AMOTEKUN: SPN CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIC CONTROLLED ARMED MULTI-ETHNIC AND MULTI-RELIGIOUS DEFENCE COMMITTEES IN COMMUNITIES
NLC, TUC and ULC must launch a national campaign on high spate of insecurity and social issues like education, health and jobs
By Abbey Trotsky & Chinedu Bosah
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) acknowledges the failure of Buhari government through the police, military and other security agencies to tackle the high spate of insecurity like banditry, kidnapping, social conflicts like that between farmers and herders etc. across the country in addition to Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. We shall support any genuine independent democratic mass effort or measure to protect lives and property in the face of the failure of the government.
We hold that the Western Nigerian Security Network popularly called Amotekun Operation, recently launched by the six governors of Southwest Nigeria if conceptualized and constituted as an ethnic militia will do more harm than good. While there is no yet any official framework and policy document in the public domain, the popular narrative on Amotekun, both in the main media and social media, frames it as a Yoruba ethnic militia. This suggests that the activities of Amotekun could be divisive in the region. Even though the south-western region is predominated by Yoruba people, the fact remains that there is a considerable number of residents who are of other ethnic extractions. Furthermore the perception of Amotekun as a Yoruba militia risks provoking further ethnic tension.
The masses who share common oppression and exploitation by the capitalist ruling elite irrespective of ethnic origin, should not support any policy that will divide them along ethnic or religious line, something which could weaken their capacity for needed united struggles for better conditions.
Besides, the outfit is not subject to democratic control of the working people and communities. Rather it is under the control of anti-poor capitalist governors of the APC and PDP. The record of these leaders leaves no one in doubt that they are as much guilty of the crime of implementing pro-capitalist policies as the Buhari-led Federal government that worsen the desperate conditions of the working masses and youth which is largely responsible for the alarming problem of insecurity across the country. At the moment, all the governors of the six states of the Southwest are guilty of undemocratically violating the autonomy of the local governments despite extant Supreme Court judgment and other legal instruments. So when these gentlemen shout to high heavens the need for the so-called true federalism, we of the SPN cannot but ask them to dare come to equity only if they are sure they have got clean hands.
While we of the SPN do not rule out the possibility that Amatekun may fight some crimes, we strongly believe that in the absence of mass democratic control, its operation and activities will sooner or later constitute a threat to democratic rights and human dignity of the ordinary people including extortion, extra-judicial killing, election rigging, attacking opposition figures etc. as obtains with the police, DSS and other security agencies. The history of the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), which despite vaunted objectives to combat insecurity, eventually became a terror gang against ordinary people in general and people from other ethnic groups residing in the South West and also became an apparatus of violence for politicians clearly justifies this point. Another notable example is the Bakassi Boys which came into being in 1990s as a movement of traders in Aba, Abia State against violent crimes and successfully brought down crimes and was replicated in some other south eastern states. This success was short-lived when the vigilante group came under the influence and sponsorship of the state, carried out extra-judicial killings and harassment of ordinary people and over time lost the support of the people.
By and large, the masses must not have an illusion in the capacity and sincerity of any section of the capitalist ruling elite whose anti-poor program and policies largely create and maintain material conditions for insecurity in the first place. The major reasons the police and other official security bodies cannot adequately fight crime is firstly because they are in reality fundamentally an instrument of class oppression and secondly because they are not adequately equipped while the rank and file members are poorly paid and ill-motivated. So, it is misplaced to expect that the governors who pay poverty wages or have failed to fulfill their social obligation on the provision on health, education and infrastructure to run and finance an effective and efficient security outfit.
It is against the background of the foregoing that we of the SPN call on the masses to support the call for the formation of multi-ethnic and multi-religious defence committees in communities which could be armed if necessary but whose operation must be under the democratic control of the community people.
The masses must reject any argument or position of the government that declares any independent mass initiative of the people to protect themselves illegal. The government, which has failed in its constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property, does not have authority to hamstring the masses with provisions of the same constitution, which was imposed on the people without any referendum. This is why, despite our opposition to Amotekun for reasons articulated above, we hold that it is shameful for Attorney General Abubakar Malami of Buhari government, under whose watch the state of insecurity in the country has significantly worsened, to hide under constitutionalism to reject Amotokun initiative which is a response to the failure of Buhari-led government, albeit not a genuine alternative.
We also reject the use of the fact that some northern states have set up Hisbah to justify the formation of Amotokun. Hisbah, a reactionary religious security outfit that is bureaucratically and autocratically run, largely targets the poor and has failed woefully to fight crime. Just the way we are opposed to Amotekun, we are opposed to Hisbah and other security outfit under the bourgeois self-serving control.
We note that the debate on Amotekun has brought again to the front burner the question of farmer-herder conflict. We understand that the activities of herders, who drive cattle into farmlands, usually provoke conflicts between farmers and herders. These conflicts sometimes lead to deaths. There are also allegations of rustling of cattle by farmers or locals. While we support that the culprit herders or farmers should be arrested and prosecuted, we hold that law and order approach is not enough to resolve the crisis. We therefore reiterate our support for the call for ranching of cattle with government intervention as part of a democratic controlled massive public investment in the modernization of agriculture (both crop and livestock) including setting up of democratically managed public large-scale farms with basic infrastructures and social amenities. This will not only prevent conflicts between herders and farmers but also create jobs and guarantee food security.
Furthermore, we of the SPN reject any narrative that profiles Fulani herdsmen as the only criminals in the southwest especially on highways. While there are criminals who are of Fulani extraction, we believe some of these criminals are also from other ethnic groups. Therefore we caution against stereotyping of Fulani herdsmen especially by the southern media and commentators as this is capable of endangering lives of peaceful innocent herders who are not criminals.
We also note that Amotekun saga has helped accentuate the national question which cannot be resolved by the primitive capitalist elite in Nigeria. Rather the capitalist elite use ethnic and religious divisions as a vehicle to access the collective wealth of the country at the expense of the masses. We therefore call on labour movement which is the strongest unifying force of the working masses as demonstrated in struggles on fuel prices and minimum wage to intervene with a national campaign and mobilization of the working masses and the poor against insecurity which must be linked to demands on social issues such as education, health care, food security and jobs. It is only such a popular movement, independent of pro-capitalist, corrupt and opportunist politicians that can fight for the real interests of working people. Such a campaign linked with the imperative of a mass working people political alternative with a socialist program can wrest power from the thieving ruling elite and defeat their system of exploitation and oppression.