South-West governors and the apex Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere have differed on the position of All Progressives Congress leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s on the Western Nigerian Security Network, Operation Amotekun.
The governors commended the former Lagos State governor and promised to look into the issues he raised, but Afenifere hit Tinubu hard, saying his statement lacked substance.
After almost three weeks of silence on the launching of Amotekun, Tinubu on Wednesday made his position known on the security outfit, which was launched by the South-West governors in Ibadan on January 9.
But Tinubu, in a statement he personally signed, took a neutral position on Amotekun. His position is at variance with the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; Ohanaeze Ndigbo and prominent lawyers, who lauded the initiative.
Tinubu blamed both the South-West governors and Malami for the controversy the matter had generated.
The APC leader, who is rumoured to be nursing a presidential ambition, said the intentions of the governors were good but the manner with which Amotekun was being set up was wrong.
The former governor of Lagos State criticised Malami for issuing a statement condemning the initiative when he could have simply reached out to them and handled it internally and more amicably.
He added, “The governors stated 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. However, the conceptual merits and positive functional aspects of Amotekun should not be tainted by this procedural defect.
“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.
“The Attorney General acted hastily in rendering a public statement that was more inaccurate than it should have been. Amotekun was never proposed as a ‘defence’ agency; the Attorney General erred in using this description. The use of uniform and brightly coloured vehicles may not be the best ideas, but they do not render Amotekun a defence agency or paramilitary group any more than a designated school van carrying uniformed students constitutes a paramilitary deployment.”
The APC chieftain said Amotekun was a laudable initiative, but needed some operational and conceptual modifications or else it would fail.
Tinubu made objective observations – Akeredolu
Reacting to Tinubu’s statement, Akeredolu commended him.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said it was commendable for Tinubu to have broken silence on the issue.
He said, “We have to commend our leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, for his comments. As a leader who loves his people, he has made objective observations in his statement.
“In the comment he could see that the Operation Amotekun can never be a threat to the unity of the country and that the people of the South-West needed to be protected by their governors. Also, all other issues he pointed out in the statement would be looked into. But he has spoken well.”
Ex-Lagos gov’s statement lacks substance – Afenifere
But the Afenifere dismissed the statement by the former Lagos State governor, saying it lacked substance.
It said Tinubu spoke in a forked tongue, adding that his statement failed to defend the decision taken by his kinsmen to defend themselves against marauders.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with The PUNCH, recalled how the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), visited the then Oyo State Governor, Lam Adesina, to protest the alleged killing of his kinsmen.
He said, “Maybe, he (Tinubu) should have kept quiet. This is not the time to speak in a forked tongue. What is the reason? You are afraid of Buhari?
“In 2001, when there was a crisis between herdsmen and farmers, what did Buhari do? He went to Ibadan and told Governor Lam Adesina ‘your people are killing my people.’
“In 2013, what did Buhari do? He told President Goodluck Jonathan you can’t declare amnesty for Niger Delta militants while killing Boko Haram. Attack against Boko Haram is an attack against the North.
“We are being killed for months, our women are being raped. Now, our governors are taking a token measure to secure our people. At this point, if you can’t speak for the people, it is better to keep quiet. We are not impressed.”
Also, an Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, said Tinubu only came out to react because of his aspiration to be President in 2023.
Adebanjo, who obviously disagreed with Tinubu’s position, said the APC National Leader would not say anything that would contradict the position of Buhari.