Three governors from the South-West geopolitical region were absent on Thursday as Operation Amotekun, the zone’s security outfit, was inaugurated in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dapo Abiodun and Gboyega Oyetola of Lagos, Ogun and Osun states respectively were not present at the event.
Governors Abiodun and Oyetola were, however, represented by their deputies, while the Lagos State governor did not send any representative or delegation on behalf of the state to the event.
Also absent was Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, who did not send any representative to the event.
But Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, stated that his counterparts from Lagos and Ogun States were absent due to bad weather.
“I must convey the apologies of two of our governors, his excellencies, governors Sanwo-Olu and Dapo Abiodun. They wanted to be here but the problem is associated with bad weather. That is one of the problems that are associated with governing rich states. Those of us from poor states used an alternative, like arriving in Ibadan since yesterday,” Governor Akeredolu said.
Operation Amotekun was launched following a series of kidnapping and killing in the South-West region, especially along the highways, by criminals in 2019.
The operation was conceived at a summit convened by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) in June 2019.
Speaking at the event, Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, said the operation’s establishment was not designed to become a regional police force as insinuated in the traditional and social media.
He described the insinuations as an attempt to sabotage the process.
“We are not creating a regional police force neither are we oblivious of steps to take in order to have state police. Yes, some of us are apologetic advocates of state police, but we are also law-abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know the process and procedure to undergo to get to that point,” Governor Fayemi said.
On his part, Governor Akeredolu said no state was immune to the negative impact of insecurity.
He said: “Most of us are so worried about it such that our children abroad would call and say that they were afraid to come back home. So, we resolved that it is our collective efforts that can save us from these banditry, terrorism, kidnapping, ritual killing, armed robbery, herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts, cybercrime, and that proactive and pragmatic approach will be the solution to these problems.
“Our zone became the main focus of negative reports and this is because South-West constitutes about 90 per cent of the media in the country. The security of our people needs serious countermeasures from the government, and we have resolved that we will not relent until the entire space is secure. It is our sincere hope that our security efforts will serve as complement to the security architecture put in place by the Federal Government. It is not in our intention to erect any antagonistic structure whose operation is at cross-purposes with the existing template of events.”
The Ondo State Governor disclosed that of the 120 patrol vehicles being procured, no state has less than 20 patrol vehicles in the operation. He, however, noted that Oyo State procured 33 vehicles.
Also speaking, Seyi Makinde, Governor of Oyo State, said all South-West governors must come together to ensure that both indigenes and settlers in their states carry out their activities in a peaceful environment.
He said: “Our regional integration should be seen in one light and one light alone – that we are coming together to fight a common enemy. That enemy is not Nigeria; the enemies are the elements among us and their affiliates who are determined to cause commotion within the borders of our states and threaten our peaceful coexistence.”
Present at the event were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, members of the Oodua Progressive Congress, local hunters, vigilance group and the Agbekoya from the South-West.
The Are Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, was represented by Akogun Kayode Balogun.