NOBEL laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has described the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) codenamed Operation Amotekun as a fulfillment of the yearnings of the people.
States in the Southwest last week inaugurated the joint security outfit in Ibadan.
Throwing his weight behind the initiative, Prof Soyinka said it is “a desirable New Year gift.”
Speaking at the “Never Again” Conference to commemorate 50 years of the end of the Nigerian civil war, Soyinka said: “My second remark is to say thank you to a number of public-spirited, humanity-considering governors in this nation, who finally responded to the demand and yearnings of the citizens and produced one organisation called Amotekun.
“This is most unexpected. I had given up on them. It was the most unexpected, but desirable New Year present this nation has ever received. Whether you agree or disagree, the point is, the yearning of the people has been fulfilled.”
Also on Monday, Director-General of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Seye Oyeleye, the organisation driving the process, said no operative of Amotekun would earn less than the national minimum wage of N30,000. .
Oyeleye, who spoke against the backdrop of reports that the operatives would earn N15, 300 monthly, explained that each state in the Southwest would recruit and remunerate the personnel according to its financial capacity and security needs.
“The way the Amotekun is operating is that individual states are responsible for the recruitment and no state will pay below the minimum wage to whoever it recruits,” he added.
He spoke while contributing via telephone to a Television Continental breakdown programme Your View in Lagos on Monday. A former Lagos State Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni was guest of the programme.
The DAWN boss said he was mystified on reading the report (not The Nation) that N13,500 wage suddenly surfaced when “at no point during the implementation for Amotekun did we ever mention it.”
He said, “ I am actually mystified where the figure came from. So, the N13,500 stir is what someone plucked from somewhere in the air and put it out in the space.Maybe because we are in a social media age, people just sit behind their laptops and put out a figures.”
Asked if all the Southwest states would be able to pay N30,000 to Amotekun personnel, Oyeleye replied, “As an example, assuming tomorrow state police was approved, the states will have to pay them.
“Amotekun will be funded by the states through their security trust funds. So, I see no difficulty at all in paying the personnel . I have to emphasize this is not one army that is being set up and they would be paid centrally.
“The states are responsible. So, if your state has 300 members in your Amotekun, it will pay and I am not sure any state will pay below minimum wage but N13,500 figure is a false claim..”
When asked to comment on the absence of some governors at the launch of the security outfit, he said, “ five governors were there – three governors and two deputies. The deputies represented their principals.
“All the states sent in their vehicles and personnel which clearly shows that the six states in the Southwest are in sync. They were all painted in the same colour with the same logo,
“I am not sure a governor who didn’t come would have sent in his vehicles or the personnel if he wasnt interested. The governor that didn’t come had genuine reason for not coming. It wasn’t like they are taking it lightly.”
Owoseni said the fact that the Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu was not at the launch of Ametokun did not mean that the Police was not in support of it.
Owoseni said the outfit was just a stronger arrangement of the vigilance groups which are registered and have branches.
He said the groups work with the police in every way, adding that their operations have helped the police greatly.
The former CP pointed out that Amotekun was just a regional outfit that would leverage on the resources of the six Southwest states and draw the benefits of collaboration against criminality.
He posited that those anxious to know Amotekun’s mode of operation were possibly criminals who trying to identify how to beat the security outfit.
“Those wanting to know mode of operation of Amotekun are criminals. The outfit will take off and do its job accordingly,” the retired police chief said.
Owoseni, who expressed belief that Amotekun would not witch-hunt anybody, allayed fear that its personnel and managers might abuse their privileges.