As he resumes office, the new Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) would do well to use some time-out to reflect upon his new status. Although his predecessor was the subject of controversy over rumored plans to extend his tenure, the rumors proved false. The Acting-IGP has said that “new strategies” would be evolved to tackle security challenges confronting the nation.
Sounds nice, but the problem is that at best he will serve for three years before being brushed aside no matter how well he performs. The simple truth is that there are no meaningful “new strategies”, nor earth-shaking changes he will be able to implement and imbibe within the Force during his brief tenure. It’s paradoxical that political office holders’ who claim that four years isn’t enough time for them to make any meaningful impact, see nothing wrong in giving the IGP far less time for a far more arduous task! All said and done the appointment of IGP’s has nothing to do with improving the quality of policing in the nation.
Virtually all past IGP’s have been widely criticized for their performance in office, but as is the norm for any new office holder in Nigeria, everyone is full of praises for the new Acting IGP. He has been projected as “a versatile and seasoned office, a professional par excellence”. Be that as it may, the truth is that the odds are stacked against him from the onset. There is every reason to believe that past IGP’s have had good intentions and sufficient experience, yet unfailingly they have been unable to modernize the Force. The rank and file continues to take pleasure in disobeying directives.
Past IGP’s have told the travelling public that policemen aren’t supposed to stop vehicles on the expressway and demand for particulars at illegal checkpoints, but this continues unabated. The immediate past IGP even gave a deadline for all mobile policemen (MOPOL) to be withdrawn from personal guard duties due to serious manpower shortages within the Force. Of course it never happened. To understand why, one only needs to compare the well-fed faces, shining new guns and well-starched dry-cleaned uniforms of policemen guarding whoever can afford to pay, with the hungry-looking raggedly dressed men operating in the expressways living on salary and whatever they can obtain on the road daily. It is trite that in order to change an organization for the better, both the tenure of leaders and the system of selecting them must be altered.
In generally there have been far too many complaints over promotions within the Force. The new IGP knows full well that he was appointed over the heads of others. Reports have it that about 10 senior officers, comprising seven Deputy Inspectors-General (DIG’s) and three Assistant Inspectors-General (AIG’s) are expected to be retired. This is the ritual “carnage” which happens to the Force whenever a new IGP assumes office. It’s an unnecessary and unfortunate waste of manpower.
Admittedly, the situation is better this time around than when the former IGP Idris was promoted to in March 2016. Back then, 21 senior officers were retired to make way for him! One unintended consequence of this penchant for promoting an AIG above his seniors is that once promoted to the enviable rank of DIG it means the end of any hope of becoming IGP! The nation needs to move away from this unnecessary waste of human and financial capital caused by allowing Presidents to simply pick whoever they like. Even worse this time round is the fact that the soon to be retired DIG’s were only recently promoted to their rank on 31st October 2018 less than three months ago!
With the political rather than operational nature of his appointment, it came as no surprise that the new Acting-IGP’s first statements revolved around politics. Significantly he did not address the rank and file and promise to look into their grievances, nor did he address the general public and reassure them that the fight against rampant armed robbery, daylight bank robbery kidnapping and “ritualists” would be undertaken with more diligence. Rather the new IGP chose to concentrate on elections threatening to deal decisively with those who intend to disrupt elections, and promising to provide a “level playing field”.
In all truthfulness the partisan behavior of past IGP’s is one of the major factors responsible for erasing professionalism in the Force. There are many who believe that the best method of ensuring a level playing ground is to saddle the Police Service Commission, with the responsibility of appointing the IGP not the President. If this happens then the IGP will owe his premier loyalty to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Regulations and Ethics of the NPF rather than to any individual. Maybe then the legendary indiscipline, incompetence and almost daily slaughter of our policemen will change for the better.