According to The Sun: Insecurity: We’re being pushed to the wall – Gani Adams…says Nigerians must protect themselves; govt can’t secure citizens
AARE Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams has raised the alarm that the country might be heading for war if the current spate of insecurity persists.
In an interview with JOB OSAZUWA, Adams, who is also the National Coordinator, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) noted that Nigeria might be forced into a needless war unless the Federal Government is firm in its handling of bandits, killer herders, terrorists, ritual killers and other criminal elements terrorising the country.
He was particularly miffed that the Oyo State Police Command arrested and detained some OPC members who had nabbed a suspected criminal in a forest near Ibarapa. It was learnt that the men have been released. But Adams warned that the Federal Government was pushing him and other Nigerians with good intentions to the wall and frustrating their good intentions. He regretted that the government was discouraging people and organisations from collaborating with security agencies to fight crime.
He said Nigerians must defend themselves from elements bent on killing them and destroying their property.
What is your assessment on the state of insecurity in Nigeria?
I am deeply concerned with the issue of insecurity in the country. It is getting worse by the day. I believe everyone that loves Nigeria should be disturbed with the ways things are unfolding. I am particularly worried over how our once peaceful region – the South West is now experiencing this level of insecurity. The burden is now on us. I strongly believe that we don’t deserve this ugly situation that we have found ourselves in. You will agree with me that most of the crimes that are in this region are being carried out by foreigners. These were the people who came to the region for their normal business but now turned to criminals.
At the same time, the government, the authorities and security agencies are not helping matters at all. For instance, what happened in Kajola area of Ayete in Ibarapaland, Oyo State, over the arrest of Iskilu Wakili, by our OPC men, is an eye-opener to all of us. We might not have a deep understanding of what is happening in the northern part of Nigeria, but this happened right before us.
It is clear that the Nigerian security is not ready to protect its citizens. Nigeria security and the government are playing politics and an ethnic card on the issues of security. This is very dangerous. And if care is not taken, this might lead the country to war. It is very unfortunate that we find ourselves in this position. It is sad that our leaders, perhaps, the majority of them didn’t fight for this democracy, hence, are handling it with levity. They are enjoying the democracy that they didn’t fight for. Many of them didn’t support us when we were fighting for it. These types of leaders don’t also know how fragile democracy could be. Neither do they know the implications of not protecting the lives of the citizens, which they have sworn to do. They do not know the consequences of not upholding the tenets of democracy in a society like Nigeria.
Some of your OPC men were recently arrested and detained by the police for fishing out an alleged Fulani warlord and kidnap- ping kingpin. How do you feel about this?
What Nigerian government and the police have done on the issue of Wakili is to push us to the wall. It is to also discourage not only a body like OPC, but every living soul that will assist them to curb crime. That is exactly what they have done. Ordinarily, they can’t do it alone. It is so glaring that the security agencies are helpless on different fronts. It is so clear that our government doesn’t have the capacity to subdue criminals in the country. This is not only about the Fulani herdsmen. We have a growing spate of cultism, ritual killings and other social vices throughout the country. And when you now see the people that want to assist you, you begin to frustrate them. We cannot move forward in such manner. As it is done all over the world, when you see someone who is involved in criminally, you have to report the person to the police. But if you feign ignorance and then continue to live among them, you might be arrested and charged for being an accomplice. After the arrest of Wakili, his boys went again to kill four people in a nearby village. They have been committing havoc in the communities, and our men went for them to put a stop to it. But what they got in return was an arrest.
This shows that Nigeria government alone cannot solve the problem of insecurity. This is the evidence that the government has lost touch in securing its citizens. We cannot continue like this if we must continue to live together as one country. Necessary collaboration must be pursued with organisations and agencies that genuinely mean well for the safety of Nigerians and their property.
It appears Amotekun security outfit is not as active as the people expected. Could it be that South West governors are not fully supporting the body?
