Tinubu Finally Speaks On ‘Operation Amotekun’

NASS Leadership: Why I Am Backing Buhari, APC’s Position – Tinubu

 

 

All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has finally weighed in on the debate over ‘Operation Amotekun’.

The APC stalwart in a statement on Wednesday called for private discussion between the Governors of the South-West and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, over the initiative.

He said the foundation of the country had not been put at risk with the South-west regional security outfit launched by the governors of the zone in a bid to confront the insecurity in their states.

The former Lagos governor, however, warned that that fabric could be torn by what he called the “dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better.”

In his first intervention in the controversy surrounding Amotekun, Asiwaju Tinubu said: “Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the Republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion.

READ ALSO: AMOTEKUN: Those Who Are Afraid Are Criminals – Odumakin

“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”.

Titled “The Public Discourse Over Amotekun,” the statement personally signed by him reads: “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.

“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 the 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.

“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. This is an opportunity to more clearly define that federalism; but one cannot attain this better, more functional definition through overblown, emotional language. Objectivity and calmness are required. 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 fulfill 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.

“I believe in this nation and its benign prospects. 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 these 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. 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 into three major parts: 1) Substantive merits of Amotekun, 2) Decision-making and consultative process and 3) Recommendations on the way forward.

AMOTEKUN, GOVERNORS, AND SECURITY

“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 the spirit of their offices for the better interests of their people.

“As Governor of Lagos State, 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.

“First, the stated mission is information gathering by civilians. Such tasks are always and everywhere best done in low-key fashion. Some aspects of Amotekun seem to undermine rather than enhance this function.

Second, equipping Amotekun with showy paraphernalia may cause the public to misconstrue the role of Amotekun, incorrectly believing its mandate is more expansive than it is. This possible disconnect could impede the good aims of the program.

“We also should consider that the Buhari administration has approved implementation of a policy of community policing wherein additional recruits from all 774 local government areas will be added to the force to help protect their own communities. As the Federal Government emphasizes grassroots policing it is uncertain how well Amotekun can complement the police force as the force moves toward greater decentralisation when Amotekun is organisationally leaning in the opposite way.

“We have been fighting for local and decentralised policing for a long time because we know that too much centralisation impedes performance. In regard to the actual performance of its appointed tasks, 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 & 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.

“The regional approach has only limited benefit with regard to the procurement and maintenance of vehicles and communications equipment because this wider approach allows for economies of scale. The regional approach also helps tackle the growing incidences of interstate criminal activity. Some things need to be corrected before Amotekun becomes operational. If not, it will not live up to expectations. Thus, the current formulation of Amotekun is in need of repair before it takes to the road only to quickly slip into a ditch.

CONSULTATIVE PROCESS BREAKS DOWN

“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. 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 uniforms 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.

“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.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESOLUTION

“This matter cannot be resolved on the pages of newspapers or by attributing negative motives to either side. The best way to resolve this is still for the two sides to enter private discussions. 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.

“The meeting will initiate further discussion on how to resolve what appears to be a misunderstanding caused by an unfortunate lack of communication. Remedy the gap in communication and the misunderstanding will begin to disappear.

Last, I again stress to well-intentioned Nigerians to shun those who employ heated language to inflame emotions. It does us no good to rush toward exaggerated statements that suggest calamity of the highest order. Don’t allow yourselves to be fodder for those who seek to divide us.

“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. 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.

“We are one nation, 200 million strong with 36 states and a great complex of federal authority residing in dozens of federal ministries and agencies. If everyone is allowed their democratic expression, there are bound to be disagreements. This is inherent in the federal structure. Nations that have practiced federalism much longer than us still frequently debate over where the line between state and federal power is to be drawn. They have hundreds of court cases each year on this very issue. Yet they do not attack each other as we do. We must all learn to be more restrained and judicious in our reactions when such disagreements arise.

“Before leaping from our seats to lift our voice to the high rafters in profound indignation, we first would be wise to properly discern the situation. We must ascertain whether it merely is a tempest in a teapot or whether our house and all its teapots are swirling in a real tempest. Despite the ominous headlines and heated talk, an objective analysis points more clearly to the former than the latter. The resolution of this matter is not beyond us if only we allow ourselves to be the democrats that our better conscience and the very documents of our national existence call us to be.

