Insecurity: Lack of true federalism stalling Amotekun’s effectiveness in South-West –Lagos Majority Leader, Sanai Agunbiade

The Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Sanai Agunbiade, believes the people of the South-West should inquire from the state governments why ‘Amotekun’ security operatives are not working as expected. Agunbiade also speaks on the alleged presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in this interview he granted OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI. Excerpts…

What do you think is the best way to tackle insecurity in Nigeria?

Some of these people that are causing insecurity are being used by some people to cause trouble. Most of the time, we want to solve the problems on the face value. If you want to solve the problem of insecurity, let us go to the root and know those that are sponsoring them. You should know the people behind it, if the sponsors had been arrested and prosecuted according to the law, it would not have got to this stage. They will just arrest one or two people and leave them to go. I keep saying it, when criminal activities are attended to with kid gloves, then impunity would grow and more people would be encouraged to go into criminal activities. If there are laws to take care of people that commit crimes, it would serve as a deterrent to others. If criminals are not properly punished, impunity would develop and once this developed, a lot of people would participate in it as there are no consequences. If laws are not enforced, impunity would grow. If you arrest one or two people, investigate to the core and know those who sponsor them then there would be problem. Some people mastermind the crimes and they only use the people you see.

From the current state of things, it appears the security forces are overwhelmed. What do you think is the best approach?

I agree with you. They will be overwhelmed if we do not do what we ought to do to assist them. If 10 people are involved in criminal activities and they are being sponsored by people who have money, then you only pick five of the 10 people that carried out the operation what do you think will happen. We play up religious and tribal sentiments and those that are arrested for criminal activities are released back into the society, then there will be emotional and psychological attacks on the security operatives. They will feel that if we arrest them now they would soon be released and more people would be interested in crime because those who were arrested are released anyhow. So, most people would want to get involved in criminal activities as a way of life. Don’t forget that security operatives would be willing to do more if their arrests had been effective. But if those arrested are not punished, more people would join in carrying out criminal activities with the determination to wreak more havoc.

Amotekun as a security outfit was created by the South-West states to handle the issue of the Fulani herdsmen/farmers clash. But from all indications, it appears they have not achieved much, how do you think is the cause of this?

If we go by the noise that greeted the concept of Amotekun and the propaganda for and against the creation of Amotekun one would think that they would be seen in all the nooks and crannies of the South-West by now. But the question you are asking is the question everybody is asking; “where is Amotekun”. The legislators have done their own, we have worked on the law, and we have passed the law, but where are they? The legislators have passed the law, we cannot execute the law, but where are they? This is the question we should all be asking. If Amotekun had taken charge and arrested some people and confronted them with the issue they ought to be confronted with, a lot of people would have known that the South- West is a ‘no go’ area for some set of people. But, we passed the law and everything just died down. It Is just natural that human beings would commit crime and it is natural that some people would rise against crime. The success of either would be determined by the dexterity, by the commitment of those people who want to perpetrate crime or those who want to fight crime. If those who want to commit crime win, then there would be more crimes, but if those who want to fight it win, then crime would reduce because people would not see any need to commit crime.

How do you see what happened in Ondo State, where Governor Rotimi Akeredolu gave the Fulani herdsmen ultimatum and the Federal Government countered him?

Well, security is on the exclusive list of the constitution. But the same constitution states that the purpose of every government is the welfare and security of the people. The same way the local government chairman is responsible for the security of his people, the state government is responsible for the security of his people and so also the Federal Government. If we are actually practicing federalism the governor should not fold his hands, when things that would trouble the people are happening. No, the governor was not elected to do road or build schools alone, security is paramount to him too. That tells you that we are not practising democracy the way we should practise it in Nigeria. Federalism in Nigeria is questionable. How will a state be troubled and the Governor would not have the discretion of what to do to protect his people. Just because something is on the exclusive list, so a local government chairman should not assemble people to flush out some people that are troubling his area, he has to wait for the Federal Government? The issue of security must be addressed as a sensitive issue that can threaten the foundation of any community. If there is a community crime, should the local government chairman fold his arm? The Governor of a state is the chief security officer of the state and he must be able to protect his people in a normal lawful way.

The issue of COVID-19 is still a major source of concern to the global village. What do you think we can do to stop its spread in Nigeria?

