There is an indisputable relationship between economic development and security, and most security challenges are essentially economic challenges. The importance of security cannot be overstressed as it is the most fundamental of the socio-contractual responsibilities of the State to its citizens which directly or indirectly affects everybody. Thus, security is the protection or defence of people against all kinds of victimization from physical attack, economic want, poverty, illiteracy, disease/ill-health, political exclusion, social exploitation and criminality.
Meanwhile, the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission has Homeland Affairs and Security Matters as one of its key development pillars. The Commission, as a technocratic institution set up to facilitate corporation and collaboration among the six Southwest States and between governments and other governance stakeholders operating in the Region to address and proffer practical solutions to the issues that could pose a threat to the security of lives and properties of citizens.
Early in year 2019, Western Nigeria witnessed an upsurge in crimes and criminality that was perpetuated by some criminal elements within and outside the Region who posed a threat to the tranquillity and serenity of the Region and attempted to disrupt and change the hospitable nature of the people. The crime surge became rampant and it manifested in different dimension such as kidnapping, robbery, assassination and farmers-herdsmen clashes.
The security breach led to frenetic calls for governments’ intervention to stop the tide because the matter had already cast a shadow of trepidation in the minds of the citizens, sent shivers across the spines of all shades of citizens including prospective investors.
Consequently, the Governors, after the meeting of June 7, 2019 where they discussed the pivotal issues of insecurity in the Region. Collectively, the Governors expressed their commitment to protect and safeguard lives and properties of citizens being the first responsibility of any government and thereafter mandated DAWN Commission to convene a security stakeholders summit.
Thus, the security summit was convened and hosted in Ibadan, Oyo State, between the 25th-27th June, 2019. The summit was convened to discuss and proffer immediate, medium, and long-term actionable solutions to the rising incidents of insecurity, particularly recent widespread and incessant kidnapping and banditry on various highways and rural roads within the Region.
The summit was delivered in two sessions – open and closed session. The open session, held on Tuesday, 25th June 2019, was attended by all the Six Southwest Governors, traditional rulers, security operatives, important dignitaries from the Region, media, and of course, the general public. At the event, all the six Governors took turn to express their commitment to ensure safety of life and property of everyone that lives within the geographical space of Western Nigeria. While day one of the Summit was opened to the general public, the other two days was strictly for experts from the Region’s Homeland Group, which included the representatives of security agencies, bureaucrats, academia and government officials.
One of the immediate recommendations from the summit was the setting up of the Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, which was created and symbolic launched on January 9, 2020 in Ibadan, Oyo State. Prior to the launching, the six States had procured patrol vans that are dedicated to the initiative.
The six Southwest Governors while speaking at the launch, posited that the Western Nigeria Security Network- Amotekun, is a community policing using which was conceived as a confidence boosting mechanism for the people and not an attempt to replace the existing security architecture. They insisted that the outfit is to complement and collaborate with the existing security agencies and thereby strengthening the security architecture of the Region. The operatives will be comprised of locals who understand the terrain and can provide local intelligence for the existing security agencies.
The Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for Amotekun has since been developed but the legal framework that will guide the operation of Amotekun is currently being worked on with the bill currently before the various Houses of Assembly in the Region.
The Western Nigeria Security Network- Amotekun, is indeed a right mechanism for safeguarding the Region’s development interest and it is expected to be seen and embraced as an effort to complement the already over-burdened security agencies.
by Oyedolapo Oyesiji and Olawole Oladeji