The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) is weighing the creation of its own security outfit to address insecurity in the region; with one of the apex socio-cultural groups in the Niger Delta region, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), calling on governors in the South-South region, especially Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to take the lead in creating the security outfit.
The development came on the heels of the face-off between the Federal Government and Southwest governors over the launch of a security outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun by the latter. MBF National President Dr. Pogu Birtus and UPU President General Olorogun Moses Taiga said governors in both regions ought to emulate their Southwest counterparts with a view to stopping the wave of insecurity threatening their areas. Bitrus said Middle Belt governors must be steadfast in evolving measures to stave off further bloodshed in their communities.
He said: “Democracy and right to life is sacrosanct. Therefore, we call on the governors of the Middle Belt zone to be committed to the defence of life and property. We believe that a security outfit like Operation Amotekun would serve our communities better than the proposed community policing, which is similar to the work currently being done by informants in providing intelligence to the police.
“To achieve these laudable recommendations, the governors should carry along critical stakeholders in policy implementation in their respective states towards creating cordial relations and promoting peace and harmony. More than anything, the governors should embark on measures towards engendering development and providing hope for people and communities that are under siege.”
According to Taiga, Amotekun is needed because the police are currently overwhelmed by the prevailing internal security challenges. “The army has been drafted to help the police in some areas, but we all know that it is not what the army is trained to do. There have been agitations for state police and a better-organised community policing. Amotekun is a response to the current security challenges in the Southwest and is also meant to help the Federal Government address the problems of insecurity.”
Speaking further on Amotekun, the UPU president general cautioned against throwing the baby away with the bathwater. He said Amotekun was launched to target criminals and not religious or ethnic groups, as some critics have claimed. “Criminality knows no ethnicity. The Southwest should continue to dialogue with the Federal Government to smoothen the rough edges. The Urhobo Progress Union fully aligns with the ideals of Amotekun. The UPU also uses this opportunity to call on the South-South, especially the government of Delta State to study what the Southwest has done and the ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government, to set up a similar security outfit.”
But a former commander of the 31 Airborne Brigade of Paratroopers in Makurdi, General Yakubu Rimdan, described Amotekun as unconstitutional. “Nobody has the right, the authority to convene or to constitute themselves into a kind of body that will form a kind of force that will counter another force. You cannot form a force in a force unless you are asking for chaos. In any legitimately established operational outfit that has been formed by the government, nobody has the right to go and form any other thing unless you are against the government. Then, of course, government will come out to deal with you. No one has the right to do it,” he said.
Also, a retired naval officer and former senator representing Adamawa Central, Abdul-Azeez Nyako, said politicians rather than the military deserved the larger blame for the security challenge in the country.
Nyako told newsmen in Yola yesterday that the Nigerian military was overstretched but it was doing its best and thus deserved commendation. “The bulk of us (politicians) are providing bad leadership; we are only concerned about the distribution of resources instead of good leadership or how to resolve issues and get our people out of the mess,” Nyako said.
He said if politicians could address the socio-economic challenges that led to the Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes, then over 80 per cent of the security challenge in the country would be contained.
Still on security, a former Senate Majority Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, yesterday charged the Federal Government to ensure the return of Chadian military forces in the fight against Boko Haram.
He disclosed this in a statement following a suicide bombing on a mosque in Bulabulum ward in Gworza town “within my senatorial district of Borno State.”
In a statement, Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, said: “Two women slipped into the mosque pretending to be there for early Morning Prayer. They detonated the bombs simultaneously, leaving two people dead and 12 others severely injured.”
He said: “I wish to also call on the Federal Government to strengthen the military by ensuring that the Chadian forces, which were withdrawn recently, are returned. It has become necessary for the army to redeploy more soldiers to Maiduguri-Damaturu road, which has been notorious for Boko Haram attacks and kidnapping in recent days.”
Some commercial banks have designed means to avoid the recent slash in charges on withdrawal from Automated Teller Machines (ATM) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), by adjusting the maximum payout from their ATMs for other banks’ cardholders to between N5,000 and N10,000 per transaction, forcing customers to increase use of the machine to withdraw cash and get charged more frequently, Huhuonline.com investigations have revealed.
