THE national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday explained why he had remained silent over the raging controversies surrounding the launch of Operation Amotekun by South-West governors.
In a personally signed statement, Tinubu said if he truly is a political leader, as he is often described, then he doesn’t have “the luxury of hasty, ill-conceived utterances.” He said he, equally, does “not cow to the demands of those who press for me to make a premature statement on an important issue.” Instead, he chooses to talk only “when my position has been made ripe by a collection of the facts and a reasonable assessment of those facts.”
He regretted that while Amotekun “is a matter of serious concern entitled to sober thought, it has been turned into a political tug-of-war. Fierce, often unthinking rhetoric, for and against, has crossed the lips of too many Nigerians. More subjective talking than objective thinking has been the fuel of this outburst.”
He noted: “How people have mishandled this matter demonstrates that we still have far to go in perfecting this democracy. Too much energy has been spent distorting this issue instead of seeking a resolution that supports local enhancement of security while keeping the constitution intact.” He warned: “If this becomes the standard for how we handle disagreements then we will obscure Nigeria’s path forward with our own rubbish.”
Insisting that his position on Amotekun is “not blind or uncritical,” Tinubu highlighted some “organisational and functional aspects of the proposal that could cause some problems if left unresolved.”He noted that some aspects of Amotekun might undermine the objective of low-key information gathering, even as its “showy paraphernalia” could aggravate public perceptions that “its mandate is more expansive” than it appears.
He argued further: “Amotekun should have focused on grassroots local organisation at the state level without a regional command hierarchy. The regional approach may undermine efficiency. There is no compelling logic why the same personnel providing security and informational assistance in Ado-Ekiti should be under the same functional and operational leadership as those providing assistance in Lekki or Akure. This will not lead to optimal performance.”
Tinubu summed up some of the drawbacks, warning again: “The current formulation of Amotekun is in need of repair before it takes to the road only to quickly slip into a ditch.”
The APC national leader blamed the gulf between the South-West governors and Attorney General Abubakar Malami on “an unfortunate lack of communication.” He explained: “Their (governors’) failure to include the office of the attorney general in these discussions is the fount of the current public uproar. This was an unfortunate omission the governors should regret and seek to remedy.”
Again, Tinubu tried to clarify Malami’s dilemma, saying: “While the attorney general is a conscientious public servant, he is also human. Not having been consulted, he was suddenly faced with an unexpected public announcement regarding a matter within his official ambit. He likely feared the failure to consult him meant that federal prerogatives were being encroached. To blame him for this conclusion would be to blame human nature itself. Though his negative reaction was understandable it was also unhelpful.”
Tinubu, however, added: “Believing the governors had crossed the line, the attorney general should have reached out to them. Before going public, he should have sought a private meeting so that he could have a better factual understanding of Amotekun. This would have enabled him to give the governors any specific constitutional or other objectives he might have.
“In this way, the two sides would have engaged in private consultations to reach agreement on the way forward. This cooperative process might have helped to correct some of the organisational lapses above identified. Such a diplomatic and wise step also would have prevented the current public acrimony now surrounding the issue.”
To resolve the controversies, Tinubu called for a “private discussion” between both parties. “Either the governors should seek an official but private meeting with the attorney general, or the attorney general can initiate the contact. Since Amotekun is their initiative, the governors bear the greater onus in seeking the meeting.”
He clarified: “The fabric of the republic has not been put at stake by Amotekun. However, that fabric could be torn by the dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better.”
According to him, “Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion. Those claiming that the Federal Government seeks to terribly suppress the South-West have also lost their compass.
Those who occupy these two extremes have sunken into the dark recesses of fear and political paranoia that can undo a nation if such sentiments are allowed to gestate.”
He also announced he had “initiated communication with the chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, with a view to meeting the South-West governors to explore amicable solutions to the avoidable controversy.”
But reacting to the statement, Afenifere chieftain, Dr. Femi Okunrounmu, said: “Tinubu’s statement is neither here nor there. He is trying to be on the sides of both the government and his kinsmen. He doesn’t want to offend the government, so he is trying to be neutral. As a Yoruba leader, I expected him to be on the side of the people, since Amotekun has become inevitable in the interest of the people.”
This came as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) blamed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for failing to curb insecurity in the country, describing Amotekun and other self-help initiatives as evidence of such lapse. “Amotekun is a vote of no confidence in the security architecture,” said PDP spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan.
But some Yoruba leaders praised Tinubu. Prof. Banji Akintoye, the leader of Yoruba World Congress, expressed satisfaction with the statement, which he described as a “welcome development.” According to him, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a big boss to us in Yorubaland. His party controls five out of six states in the South-West. That is why his comment is very necessary. We are pleased with his comment and I hope the governors will do all that is necessary.”
Also, the former Daily Times editor, Chief Areoye Oyebola, said he found Tinubu’s statement “very objective, balanced and thoughtful.”
Retired Col. Samuel Adeleye Agbede of the Senior Elders’ Forum of Yoruba Council of Elders, said: “I commend Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for finally coming out to speak about this wonderful outfit. His silence had given us a little bit of concern. Even though as a politician and elderly person, he tried to tread the middle way, the issue is that Yoruba security, peace, and any step taken to protect their lives and property can’t be negotiated. Tinubu is not opposed to Amotekun, and that is what we want to hear from him.”
Also, the national president of Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association Worldwide, Olalekan Hammed, said: “Tinubu has just displayed his known character of being highly diplomatic in handling national issues. His stance on Amotekun will go a long way to determine the kind of support people will give him in 2023.”
Meanwhile, the Ogun State chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria has said it would support Amotekun only if members of other tribes living in the South-West are involved. The chairman of the group, Alhaji Abdulmumini Ibraheem, said: “Every member of the other ethnic groups living in the South-West region should be carried along. If Yoruba are the only ones allowed to join Amotekun, it could portend danger to other tribes in the region. If the people in charge can follow these conditions, I will lead our members to join Amotekun and we will support it with everything.”
This came as Inspector General of Police Abubakar Adamu stressed the need for community policing while opening the north central’s security summit in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, yesterday. According to Adamu, “A successful community policing strategy will increase trust, confidence and communication between the community and the police and most significantly reduce crime.”
In his speech, Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule expressed hope that the community policing strategy of President Buhari’s administration would address insecurity if properly practised.