By Samuel Fasanmi
There is no doubting the fact that human needs are insatiable. Nature bequeathed on every human being to meet their arrays of needs; to be at peace with oneself, neighbours, and the society at large. Unfortunately, the social exchange between citizens and their leaders in terms of these needs is usually flawed and lopsided. While the citizens are often at the receiving ends of the needs imbalance, the government enjoys Pyrrhic victory. Most third world nations seem to fit into this simple but belligerent equation. However, there is a particular need when if not met might put a clog in the wheel of the smooth running of human society-it is the need to be alive!
No matter the unsavoury economic indices staring us in the face, we still want to live. Even when nature strikes with her unfriendly armour in form of an earthquake, floods, tsunami, etc, safety can never be wished away. Everyone, irrespective of age, colour, race, status, religion, ethnic background, or any other known departmentalization is not immune to safety. We all want to live and live fine. It is to be noted safety need is a lower order need and thus, only the need for basic physiological issues of life transcends it.
Oftentimes, the rules for societal safety are enacted by the State and upheld by the State through her security apparatus. The protection of citizens is a key responsibility of government, and whenever any government is unable to win in this area of life, sovereignty is threatened, lives are lost, businesses crumble, and men are left with relics of their misfortunes. Thus, there seems to be no better metrics where the performance of government activities can be measured other than providing safety to her citizens. Safety seems to be the bedrock of other developmental activities in any nation. It is thus no surprise that when a nation is labelled ‘failed’, it is usually not unconnected with the ability of the government of such a nation to make safety available to her citizens.
An operation the people of South West, especially the people of Ondo State will not want to remember is the _Operation Wetie_. Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Kaduna Nzeogwu of the First Republic had constantly affirmed that they and their cohort struck on the morning of January 15, 1966, to put an end to Nigeria’s First Republic because of the political wildfire of _Operation Wetie_. Ondo State was an epicentre of that political conflagration that ate up that fledging Republic. Lives were lost especially in the city of Akure, innocent farmers could not ply their trades, and life became unbearable for Nigerians. What was meant to be an affair of the South West dovetailed beyond the beautiful perimeter of Yoruba land and consequently put a lid to the First Republic. Thus, whenever the circle of insecurity are drawn, no one is wise enough to know the length of its radius. Like a wildfire, it festers uncontrollably, ruins legacies, and ends nations. The magnitude of that inglorious political mayhem was beyond what the Federal Government security apparatus of the pioneer Inspector General of Police, Loius Edet could handle. It was a cesspool of disaster that encircled the South West, infested the rest of the nation, and killed the First Republic. That was an example of a tirade that lack of safety could breed.
The activities of herdsmen in Ondo State came to its nadir when on 12th July 2019, Mrs Funke Olakunrin (58), daughter of Afenifere leader, Chief Rueben Fasoranti was allegedly killed. Prior to that time, on 21st January 2018, the farmland of Chief Oluyemisi Falae was set ablaze by unknown hoodlums. The reverberating insecurity orchestrated by herdsmen and other criminal elements in Ondo State reached unbearable abysmal level. While one may be tempted to assume that such ill-wind of insecurity is blowing from the North considering the carnage that has been raging in the North for over a decade, one wonders the choice of the direction of the whirlwind, and most questionably, why is such wind blowing at all.
The clamour for State Police in Nigeria has been a recurring decimal. With the insurgence in the North East and recently in the North West, one would have thought that by now, each State should be energized with the instruments of law to tackle insecurity. The bill that seeks to establish the Federal Police, State Police, National Police Service Commission, National Police Council, and State Police Service Commission for the states was first to read at the Eighth Senate on June 12, 2018, but did not scale through. It was however received for first reading on 2nd March 2020. The snail speed of such exercise and the alarming insecurity situation in Nigeria is inversely proportional. This agitation coupled with increasing crime rate necessitated the birth of Amotekun. As expected, the brickbat between the South-West governours and the Federal Government raged from media to court. While the negotiation was ongoing, there were reports of Ondo farmers being raped, abducted, killed, and had their farmland destroyed. Travellers on major roads were abducted, killed, and dehumanized. Ondo residents were living in palpable fear while businesses and social activities dwindled.
What Ondo State needed at that point was not words but action. However, such action could only come from a brave heart considering the stance of the Federal Government on State Police. One man moved beyond the rhetoric of words which is peculiar to Nigerian politicians. He chose not to fight for his people on pages of newspapers but took the battle to the field with his Amotekun Corps. He is the only governor in the South West who has inaugurated the Amotekun Outfit despite the hues and excitement that first greeted the idea from the people of South West. That man is Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN). One thing that distinguishes Akeredolu from the motley crowd of Nigerian politicians is his ability to plant honesty as a legacy. At the inauguration of the Amotekun held at the Gani Fawehinmi Arcade in Akure, the state capital, on August, 11th, 2020, Rotimi Akeredolu reiterated the need to work out productive synergy among the leadership of the security agencies and that of Amotekun in bringing peace and reduction in criminal activities in Ondo State. For him and the good people of Ondo State, peace has come to stay. Within the short period of operation of Amotekun, farmers can now go to farm without nursing any fear of been molested on their farms, herdsmen and other marauders have retreated to their hoods, peace is at sight, and safety seems to be back in Ondo State.
Surely, Akeredolu’s strides in tackling insecurity and safety issues have endeared him into the hearts of the people of Ondo State. Safety has no colouration. Hopefully, come 10th of October, 2020, the good people of Ondo State will do the needful in ensuring that Akeredolu’s security and the safety net is the best in safeguarding them from the jugular of marauding herdsmen and other losses.
_Dr. Samuel Fasanmi writes from Ogba, Lagos State._