The central bank recently reduced the N65 charged on remote-on-us ATM after the third withdrawal in a month, to N35. Remote-on-us are transactions done by a card holder on another bank’s ATM.
The policy became effective on January 1, 2020. For instance, some of the banks visited along the Airport Road, 7&8 Bus Stop, Lagos and some bank branches at Oshodi, the buttons to withdraw amounts above N5,000 per transaction were disabled and inactive when Huhuonline.com visited the branches at the weekend.
But the prompt icons to withdraw lower denominations such as N1,000, N2,000, N3,000, and N5,000 were working. Therefore, customers were conditioned to make withdrawals in bits and incurred charges. However, while all the banks still left the option of withdrawing above N10,000 on the screen of their ATMs, attempt by Huhuonline.com to make withdrawals using another bank’s card at the banks visited wasn’t successful as the maximum pay-out on the third party ATMs were restricted to N10,000.
When contacted on the development, the President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Uju Ugubunka, expressed dissatisfaction about the development.
He described the situation as unfortunate, offensive and anti-customer in nature.
Ugubunka, who is the immediate past Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, added: “This means they have reconfigured their ATMs in search of more charges to make more money.
This is because for instance, if you were to pay N35 after the third transaction and you need N50,000 through the ATMs for instance and you start withdrawing it in N1,000 or N5,000 per transaction, instead of the normal N20,000 per transaction, before withdrawing N50,000 you would have paid more than the N35.
“It is unfortunate if banks have to go this route just to make more money. But again, you see in business, you redefine your business based on the things that are happening in the environment. But I think that rather than do something that would be offensive to regulation and indeed against your customers, you should be doing something that would make your customers get endeared to you.
“I can imagine that if customers are aware that there are other banks that haven’t reconfigured their ATMs to that level, they would most likely tell you that they are switching over to those banks for as long as those banks would maintain such a situation. But when you take undue advantage of your customers that means you don’t have them at your heart. This is unfair and anti-customers.
“I believe that customers who know their rights would penalise those banks, for taking that route. And the way to penalise them is to switch to other banks that aren’t doing similar things that those ones are doing. And it’s very easy to achieve that.”
Asked if his association was likely to take any action about the development, he said, “Yes, we are planning the Bank Customers’ Forum for this year and we intend to bring it forward. We would discuss some of these emerging issues at the forum. We would also require some of our bank customers who have really suffered it, to report to us formally and share their experience. However, personally, I will take it up and I would encourage some of our colleagues to go and try it out and let’s see what they find out, and then we would take it up from there.”
The central bank in a recent circular posted on its website, amongst others, announced the downward review of charges for electronic banking transactions; review of other bank charges to align with market development and the inclusion of new sections on accountability/responsibility and a sanction regime to directly address instances of excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges.
Some of the major highlights of the new Guide to Bank Charges included the removal of Card Maintenance Fee (CAMF) on all cards linked to current accounts, a maximum of N1 per mile for customer induced debit transactions to third parties and transfers or lodgments to the customers’ account in other bank on current accounts only; reduction in the amount payable for cash withdrawals from other banks’ Automated Teller Machines (Remote-on-us), as well as from N65 to N35, after the third withdrawal within one month
When contacted, the Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said central bank would look into the matter. He, however, explained: “The ATM is supposed to be for dispensing minor cash for minor transactions. Anybody doing major high value transactions should use any of the different electronic channels.”
In The Spotlight
The ordinary Nigerian may not be a soldier or military strategist; but it is logical to question the innocuous claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that, the recent spike of attacks by Boko Haram and the rising wave of criminality and insecurity that continues to claim the lives of Nigerians were signs that the murderous Islamist sect was losing the battle to the Nigerian military; and that the army and other security agencies have the situation under control; and sooner, rather than later, the conflict in the war-ravaged Northeast will be over. The President, who spoke last Friday, when he received the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic in the State House, said: “If we were capable to fight a 30-month civil war and reorganized our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it.” This kind of glib talk is laughable where it not pathetic. The president was obviously trying to put a spin on what appears to be an embarrassing and shocking inadequacy by security forces, to curb insecurity and end the orgy of violence that has claimed more lives since 2015 when he took office. This fact was underscored by the distressing 2019 Global Terrorism Index report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which ranked Nigeria as the third country with the highest level of terrorism in 2019, after Iran and Afghanistan and worse than war-torn Syria. Regardless of what might have informed the president’s state of denial, false hopes are unhelpful in this dreadful matter of pervasive insecurity.
