By Ojo Oyewamide
The lifespan of the impactful first tenure of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, will expire in the next couple of weeks. The tenure of state governors in Nigeria is four years. That is the dictate of the country's constitution. So, whatever has a beginning surely has an end. This is an immutable fact of life and everything in it. The only thing that can last forever is the positive impact of one's time on humanity.
Specifically, the curtain will be drawn on the purposeful and productive tenure on February 23. But it is a case of one governance chapter ending for Arakunrin Akeredolu and another one opening immediately. The governor will commence his second term in office on February 24 having received the nod from the people of the state on October 10, 2020 to continue with his fruit-yielding running of the Sunshine state. A committee has already been set up for the inauguration ceremony and another one to handle the process of transiting from the first to the second tenure.
Honesty is a virtue and very important attribute of leadership. This attribute is a notable characteristic of Governor Akeredolu's first tenure. The governor detests lies and deceits. He doesn't pretend. He says things as they are and promises only what he can fulfill. His bluntness is very rare on the country's political turf.
Working with Governor Akeredolu is not a walk in the park. You have his uncommon bluntness and courage to manage. In our corner of the globe, good politics is telling lies and being insincere with the people. But this is bad politics as far as the governor is concerned. How do you manage such a leader in a political environment like Nigeria where most people love deception and see bluntness as arrogance if you lack wisdom, understanding of his character and are not a prayerful person?
However, Governor Akeredolu's reelection has shown that honesty is a rewarding attribute. All the policies and actions of his government flow from his candour and the purity of his heart. The people of the state realised this and that's why they renewed his mandate for another four years. And that's why all the weapons of lies, falsehoods and half-truths deployed to demolish his government and prevent his return failed.
Governor Akeredolu combines honesty with iron commitment to serve the people of the state. This is the major reason why his first term has recorded a lot of remarkable feats. One of these achievements is the creation of Amotekun Corps. Amotekun is a child of necessity and a bold response to the festering insecurity in the southwest region of the country occasioned by the criminal activities of kidnappers, armed robbers, herders and other categories of hoodlums.
Amotekun is also a child of frustration with the centralised system of policing in the country. The system allows all the security agencies to be controlled only by the federal government. But the system impedes effective policing, a development which has led the country into a very deep valley of insecurity.
Calls for the state police have been repeatedly rebuffed. One odious argument against the idea is that the country is not yet mature for it. Arguments such as this indicate the level of degeneration that Nigeria has suffered in terms of the quality of thinking and character of her citizens. There was a time in the country that security was locally based. Then, there were Nigerian Police, Regional Police and Native Authority Police. But decades after, some people are arguing that the country is not yet mature for a decentralised system of policing.
The establishment of Amotekun is a daring deed. Shortly after the security initiative was launched on January 9, 2020, it was declared illegal by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. The minister challenged the legal right and competence of the Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum led by Governor Akeredolu to set up the security outfit. Miyetti Allah cattle breeders and northern youths saw Amotekun as a threat. But Governor Akeredolu vehemently defended it, displaying leadership and courage.
Some people even suggested that Governor Akeredolu's stance on Amotekun would jeopardise his reelection. They viewed his defence of the security initiative as clashing with the federal government. The governor, however, replied them that he valued the security of his people more than his continued stay in the Alagbaka Government House. To the glory of God, the battle for the existence of Amotekun was fought and won.
In August 2020, the security outfit took off in Ondo state after its inauguration by Governor Akeredolu. And it has been justifying its establishment since then. Last December, it launched "Operation Clean Up" to rid the state of criminal elements. It started the operation when insecurity surged in the state following the #EndSARS protests. According to the Commander of the state security agency, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, no fewer than 120 suspected criminals were arrested. Adeleye said since the operation started, criminal activities had reduced by 80 per cent in Ondo state.
One savoury thing is that Amotekun enjoys public confidence and trust. Within a short period after it took off, the security agency received over 500 petitions from farmers asking for protection against cattle rearers. Amotekun has a good relationship with other security agencies in the state. And this is good for the state. What the security outfit needs now is more support from the people of the state. The Oluwarotimi Akeredolu government is doing its best to make Amotekun a formidable bulwark against insecurity in the Sunshine state.
* Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Media and Publicity