By Henry Udutchay
As Haliru Na Baba settles down to his exalted position as the Controller-General (CG) of Nigerian Correctional Service, he would be confronted with myriads of challenges that have hindered effective correctional service administration in the country. But the Sokoto State-born administrator is believed to be sufficiently equipped for the heculian task ahead of him. He has acquired vast professional capacity and administrative experience to enable him successful pilot the affairs of the service in these trying and challenging times.
Prior to his ascending the top position of the nation’s correctional service, he has gone through the system and occupied several strategic positions in the service. He joined the service after graduating from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, where he obtained a bachelor of arts degree in History in 1988.
Thereafter, he did his National Youth Service (1988-1989) in Itigidi Local Government Area, Cross River State.
With a solid academic background, Haliru Na Baba enlisted in the Nigerian Prisons Service, now Nigerian Correctional Service, as a cadet in 1990. He has over the years occupied several positions in different parts of the country, including Gusau Medium Security Custodial Centre (1990-1992), Zuru Custodial Centre (1992-1993) and Sokoto Medium Security Custodial Centre (1993-1996).
He was also in charge of various custodial centres across the country, among which are: Wurno Custodial Satellite Facility in Sokoto (1996-1998), Nguru Custodial Centre in Yobe State (2002-2008), Mubi Medium Security Custodial Centre in Adamawa (2008-2014) and Sokoto Medium Security Custodial Centre (2014-2015).
His rising profile in the Nigerian Correctional Service saw him elevated to the position of controller in 2015. He served in that capacity in Zonal Headquarters Office, Zone “D” Minna (2015-2016), Kebbi State Command (2016-2017) and Sokoto State Command (2017-2019).
He attended several medium and high-level professional courses in various Correctional Institutions, including, Nigerian Correctional College, Kakuri, Kaduna State, and advanced command course at the Correctional Academy in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State. He also attended the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies for the executive management course in 2019.
Upon his successful graduation from the elitist institution, where he came out with brilliant performance, he was deployed to the national headquaters, Abuja, as Assistant Controller-General in charge of budget; he was subsequently promoted to Deputy Controller-General, Directorate of Budget and Finance. He demonstrated outstanding professionalism and prudent management of resources in handling these positions, which earned him high recommendations. It, therefore, did not come as a surprise when President Muhammadu Buhari considered him worthy to be appointed the CG of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
Going by his highly intimidating profile in correctional service, there is no doubt that Haliru Na Baba is adequately groomed to occupy the position of CG of Nigerian Correctional Service. He is also very familiar with the challenges confronting the service. Some of these challenges will bring out the best of his capacity and experience.
Although the immediate past administration under Ja’afaru Ahmed did its best to transform the correctional service by carrying out some commendable reforms, a lot still needs to be done. The truth is that the problems confronting the Nigerian Correctional Service today are quite overwhelming.
This can be attributed to many years of neglect by previous governments in the country. One of the major challenges confronting correctional service administration in the country is poor and inadequate infrastructure. Many of the correctional centres in the country are poorly equipped; there is virtually absence of modern facilities and amenities. The buildings are dilapidated, which makes them very vulnerable for jailbreaks in the facilities.
With growing insecurity in the country, correctional facilities are increasingly becoming targets of attacks by criminal elements either to free their detained members or as deliberate attack on government facilities. This means that correctional facilities around the country must be properly secured and fortified to prevent the embarrassing incidents of jailbreaks in the country.
Similarly, there is the need for expansion and provision of more correctional facilities the country. There is no doubt that most correctional facilities in the country are overstretched as a result of increasing number of inmates. Although there are over 200 correctional centres in Nigeria, many of them need to be rehabilitated and upgraded to meet the required standard. This will also help to improve the security of the facilities.
Equally paramount is the welfare of the inmates and staff of the correctional service. The idea behind the transformation from prison to correctional service is to give a human face to custodial administration in the country.
This can only be achieved if priority is given to the welfare of the inmates and those looking after them. This is in tandem with the objective of ensuring that those who pass through the system come out better reformed to be integrated back to society.
However, no matter the good intentions or the capacity of the new CG to tackle this myriad of problems, he may be hampered by lack of adequate funding. It is, therefore, expected that government must give him the necessary backing to enable him succeed in this onerous assignment. Although the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has been doing his possible best towards improving correctional services in the country, government still needs to do more.
•Chief Udutchay, is a public affairs analyst; [email protected]