The details of the Buhari administration’s security and counter-insurgency strategy may not be known yet, but it is reckoned that Buhari was aware of the dire security situation and the expectation was that the kidnapping, killing, maiming and terror would at least have been contained in the past four years. This has not happened. While the Northeast part of the country has been reduced to a killing field, the president is yet to take any decisive step in ordering the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of acts of terrorism including the mass killing in Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Kogi, Yobe, Zamfara, Kaduna, Ekiti and other parts of the country. The reality must therefore be recognized and addressed very urgently and honestly, and the President needs to do more to reassure Nigerians of their safety.
It is worth-recalling that ahead of his first official visit to the United States after he took office in 2015, the president in an op-ed in the Washington Post wrote that: “Already we are beginning to see a degrading of Boko Haram’s capabilities as a fighting force. In recent weeks, it appears to have shifted away from confronting the military directly to an increase in attacks on civilian areas, as we saw only last week when an elderly woman and 10-year-old girl blew themselves up at a Muslim prayer gathering in northeastern Nigeria. We should not be confused by this change, hateful as it is: It does not mean that Boko Haram is succeeding in its aims - it shows that it is losing.” That was almost five years ago. Today, amidst the ongoing carnage and repeated claims that Boko Haram has been downgraded and even defeated, it is evident the president has been less than forthcoming in his assessment of the situation.
Little surprise the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the 2019 Global Terrorism Index report as distressing “particularly as its indices show that insecurity and deaths from acts of terrorism increased in Nigeria in spite of promises by the current administration.” The party noted that the IEP rating “has further confirmed its position that the security of life and property in our nation has gone beyond what the Buhari administration’s security architecture, as presently composed, can guarantee. “Our party posits that the issue of security has gone beyond partisan and sectional sentiments as well as propaganda and now requires concerted effort by all stakeholders to compel a review of security structure and method by Mr. President.” The PDP said: “As a pan-Nigerian platform, it urges the National Assembly to step in by persuading Mr. President to heed wise counsel and rejig his security high command so as to inject new blood to tackle our security challenges.”
Nigerians read Buhari’s statements comparing the current security situation with the civil war with an admixture of cynicism and genuine apprehension. “We have the experience of the civil war. I could recall the role of the military, the army; each commander had in his pocket how to behave himself and how to allow international bodies like yourself to go round and see for themselves that people are treated in the most humane way. We have this experience and I assure you that we also have this confidence in your organisation. That is why I feel Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis. It may take longer, but we are capable of handling it,” Buhari told the EU envoy. The ridiculous assertion that Nigeria fought a three-year civil war from 1967-1970; therefore the country will weather the storm of insurgency and insecurity in 2020, is laughable and should attract no further comment.
Honestly speaking, this kind of apples-to-oranges comparison points to a pedestrian understanding of the security challenges facing the nation. Cautioning against public expectations of quick decimation of Boko Haram; while expressing confidence that the insurgents and criminals would be defeated, is misguided optimism by Mr. President. Against the failure of the Buhari administration to provide security as a basic ingredient of national governance, the question must be asked on behalf of Nigerians: is there something in the security and counter-insurgency effort that Nigerians need to know and no one is saying? Obviously, this indolence explains the lack of urgency, or modicum of seriousness, to match the bravado of kidnappers, criminals and insurgents, but is this attitude an affirmation of the kind of Nigeria the president desires? Was Mr. President just expressing in the most obscene manner his helplessness? Surely, no government with the resources available to Nigeria would respond so feebly to the tenacious effrontery of criminals and an Islamic terrorist group wantonly violating its territorial integrity.
