If there were any doubts in anyone’s mind, Amotekun has confirmed that Nigeria’s security situation is broken and needs mending… In a country where the president is all-powerful and his voice can direct and influence thoughts and conclusions, the perpetual withdrawal and silence of Buhari leaves serious issues unresolved… Silence has become a liability, and it will spawn more Amotekuns.


The sound of “Amotekun” has drowned out all other issues in the Nigerian public space for many days, and there is a great likelihood that the Yoruba word will take on meanings and connotations beyond the original meaning of leopard. Soon enough Wikipedia will include ‘Amotekun’ as an entry in its archives. Maybe the word will also enter the Oxford English Dictionary, as was recently the case for several words of domestic Nigerian use.

Listening to and reading about the loud pronouncements that have accompanied the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun, one has to be deaf not to conclude that Nigeria is “not at ease” – to borrow a phrase from the title of a famous book by Chinua Achebe.

Following its outing, there were whispers, gasps, exclamations of relief and contentment by many people who found the Amotekun security outfit a very appropriate step taken by five governors of Nigeria’s South Western States. At last, the security situation in the region might improve, and life might become normal, many people concluded.

But there were also hisses, jeers, facial contortions by many other people on how unnecessary Amotekun was. Nothing could be farther from establishing better security than Amotekun because it would be manipulated to foster violence, others contended.

Whilst the murmurs were still germinating and mounting gradually, Attorney General Abubakar Malami threw fuel into the low fires and the explosion started. He said that Amotekun is illegal and unconstitutional. Those who support Amotekun or similar policies would have none of Malami’s points. They found that his statement was not only wrong, but it confirmed the status quo. In simple terms, it showed how the Northern ruling class wanted to perpetuate its hold on the rest of the country’s security architecture and other important spheres.

Who is right and who is wrong? This is the debate that is going on. It is loud and angry.

President Buhari has not made any pronouncement. Nor any of his proxies. Characteristically. The highest federal government official who has spoken on the issue remains the attorney general. From a communications point-of-view, his statement is the official position of the federal government. This is the interpretation of the current silence in communication.


And the leadership of the country is silent. President Buhari has not made any pronouncement. Nor any of his proxies. Characteristically. The highest federal government official who has spoken on the issue remains the attorney general. From a communications point-of-view, his statement is the official position of the federal government. This is the interpretation of the current silence in communication.

Silence has been used frequently as an instrument of governance by the current government, and it is a strong communication tool. Whether the government has used silence strategically, or merely by accident, is less important than what effects the use has created.

After a heated political campaign and delicate elections in May 2015, President Buhari emerged as winner on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The manifesto of his party, which was used as the preaching instrument across the country by APC, had promised to change the country. The new APC government was going to repair the economy, forge a secure nation, and reduce, if not eliminate, corruption.

More than 15 million voters, constituting 54 per cent of total votes cast, who favoured Buhari waited for the beginning of a new Nigeria to emerge as soon as Buhari came into office. Silence. There was no team or energetic principals to run the affairs of state. President Buhari took about six months before he broke the long silence to appoint his cabinet.

The president’s frequent travels abroad for medical treatment were usually accompanied also by silence. His health was poor, a situation that was beyond him and anyone for that matter. But the silence, not informing the country, not appointing an acting president often, or not handing over to a designated official publicly, made his silence seriously problematic.

The herdsmen phenomenon generated national furore for a long time. Silence reigned on the matter from the number one political head of the country, until it became uncomfortable to be silent.

Operation Amotekun will give birth to many children. The ferocity of future Amotekuns will be determined by the competent handling of these babies from birth. The security of people and asset cannot be compromised.


Silence, at critical times when serious issues are at stake, seem to have become the norm. We may remember the following:

– The tense relationship between two principal security agencies, namely the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which at times became public stand-offs.
– Closer to home, the president’s wife and first lady, Aisha Buhari becoming a megaphone of how the domestic life in Aso Rock resembles an interesting soap opera of Nollywood. But Aso Rock is not meant to be a Nollywood stage. Silence is being used as the instrument of managing the crisis.
– The agitation by several groups from the South-Eastern parts of the country for the re-establishment of Biafra, which started as little noises and has become a massive din.
– The power-play at the presidency that appeared to place the vice president under siege.

Operation Amotekun will give birth to many children. The ferocity of future Amotekuns will be determined by the competent handling of these babies from birth. The security of people and asset cannot be compromised.

Those who use silence as a strategy for results state that “actions speak louder than words”. There are certainly uses for silence as a veritable instrument of management, leadership and communication. Silence is powerful when it will bring about solutions, healing, unity and contentment. Silence cannot stop disaffection that is obvious. A deep sense of insecurity and distrust permeates the country. Timely interventions and a clear statement of positions forestall the eruption of latent anger and mis-interpretation of situations.

If there were any doubts in anyone’s mind, Amotekun has confirmed that Nigeria’s security situation is broken and needs mending.
In a country where the president is all-powerful and his voice can direct and influence thoughts and conclusions, the perpetual withdrawal and silence of Buhari leaves serious issues unresolved. There is too much dust in the air, and when the dust settles, we shall have another crisis swept under a bulging carpet covering dirt. Silence has become a liability, and it will spawn more Amotekuns.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.