*Why Nigeria must Restructure?
*What the New Southwest Security Outfit must do
*How Government Can lift Nigeria out of poverty
*State Police an answer to insecurity in the country
*Mercenaries infiltrate Southwest
Gani Adams, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland and national coordinator, Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, 49, is passionate about the affairs of Yoruba land and how to move the region forward. He has the knack of hitting the nail on the head without mincing words when discussing challenges facing Yoruba land and Nigeria in general. Right now, his major concern is how to secure lives and property as wanton kidnappings and cultism assail the region. According to him, “It is only a person that is alive that can say he wants to play politics. So the first thing that is very paramount and pertinent in life is the protection of lives and property.”
Adams, who hails from Arigidi-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria, was installed as the15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland by Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo, October 14, 2017. He schooled at Army Children’s School, Oturkpo, before his father moved to Lagos, where he completed his primary education at Municipal Primary School, Surulere, in 1980. He also attended Ansar-Ud-deen Secondary School, Randle Avenue, Surulere, and later completed his training in furniture-making and interior decoration in 1987. Thereafter, Adams worked for Visinoni Stabilini, an Italian construction company, Apapa, Lagos, before he resigned to start his own business.
He was a part of the pro-democracy movement in the 1990s, and served as the public relations officer of Mushin local government chapter of the Campaign for Democracy, CD, in 1993. One of the founding members of the OPC, Adams was also its first deputy national coordinator. The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland made time out of his busy schedule to grant exclusive interview to the Realnews team of Maureen Chigbo, editor and Anayo Ezugwu, senior staff writer, in his house in Lagos on Wednesday, January 8, where he bared his mind on topical issues in the country including restructuring of Nigeria, modus operandi of Amotekun, the new security outfit in Southwest, the imperative of state police in the country and how Fulani mercenaries from Mali, Libya and other West African countries have infiltrated Yoruba land thereby worsening insecurity in the region. It is a must read. Excerpts:
Realnews: How do you see the establishment of Amotekun, the new security outfit in Yorubaland?
Adams: I think it is a welcome development. Amotekun will solve a lot of problem in Yorubaland. Psychologically, it will give us peace and tranquillity. It will even create more employment for the youths and most of the youths that will be trained for the Amotekun operation will be a very good product for the society. With regards to security threat in southwest that we have been witnessing for almost four years now, we realized that the southwest has been infiltrated by unknown gunmen, and people who are not the Fulani people that have been living with us for a long time. We witnessed some strange Fulani people, who disguise as herdsmen and at the end of the day we discovered that they are mercenaries. Then we realized that they are staging rampant kidnapping in different communities in Yoruba land. At the same time, the issue of cultism is becoming rampant. When we were young what we witnessed was secret cults in tertiary institutions but now we have vulcanizers, Agboros (touts), shoemakers all having secret cults unions. We even have cults on the ordinary streets. So the rising crime rate can be as a result of these groups in different locations. So I think Amotekun will complement the efforts of the security agencies because we don’t need to deceive ourselves, insecurity in southwest have grown beyond the power of Nigeria security agencies. They are trying their best and they have developed different strategies but we realized that those who live in a vicinity of the criminals know them more than police deployed from different states of the country to southwest. Amotekun is not a state police. It is just a security outfit that would be controlled by the state government. Definitely, the advantage in Amotekun is that the region wants to have the same way of operation. This means that a criminal that runs away from Oyo to Osun will not be safe in the state. The one that runs away from Osun to Ogun, there will not be a safe haven for that criminal. So if you commit any crime you don’t have any place to hide in Yoruba land. Amotekun will give a clear signal and confidence to the investors that are scared of our region. Presently, people are moving into agricultural business and farming but because of the infiltration of these mercenaries from Mali, Libya and other West African countries because of instability in those areas, we have been seriously infiltrated.
Realnews: Is OPC part of this Amoteun operation?
Adams: Definitely. As of today, we have been contacted by three states, which are Ondo, Ekiti amd Osun. But we are expecting others to contact us. They just have to start because apart from the issues of technicalities that the DAWN Commission is working on, the process has not started. There will be an inaugural ceremony tomorrow (Thursday, January 9) to unveil it. After unveiling it the proper recruitment will follow. But some of the governors have been making contact. I was invited yesterday afternoon by the DAWN commission.
Realnews: What commission is that?
Adams: DAWN commission, Development Agenda of Western Nigeria. It is a commission that was setup by southwest governors to advise them on the development of western Nigeria. The way things are going after the inauguration tomorrow the process and recruitment will follow. I read in the newspapers that Amotekun is for intelligence gathering which I disagree with them. It must go beyond intelligence gathering.
Realnews: Why do you disagree with that?
