First published in my column, #TheAlternative, in Sunday ThisDay of January 19, 2020.
A lot has been written about the introduction of the region wide security outfit for the Southwest, known as Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn. Much of it is built around emotions. And as my readers may have noticed, I am not a NICE man. I am a WISE man. I deal with facts. I do not deal in emotions.
Nnamdi Kanu is only partly right. Nigeria is definitely not a zoo. But, I must confess that we live in a jungle, and if you do not understand how the food chain works in a jungle, you will soon find yourself at the bottom of that chain, and it is not a pleasant place to be.
When you live in a geography where might is right, and 5 percenters are treated like lepers, you cannot afford to be emotional. If a lion feels sorry for gazelles and antelope, it will not only starve, but its offspring will starve with it! So, wisdom is profitable. And more so when you are a 5 percenter.
If you are in a situation where you cannot compete on the basis of strength, then you are challenged to use your wits and outwit those who have out-powered you. That is how Israel, a tiny nation by land mass and population, has been able to dominate its much bigger neighbours.
So, I will now give my take on Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn. But, let me first warn you, it will not be what you expect. Far from it. Far from it.
What Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn has done is not just an attempt to secure the Southwest. I try to be a deep thinker. I do not focus on the immediate impact of a stimuli. I have disciplined myself to look beyond the immediate impact, to the eventual impact.
In my opinion, the eventual impact of Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn will be to equate the Southwest with the Southeast in the eye of the average Northerner. We need to be realistic. The Edekiri (the real name of the people wrongly identified as Yoruba) are some of the most sophisticated people in Nigeria, and perhaps Black Africa.
Other Nigerians are not as politically sophisticated as they are. The Igbo of the Southeast are very astute in business, but are poor political strategists, who often dissipate their political power by engaging in too many political battles and opening too many fronts simultaneously.
Moreover, it is very hard to counsel Igbo leaders on how to be more strategic, because to a large extent, they will not accept the fact that they need to be more strategic and will often try to teach those who genuinely want to teach them. So what can you do? You just leave them to their ‘wisdom’.
The Igbo man often feels that he is more intelligent than others, and he may very well be right. But the point is that in politics, unintelligent wise people are often more successful than intelligent not so wise people. That I stoop does not mean I have been defeated. It may just mean that I am playing to your vanity in order to conquer you.
The people of the North are very simple people. Easy to lead. The Fulani upper class are however very strategic and are masters of brinksmanship. The fatalism inherent in their Islamic faith helps them in their brinksmanship. However, their political sophistication does not permeate to their masses, unlike the permeation in the Southwest. It is top heavy.
So, why have I gone to this length to make this distinction?
The elite of the North, who at this time are mostly the Fulani and Kanuri intelligentsia, are aware that Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn is a spontaneous reaction by the Southwest to the existential threat herdsmen and other latter day insecurity issues pose to them. They know it is not a secessionist agenda. Not so their people. The average literate, semiliterate or absolutely illiterate Northerner sees Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn as the Yariba (read Yoruba) version of IPOB.
Even if the Southwest scraps Amotekun today and never speaks about it, that impression has been indelibly fixed in the consciousness of the average Northerner, and even Buhari and his Buharism, can’t undo that impression.
To the average Northerner, the Yariba have shown their hands and proved their suspicions right, that their commitment to Nigeria is not total. That they only remain in Nigeria because they are afraid of the strong arm of the North. It does not matter that that is absolute bunkum. It is what they now believe and you ignore that at your own peril.
So, why is this also important? 2023, that is why.
In the eyes of the average Northerner, Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn has disqualified any Yariba person from being worthy enough to be voted for. It does not make sense. It makes emotion.
As a result, any political party that fields a Southerner in 2023 will automatically lose to any political party wise enough to field a Northerner. And if the All Progressive Congress fields Bola Tinubu and thinks they can rig the election in his favour, they may find that the task would be almost impossible.
The average Northerner knows that the Oodua Peoples Congress does not represent the political leaders of the Southwest. This much is even made clearer by the fact that the head of the OPC and Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, was not present at the launch of Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn.
However, by seeing Governors Kayode Fayemi and Rotimi Akeredolu present at the event, and driving it, the average Northerner has seen all that he has to see to make his or her conclusions, however erroneous it might be.
