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Ibrahim Idris: Inspector General for the President (IGP)

I refused to jump on the bandwagon of ridiculing IGP Ibrahim Kpotun Idris over his “transmission” speech mishap in Kano the other day, although I was tempted to intervene by the intentional lies of people who said the video was “doctored” and by the ignorance of people who said the IGP’s flub providesevidence of his illiteracy.  The viral video was clearly only edited to shorten it so that it’s easily shareable on social media; It wasn’t doctored. And Idris was evidently experiencing what speech-language pathologists call aphasia, which is a symptom of a bigger problem. 

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But that’s not my worry. My worry is that, like his predecessor, IGP Idris has abdicated his position as Inspector General of the Police; he is now the Inspector General for the President. In my April 18, 2015 column titled “People President Buhari Must Fire to Show he Means Business,” I mentioned former IGP Suleiman Abba as the number 2 person that should be fired forthwith.

ButI prefaced my suggestions with this forewarning: “My only caveat is that if [Buhari] will merely replace them with people who will replicate their notoriety, unprofessionalism, and toxic partisanship in his government, then there is no point reinventing the wheel. The same people will change loyalty and render the exact services they rendered to Jonathan-with, of course, the same results. And we all know what the results are.

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“If Buhari is prepared to be a real change agent, to be the catalyst for Nigeria’s structural and systemic makeover, to be the trendsetter for future generation of transaction-oriented leaders, he should get rid of the people listed below and tell their replacements never to repeat their mistakes:”

When I read my November 29, 2014 column titled, “Suleiman Abba: Inspector General for the President (IGP),” I was unnerved by the eeriness of the similarities between Idris and Abba. They both owe their loyalties not to the nation or the police but to the presidents who appointed them. Here is an excerpt from the column:

“Let’s stop the pretense. We have no Inspector General of Police in Nigeria. What we have is an Inspector General for the President. It’s still IGP, but we know what the ‘P’ in the initialism actually stands for.

“IGP Suleiman Abba will certainly gown down in the annals as the most openly politically partisan police chief Nigeria has ever had. In the ongoing political tension between President Goodluck Jonathan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, Abba has carried on as if he is no more than an appendage of the president’s office.  But it isn’t his overzealously undisguised partisanship in and of itself that is unusual; it’s the bewilderingly tasteless showiness with which he is doing it.

“From instructing his men and women to forcibly deny members of the House of Representatives entry into their chambers, to initially spurning the invitation of the House before grudgingly accepting it, to refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Speaker when he appeared before the House, Abba has stepped outside the bounds of decency and conventional policing. He has redefined his role as not the chief law enforcement officer of the nation but as a protector of the president and a tormentor of his opponents.

“These days it’s hard to tell the IGP apart from the People’s Democratic Party’s hacks and spin doctors. In fact, he seems to be doing a better job at defending the PDP and the President than the people who are paid to do so. Any Inspector General of Police who outdoes hacks and spin-doctors in political propaganda is beneath contempt.

“IGP Abba’s reason for refusing to recognize the Speaker is particularly disingenuous. He said since the legality of the Speaker’s position is the subject of legal disputation consequent upon his defection to the All Progressives’ Congress, it would be ‘sub judice’ to address him as the Speaker. How convenient! Well, actually, Mr. Abba, the opposite holds true: by refusing to recognize the legality of the Speaker’s position, you’re prejudging the outcome of the court thereby interfering with due process.  

“A careful, non-partisan Inspector General of Police who is concerned with not being seen as doing or saying anything that would be misunderstood as biasing ongoing court processes would steer clear of the partisan bickering between the Speaker and the President by recognizing the Speaker until the courts declare that he is no longer Speaker by virtue of his defection to another political party-that is, if the courts have the power to do that….

“It doesn’t take a lawyer to know that IGP Abba is unmistakably on the wrong side of the law for refusing to recognize Aminu Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. But even a self-appointed Inspector General for the President has an obligation to obey the law.”

Only the time, personalities, and specificity of facts have changed; everything else has remained the same. Like Abba, Idris is still disrespectful of the National Assembly in the service of protecting the presidency. Well, while Abba did grudgingly appear before the House of Representatives in 2014, Idris has, as of the time of writing this column, refused to.

Because he knows where the president’s real interest lies in the conflict between crop farmers and cattle herders, he “disobeyed” the president’s directive to relocate to Benue State to contain the bloodletting in the state. The fact that he hasn’t been punished after this-and even after publicly contradicting the presidency’s claim that he had been issued a query-proves beyond all shadows of doubt that the “directive” to relocate to Benue was a charade.And Idris knows this only too well.

One would have thought that Idris would learn from the mistakes of Abba-or that Buhari would work to curb Idris’ embarrassingly excessive personal loyalty to him because, you know, government outlasts people in the corridors of power and societies develop only when they build and nurture institutions, not when people in positions of responsibilityworship incumbent power wielders.

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