Adams: It must go beyond intelligence gathering. All the security agencies have their informants before Amotekun. The police are being giving money in their vote to give to their informants. The SSS has their own. Every security agency has its intelligence gathering from the beginning. So why should you say that Amotekun is just for intelligence gathering. The civilian JTF in Borno and northeast are they serving for intelligence gathering alone? The Hisbah Corps in Kano, is it only for intelligence gathering? The Zamfara vigilante group is it only for intelligence gathering? We have problem here and we must solve the problem.
Realnews: So what role do you think they should play?
Adams: They should go beyond intelligence gathering. Hunters are not for intelligence gathering because they carry arms from time immemorial. In the bush will you say hunters should lay down their arms and be working as informants in the bush and face criminals with AK47 and sophisticated weapons?
Realnews: Are hunters part of the Amotekun?
Adams: There are hunters, vigilantes and OPC. Vigilantes always carry light weapons like local guns and pump-action from the beginning. So will you say they should drop their arms to become informants? I think we should call a spade a spade. We should not fear anybody before we bring peace to our region. But what I’m saying is that the only thing we should do is not to allow the security outfit to be counterproductive but to allow federal government security agencies to supervise them and train them. They should train them and be in control of many technical issues about the operation. In the operation of Amotekun, I know it is either a retired military personnel or police personnel that will head the state operations. So there will be a synergy between the federal government security agencies and Amotekun. From the beginning that was the plans of the governors.
Realnews: It appears Afenifere is not also in support of Amotekun?
Adams: I don’t have knowledge about that.
Realnews: Does Amotekun obviate the quest for state policing?
Adams: I said it from beginning that Amotekun is not build like the state police. With state police, we have to arrest, investigate and prosecute. Amotekun can arrest and hand over to the police or SSS. Amotekun cannot prosecute.
Realnews: So the quest for state police is still on?
Adams: It is still on but this is not state police. The only thing Amotekun can do is to arrest and handover to Nigeria police or SSS. Amotekun cannot prosecute or investigate the person they have arrested. So the issue of investigation, detention and prosecution lies with the police or SSS.
Realnews: And that is why you are still asking for state police?
Adams: Yes. This is not the state police we are asking for.
Realnews: How do you see the issue of restructuring?
Adams: That is the only way we can solve our problems. What we are doing about Amotekun is just like someone who has fever and we are giving that person paracetamol just to relive that person. That is Amotekun. Normally, someone who has fever have to be diagnosed by taking his/her blood sample to know the kind of fever he/she is suffering from and at the end of the day determine whether he/she will take an injection or tablets. So Amotekun is like paracetamol to someone suffering from fever. And it is not part of the restructuring we are asking for. Restructuring is a total way of solving Nigeria’s problems. But the way things are going we just need Amotekun to give us relief because we don’t know who will be the victim at the end of the day. These people kill victims like chicken and apart from the one that affected Chief Olu Falae no other suspect arrested in connection with kidnapping in southwest is undergoing prosecution since it started in Yorubaland. It is only because Chief Olu Falae is a high personality and with pressure from different groups in Yorubaland and Nigeria that they tried to prosecute them. Others even though they were arrested you will not know how they escaped prosecution. So you cannot compare Amotekun with the content of state police and you cannot compare it with restructuring.
Realnews: What is your idea of restructuring?
Adams: We need a fiscal federalism. We need a true federalism on the basis of allowing all the federating units to develop at their own pace. We defaulted our agreement and that is one of the reasons why Nigeria is having problems today. The agreement we had together before getting independence was that our political leaders then agreed to be together as Nigeria in 1959 but we must allow the component units which was western region, northern region and eastern region to have their autonomy on the basis of federating units and we should meet at the centre which is the federal which was Lagos by then. Unfortunately in 1966, Aguiyi-Ironsi came and destroyed the federalism. It is unfortunate that we southerners caused that problem and by the time the north came, they said this is an opportunity to control the country in fullness and they just hang on it. Since then Nigeria has not been a stable country as we expected. When you are talking of restructuring the only way we can move forward as a nation is to allow even the zones to become federating units. We have south-south, southeast, southwest, north-central, northwest and northeast. These are the six zones which should be allow them to develop at their pace. Allow them to be highly autonomous economically even in certain level of their political structure. Even security wise, there must be regional, state and local government police. Likewise, there will still be a federal police, SSS, Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Army for the sovereignty in case of any external aggressor, Nigeria Navy and Nigeria Air force. But in terms of police there will still be a structure in the region because we know ourselves in Yorubaland. Even in Lagos, we know ourselves, every community knows itself and in the remote villages in Yorubaland they know themselves. And when you are giving the security job to the people in the local areas, they will not disappoint. When they see strange faces in their area they will detect them and report to police. That is the only way we can have a relatively peaceful atmosphere that is conducive for investors. Atmosphere that is even conducive for tourists locally and internationally to move freely without molestation. So I believe that restructuring should be done totally
but at the same time I believe that if we haven’t got to the stage of restructuring that will give birth to state police let Amotekun be to give us a temporary relief in terms of security. That is the reason I’m supporting the governors.