Unconventional war may be new to Nigeria, but the intelligence apparatus ought to, by now, have overcome initial setbacks and become proactive in operations to stave off senseless attacks on hapless Nigerians. The increased dimension of the Boko Haram attacks and their havoc-wreaking tactics of using suicide bombers are too devastating to be considered as evidence of desperation as the president would want the world to believe. The toll of Boko Haram killings, bombings and kidnaps is unquantifiable. If the President can afford to put a bold face on the precarious security situation, then it is pertinent to question his willingness to frontally address the insurgency, beyond mere lip-service.
Irrespective of the state of mind of the president, a war between Nigeria and criminal gangs, including Boko Haram has been raging and the criminals; including kidnappers, Fulani herdsmen and insurgents are not losing; rather they seem to be winning. Not only have people been massacred and villages sacked, territories are also being occupied and flags hoisted to establish the occupation of conquered lands. All the territory recovered is now being threatened or has recently been retaken by Boko Haram. This is the simplest understanding of winning. So, Buhari should not be deluded that he is grappling with a mop-up operation; rather the country is contending with a murderous band of criminal gangs, religious bigots and fanatics. This, by all means, demands whatever resolve Nigeria can muster to confront it.
While the efforts of the Nigerian security forces on the frontlines are commendable, the security forces ought to assume more offensive posture in engaging the fundamentalists. The conventional wisdom is that the security agencies have not been proactive; and the army only responds to the activities of the criminals and terrorists. Why would soldiers wait to be attacked before reacting? Much as the men in the trenches are doing their best in the prevailing circumstance, the ease with which kidnappers and insurgents have operated is worrisome. The standing view is that Nigeria is not asserting with the necessary force, the full authority and power of the state in dealing with criminals and curtailing their activities. How can the president claim the terrorists are “losing” to the army only for the insurgents to thumb their nose at government by more sustained acts of violence?
To extricate himself from this debacle of denial, the president must face the painful truth about the nation in crisis and stop playing the ostrich. He must be humble enough to realize that all is not well with the polity; and that leadership has a lot to do with the problem. The President must also face the shameful situation that given its resources, the government has not acted as sagaciously as a country of right thinking leaders. Above all, the president should be under no illusions that Boko Haram, unlike other criminal gangs could be dealt with military force alone. It is just as well that Mr. President has opened the door to dialogue with Boko Haram leaders. But with all the soft and hard power available to the Nigerian state, the country should not negotiate from a position of weakness. It is not done. It must not happen.
While pursuing the military option, there is need to rally and mobilize all stakeholders, particularly in the north, to explore a way out. Other non-confrontational options should not be ruled out; but the nation must never again be taken for a ride because kidnappers are on the rampage and Boko Haram is not losing the war. In any event, the group has been vigorously pursuing its grotesque campaign of human savagery and barbarism with remarkable success. The worst is already happening, and the President cannot continue to treat the unending bloodbath flippantly. Boko Haram once declared a caliphate over captured areas; hoisted its flag and instituted quasi-administrative structures to govern the territories under its control. Nothing can be more suggestive of Nigeria’s threatened disintegration than those acts. And the President should make no pretense about it. What is now required is the political dexterity and strategy to confront the myriad security challenges facing the nation. In this regard, the President must rise up to his responsibility as commander-in chief.
In The Spotlight
Amotekun. This issue has dominated recent discourse and media headlines. Distilled to its basics, it concerns how best state governments can assist with the safety and security of their residents. This is a matter of serious concern entitled to sober thought. However, it has been turned into a political tug-of-war. Fierce, often unthinking rhetoric, for and against, has crossed the lips of too many Nigerians. More subjective talking than objective thinking has been the fuel of this outburst.
Question those in favour of Amotekun. Most have but the vaguest notion about it. They know few details yet vigorously attribute to its opponents the most negative intentions. Ask those who oppose Amotekun. They are equally ignorant of its provisions. They oppose the initiative not on its merits but merely because it was proposed by their political opponents or because they don’t see an avenue for personal gain from it.
While colourful, the rhetoric has been disconcerting. How people have mishandled this matter demonstrates that we still have far to go in perfecting this democracy. Too much energy has been spent distorting this issue instead of seeking a resolution that supports local enhancement of security while keeping the constitution intact. If this becomes the standard for how we handle disagreements then we will obscure Nigeria’s path forward with our own rubbish.