“In trying to help resolve this matter, I have initiated communication with the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, with a view to meeting the southwest governors to explore amicable solutions to the avoidable controversy. I am sure that, at the end of it all, peace, security, and progress shall reign in our nation. Thank you.”

‘Southwest Federal Housing Project Nearly Completed, Already Creating Jobs’

Federal Controller of Works, Kolawole Kukoyi

 

The Federal Government has expressed satisfaction that its ongoing National Housing Programme (NHP) across the country has reached about 70 per cent completion stage in the south-west.

The Federal Controller of Works, Kolawole Kukoyi, who led the team on an inspection tour to Abere in Ede North Local government area of Osun state at the weekend, commended the speed of work on the site so far.

Kukoyi explained that apart from addressing the housing deficit issues in the nation, the government has also developed different structures that empower private investors to contribute to the development of the nation.

“The Federal Government Housing Programme is a programme that is created to impact on the economy of the environment and to provide houses for the people; to intervene in the housing problem,” he said.

He also expressed joy that the NHP has created jobs for many locals as well as empowered the indigent ones involved in all the building stages.

The Federal Government had in the 2018 budget set aside N35.4bn to address the housing needs of its workforce under the NHP.

The programme which kicked off in 33 states of the federation is expected to deliver over 2,700 housing units in Nigeria.

Ogun State Partners With IFAD On Rice, Cassava Production

Ogun, IFADThe Ogun State government is partnering with the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to develop about 500,000 hectres of farmland in three local government areas for rice and cassava production.

The development is part of the aggressive plans of the state government towards widening its economic base.

Governor Ibikunle Amosun made the partnership known while addressing the members of the IFAD delegation on Friday in Ogun State in southwest Nigeria.

He reiterated the commitment of his administration towards agricultural development and its value chain in rice and cassava production.

In his response, the leader of the delegation, Dr. Samuel Iremi, commended the effort of the state government and expressed the organisation’s willingness to effectively partner with the Ogun State government.

NNPC Commences Sale Of Kerosene At 50 Naira Per Litre In Ogun

nnpc-crude-oilThe management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has commenced the sale of kerosene to residents of Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria at 50 Naira per litre.

At an exercise monitored in Sagamu Local Government Area, residents commended the efforts of the Buhari led administration in keeping with his electioneering campaign promises.

They however asked the management to the NNPC to ensure the continuity of the initiative to bring a new lease of life to the people.

Kerosene a major component used for domestic cooking has in recent times been in short supply and has forced many women to seek alternative measures.

Residents who seemed to be savoring this latest development however appealed to the federal government to ensure the continuation of the exercise which they said would go a long way in assuaging the suffering of residents.

Buhari Should Seek Forgiveness From Yorubas, Not Votes – Fayose

buhariEkiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has said that the All Progressives Congress ( APC ) presidential candidate, Major General Mohammadu Buhari (Rtd) should seek forgiveness (not votes) from Yoruba people of the South-West, including Edo and Delta States.

According to the governor, Buhari’s cancellation of the Lagos Metroline project in 1985 was the greatest disservice to the Yoruba people in particular, and Nigerians in general.

“If Buhari had not cancelled the Metroline project out of vendetta,transportation problems in Lagos would have been solved permanently.

“The Metroline project would have made life easier and changed the face of transport in Lagos.

But Buhari cancelled it and even went ahead to pay compensation to the French company that handled it. Buhari’s action cost Lagosians over $78 million then,” Fayose said.

Speaking further, the governor said; “In Yorubaland, we were enjoying free education and free health before Buhari came.

Then, all that was needed to go to primary and secondary schools was school uniform while drugs were free.

“Apart from free education and free health, the South West witnessed rapid development.

Lagos State University, Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), Ondo State University (now Ekiti State University), Ondo State Polytechnic (now Rufus Giwa Polytechnic), and several other institutions were established.

“As at 1979, Lagos State had no secretariat. Jakande’s government built the Alausa Secretariat within four years. Ajasin’s government built Alagbaka Secretariat in Akure within four years. Even the Lekki-Epe road on which they are now collecting tolls was constructed by Jakande.