Realnews: Around December they said that Fulani herdsmen or some mercenaries as you have said hosted their flag in Ekiti State, what was your reaction?
Adams: We didn’t react because we are tired of even talking to the media every time. What we need is a solution and the solution has come. We couldn’t issue a statement on that because we know it is an insult to our integrity and existence but we couldn’t react to it. The governors are trying to do the needful so we have to support them. You don’t need to be crying every day; you don’t need to be a town crier in the media every day; you back your word with action and what is coming now is an action. We don’t need to discourage people about it because we have to start from somewhere. So we have to encourage them and give them normal backing and support despite that not every governor will operate at the same pace. Some of them will not even share the same ideology but something that should be of collective interest is security. You don’t play politics with your security. It is only the person that is alive that can say he wants to play politics. So the first thing that is very paramount and pertinent in life is the protection of life and property.
Realnews: You talked about poverty in the country as a time bomb, what do you mean by that?
Adams: The level of our economy shows that we are in the stage where our people are in the state of abject poverty. Even in the rating of economies in the world, Nigeria is one of the 20 worst poor nations. And apart from the international rating, it is an eyesore because a country that doesn’t have stable electricity there is no way that country can grow. In a country that all the zones are being threatened security wise, there is no way a very good investor can come there and invest. And when you don’t have stable power supply no investor will take you serious and bring his billions of dollars to come and invest in that area. And a country that does not have a stable policy, the federal executive council can sit down tomorrow and change anything based on cabal interest, no investor will trust that country. And a country that don’t manage its international relations very well, that most of her citizens are being caught with either drugs or are involved in international frauds, investors will be scared to come and invest in that area. And a country that doesn’t believe in rule of law, who treats her citizens at poorly, even court judgement being given to the government will not respect it. A country that doesn’t want to respect freedom of speech and expression, it will be very difficult for international agencies to give grants and bring international institutions to that country. Just look at Kenya, a country that doesn’t have much mineral resources, do you know what they are leveraging on? Almost 30 percent of international agencies in Africa are being designated to Kenya, UN and different international organizations. So the inflow of people coming to Kenya every day, about 70 to 80 percent are coming for conferences and symposiums and they are bring money. Their hotels are busy. Their transporters are busy, and those involved in essential commodities make money every day in Nairobi and from those coming there when they see the peaceful atmosphere. Apart from Al-Shabab group that is giving them problem through Ethiopia and Eritrea, Kenya could have even grow more than this. When you go there, apart from minor security threats, you know it is an atmosphere you can stay and enjoy yourself. And they even leverage on it on the basis of tourism. They opened their tourism space that when you finish conference you can go and see different places. And they worked on their roads from Nairobi to other neighbouring popular cities. For six hours you will be driving and seeing light. So when you are talking of economy, there are many factors Nigeria has neglected that are affecting our economy. The major one is the power supply. Secondly is insecurity. What does Kenya have as a country? Nigeria is a country that God blessed in all angles but our leaders are not leveraging on it. Definitely, the issue of poverty in Nigeria cannot be quantified as of today. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. The way budget is coming, we are not sure the economy will improve because we borrowed 30 percent of our last budget. Now you have increased tax. By increasing tax the prices of essential commodities will skyrocket. So the prices of goods and services will be higher. The landlords will increase their rents and definitely many people living in urban areas will be going back to the rural areas without even getting jobs in that place. So when you are talking about economy and Nigeria is planning to go and borrow $30 billion and economic analysts say that when we borrow this money we will be using 50 percent of our budget to service the debt. I’m not an economic expert but given the level of my education and analysis, it does not make sense. Yoruba will say: when a spirit cannot help you it should leave you the way you are. We only concentrated on oil and now we are shouting agriculture but the government is paying attention only to the north. Other viable lands in the southern Nigeria, they are not injecting money and opportunities to these lands. Assuming there is no spirit of nepotism in this government, if they use the resources they are putting only in the north and share it to all the zones we could have been planting different crops that will reduce the price of food. When you have solved the problem of food that your citizens can buy food at cheaper rate, you will be talking about shelter. Shelter is about building houses by government or it empowers the mortgage institutions to build houses and ask Dangote to reduce the price of cement. When the price of cement is being reduced and you ask people selling sand to reduce their price, definitely the cost of building houses will be low. At the end of the day, if you can solve the problem of housing and food people will take care of themselves in terms of buying cloths and other things. And if you can’t open your border, you empower the textile industry to resume production. When you solve the problem of housing, feeding and people can wear cloths at their level; definitely there is limit to shouting about poverty.
– Jan. 10, 2020 @ 16:59 GMT |