The leader may do the right thing and if the followers fail to do the right thing then there would be problem. When COVID-19 came, the government took practical steps, and instead of following the steps, the followers were busy abusing, attacking, and alleging the leaders. They said there was no COVID-19 and that they were using it to make money. Use mask, they will not, maintain social distance, they will not, they just did whatever they liked. Even the second wave that we are talking about had been foretold. Immediately the first one went down a bit, people threw caution into the wind. We attended a function in Epe and we were about 500 in the hall, it was only me and my wife that wore face masks and immediately we entered, they were saying ‘they must be government people, they are the ones that COVID-19 will follow.” But, I know I am protecting myself and my family. They say COVID-19 is for the rich people and that they were the ones dying, not knowing that poor people are dying in hundreds but only the death of the rich people are announced, what we need to do is to co-operate with the government. There is no way the whole budget of a state or local government could be dedicated to health issue alone. There are so many things the government attends to. As they allocate money for health, they allocate money for other things too. The government could not just spend money anyhow, everything is budgeted for and they must spend money based on what the house passed. It has to do with the people and the followers. They were saying that the government should buy more oxygen and other things for people COVID-19. We need more enlightenment, but we are a stubborn people.

There are insinuations that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wants to be President in 2023, do you think this is true as people are also saying that it is the turn of the South-East to produce the president?

You call it insinuation, I call it invitation and prayers. People are inviting him by their comments. They want Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu to contest as the president of the country, but the man has not made any pronouncement because he knows the law. Now, the issues are insinuations and the issue of South-West and South-East. If Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is not from the South-West, I will personally support him even if there are other candidates.

Why are you saying this?

Yes, as Tinubu is coming out from the South-West, no other person should come out from the region again even from other political parties. It is high time Nigeria got it right, it is high time we moved above regionalism and over religious bigotry on who would rule the country. We need somebody who has, over the years, shown practical demonstration of the stuff he is made of. We need somebody who understands the political game and political needs of his people, who has the courage and the capability to lead the people. We need somebody who is dynamic and has shown that dynamism over the years. We need that man who has the financial knowledge of governance. Governance goes beyond speaking grammar. Do you have the financial knowledge, do you have the political experience and have you led an institution and what did you make of the institution that you led. What are your political antecedents, we don’t want somebody that is untested, unevaluated or just a moneybag.

What are your yardsticks for such consideration, given the fact that Tinubu is APC’s National Leader?

When we are talking about Tinubu, he is someone, who, as a governor of a dynamic state like Lagos State, the economic nerve centre of the country, he did very well. Till now, the man has remained relevant on the political scene of the state and the country.

How many other people that were governors like him are still relevant? That means the man is dynamic, that means he keeps reading and studying the political scene and understands the political terrain.

If you are reasonable, you will follow those who know the way. We cannot afford to experiment with some people any longer all because you have money. What are your antecedents in governance and politics. I am supporting Tinubu not because he is from the South-West, I am supporting him because he is feasible leader, and he is a pragmatic personnel.

Tinubu is well knowledgeable in the politics of Nigeria, he has participated in installing very many people and he has been involved in the political metabolism of this country. How do you talk about June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and you will not talk about Tinubu? How do you talk about the emergence of President Muhamamdu Buhari without talking about Tinubu.

He understands politics very well. If a Yorubaman gets to power in Nigeria and he does well for all the zones in the country, the northerners would forget that he is a Yorubaman. Look at the election of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola on June 12, 1993, he won across ethnic barrier, and religious barrier because of his antecedents. Unfortunately he couldn’t get there. Even Christians supported him despite the fact that it was a Muslim-Muslim ticket, he won with landslide.

If you have a brother who is a rogue and an armed robber and they tell your family to bring a candidate for the throne of Oba will you support that your brother over others that are decent that are not your direct brothers, but are from your family. So, Nigeria should forget about this regional thing. Let somebody who has equal credentials like Tinubu from the South East or the North come out.

As far as I am concerned, 2023 should have been settled. All other parties should just support Tinubu and know that God has provided someone, who is feasible enough and has the capability to be the President of Nigeria. He is a financial guru, and a political juggernaut. He is a feasible and dynamic leader, who has shown tendency of leadership. He has it all, but the problem with Nigeria is that we kill good ideas with primordial sentiments.

You see somebody shot or has accident, instead of helping him we take pictures and record with our phones. We are too complacent with our future and with our lives. It is not an insinuation that Tinubu wants to be the President of Nigeria, it is an invitation, it is a prayer. Sentiments will definitely come in because politics is about interest, not everybody who contests elections want to serve the people, some want to serve their pockets. If they do not have access to Tinubu, they would not think that they can still have access to him tomorrow or benefit from his government if he does well for the people.

They are after personal gains, I see no reason they cannot agree to support him. What they are saying is that he did this and did that as a Governor. My daughter told me that she read on the internet that someone said that Tinubu dominates Lagos politics and that whatever he says in Lagos is final. I told her that Tinubu dominates Lagos State politics and the state still attracts people.

What that person said is a fact presented with sentiments. Will you blame Tinubu for believing in a cause and does everything possible to defend and promote that cause. Tinubu is in APC and he started from Alliance for Democracy (AD) to Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now APC. He has followed the trend all along. If somebody has followed the metamorphosis of a party like that, will he sit down and fold his hands, I said ‘no.’




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