“For all that they did for us in Yorubaland, what did Buhari do to Jakande, Ajasin, Bola Ige and Bisi Onabanjo? He jailed them and Bisi Onabanjo came out of prison with health issues that eventually claimed his life.

“What did Buhari do to reward Awolowo, whose party gave us free education and free health? Awolowo’s international passport was seized and he was prevented from traveling abroad for medical treatment. Awolowo died two years after!

“In 1984 that Buhari introduced school fees, thousands of our youths then dropped out of school.

“Therefore, Buhari who truncated the future of many of our people and jailed our leaders who served our land selflessly should be seeking forgiveness from Yoruba people, not votes.”

Aregbesola Goes Spiritual For Peace And Re-election in Osun

Governor of the State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, and other members of the Executive Council have joined the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) Worldwide to offer prayers for peace and stability in the state, and Nigeria at large.

This was deemed necessary particularly at a period when the state governorship election is fast approaching.

The vigil, which held at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park in Osogbo, the state capital, saw thousands of Christians and Muslims from the South-West states converging to pray for peace in troubled parts of the country.

In what looked more like a revival service, several members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also joined in the gathering where they not only prayed for continued peace and progress of the state, but also for the re-election of Governor Rauf Aregbesola for a second term in office.

Governor Aregbesola, while speaking on the significance of the programme, said that religion could best be described as love, peaceful co-existence, tolerance and harmony without rancour.

The all night prayer session which lasted from 10pm till dawn, with various artistes drew the presence of a large congregation from virtually all the Yoruba speaking states in Nigeria.

NEMA Issues Fresh Nationwide Flood Alert

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has issued fresh flooding alert following the announcement by Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) in its seasonal rainfall prediction that there will be another flooding this year.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Director General of NEMA, Muhammed Sani Sidi said the agency spent N1.3 billion to provide relief and manage flood disaster in the country in 2012.

Mr Sidi urged state governments to quickly evacuate people living along the floodplains to reduce the risk of flooding this year.

This was in response to the complaints of many of the rural dwellers who are most vulnerable, that unless they are relocated, they have nowhere to go.

He also listed the communities that would be vulnerable to flooding this year according to the findings of NIMET.

The states include Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara in the North West while the entire South-South and Southwest zones will be affected.

NIMET had last month predicted normal rainfall in Nigeria during the year except in Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger and Kwara states, which might experience excessive rainfall.

The agency had also predicted that rainfall pattern in most parts of Nigeria was likely to be similar to that of 2012.

Southwest Governors to Reconstruct Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

The plan by Bi-Courtney highway services to reconstruct the Lagos-Ibadan expressway appears to have run into more troubled waters, as the governors of the Southwest and Edo states have agreed to take over the reconstruction of the road.

Southwest Governors to Reconstruct Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

At a meeting at the government house, Abeokuta, Ogun state, Southwest Nigeria yesterday, the governors agreed to pull resources together to reconstruct the road, as well as the Shagamu-Benin expressway, in addition to the plan to construct a rail line traversing Lagos through Asaba, the Delta state capital.

Governors Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) of Lagos State; Fayemi of Ekiti State, Rauf Aregbesola of OsunState; Senator Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and the Host Ibikunle Amosun were on sit.

Others were the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Alhaji Alli Olanusi, and his Edo State counterpart, Mr. Pius Odubu.

According to the Ekiti state governor, Kayode Fayemi who read the communiqué at the end of the meeting, the governors also demanded an immediate review of the existing concession agreement on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, adding that the position of the road as the artery linking Lagos to other parts of the country made the review imperative.

Apart from the gridlock caused by the state of the expressway, they also said there were the issues of job losses, insecurity, and economic wastage which has created an impact on the socio-economic development of the nation in general.

The reconstruction of the road has been mired in controversy since Bi-Courtney emerged as the concessionaire. After a long delay occasioned by disagreement over the project’s design and several months of carrying out palliative work on the road, the company recently started the actual reconstruction project.

However, the company’s plan to build an asphalt plant in a parcel of land belonging to the Ogun state government is still in dispute.

Meanwhile, effort to get the response of Bi-Courtney has not been successful.