Amotekun corps: An inspiration for greater regional cooperation

The Amotekun Corps, a regional security organisation founded by the six states of the South-West, to protect the lives and properties of  the people living in the geo-political zone, was officially inaugurated on January 9, just a month ago.  Its operatives are expected to work closely with the Nigeria Police Force to stem the tide of kidnappings for ransom, mass killings and arson by Fulani herdsmen and the Boko Haram insurgents. At the same time, the organisation is expected to take independent  and lawful actions against ritual killers, kidnappers, armed robbers, fifth columnists and other criminals,  irrespective  of their creed or origin.

The rise of insecurity to this frightening state in Nigeria did not happen overnight or suddenly. It is partially due to several ill-conceived experimental  economic and social policies, most of which are still ongoing, but are  hurtful to the welfare of ordinary people. The failed privatisation policy, bank consolidation, open  market economy, limited or outright withdrawal of government from people’s welfare programs led to massive job losses and abject poverty.  The institutionalisation of the economy of growth without development has earned  Nigeria the derisive title of ‘poverty capital of the world’ and deceitfully described as  the largest economy in Africa.

Notwithstanding these challenges, there can be no justification for committing crimes. The society must be secure and safe before the government can take the necessary actions to address the social problems.  As such, firm action had to be taken against these miscreants to prevent the country from collapsing.

The Amotekun Corps is a novelty in Nigeria’s security arrangement because of its regional dimension. Its success will encourage the setting up of similar outfits in other geo-political zones in the country.  For it to set the pace for others to follow, it must not compromise integrity and discipline. It should not be an intimidating force, but an outfit that operates with such dignity and firmness that the mere presence of its operatives, like the British Police, will demotivate criminals. Its operatives must not have pre-conceived ideas about individuals or people based on their ethnicity or religion.

While tackling the security challenges on one hand, the overall social and economic problems of the region must also be addressed at the same time.

The regional governments should draw inspiration from the policies of the old Western Region on education, health, low cost houses, agricultural development, provision of potable water, etc and introduce innovations, such as a regional railway system, which will link the cities in the region with other parts of the country.

The governments of the six states in the South-West should collectively create common institutions through which regional programmes will be implemented.

In essence, the South-West should form an economic community that will work collectively to achieve a common purpose, while retaining their political structures and the freedom to take independent actions in any endeavor of their choice.

The other geopolitical zones in the country may toe the same line with adaptations, which will take into consideration their specific needs, peculiarities and challenges.

The concerns of the North-East and North-West for now are peace and security by all means. The state of insecurity in these zones has halted most economic activities, such that people cannot ply the highways, farm and even undertake   routine daily activities.

In the North-East, especially in Borno and Yobe states, where  the insurgency is most severe, the Kanuri, Bura, Kotoko, Shua tribal leaders, monarchs, serving and retired military officers, former and serving governors must seek alternative solutions to end this war, which has no military solution.

They should come out and save the ancient Kanem Bornu Empire of Shehu Idris Aloma, who in the 16th century related with the Sultans of the Turkish Ottoman Empire on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

The rest of the country, through the Federal Government, can only help, but Kanuri leaders must be at the forefront to defend their inherited legacies, which is being destroyed.

The leaders of other nationalities are protecting the interests of their people from the complications of being embroiled in the Nigerian State. Ohanaeze is speaking for Ndigbo, Afenifere for the Yoruba nation, General TY Danjuma for the Jukuns and Miyetti Allah is standing in for the Fulanis.

The displacement of 20 million people, who hitherto earned their livelihoods from the vast resources of Lake Chad, which, due to desertification and the cutting off of water inflow into the lake, lost most of its waters and resources.  The displaced people, confronted with hunger and poverty, were easily recruited into the ranks of bandits and insurgents,

In summary, the security and economic development of Nigeria is best served at regional levels, since most of the fragmented states are economically unviable.  And as such, lack the means to carry out major projects within their states, except they collaborate with other states within their geopolitical zones.

The creation of regional economic communities will however, not distract nor detract from the need to restructure the political system, as a truly federated nation. The list of institutions which should be federated are the  police, water ways, major roads,  railway networks, electricity generation and distribution and eventually resource control.

The lopsided sharing formula of national revenues, half of which is held by the Federal Government should be reviewed. The responsibility of the government should be limited to foreign affairs, defence, the mint, the Central Bank, immigration, customs and such functions that may be permitted in a federated state.