The federal government has been accused of ineffectiveness, lack of ideas in handling the security challenges facing the country. Last week the national house of Assembly asked the president to sack his service chiefs while in the senate the opposition party members in the senate told president Mohammed Buhari to resign since he can no longer protect the lives of Nigerians that he swore an oath to protect.
Do the governors of six states in south-west Nigeria seems to have an idea as they have come up with their own answer?
They have announced the setting up their own security outfit to be known by the Yoruba word for leopard – amotekun.
Exactly how it will operate is not yet known as the states are still finalizing the plans, but it is set to involve employing new security personnel with the power to arrest. Amotekun will also share intelligence and security infrastructure across the states.
The plan has riled the national authorities and led some to accuse the six states of plotting to secede from Nigeria, a diverse country of 200 million people. Yorubas are one of its three main ethno-linguistic groups.
To ease suspicion, the governors met Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and top police figures last week. But if anyone had expected that that would be the end of the controversy then they were disappointed.
Emerging from the meeting Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who chairs the council of the six governors, said a deal had been struck. He said the states will now go and enact enabling laws to create Amotekun and at the same time align it with federal police initiatives.
But almost immediately, Afenifere, a Yoruba cultural group which stoutly supports the new initiative, quickly dismissed the agreement saying the federal government cannot dictate how the south-west protects its people.
Similar sentiments were expressed by others on the matter, which has given opponents of what they see as a bumbling federal government a rallying point. While the Hausa Fulani are accusing the southwest of plotting breakaway, the media, both old and new, is awash with stories and opinions on the subject. And social media has been on fire since the idea first came to light several weeks ago.
But the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that the proposed regional security outfit was against the law since the constitution vests such powers in the federal government. He said “Amotekun [is] unconstitutional and illegal,” he declared.
Which way Nigerians?
While our leaders debate points of constitutional law, hapless Nigerians, not just in the south-west but all over the country, are at the mercy of kidnappers, bandits and in the case of the north-east, Islamist insurgents are killing, maiming and making people poorer as they prevent them from earning their living in peace.
Apart from those who specialize in stealing oil from pipelines, there are also the bandits who rule the roost in many towns and villages, making it impossible for many to farm or keep livestock.
This is in addition to the herders who kill and maim farmers who challenge their right of way.
But the measures appear piecemeal and suggest that something more systematic and drastic needs to be done before everyone resorts to self-help or vigilantism.
In just the past few weeks, in a sign of people taking matters into their own hands, alleged kidnappers were reportedly burnt to death by mobs in the south-eastern Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states.
In the capital, Abuja, not only did a mob kill an alleged kidnapper, they also vandalized a police vehicle when the police tried to intervene.
What is needed is a frank discussion and agreement on measures to deal with the situation involving all tiers of government, instead of the grand-standing that distracts from tackling the criminals, who continue to have the upper hand.