The message of Amotekun from the epistemological perspective is a resonance that because we as a people abhor conflicts because of our historical antecedents should no longer be judged to be an act of cowardice. If indeed you believe we are what you labeled us to be, why the unnecessary furor about Amotekun? And why the threat?


The blogosphere has been inundated in the past few days with the news of the bold initiative of the South-Western Nigeria governors and critical stakeholders. First, typical of the cerebral inquisition by the Yorubas themselves, there were debates for and against the proprietary or otherwise of the venture. Not too long after that, the attorney general of the federation (AGF), in a rascally and perhaps ultra vires manner pronounced the outfit illegal. To add salt to the already open wound, MURIC, a self-appointed Islamic organisation, proclaimed the outfit as Christian-leaning and, therefore, unacceptable to the teeming Yoruba Muslims.

First, let me quickly address MURIC’s unfounded allegation. With a moderate background as a student of Comparative Religious Studies, I can boldly assert that religion is the least concern of the Yoruba people. Second, if Amotekun will have any religious inclination, it will tilt more towards the African Traditional Religion. For the avoidance of doubt, therefore, painting the idea or the outfit with a Christian coloration is an exercise in futility.

However, speaking about the ontology of Amotekun, at its root is an attempt to put certain records straight, especially those premised on the wrong perception of those who are either ignorant of our history or are being outrightly mischievous or both. The false impression of Yoruba as a cowardly people, who can only bark, but without the capacity to bite. I do know we have had to carry this burden from generation to generation. Now, the establishment of Amotekun is more of a philosophical inclination to me, than just a small outfit to enhance the life and security of our people within the larger Nigerian enclave. To this end, I salute the doggedness and thoughtfulness of those behind such a laudable initiative at a time like this in the course of national history. Of course, it is an old understanding that charity should of necessity begin at home.

Having said this, there is need to take us unto a brief historical journey.

Of the tribes and peoples of Nigeria, as currently constituted, no group was as enmeshed in internecine warfare as the Yoruba, especially during the period before colonisation. As espoused by the eminent historian, Professor Akintoye, if the power and disposition of the people were well harnessed, it would have been an arduous task to colonise us, let alone to merge us with other peoples, as Nigeria presently is. Because of the inter-tribal warfare of yore, the Oyo Empire, which was a subset of the enlarged Yoruba nationhood, rose to prominence, and almost obliterated our collective history. Yet, during that period, many others vehemently resisted the overlordship of the Oyo Kingdom on their territories. The Ekitis, with their runaway kith and kins, who went to form the Akure Kingdom; the Ijesas, and many others, are classical examples of this. It was also this warfare that gave the once simple agrarian hamlet called Ebaodan to harness many settlements that gave rise to a kind of self-administered ‘Republic’, today known as Ibadan.

For the reason of the semi-autonomous disposition of various sub-groups in Yorubaland, the people operated a kind of confederacy, although without sufficient cohesion to ward off external invasion. That state led to the formation of the Ekitiparapo group, comprising the Ekitis and the Ijeshas, which produced many warriors of notable pedigree. Also, at that point, the Ibadans were fused to constitute a strong force that started seeking territorial expansion. Then, the last battle from the different forces was the Kiriji War.

The best the federal government can do is to engage its policymakers and promoters of Amotekun to look at the operating manual, and if perhaps there is any grey area, both parties should seek means of addressing such. Nobody kills an idea whose time has come.


After that war, the Yorubas grew tired of fighting! Thereafter, they signed an unwritten agreement to pursue peace and a harmonious coexistence among themselves and their neighbours. They then started welcoming strangers into their midst and took on new approaches to life and living generally. Of note was the attempt through the leadership of Awolowo, to create a united front healed from the scars of war and seeking the pursuance of development as members of respectable comities of people.

For the primary reason of being tired of wars, the military was not an attractive profession for an average Yoruba person at independence. To be charitable, we could infer that it was only the non-conformists who took the line of military enrolment as a career pathway; also the rascally and run-away rebels. Yet for those few, they were still well counseled, as it was in those days, not to forget the sons of who they were. I recall watching many films (as we called it then, and which are now described as movies) of our illustrious Ipoti Ekiti born Lt. Col Ayo Ariyo, as he was actively engaged in the war room during the civil war, and his life within the community at retirement became some source of respectability and perhaps motivation for others to consider joining the military, as the institution was no longer considered as much of a taboo. It was an Ekiti man, Colonel Fajuyi who took the bullet for his commander-in-chief in Ibadan, yet we still got labeled as cowards.

Then 1966 happened! That was the beginning of our spiral in retrogression as a people and a nation. The occurrences of that era gave birth to a unitary constitution, in place of the hitherto Republican Constitution, which ended up creating an ‘elephant’ federal government without agility and zero capacity to run the race of the modern developmental contest. Without 1966, there may not have been a civil war, the scars of which is as visible as it was in 1970 when it was ended in a surrendering ‘ceremony’ superintended by another ‘cowardly’ Yoruba General.

It is also a known fact that it is mainly one individual or perhaps a few added who usually write our rubber-stamped Constitutions from the day that the unitary constitution crept into our public lives. Quite often, it is written in the drench of alcohol and the caressing by what the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, described as “women of easy virtue.” Yet no protection is offered to women nor their interests advanced by such exercise. To that extent and purpose, our Constitution is a product of the whims and caprices of specific individuals who put out the essential documents that govern our lives under a less desirable atmosphere and frame of mind. It is, therefore, not surprising that a lot of things are tilted towards those who seek control for the share arrogance of power without purpose.

Let lions continue to roar and make all the noise they could, but the legendary amotekun lives, and God have mercy on you if you wrongly cross its part. Amotekun is a philosophical symbol of strength, hope, and restoration of dignity. Let Amotekun live, after all, who is afraid of cowards?


The bottom line is that the presence of lions in the jungle and perceived kingly disposition is neither a threat nor fear to the Amotekun, who is a king, but which has chosen the part of a silent but dreadful modus operandi. The Amotekun is not subservient to other animals, yet it has the brutal capability of devouring anyone that dares cross its part. It has the uniqueness of the ability to work when others are snoring away. The message of Amotekun from the epistemological perspective is a resonance that because we as a people abhor conflicts because of our historical antecedents should no longer be judged to be an act of cowardice. If indeed you believe we are what you labeled us to be, why the unnecessary furor about Amotekun? And why the threat? Is there anything on the exclusive lists that the octopus federal government has performed so creditably? Was it not since the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) happened that our education has started diminishing in quality, and today, we even look to Ghana for a semblance of good education?

The only benefit, perhaps, is the proliferation of private institutions, which have become the net receiver of proceeds of corruption inadvertently. If we are to conduct an unbiased inquiry into the parents of wards in these institutions, what will be the percentage of parents who are ‘legitimate’ earners of fees they pay for their wards?

Let lions continue to roar and make all the noise they could, but the legendary amotekun lives, and God have mercy on you if you wrongly cross its part. Amotekun is a philosophical symbol of strength, hope, and restoration of dignity. Let Amotekun live, after all, who is afraid of cowards?

The best the federal government can do is to engage its policymakers and promoters of Amotekun to look at the operating manual, and if perhaps there is any grey area, both parties should seek means of addressing such. Nobody kills an idea whose time has come.

It is your village boy, #JustThinkingAloud.

Oluwadele L. Bolutife, a chartered accountant and a public policy and administration scholar, writes from Canada.