Amotekun: After weeks of brickbats, Tinubu calls for truce between Justice Minister and Southwest governors
…says regional outfit not threat to Nigeria but complementary
…describes those offended as embarking on “madcap excursion’’
Amid brick-and-mortar between the Federal Government and Southwest govermnors over “Amotekun’’, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, has finally intervened, saying those who felt “offended’’ may have taken upon themselves a “madcap excursion’’.
“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 Southwest 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,’’ Tinubu said on Wednesday, calling for a halt to the “political tug of war’’.
Persecondnews recalls that there has been a faceoff between the Presidency and the Southwest governors over the launch of a regional security outfit codenamed “Amotekun’’.
Characteristic of him, Tinubu who had watched for several weeks the brickbats, said the foundation of the country had not been jeopardized or put at risk with the inauguration of the regional security outfit in a bid to fully address insecurity in the six states.
He, however, cautioned that fabric of the nation could be torn by what he called the “dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better.”
Tinubu called for a truce through a private discussion between the governors and the Attorney-General over the complementary security network.
Barring his mind in a statement entitled, “The Public Discourse Over Amotekun,” he said: “Amotekun. This issue has dominated recent discourse and media headlines. Distilled to its basics, it concerns how best state governments can assist with the safety and security of their residents.
“This is a matter of serious concern entitled to sober thought. However, 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.
“Question those in favour of Amotekun. Most have but the vaguest notion about it. They know few details yet vigorously attribute to its opponents the most negative intentions.
“Ask those who oppose Amotekun. They are equally ignorant of its provisions. They oppose the initiative not on its merits but merely because it was proposed by their political opponents or because they don’t see an avenue for personal gain from it.’’
Noting: “While colourful, the rhetoric has been disconcerting. 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. If this becomes the standard for how we handle disagreements then we will obscure Nigeria’s path forward with our own rubbish.’’
Tinubu said in all the differences between the Attorney General and the governors there was no shred of malign intention.
“In this matter, I do not see malign intent in the differences of opinion between the SW Governors as authors of Amotekun and the Attorney-General as the primary law enforcement officer of the Federal Government.
“Shorn of the overly dramatic language, what lies before us is but a step in the evolution of our federalism.,’’ he said, stressing `this is an opportunity to more clearly define that federalism; but one cannot attain this better, more functional definition through overblown, emotional language.
According to the APC leader, objectivity and calmness are required in the handling of the matter.
“To a significant degree, the enduring quality of our republic will be established by the sagacity with which we handle disagreements regarding the division of power between federal and state governments. Such disagreements are inevitable.
“This is not the first. Nor will it be the last. We must devote our energies more toward solving problems rather than amplifying them.
“Seeking to fulfill their mandates by helping protect their people, the governors of the Southwest collectively established a program to buttress existing security mechanisms.
“Seeking to protect the constitution as best he could, the Attorney-General offered his opinion on what he believed the governors have sought to do. No one can blame either party for seeking to fulfil what they genuinely see as their public duty.
“Until now, I have deliberately maintained a studied silence regarding Amotekun. Many have tried to goad my swift public reaction. Those who have taken this road did so not because they care about Amotekun or even the people it intends to help protect.
“They did so knowing this had become a delicate and emotional issue for many. These cynics did so with the adversarial hope that, in haste, I might misspeak or misstep in a manner they could twist to their political advantage.
“Such people are possessed of a mercenary aspect that permits them to sacrifice almost anything, even jeopardize the very foundations of our political unity, if they might exact personal gain from the upheaval.
“In that they know no nobler purpose than their own appetites, we should feel sorry for them. However, we must not allow our sympathies for their barren condition to persuade us that there is worth in their destructive misconduct. They must be left to the consequences of their own devices.
“If truly I am a political leader as I am often described, then I have not the luxury of hasty, ill-conceived utterances. There are those who will use inflamed words to spark the passions of others.
“This may bring transient applause. But when the cheers fade, we shall only have further descended because their words were never inclined toward resolution and long-term improvement but toward short-term popularity and perpetual confrontation,’’ he said.
Tinubu also restated his belief in Nigeria and its benign prospects and declared: “I dearly love its people, all of them. Over the years of our existence, they have suffered much. Yet they still hold forth with heroic patience and an extraordinary optimism born of strong faith. To these people I owe my best.
“I shall not treat them cheaply or bandy their emotions like some errant football. The welfare of this good and decent people is my overriding concern.
“Equally, I do not cow to the demands of those who press for me to make a premature statement on an important issue. Again, that is a game devised by those who care more about political cleverness than the quality of governance.’’
On why he had refused to comment on the development until now, Tinubu said: “I chose to talk when my position has been made ripe by a collection of the facts and a reasonable assessment of those facts.
“As I view it, this matter can be divided in three major parts: 1) Substantive merits of Amotekun, 2) Decision-making and consultative process and 3) Recommendations on the way forward.
“As the highest elected official in his state and thus the individual embodiment of the will of the people, a governor must view safety and security as a foremost priority, integral to his mandate.
“To turn a blind eye to these concerns would be a grave dereliction. That the SW Governors seek to work together to complement the extant security architecture is, in principle, a commendable undertaking.
“ In embracing this concept, they have acted in consonance with spirit of their offices for the better interests of their people.
Recalling as governor of Lagos State, he said: “I confronted a burgeoning criminal menace. I could not sit idly in the face of the violence and property destruction that struck genuine fear in the hearts of the people.
“The police tried as best they could; but their coverage was thin. They simply did not have the personnel or material wherewithal to be everywhere at once. We formed Neighbourhood Watch to help fill the gap.
“Our aim was not to replace existing structures but to complement and augment them. The mission of Neighbourhood Watch was to monitor the wards and neighbourhoods of the state.
“The group would gather information and intelligence to pass to the police and security authorities. The Neighbourhood Watch also provided an early warning system to keep citizens from harm’s way.
“The idea worked. Crime and violence reduced significantly. Even the overreaching Obasanjo government did not contend against Neighbourhood Watch.
“Judging from the public statements of the governors, Amotekun is meant to be structured along similar lines. As I understand it, Amotekun is to be another set of eyes and ears to assist the police.
“ As such, it is but the second generation of Neighbourhood Watch expanded to a regional scale. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with this. It does not appear to insult the constitution.
However, my position regarding Amotekun is not blind or uncritical; there are several organisational and functional aspects of the proposal that could cause some problems if left unresolved.’’
Tinubu also suggested that some things needed to be corrected before Amotekun becomes operational, saying the current formulation of Amotekun is in need of repair before it takes to the road only to quickly slip into a ditch.
On the claim by Attorney General that he was not consulted, the APC leader said :``The governors state that they consulted regularly with the police and security agencies. This was the right thing to do.
“However, their 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.