Nearly all the governors are supporting Amotekun in one way or the other. Well, the issue of Amotekun l not being active are caused by different factors. One of them is that the Office of the National Security Adviser didn’t approve that the men should use arms. Not even pump action guns are allowed. With the level of insecurity in the region, this is a task that cannot be executed with mere sticks or muscular chests. Some of these criminals terrorising these areas are with AK47 with thousands of ammunition. They pretend to be herders but most of them are not herdsmen. Many of them are not even Nigerians. They move from neighbouring West African countries through Oyo State and continue to migrate to other states in the South West. And you want Amotekun men to confront them with bare hands? It is not possible; that would be suicidal. This is why the Lagos State government needs to tighten its security approach because it is a wave that is threatening human existence in the region. We all know how lucrative Lagos is. There was a kidnapping incident a few days ago in Ikorodu area of Lagos. I was shocked when I reliably gathered that the act was perpetrated by the Fulanis. I was thinking it might have been done by Niger Delta militants who usually operate along the coast, but I was wrong. It is becoming more dangerous on daily basis.
After being crowned Aare Onakakanfo, some say you’re no longer vocal, and not speaking truth to power as you used to?
Who says that I am no longer vocal? Well, I can’t be a nuisance. When it is time to talk, I talk. I can’t hold the government to a standstill when there is no cause for it. Let’s not forget the fact that this position (Aare Onakakanfo) that I occupy is an institution on its own. So, you don’t expect me to operate the same way I used to operate as a radical rights activist. But the position gives more influence. Now when I talk, the entire universe respects it. For that reason, I don’t talk anyhow for the sake of talking. There were many mistakes we made in the past. Now we have realised that we can use our influence to solve most of the problems even without confrontation. This is happening at the moment. Mind you, this is not to say that we have compromised. We still fight for the masses for the betterment of the country. What is different now is the approach. I will never compromise the interest of my people and interest of justice in Nigeria. We are trying our best in this regard. If you look at what has unfolded since I became Aare Onakakanfo, especially on security issues and true federalism, everyone knows that I remain with the people. I continue in what I believe in without looking back despite the challenges here and there.
Some South West governors have banned open grazing in their state, but Miyetti Allah has asked its herders to continue grazing on any fertile land for their cattle. What is your take on this?
That is left to the people in authority because the state governors don’t have control over the security agencies in the states. If you make a law, it is the duty of the law enforcement agents to implement the law. But when you are not in control of these security agents, despite that it is enshrined in the constitution that the governor is the chief security officer of the state, there is nothing the governor can do. The security is not under the control of the governor, except the Federal Government wants him to have some level of control. We have seen the Inspector General of Police giving an order to a Commissioner of Police in a state in certain situations, even without consulting the governor in that state.
This is the reason we are saying that this is not the kind of federalism we expect in Nigeria. In fact, what we have in Nigeria is a unitary system of government, and that is the bane of the crisis we have at hand. This is another fundamental reason that Nigeria is sliding towards anarchy. A multi-ethnic nation and country with over 200 million population cannot be governed in this manner. We have over-centralised authorities. It is designed in such a way that everything has to come from the central government. If we must move forward, we have to devolve powers to the regions. We have to allow the federating units to operate with free hands to certain extents. We need to ask ourselves this critical question – whether we still want Nigeria as a nation or not. Governance is not all about coercing people to earn their respect, but some- thing that flows naturally as a result of positive policies and implementations. At the moment, people don’t respect the government anymore, but the government is forcing it on them. And this will lead to dictatorship. In the last few years, there has not been cordial relationship between the government and its citizens. There should be a way of carrying the people along to gain their loyalty, but this has been missing from the government. Our leaders ought to be making it known to us on how they are moving us in the right direction. It is not supposed to be so.
The Defence Minister has urged Nigerians to defend themselves when these criminals invade their communities. What is your take on that?
Yes, the Minister of Defence asked Nigerians to defend themselves and I agree with him. This is because self defence is key to human survival, especially in dire situations. In a situation that there is no other way out, you have to defend yourself. This is not peculiar to Nigeria. Self-defence is very important because life does not have a duplicate. The minster is right in his submission.
I use this medium to appeal to the police authorities to give the trust back to the people. Let’s not forget what happened during the EndSARS protest. But with recent happenings, it is giving signals to the world that the Nigeria police should not be entrusted with our lives. The best way to go is to allow people to give them intelligence. But when the police actions prove otherwise, the people cannot voluntarily give out information. There are places the police can’t get to especially in rural areas. This is how security agents operate all over the world; relying on the civilians on ground to fish out criminals. And when the information is given by the citizen, he or she must be applauded not persecuted.