen. The South-West, which has always been a peaceful region in the history of our country, has been witnessing some uncoordinated attacks from criminals on our farms and cities. Lots of kidnappers and ritualists are operating in our region. These are something we have never experienced in the history of our existence.

           

The crisis has continued to fester, with hoodlums embarking on looting spree. What do you think is the best way to resolve this crisis?

On #EndSARS, if the people in power do not know the implication of what has happened, we that are very close to the commoners have to give them the solution. That was one of the reasons why I said let Nigeria be restructured into regions based on the six geo-political zones as enshrined in the 1999 constitution. The President of Nigeria should lift out the Republic Constitution of 1963. That was the only constitution that our leaders sat down and wrote by themselves without any influence of the colonial masters. We can make use of the contents to solve the problems that we have on ground. There is no doubt that Nigeria cannot move forward without restructuring. If Nigeria did not restructure, I’m afraid Nigeria will break as soon as possible. Some elites do not want to hear this but the truth must be told because the elites who do not believe in restructuring do not know that the crisis of #EndSARS will come. We couldn’t lay our fingers on their leader any anybody coordinating the protesters. What I have realised is that the spirit behind these youths goes beyond human imaginations. There is hunger and anger in the land and most Nigerians are not pleased with the manner our leaders are ruling the country. That was led to the crisis following the attack on the protesters in Lekki last week Tuesday. We have some miscreants looting public and private properties because most of them are not on paid employment. Most of them have been deprived to enjoy the goodwill of the country as citizens. As a person that led the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), we realised that most of the miscreants who committed these atrocities are not up to the age of 20, and you see them in droves moving to streets and destroying properties. 

Some people have been wondering why you have failed to act as the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland. What is your response to that?

The pressure on me in the last one week is enormous; both from within and outside the country and I tried to explain to them that there is a limit to what I can do about the internal security challenges. People do not realise that the Aare Ona Kakanfo we have today does not have the backing of the authority. Instead of them to support this traditional position in terms of defence, they are trying to whittle it down and now we are seeing the consequences. All the South-West governors, none has called me that ‘Aare, what can you do about this situation?’ Even if I was not Aare Ona Kakanfo, as someone who headed an organisation in the South-West with a population of about six million (OPC) people, I have a role to play. Even if it has to do with the level of issuing statements, making consultations or appealing to our people, I have a role to play. There was a crisis between the Yorubas and Hausas in Fagba area of Lagos; we successfully managed it so that it does not escalate. That would have been a double crisis to Nigeria if it had escalated. Even though we suffered lot of casualties, we still managed it so that it does not degenerate into a civil war. Also, during this #EndSARS crisis, some people were spreading propaganda that the Igbos were behind the attacks on the properties of a prominent politician in the South-West. We tried to dispel that rumour and told them not to cause a tribal war in Lagos. A good leader should be prepared to weather any storm. I was a delegate to the 2014 national conference and we proffered a lot of solutions aimed at moving the nation forward. We recommended about 664 contents that can move Nigeria forward but I realised that events has already overtaken most of things we recommended. Even if we used that document, it will not solve up to 80 percent of the problems we have now because a lot of things has happened between 2014 and now. The ball is in our court to ensure that we save Nigeria as a country.

On regional security, why didn’t Amotekun live up to expectation in tackling some of the security breaches we have witnessed in the last few days?

The process of Amotekun started in July 2019 and the South-West governors agreed to establish Amotekun. Five governors in the South-West have signed the bill of Amotekun into law but Lagos State has not signed its bill into law. They were talking about community police from federal police but we can see that Lagos state was badly hit by this crisis compared to other states. Assuming we agree that we should continue with the process of Amotekun, the collateral damages that happened within the period of three days would have been less. A good leader should be prepared for the future. They did not take the issue serious but were thinking about their own political ambition. Secondly, it is not only the fault of the governor, we got an information that the governors sent a representative to meet the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the NSA refused to approve the usage of pump action and dane guns by Amotekun, do you want them to use bare hands to confront hardened criminals with 4K-47 rifle? That was why there was stalemate with Amotekun and the governors could not move forward with the process. Even though they are still in the process of recruitment, we believe that this ugly incident will be a huge lesson to the federal government. 

Those who do not know the importance of OPC would have done so now with what happened in the last three days. I slept by 4am today. Apart from the communities that engaged the services of OPC to secure their environments, most of the police formations that were not burnt, about 50 percent of them were jointly protected by the police and OPC. Even the Landlords Association who before now does not recognise OPC, about 70 percent of them now have requested for the services of OPC within a period of three days that this ugly incident happened. Community leaders who before now did not know that OPC existed have called for support of OPC members when these hoodlums started looting. Even in states like Oyo, Ondo, Osun and others, some powerful politicians started calling me yesterday evening for assistance because they are afraid that their houses and businesses can be attacked. I don’t even think the number of OPC men we have on ground can do what they were requesting us to do. When you have something that is good and beneficial for you but you tried to undermine and treat it with contempt, when the chips are down, you will know the importance of that group. 

What do you think can be done to incorporate the OPC into mainstream security such as the Amotekun in order to enhance community policing? 

The federal government has no blame on the issue of OPC. The fault lies with our people. Our political leaders, because of jealousy and because they want to undermine a group that they know can be useful to them. Our initial plan was that 30 percent of OPC members should be recruited into the Amotekun Corps. They will be well-structured and trained by a retired Police, Army or DSS officer. Aside OPC, we are also talked about incorporating vigilante, hunters and other security organisations. But because of the reasons best known to them, they decided to jettison it and today, most of the recruitment into Amotekun now have political undertone. But we are not worried or ruffled about that. Now, they still have the opportunity to do something that will make them be proud as true sons of Yorubaland. The Igbos like adventure but Yorubas like history. When you do the right thing with power, the Yorubas will not forget you. But when you do wrong with power, Yorubas will not forgive you. So, they have the power to address all the problems we have in the South-West, not only on the issue of insecurity but on free education, free healthcare programme, infrastructure that Chief Obafemi Awolowo built for us. Most of them put on the cap of Awolowo but they don’t follow the ideology of Awolowo.

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