The coming onboard of the new civilian security outfit in the South-West, Amotekun, has paved the way for more jobs in the region, Sunday Ojeme reports
The New Year has taken off for good, and the month of January is gradually melting out with projection and expectations being defined by individuals, government and corporate bodies.
In the midst of these reflections, government at all levels battle to stem crime by getting idle youths engaged and providing infrastructure for the state to be at peace. To beat this challenge, governors from the South West have given organized labour something to be happy about with the creation of a new security outfit, Western Nigeria Security Network, otherwise known as Amotekun.
Dangers of joblessness
On several occasions, Nigeria has been referred to as a timed bomb waiting to explode following the huge number of unemployed youths across the country. As at the last data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, over 23 per cent of the country’s population were said to be unemployed due to so many factors including unfriendly government policies.
From all indication, not less than 30,000 people cutting across the entire region would be engaged the moment the outfit, currently being opposed by the Federal Government for obvious reasons, takes off.
Lagos State government had shown enough proof in this regard with the creation of outfits like Lagos State Traffic Management (LASTMA), Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) and a few other organizations that have seen the state being able to engage the army of idle youths in the state.
Observers are of the opinion that besides the primary role Amotekun is expected to play by checking criminal activities in communities where they will operate, one of the extended benefits is making would be criminals change their minds as the environment would no longer be conducive for them to operate and subsequently getting themselves engaged legitimately.
While everyone is waiting for the network’s legal bite, the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has already thrown its weight behind it for the fact that the country does not have enough manpower to secure the entire country.
In an interview with a national newspaper, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, while speaking on the benefits of the network, pointed out that anybody who believes the Nigerian security agencies could surmount the security challenges confronting the country today alone, is alien to the reality on ground.
Wabba said: “Let us face the facts, there is no way we can employ enough manpower to police the whole of Nigeria. That I think is very difficult and the resources are not there. But we can through these outfits, get our able-bodied youths to actually assist the security agencies. The only thing is to organise them so that they can be answerable to the authorities. That is the way we need to go about it because we do not expect people in communities to fold their hands, watch and see or continue to lament the security situation. That will take us nowhere.
“The security situation in the country is overwhelming and we must, as citizens play our role effectively. I can tell you, where I come from the role such non-governmental organisations play; non-state actors have played and are playing in the issue of insecurity or issue of security.
“Clearly, you know the issue of Boko Haram, which is from my region, the North East, there is a major role being played by non-state actors in the security architecture. If we are to address the issue of insecurity, such groups must play an important role.
“Where I come from, we have the Civilian JTF, we have the vigilantes and I can tell you, as a matter of fact, the successes recorded particularly where I come from- Maiduguri, the state capital, the civilian JTF can also take a substantial part of the credit. We call them Mai Gora. Mai Gora in Hausa means ‘he that approaches somebody holding a gun with a stick.’
“I have seen with my eyes, where a youth carrying a stick pursued Boko Haram person that was carrying AK 47. I have seen this happen and it has greatly assisted. That is why I can commend our Governor Babagana Zulum (of Borno). Just last December, he visited all communities in Southern Borno and all other areas where there are still Boko Haram attacks. He donated items and also strengthened the vigilantes.
“He told them that vigilantes should be able to protect their communities and that they should be able to assist the security agents because they know the terrain, they know the people and should be able to expose all those bad eggs. That is the way to go. It is also about community policing.
“The Police and military we are talking about cannot do magic. They need the support of the communities. The communities can support the security agents through such organised outfits. It is only for government to regulate and ensure that they do not become a menace. All we need to do is to have such outfits so that they can complement the efforts of the police and the efforts of armed forces.
“I can talk about every state that I have visited, and I speak based on information available to me. NLC today is the most spread organisation in the country. In every hamlet, we have a teacher, we have a health worker, and we have a transport worker, among others. So, we are talking from the point of information.
“I am not talking from the point of speculations. That is why any security situation in any part of this country if we speak about it, we speak on the point of fact. Not the fact that had been twisted, but from the fact about what is true and what is actually the real situation. The real situation is that we are far from overcoming the security challenges in our country.
“I can say that they are assuming different dimensions in different proportions. You remember that the issue in the past was just armed robbery. The issue of kidnapping is now a new phenomenon. Even in my village, in last December, we recorded cases of kidnappings. We thank God they were apprehended, but it is a new phenomenon. That has been escalated to cities, towns, and hamlets and even on the highways. The issue of cattle rustling, armed banditry and theft are assuming alarming dimensions.
“We cannot say that we do not have security challenges. The truth of it is that criminals are devising new techniques every day to beat our security agencies. So, community policing or being conscious about security is everybody’s business. Therefore, everybody should play a role, and that is why I support the idea for us to align those interests with the interest of the community.”
From the forgoing, the Federal Government has no choice but to allow the security outfit begin in earnest. While its position might be as a result of fear for such regional network transforming into violent militia groups, it should rather discuss with the leaders in the region and seek ways to improve their operations rather than an outright ban.