As far as as Fayemi and Akeredolu were there, then in the eyes of the average Northerner, Tinubu was also there. Going forward, there will be little distinction made between Nnamdi Kanu and Bola Tinubu, or any of his surrogates, in the eyes of Northerners.
It would have been far better, for their future political relevance, for the Southwest political elite to have surreptitiously funded OPC to take on herdsmen and other security threats to the Southwest that originate from out of the region. The OPC already have a structure, and name recognition. They are already in every local government of the Southwest. They could have been activated, just as Northern Governors have quietly and (to use a Nigerian slang) codedly activated and empowered hunters and under-unemployed youths into the so called Civilian JTF.
Or perhaps they have irreconcilable differences with OPC. If that were the case, then they had other and better options. They could have replicated KAI (Kick Against Indiscipline) in other states in the Southwest or recalibrated the statutorily backed Forest Guards which have been operating in the bushes of the area for decades.
For you to succeed in politics anywhere in the world, you must understand human nature, and be able to anticipate consequences. The consequences of deliberate human action, of acts of God, and of phenomena of nature.
Politics is not the type of vocation that forgives you for taking action without anticipating its likely consequences. You cannot leap and then look. All the hullabaloo and the great to do about the legality or otherwise of Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn, is neither here nor there. As long as Amotekun people do not carry arms, they will not be able to face off with herdsmen and very soon, if that situation is not addressed, they will fizzle out, or become only as relevant as the letter ‘p’ in the word psychology. That is the crux of the matter, not what Malami says or does not say.
What the Southwest needs to do to address the insecurity in their region is political power at the centre, not a toothless bulldog in the fringes. But by coming up with Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn in the manner they have, they have made it that much harder to achieve that goal by 2023.
As for Igbo Presidency in 2023, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle”-Matthew 19:24. Not because of external resistance, but because of the dearth of internal unity. It is as God said in Genesis 11:6:
“the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
In the quotidian political life of Nigeria, it has become cliche to say that the Igbos are marginalised. But I fear that that has become a crutch for our brethren in the Southeast. Yes, there is Igbo marginalisation. However, to see it as something being done to the Igbo, is to not fully grasp the scope of the marginalisation. By being unable to unite under one political leader, the way the Southwest has subjugated itself to Bola Tinubu, and the way the core North has remained captive to Buhari, the Igbo have become participants in their own marginalisation. If you disagree with me, then tell me who is the political equivalent of Bola Tinubu or Muhammadu Buhari in the Southeast?
If a ship has more than one captain, a boat with a single captain will outperform it. But let me not get carried away. This piece is about Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn. An idea that the Ebonyi state government claims the Southwest stole from the Southeast.
According to Mr Stanley Emegha, Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace in Ebonyi, the Southwest stole the idea from the Southeast, who conceived of it. He claims that while the Southeast governors were still deliberating on their idea, the Southwest governors “stole” their plan and implemented it.
Even in the unlikely event that this is true, it still goes to buttress my argument. It only underpins the fact that the problem of the Southeast is unity, if they could have conceived of an idea and before they could implement it, the Southwest Governors were able to unite, in record time, and implement it, while, according to Mr. Emegha, the Southeast Governors were still meeting.
One other thing:
On the Imo judgment, to say I am stunned would be an understatement. I mean, if you add the votes given to Uzodinma by the Supreme Court, to the votes of all the other candidates, you get a total votes of almost a million. Imo has not generated such voter numbers since it was created.
What the opposition did when then President Jonathan removed fuel subsidy in 2012, is what the current opposition should have done when General Buhari removed Onnoghen in 2019. The judiciary and legislature lost their independence with Onnoghen and Saraki!
Champagne is expensive, but is not necessary to life like water. Ordinary things are often more valuable than expensive ones. Water might be ‘ordinary’, but without it, there is no life. Value the ordinary people in your life, if you want to succeed and thrive. Rich friends are like champagne. Nice to drink. But ordinary people, like gatemen, security guard, house helps, are like water. Vital for life. They secure you while you sleep. They raise your children while you work. Appreciate them. Dont underrate them!
By Reno Omokri…
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