In this matter, I do not see malign intent in the differences of opinion between the Southwest governors as authors of Amotekun and the attorney-general as the primary law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. Shorn of the overly dramatic language, what lies before us is but a step in the evolution of our federalism. This is an opportunity to more clearly define that federalism; but one cannot attain this better, more functional definition through overblown, emotional language. Objectivity and calmness are required. To a significant degree, the enduring quality of our republic will be established by the sagacity with which we handle disagreements regarding the division of power between federal and state governments. Such disagreements are inevitable. This is not the first. Nor will it be the last. We must devote our energies more toward solving problems rather than amplifying them.
Seeking to fulfill their mandates by helping protect their people, the governors of the Southwest collectively established a programme to buttress existing security mechanisms. Seeking to protect the constitution as best he could, the attorney-general offered his opinion on what he believed the governors have sought to do. No one can blame either party for seeking to fulfill what they genuinely see as their public duty.
Until now, I have deliberately maintained a studied silence regarding Amotekun. Many have tried to goad my swift public reaction. Those who have taken this road did so not because they care about Amotekun or even the people it intends to help protect. They did so knowing this had become a delicate and emotional issue for many. These cynics did so with the adversarial hope that, in haste, I might misspeak or misstep in a manner they could twist to their political advantage.
Such people are possessed of a mercenary aspect that permits them to sacrifice almost anything, even jeopardize the very foundations of our political unity, if they might exact personal gain from the upheaval. In that they know no nobler purpose than their own appetites, we should feel sorry for them. However, we must not allow our sympathies for their barren condition to persuade us that there is worth in their destructive misconduct. They must be left to the consequences of their own devices.
If truly I am a political leader as I am often described, then I have not the luxury of hasty, ill-conceived utterances. There are those who will use inflamed words to spark the passions of others. This may bring transient applause. But when the cheers fade, we shall only have further descended because their words were never inclined toward resolution and long-term improvement but toward short-term popularity and perpetual confrontation.
I believe in this nation and its benign prospects. I dearly love its people, all of them. Over the years of our existence, they have suffered much. Yet they still hold forth with heroic patience and an extraordinary optimism born of strong faith. To these people I owe my best. I shall not treat them cheaply or bandy their emotions like some errant football. The welfare of this good and decent people is my overriding concern.
Equally, I do not cow to the demands of those who press for me to make a premature statement on an important issue. Again, that is a game devised by those who care more about political cleverness than the quality of governance. I chose to talk when my position has been made ripe by a collection of the facts and a reasonable assessment of those facts.
As I view it, this matter can be divided in three major parts: 1) Substantive merits of Amotekun, 2) Decision-making and consultative process, and 3) Recommendations on the way forward.
Amotekun, governors and security
AS the highest elected official in his state and thus the individual embodiment of the will of the people, a governor must view safety and security as a foremost priority, integral to his mandate. To turn a blind eye to these concerns would be a grave dereliction. That the Southwest governors seek to work together to complement the extant security architecture is, in principle, a commendable undertaking. In embracing this concept, they have acted in consonance with the spirit of their offices for the better interests of their people.
As Governor of Lagos State, I confronted a burgeoning criminal menace. I could not sit idly in the face of the violence and property destruction that struck genuine fear in the hearts of the people. The police tried as best they could; but their coverage was thin. They simply did not have the personnel or material wherewithal to be everywhere at once. We formed Neighbourhood Watch to help fill the gap.
Our aim was not to replace existing structures but to complement and augment them. The mission of Neighbourhood Watch was to monitor the wards and neighbourhoods of the state. The group would gather information and intelligence to pass to the police and security authorities. The Neighbourhood Watch also provided an early warning system to keep citizens from harm’s way. The idea worked. Crime and violence reduced significantly. Even the overreaching (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo government did not contend against Neighbourhood Watch.
Judging from the public statements of the governors, Amotekun is meant to be structured along similar lines. As I understand it, Amotekun is to be another set of eyes and ears to assist the police. As such, it is but the second generation of Neighbourhood Watch expanded to a regional scale. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with this. It does not appear to insult the constitution. However, my position regarding Amotekun is not blind or uncritical; there are several organisational and functional aspects of the proposal that could cause some problems if left unresolved.
