[The Concourse] THE RHETORICS OF NIGERIA’S REALITY: Things the new I.G of Police cannot do
Since last week, goodwill messages have been pouring in for the newly decorated police Chief, Usman Alkali Baba. His predecessor — Mohammed Adamu’s removal while on official tour was a sad and ignoble end to a successful career. Yet it was avoidable, if he had said no to an illegal extension.
However, nothing points to the fact that the culture of impunity has transuded into the public service and entrenched by this government, with the brazen impunity witnessed in the illegitimate elongation of Service Chiefs’ and IGP’s retirement ages.
But the dramatic event of that same week showed that Nigerians are now apathetic to negligence of federal character in appointments into public offices which is customary to this regime. Our olfactory perception is already accustomed to President Buhari’s lopsidedness in this regard. No one cares to complain again. In fact, what we saw in the news was applauds that at last IGP Adamu and his imprudent policing tacts is gone, instead of grudges against the nepotism and bigotry that informed the appointment of his successor. And greater number of citizens placed their trust in new the IGP to revolutionize the force.
The pulse of not a few Nigerians are filled with high expectations of what the nation’s new Police Head will bring to table. This is not peculiar to his own case. Each time such high profile position is emptied and re-filled, people will after enunciating their dashed hopes in the outgone officer, hip their anticipations on the new choice to salvage them.
So, as Alkali relish the euphoric ecstasy of his elevation to the zenith of our police order, and Nigerians sing the anthem of his prospects, it is pertinent we tell ourselves the truth based on realities on ground and minimize our expectancies on him. This is not to say we are making cynical projections for the IGP or our country, it is about beings realistic while hanging on the silken cord of optimism. In fact, formation of Ebube Agu security outfit (equivalent of South West’s Amotekun) by South East Governors forum few days ago is a pointer to this.
All these, lend credence to the fact that based on the system on which Nigeria operate, any I.G of police has little to nothing to offer on his own, independent of our Commander-in-chief. The Executive calls the shot on the other two arms of government, especially on the judiciary. Therefore, it is tantamount to foolhardiness addressing Mr. Alkali as the anointed Messiah to turn around the fortunes of our police force.
Few days ago, our courts were placed under locks and keys by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) who embarked on indefinite strike to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary. The Chief Justice Of Nigeria (CJN), was quick to tell them, he is not ready to yield to their demand. And in all honesty, if you consider the circumstances of his emergence as CJN two years ago, you will understand the reason he took that position on the subject.
Now, that it is obvious financial autonomy is likely not to come the way of our judiciary, (at least not under President Buhari) you can understand the first impediment to Alkali’s stint. The funds he needs to work with, will come from the presidency, and he who pays the piper dictates the base. This means he will lack independence of volition to act, in line with the urgency and exigencies of our time.
The unethical behavior among the rank and file of the force will not be abated under the new IGP. The only weapon at the disposal of our police officers is AK 47 rifles. No water guns, no rubber bullets, and other non-invasive weaponry. The logistics department of the force won’t get a better treat under the lame economy live in. And so abuse of rights and loss of innocent lives of the citizens are inevitable as they discharge their duties with brute force and offensive weapons. And so long as financial autonomy is not granted them, his men will continue to be ill-equipped.
The next limitation to whatever goodwill he may have brought to his new office is the unsavoury friction between and among Ministry of Police Affairs/IGP Office, Police Service Commission, and Ministry of Interior. The cold war is not quelled yet. Mr. Baba may have to take a different approach to work, which has to be unique from that of his predecessor, whose tenure was mired in several controversies. But Mr. Baba will still lack the right to beat his own music. He must always dance to the tunes from Aso Villa.
As we celebrate former IGP Adamu’s ousting which was due more than two months ago, but was illegally extended by three months, let us not forget that Mr. Alkali cannot trigger the much desired police reform. And we all know as sure as death, that unless our police force and the laws establishing it are reformed, reviewed and amended respectively, our high expectations on any new IGP is baseless.
How do one expect that one man (in a centralized structure as we have it) sitting in Abuja, can efficiently oversee the policing of a pluralistic society like ours, made up of over 460 ethnic nationalities, that cut across 774 Local Government areas, lumped into 36 states with a population density of 200 million? With the commissioners of police in each state being answerable to him instead of the state governor, Mr. Baba will be overwhelmed like his predecessors and efficiency will be a far cry. The end to the heightened insecurity situation in the country may not be in sight, unless the Executive sincerely desire to allow our men of arms do their jobs uninterfered with.
Can the new IGP foster justice for victims of the disbanded SARS, on various #EndSARS tribunals that has dawdled endlessly in various states? Of course he can, but will his ‘principal’ (the Oga at the top) permit him?
This is added to the retinue of things he cannot do as Police Chief in the present unrestructured Nigeria.
From Abuja he cannot timely and appropriately order his men to adequately guard the interior villages in Ebonyi or the flashpoints of Imo. They will be late, unresponsive or non-conformant as always.
Nor can he kick start state policing policy which is long overdue. All these things rests on the president and their implementation thereof duly domiciled in his office.
Therefore, as long as the commander-in-chief, the police establishment Act and 1999 constitution retain their status quo, changing of the IGP will make no difference. Let us accept this bitter truths and lower our expectations; while we look forward to pleasant surprises that might spring from his tenure.
May daylight spare us!
✍Eze Jude O.