There were strong indications on Wednesday that intrigues among South-West governors and interference by the Federal Government were threatening the Western Nigeria Security Outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun (leopard).
The PUNCH gathered that although all the South-West governors agreed to set up the security outfit at a summit organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria in June last year, some of them had started developing cold feet. The summit, which was attended by the governors, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the South-West, was convened following serial killings and kidnapping in the zone by Fulani herdsmen. Gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen, had in June killed Funke Olakunri, a daughter of the Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti, on the Ondo-Ore road.
In May, a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof Olayinka Adegbehingbe, was abducted at the Ikoyi/Apomu junction of the Ibadan-Ife Expressway in Ikire, a border town between Osun and Oyo states. There were also many cases of kidnapping and killings on other major roads in the zone. But one of our correspondents gathered on Wednesday that some elements within the Presidency as well as the police high command, were not favourably disposed to the regional outfit because they considered it as part of restructuring agenda, the South-West had been pushing for. It was learnt that after understanding the body language of the Federal Government, some governors’ interest in the security outfit began to wane.
A top Federal Government official, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “Having studied the ‘body language’ of the executive at the federal level, some of these governors who do not want to be in the bad books of ‘Abuja’ are secretly going behind to give the impression that a particular governor among them was the one pushing for the regional outfit.
“Some of these governors have ambitions for positions at the centre, do not want to give an impression that they are confronting the centre through the setting up of the regional security outfit. We understand that a section of the Presidency and the police high command are uncomfortable with the idea of a regional security outfit which they do not have direct control over.
“The same governors are in quandary because they equally don’t want to give their people the impression that they are not interested in promoting a regional response to a real and present threat of an invasion of their ancestral lands.”
But at least, three of the South-West states on Wednesday said they would attend the launch of the security outfit which would take place in Ibadan on Thursday. When one of our correspondents enquired about the event, the Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, Kunle Somorin, earlier on Wednesday said, “I have my reservation about that because he (governor ) has not mobilised us. He has not asked us to get set for Ibadan.
But later on Wednesday, the CPS said his boss had given the signal of his readiness to participate in the proposed launch.
He said “the Chief of Staff (Shuaib Salis) has called me that we should prepare to go to Ibadan tomorrow (Thursday) for the launch of Amotekun.”