First, the stated mission is information gathering by civilians. Such tasks are always and everywhere best done in low-key fashion. Some aspects of Amotekun seem to undermine rather than enhance this function. Second, equipping Amotekun with showy paraphernalia may cause the public to misconstrue the role of Amotekun, incorrectly believing its mandate is more expansive than it is. This possible disconnect could impede the good aims of the programme.
We also should consider that the (President Muhammadu) Buhari administration has approved implementation of a policy of community policing wherein additional recruits from all 774 local government areas will be added to the force to help protect their own communities. As the Federal Government emphasizes grassroots policing it is uncertain how well Amotekun can complement the police force as the force moves toward greater decentralisation when Amotekun is organisationally leaning in the opposite way.
We have been fighting for local and decentralised policing for a long time because we know that too much centralisation impedes performance. In regard to actual performance of its appointed tasks, Amotekun should have focused on grassroots local organisation at the state level without a regional command hierarchy. The regional approach may undermine efficiency. There is no compelling logic why the same personnel providing security and informational assistance in Ado-Ekiti should be under the same functional and operational leadership as those providing assistance in Lekki or Akure. This will not lead to optimal performance.
The regional approach has only limited benefit with regard to the procurement and maintenance of vehicles and communications equipment because this wider approach allows for economies of scale. The regional approach also helps tackle the growing incidences of interstate criminal activity. Some things need to be corrected before Amotekun becomes operational. If not, it will not live up to expectations. Thus, the current formulation of Amotekun is in need of repair before it takes to the road only to quickly slip into a ditch.
Consultative process breaks down
THE governors state that they consulted regularly with the police and security agencies. This was the right thing to do. However, their failure to include the office of the attorney-general in these discussions is the fount of the current public uproar. This was an unfortunate omission the governors should regret and seek to remedy. However, the conceptual merits and positive functional aspects of Amotekun should not be tainted by this procedural defect.
While the attorney-general is a conscientious public servant, he is also human. Not having been consulted, he was suddenly faced with an unexpected public announcement regarding a matter within his official ambit. He likely feared the failure to consult him meant that federal prerogatives were being encroached. To blame him for this conclusion would be to blame human nature itself. Though his negative reaction was understandable it was also unhelpful.
The attorney-general acted hastily in rendering a public statement that was more inaccurate than it should have been. Amotekun was never proposed as a “defence” agency; the attorney-general erred in using this description. The use of uniforms and brightly coloured vehicles may not be the best ideas but they do not render Amotekun a defence agency or paramilitary group any more than a designated school van carrying uniformed students constitutes a paramilitary deployment.
Believing the governors had crossed the line, the attorney-general should have reached out to them. Before going public, he should have sought a private meeting so that he could have a better factual understanding of Amotekun. This would have enabled him to give the governors any specific constitutional or other objectives he might have. In this way, the two sides would have engaged in private consultations to reach agreement on the way forward. This cooperative process might have helped to correct some of the organisational lapses above identified. Such a diplomatic and wise step also would have prevented the current public acrimony now surrounding the issue.
Recommendations for resolutions
THIS matter cannot be resolved on the pages of newspapers or by attributing negative motives to either side. The best way to resolve this is still for the two sides to enter private discussions. Either the governors should seek an official but private meeting with the attorney-general, or the attorney-general can initiate the contact. Since Amotekun is their initiative, the governors bear the greater onus in seeking the meeting. The meeting will initiate further discussion on how to resolve what appears to be a misunderstanding caused by an unfortunate lack of communication. Remedy the gap in communication and the misunderstanding will begin to disappear.
Last, I again stress to well-intentioned Nigerians to shun those who employ heated language to inflame emotions. It does us no good to rush toward exaggerated statements that suggest calamity of the highest order. Don’t allow yourselves to be fodder for those who seek to divide us. The fabric of the republic has not been put at stake by Amotekun. However, that fabric could be torn by the dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better. Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion. Those claiming that the Federal Government seeks to terribly suppress the Southwest have also lost their compass. Those who occupy these two extremes have sunken into the dark recesses of fear and political paranoia that can undo a nation if such sentiments are allowed to gestate.