Not a few Nigerians were apprehensive about how the rumored extension of the tenure of the immediate past Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, was going to aggravate the already tensed situation in the country.
Already, some groups and the main opposition political party in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had warned that any attempt to keep him in office beyond the period permitted by the Constitution would spell doom for the nation. At a media interaction with journalists in Lagos, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbodiyan, said his party rejected the attempt to extend the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, saying it was another ploy in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government’s strategy to scheme the 2019 general elections in its favour.
So, it was a big relief when the news broke on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Adamu Mohammed, as acting Inspector General of Police. It goes to show that the president has listening ears and pays attention to the yearnings of the people, after all. A very big congratulation goes to the president for this noble feat and to Adamu for a well deserved appointment. Nigerians expect that his headship of the Police will bring about a refined, professional police for the country.
Just like many of his predecessors, the Acting IGP has started talking tough and making huge promises. During the handover ceremony, he promised to provide the highest level of professional and responsible leadership, restore the lost glory of the force and address the issue of welfare of personnel and other reward regimes that had been a problem in the Force. However, many people would want him to go beyond the usual rhetoric and rather walk the talk.
Many former IGPs, immediately after their appointments, banned road blocks by the Police, threatened to punish any act of unprofessional conduct, bribery and corruption and many others. Many years down the road, the story is still the same, if not worse. Impunity still reigns supreme in the Force, bribery and corruption is still the order of the day, unethical conducts are still being displayed by both rank and file of the Force thereby creating very bad image for the Nigerian Police.
In 2017, a report by World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) ranked the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as the worst in the world. The report which measured the ability of the police to address internal security issues showed that the country performed woefully in the areas of capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.
So, it is expected that the new Acting IGP will fulfill his promise of turning things around positively in the Nigeria Police Force. The police should be made to work for the generality of the people instead of mainly for those in power or the ruling party as was alleged in the past administration of Idris. Although he denied wrong doing and prided himself as a fine law enforcement officer, many accused Idris of corruption, bias and brutality. He was also disobedient. Remember the story of the president ordering him to relocate to Benue State in the heat of herdsmen/farmers crisis in the state which claimed many lives. Of course, he did not obey that order.
So the new Acting IGP should, as much as possible, avoid all the controversies that characterized the tenure of his successor if he must achieve his mission. The general elections are by the corner, all eyes are on him to see him keep his words that, ‘On our part, we assure the nation of our determination to play our roles fairly but firmly toward guaranteeing peaceful electoral process.’ The story of the role of police and other security agencies during past elections in Nigeria, particularly the last Ekiti and Osun States’ elections was not dignifying. It is, therefore, expected that as a man that has made professionalism his watch word, Adamu will ensure the best conduct of his men before, during and after the election. There should be no intimidation of voters by the police or aiding members of any political party rig the elections as were reported in previous elections.
The police needs the cooperation of members of the society to succeed as we have always been told, but when there is lack of trust between the two parties, this cordial relationship will be difficult to achieve. So, the new Acting IGP should work assiduously towards building a respectable, credible, noble force that would earn the trust and respect of people both within and outside the country.