Since 2015, Nigeria has struggled with increasing insecurity. It has worsened as clashes between herdsmen and farmers led to several deaths, kidnappers and bandits have terrorized major highways across the country and police brutality has led to loss of lives in every state. In response to the violence, regional governors have taken matters into their own hands by creating regional, privately staffed security outfits to complement the work of the Nigerian armed forces and provide specialized security to smaller communities often overlooked.
This has led to security outfits like the Amotekun, created by the South-West governor’s forum, a security outfit that was created to protect the interests of the Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Lagos and Ondo states. There was significant friction between the leaders of the region and the federal government on the journey to inaugurating the security outfit, with the Attorney General accusing the region of trying to undermine the sovereignty of the federal government.
Now that that Amotekun has finally be inaugurated, the South-South Region is now motivated to inaugurate their own version of the a regional, private security agency. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State governor and chairman of the South-South governor’s forum announced the resolution to set up the regional security outfit and, demand the government restore the payment of a 13% derivation levy allocated to oil producing states in the South-South region and revive the BRACE Commission, which was formerly inaugurated to tackle development issues in the region.
The South-South region has long had informal security/protest outfits who protect the region’s interests. Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is one of such private security outfits that evolved into militant groups that exist to protect the interests of people in the region. To have a government sanctioned private security organization might be a way to absorb militants in the region and channel their passion towards a cause beneficial to all South-South citizens.
We will watch to see if the South-South has a smoother journey to inauguration or if they will have to also fight the government for legitimacy.