New Telegraph

Yakasai: Regional security outfits’ll become militia groups soon

Leader of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, in this interview with MUHAMMAD KABIR, speaks about the level of insecurity in the country and the need for actions to be taken to keep Nigeria together


What can you say about the current situation of Nigeria?


Nigeria is having security challenges but the security challenges are brought about not by the issue of militancy but by the issue of unemployment. Because most of the people engaged in banditry are among those who have no jobs or anything to survive on.


They are forced into banditry in order to survive, to find something to eat. It is unfortunate. The solution is to create job opportunities, where people can work in gainful employment that will provide them with means of sustaining their lives.


But the insecurity is gaining grounds from North to South to almost all the regions…


No, no. This is wrong. It is false. There has been insecurity, one kind or the other, right from our younger days. So, it has nothing to do with the issue of national unity to break Nigeria into whatever number. You will continue to have this problem as long as the youths are unemployed and have no means of sustaining themselves.


Anywhere in the world, where you find people resorting to banditry and insecurity, it is caused by hunger and unemployment. So, it has nothing to do with the unity of the country. Those who are trying to break the unity of the country are just trying to connect the two together but they are actually separate issues.


The issue with the country is whether it is better for everybody when it is united or whether it will not be better.


My problem with people who are advocating for the breakup of Nigeria is that they did not offer any solution to the problem of Nigeria. My understanding is that people, who want to break up this country, have decided to use the media in Nigeria.


There are a lot of people who are looking for job, media and the rest. They are unable to get employment and therefore, they are looking for ways to destroy the country; they will make use of these people to intimidate the unity of the country


Are you saying that the media is being infiltrated?


Yes, I think from the way this propaganda is gaining place in the media because you don’t see it on the streets. All the marketers in this country go about their businesses. You go and buy foodstuffs in the markets. No banditry in the market.


Go to the railway or go to the park, no banditry. So the banditry is perpetrated by the young people. The young people are not educated.


There are people who want to use them either because of their ignorance or because they are hungry and people who want to destroy the unity of the country are taking advantage of their shortcomings. Disunity will not solve the Nigerian problem.


How will the media get rid of these unpatriotic elements that have now infiltrated the profession?


It is up to the media people to open their  eyes and see people. See the editors. There is poverty in the country and they should address their minds to how to create gainful employment. Instead of asking questions about secession, why don’t they talk about job creation?


They themselves are either complicit or they are secessionists themselves, secession elements operating the media. Otherwise, when the country is passing through poverty and unemployment, it is funny for the media to concentrate on the issue of secession.


What we need is a solution to poverty, unemployment and banditry, not secession. My fear is that secessionist elements have adopted the strategy of intimidating the media with poverty because everybody, I am talking about the majority of Nigerians, are benefitting from Nigeria and nobody has come up today with a better solution to the Nigerian problem through unity, through integration.


If we split into two pieces, how does it solve our problem? When you have a problem, you look for a solution, you don’t try to compound it. Secession will compound this problem. There will be more armed robbery; there will be more stealing; there will be more unemployment; there will be no job in the country.


There are countries that are worse than Nigeria today in terms of poverty but they are together. I can cite two cases in Benin and Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 1960 to date, Congo has not known peace and yet they are together.


The same thing with Sudan: Even Sudan went to the extent of fighting civil war, getting to the division and yet they didn’t solve the problem of poverty.


Can we say that the government is relaxed in attending to problems of national importance? For example, where there are attacks in the South, the security is relaxed and kidnapping continues and the government seems to be so relaxed on it…


I have spoken so many times to the government. Things don’t reveal themselves. You have to plan for them to happen and not to happen on their own.


Whoever wants to rule, either as national or at state level ought to have a plan. Problem cannot just be solved by agitation or noisemaking and media agitation. Problems are solved by creating programmes or plans that will address the issues.


And to turn our face and begin to think of ways to overcome our problem will never solve our problem; it will only create more. So, this is why things are not going in the normal way because they are not looking for solutions. Almost everybody is interested in criticism and attacking.


People are not advising and bringing ideas to how to get rid of the problems such as unemployment; how you can get good roads; people need to address their  minds to positive thinking and not negative thinking.


Recently, you have seen the rise of regional armed security operatives created by the states, for example the Amotekun, and the ESN and the rest of them. Is it a movement towards state policing or how do you discuss it?


When the Yoruba started Amotekun, I said that soon, other zones will begin to copy them, and this is what is happening. It will not solve the problem. Like now, go to South- West, tell your colleagues in the South -West to go and see the recruits in the Amotekun.


How many Igbo have been recruited? How many Hausa were recruited; how many Kanuri were recruited? How many people from the opposition parties of the states have been recruited? Everybody is recruiting people from his own side. This will not solve the problem.


The regional security outfit, if it gets established, will eventually degenerate into a militia in the hands of a political party. In most cases, when a governor will like to set up a security outfit, he will take his party men.


The party men will just feel that they are supported. If you go and check this Amotekun, you will find out that they are supporters of one party or the other. Go to All Progressives Congress-controlled states and see who were recruited into Amotekun. You will find out that they are more APC supporters. The problem is this; if we think that setting up these outfits we end up creating people’s militia and when those militia are locally armed, they will turn around and begin to attack the community.


They will go to people, attacking people and keep on demanding money, extort money from them, and as you go along, they will begin to rob them. Amotekun will not solve any problems. If our government cannot solve the security problem how can Amotekun solve it?


This is the mistake of our government. If any of the government did not allow Amotekun, he gets blackmailed. Now, the Igbo will have their own; the South-South will have their own and the North too. In the end, we will find these security outfits will be replacing the police, the military and will be attacking police stations.


I read in the newspapers that police stations were attacked in one state or another. These are the same people you are now giving uniform to and when you look back in the country, nobody will sleep with his eyes closed.


It is a dirty initiative and the Federal Government must not allow it. IPOB is trying to set up an armed group but they have not succeeded and you are trying to set up an armed group. They will then recruit IPOB members into the groups. Soon, they will turn them to their armed groups officially recognised by the states

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