Amotekun: The Yoruba Are Too Big, Any Attempt By North To Pocket Them Will Break Nigeria

By Ikenga Chronicles January 22, 2020

Amotekun: The Yoruba Are Too Big, Any Attempt By North To Pocket Them Will Break Nigeria

— By Obinna Ezugwu

Let me say, straight away, that the Yoruba are no push overs. They are not a people that can be subjugated. Any attempt to subjugate them that might cause them to pick up a fight, would have far-reaching consequences and could indeed, break Nigeria. Amotekun, the new security outfit formed by the Southwest governors must be handled with care. The Yoruba, having been sufficiently provoked by the recent killings, kidnappings, and even rape of women and young girls by bandits mostly identified as herdsmen, are justifiably angry. Amotekun is therefore, a response to that. For them it has become necessary, especially because there hasn’t been sufficient effort by the federal government to bring the perpetrators of the acts to justice. The killing of Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti was the climax of what had been weeks and months of largely ignored brigandage.

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But before then was the kidnap of a certain woman who visited home from either the United States or the United Kingdom. Her account of what happened to her and her family, especially her young daughter during their kidnap ordeal in the hands of the herdsmen was heartbreaking. It is the kind of story you hear and you begin to ask if there are still men in this place. To add insult to injury, the kidnappers, the woman had said, even abused her for being Yoruba. She had then asked, rhetorically, whether any Yoruba could try same in Sokoto. This is quite deep.

That woman’s testimony, I’m sure, had hurt feelings. The leaders of the zone, especially the governors must have felt impotent. Worse still were accounts that when such kidnaps happen, and they are reported to security agencies, they turn a blind eye. There had been rumours, too, that those apprehended by local vigilantes and handed over to the security agencies were released. I cannot say whether this is true or not. But such reports were, at some point, circulating.

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Amotekun is therefore, an effort by the leaders of the zone, especially the governors to respond to this menace. There is so much emotion invested into the outfit. It is not surprising that there has been unanimous support for it in the region and beyond. Amotekun has, and will continue to be the rallying symbol for the Southwest resistance. A traitor is he who among them, will be seen to oppose it. It is therefore important that the President Muhammadu Buhari government handles it with care.

As often the case with issues that have the capacity to distort the existing status quo of the country, it has divided Nigerians along regional and religious lines. Various northern groups, including the Arewa Consultative Forum, Arewa Youths and of course, Miyetti Allah have staunchly opposed it. The reason seem not far-fetched. Amotekun could potentially create an alternative force to the conventional force now appropriated by the region for the purpose, it would seem, of controlling the country and calling the shorts. It is not by coincidence that Buhari has since handed over control of virtually all arms bearing security agency to his geopolitical region. On the other hand, the Southern and Middle Belt groups have rallied behind the move. Again, for obvious reasons. These groups have been victims of the excesses of the militant herdsmen. And indeed, have been at the receiving end of the perceived injustices of the Buhari government.

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The country is becoming increasingly polarised along these lines. Amotekun, if not handled with care by the government, could be the tipping point. Many people cannot understand why, for instance, the administration will have no issues with Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) and Hisbah police in the North, but cannot allow Amotekun. It is about control. Civilian JTF and Hisbah are in the North, controlled by the North and cannot therefore, threaten its control of the instrument of force.

Apparently, the North is uncomfortable with any threat to the existing status quo. This is why even though it is just common sense that Nigeria should have state police, it’s been opposed by mostly the region even in the face of growing banditry that has caused many communities there to become refugees in Niger Republic and elsewhere. But those in control must also know when to cede some grounds or risk everything.

One great weakness of power is not knowing where to stop. There is always the tendency for the wielders that intoxicating instrument to want to overplay their hands, often with disastrous consequences. More so in developing climes like Africa where institutions are weak and leaders, be they presidents or prime ministers, assume the status of emperors.

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It would be overplaying of hand for the Buhari government and indeed the north to go all out against Amotekun. The truth is that a determined Southwest cannot be push overs. The Yoruba are a nation, complete in everything. They have access to the sea and direct borders with neighbouring countries. Interestingly too, there are Yoruba too across the border in Benin Republic and I believe, even Togo. They are not like the Igbo who are hemmed in by people who generally despise their guts and whose ultimate agenda in the country seems to be to keep them in check, even at their own peril.

The Yoruba have, too, wealth -humongous wealth indeed and a large diaspora population. Added to this are strong traditional and religious institutions. They are the string that holds the country together. The country is as good as gone when that string is broken. The Igbo are, of course, largely fed up with the country. The Middle Belt is also upset about the killings in the region. Should the military or police unleash their guns on the Amotekun men and women when they eventually file out, the consequences could be far-reaching. Will the entire country turn against the Yoruba as they did with the Igbo during the Biafra war? Are you kidding?

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