Director-General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, Seye Oyeleye, spoke on next line of action after the passage of Amotekun Bill into law and other related issues in this interview with WALE OYEWALE of the PUNCH Newspaper
Amotekun bill has been passed into law in some of the six collaborating states in the South-West region. Now, what next?
We are extremely glad that nearly all the states have signed the Western Nigeria Security Bill into law. In fact, the states that have not signed, by the end of this week or next, they should have signed. Now, next stage is for the states to complete the recruitment process. As we said originally at DAWN Commission, we are not the ones doing the recruitment. It is being done at the state level although we have more than a passing interest in the recruitment because as a commission, we have put our names to it. We are ensuring that the right set of people are recruited in all states.
How are you doing that?
We just make sure that we are speaking to the states regularly to make sure that they don’t deviate from the original idea of who can be recruited into the security outfit. Yes, it is state based as the law says. But because the governors collaborate across the states, it is essential that the type of personnel recruited in Lagos is similar to what will be recruited in Osun, Oyo and Ondo State. So, DAWN Commission is still sitting down there as the invigilator looking at the states to make sure that they are doing the right thing.
So what is the level of compliance?
The feedback we are getting is that the states are doing just that. They are making sure that the right candidates-men and women, are being recruited into the outfit, and don’t forget that the states are engaging the existing local security structure and socio cultural groups. They are part of the people being incorporated into Amotekun. If you look at Lagos State for example, the state had said part of their Neighbourhood Watch Corps would metamorphose into the Amotekun. So, those are the things we are doing at the moment. After the recruitment is done we would start the training. This is where the police would come in to train.
Are you saying the training would be done basically by the police?
We are also going to involve retired security experts also in the training. Then, there is also the ideological or Omoluabi training. We are setting up an outfit that must be different from existing outfits in character, culture and in outlook as a people being referred to as Omoluabi. The Omoluabi ethos and values must always be reflected in the corps who would be recruited to serve in the Amotekun Corps. I am not talking of the National Youth Service Corps. That training would also be reflected across the six states.
What pattern is the training likely to take?
It is either the trainers go state by state or we are going to make it cheaper by just centralising it, train everybody and they just go back to their states. Now DAWN Commission is the one coordinating that aspect of training. We are looking at doing the training somewhere in Lagos, but not fully decided yet. That is where we are; recruitment and training. Within the next few days, we are bringing together the executive secretaries of the states’ Security Trust Fund and the directors of Inland Revenue in all the states to a joint meeting where we would again fine-tune the process of the funding. For now, the states would be funding it but if, according to the bill that they all passed, the funding is going to be based on donations and gifts. That is fine, but the thinking is that in funding Amotekun outfit across the states, they agreed to cooperate through collaboration, we are thinking that the collaboration should also extend to funding by having a joint pot where money is being put so that if vehicles are to be replaced in Ekiti, there is a joint pot that Ekiti can easily access to change the Amotekun vehicles in Ekiti. If Ondo needs to get 50 tyres, there is a joint pot that they all subscribe to and they can access it. That is for the long term sustainability. We have been working out the modalities. That is where we are, really.
ell us about the actual kick off time?
If you ask me how soon are we going to be seeing the vehicles on the road, I would say it depends on how quickly we conclude recruitment. Once the recruitment is done, we would do the training.
What pattern would the training take and how long would it last?
I don’t want to give the figure but it will last more than days. I don’t want to say exactly the time frame because the training schedules are being put together by experts. It also depends on the availability of our police who are going to help us in doing the training. But I don’t think it should exceed two weeks in total.
You said the outfit may be funded from gifts and donations; one would think that eking out funds from security vote would be more realistic?
Yes, but don’t forget that it would be the prerogative of individual states. A governor might decide that he wants to take out of his own security vote. We cannot compel them to do that. Each state would decide, at least, for now, how Amotekun in their various states would be funded. But, for the long term sustainability, DAWN Commission is proposing – and that is why we are proposing that there must be a joint pot to which they will all subscribe. The law of the land allows that, and the money for the funding of Amotekun comes from each of the states. That is what DAWN Commission will work on.
Is DAWN proposing uniform salary or will you leave that for the collaborating states to decide?
In our standard operating procedure, the proposal to all the states is that they pay the same amount to the Amotekun corps. Allowances might be different state by state, but the salary has to be the same.
What about the uniform?
The uniform is going to be the same. The only thing that would be different is the insignia. For example, Ondo State would have its own insignia likewise Ekiti State but they would wear the same colour of uniform the same design down to the boots. There is going to be only one free toll number for Amotekun in case anything is happening and you want to call in Amotekun. It has been secured; we just need funding for it. It is going live soon. This thing has come to stay and it is the job of DAWN to put things in place to ensure that Amotekun succeeds.
The uniformity in the dress and other kits might delay the outing or the commencement of their operation?
Arrangements are ongoing. We know that the world is waiting for Amotekun to roll out. But we won’t come out and then run back. The uniform is going to be the same. The states are talking, but because we are already talking to people who would help in this area, it should not be that long for us to get that ready but make no mistake about it, we are very ready.
Would age and sex be considerations for recruitment into Amotekun?
Amotekun Corps will have females, most definitely. We are not going to distinguish. Also, the idea is that we are going to be recruiting a lot of young men and women into the Amotekun Corps. There are going to be peculiarities in some areas, so a state might decide to have a 60 or 65-year-old who is extremely knowledgeable in local security; we are not going to say no. It would be flexible to make sure that the right personnel, irrespective of age, are recruited. It doesn’t mean that we would bring a 90-year-old who doesn’t know what he is doing. But, we would make sure that age is not a barrier. It should just follow the fact that the most qualified for the job has taken it.
What about application to the Inspector General of Police for arms?
That is the work of the attorney-generals and the governors. They had said that they would write the IGP. They would arm some of the operatives of Amotekun but not all. Some of the key operatives would be armed.
Are there going to be chaplains for Amotekun and would there be traditional oath taking?
It is a very good question but again, it would be left for the states to decide. If a state decides to do pagan worship, fine. If they say they want to do Islamic and Christianity faith based, they would do it. It is as simple as that. But DAWN would not be imposing anything like that.
Lagos State Government indicated that it would also enlist non-natives into the Amotekun Corps. Is this in line with the concept?
It is a very difficult one. Amotekun is open to the Yoruba. The Yoruba in this region would work for Amotekun because we are saying that you must be from a particular local government where you are known. It is important that, because it is community policing, we don’t lose the essence of what we started. We should not be apologising for who we are. Amotekun was set up by the Western Nigerian Government as a community policing effort and the idea is to recruit people in this region who are Yoruba and who understand the terrain, the culture and nuances of the people. I would fully expect that is what would happen and that is what we would do.
Would there be sale of Amotekun form?
No state would sell the Amotekun recruitment form. The states would handle recruitment and they are not selling any form. The people are expecting the Amotekun to be out. We are working to make sure it comes out very fine. The ‘Ts’ are being crossed and the ‘Is’ being dotted. What we just need from the people is a bit of patience and this would be done.