Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Wednesday, broke his silence on the controversial Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) established by governors of the south-west zone.
The governors established the joint security outfit code-named, Amotekun (Leopard), to tackle insecurity in the region.
But Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, declared the outfit illegal, saying matters of security are the preserve of the federal government.
Malami’s statement sparked off mixed reactions and a chain of controversy.
In his first public statement on the issue, Tinubu said he delayed speaking on the matter because he does not have “the luxury of hasty, ill-conceived utterances”.
Here are the highlights of Tinubu’s statement.
AMOTEKUN NOT A THREAT TO NIGERIA’S UNITY
Tinubu said the security outfit is a form of ‘neighbourhood watch’ which he himself established to tackle crime when he was the governor of Lagos.
He said the outfit does not pose any threat to Nigeria’s unity.
He said like Amotekun, neighbourhood watch was to complement the efforts of the police and fill in existing performance gap.
“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,” he said.
“Our aim was not to replace existing structures but to complement and augment them. 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.
“Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the Republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion.
“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.”
AGF’S DECLARATION OF AMOTEKUN ILLEGAL HASTY
Tinubu blamed the governors of the south-west region and the AGF for the controversy that has now surrounded the establishment of Amotekun.
According to him, the governors made a mistake by not involving the office of the AGF, while Malami on his part “erred” by “hastily and incorrectly” declaring the outfit illegal.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“Seeking to fulfil 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.”
AMOTEKUN NEEDS CORRECTION
While establishing his support for Amotekun, Tinubu said the outfit needed some adjustments before it becomes fully operational.
He said the regional approach to its establishment will undermine its efficiency.
“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,” he said.
“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. 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.”
EVOLUTION OF NIGERIA’S FEDERALISM
He also said he sees no malign interest between the federal government and the south-west governors, and that Amotekun is an evolution of Nigeria’s federalism and an opportunity to better define it.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
DIALOGUE AS THE WAY FORWARD
After stating his argument, Tinubu did not delve out of the issue without rendering possible solutions to it.
According to him, a sit-down between the governors and the AGF is the best way to resolve the issue.
He added that as his own way of seeing to the resolution of the dispute, he has initiated a conversation with Rotimi Akerodolu, governor of Ondo who doubles as chairman of the south-west governors’ forum, to “to explore amicable solutions to the avoidable controversy”.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“In trying to help resolve this matter, I have initiated communication with the Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, with a view to meeting the South West 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.”
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