By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi
The Southern part of the country had come up with Amotekun, as a community policing/ vigilante model to counter the very numerous threats of cultism, kidnapping, rape, and all other forms of malfeasance that have continually destabilised the peaceful existence of the south-western states. Sen. Bala Ahmed Tinubu had waded into the controversy the development had generated; and his wise counsel and voice of wisdom mediated between the IGP’s office and the Governors of the predominantly APC, South Western states. The Amotekun architecture would be operational under the supervision and authority of the Nigeria Police. Even if it was a political gimmick, it did earn the South West the long awaited birth of a regionally controlled security outfit that would either replace the Police, or work with the Police Force to forge a deeper community policing structure.
Somehow, the Amotekun outfit was nowhere to be seen when the endsars riots broke out, even as officers of the Police too, ran for their dear lives as they were butchered and eaten up! In the face of such ‘Public Brutality’, what chance does Amotekun stand? That vacuum left by the Amotekun movement during the protests, sort of betrays the cover of the hidden agenda surrounding Amotekun. No matter what the outfit was meant to achieve, it is foremost a very noble and even ingenious idea, in the face of the security crises spreading across the length and breadth of the sprawled sleeping giant of the black race. Youths from the Northern part of the country, like on every other thing made popular by the South, swung into a dance for the actualisation of a similar ‘Amotekun’ like group — christened ‘Shege Ka Pasa’.
We saw a few vans, some SUVs and one or two executive style vehicles to conote some kind of officialdom, in the Shege Ka Pasa group. In the minds and hearts of Young Northern Nigerians, it was a rallying sign, to rival the South Western Amotekun. The whole drama ended up ridiculing both the Amotekun and the Shege Ka Pasa movements, that would have otherwise been noble security initiatives. Amotekun died a quick death, or perhaps was never really given birth to, afterall. Faces behind the Shege Ka Pasa too, ended up being opposition voices to the endsars movement, even though in reality; the North adores SARS, while the South had a worrying relationship with the squad. Now more than ever, it has hit us that the general demands, needs and preferences of each state or region; better still each zone, is distinct from the other. Ultimately, there must be uniquely knit local security formations that can address the challenges of their localities, where mostly, the perpetrators are indigenes of those areas. Threats that are foreign to local communities are identified more easily and of course can be tackled by the police or other relevant security corps.
Travelling by road between Northern states, the hotbed of Nigeria’s security threats, one can easily see the lawlessness exhibited by the dwellers of the towns and villages. On a market day, a whole highway is blocked and one has to find a bush like path to circumvent the blockade; otherwise one would spend the night there as an unwilling shopper! The wretchedly uniformed officials of the transport unions are kings of the road and can create a space as huge as a runway, for you to glide past the thick market crowd in the middle of a federal highway! For a security conscious person, the crowds you see as markets will definitely send shivers down your spine. The scenario presents itself as a perfect harbor for asymmetrical warfare to berth and thrive. How will the security agencies be able to identify the terrorists from the crowd?
The recent Northern Governors and Traditional Rulers parley in Kaduna, underscored the need to create deeper constitutional roles for traditional institutions — for they are closer and better positioned to tackle all matters, rising from their localities. We have the ‘maianguwa’ who oversees a few streets in his neighbourhood, who reports to a Sarki; who is the head of a cluster of homes that is basically the size of a village. The village Sarki is under the authority or supervision of Hakimi — who is a member of the Emirate Council’s ‘Executive Committee’. The Hakimi is an adviser/ commissioner to the Emir, who is the King of the land, or ‘governor’ (you can put it that way for clarity). So we have pre-existing traditional structures with well organised lines of communication; and better still, a system with an absolute recognition and respect for hierarchy. The maianguwa, the Sarki and the Hakimi all have vigilantes that help in maintaining a secure environment in their various towns and localities. So if anyone is looking for a ‘Shege ka Pasa’, a structure exists already and the only thing the government of the day should do is to fund them and provide an enabling environment for them to tackle the insecurity issue from a local level.