Interestingly, the name of the new Inspector-General of Police (IGP) ends with “Baba,” meaning “Father.” Now, policemen and women have a “father” who can talk to them and listen to their numerous problems. Their safety, welfare, their agitations and injustice meted to them by their superiors and the police system, which oftentimes is draconian, can now be aired. As the Nigeria Police “Father,” his utterances have been soothing like a balm, having realized that there is great disaffection between the police and aggrieved members of the larger society. After thoroughly studying the handover book, he embarked on what is described in security circle as a “missionary journey.” Preaching the gospel of professionalism. As expected, the insecure states of Nigeria attracted his attention, unlike his predecessor who saw fire raging in the country but did nothing until the fire eventually consumed many, including his police personnel. That unfortunate incident broke down the morale of police officers operating the eastern states, western states and other parts of the country. The morale of the police was very low and in need of a “father” to console and encourage them not to despair.
Only a father can pat them on their shoulder and, with a smile, encourage them that the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria appreciate and feel their pains, problems and sacrifice. Indeed, it is only a father that can show them the milk of human kindness and compassion. The IGP’s missionary journey that covered many states started from Abuja and moved to the eastern states and later found its way to the South-West.
When Baba was appointed IGP on April 6, 2021, the level of insecurity was almost at boiling point and generating much heat in many northern states, especially Katsina State, the President’s home state. Other states engulfed in banditry, kidnapping and related acts of terrorism were Zamfara, Bauchi, Kebbi, Kaduna, Benue, Platue and Niger. Available records by Nigerian consulting firm SB Morgen show that, between 2016 and 2020, there was a tenfold increase in victims, with a figure of 3,500 countrywide last year. Further noting that, from June 2011 to March 2020, Nigerians paid kidnappers about $18.34 million in ransom.
Strategic thinking and planning would have suggested that, with the vast topography of the North, the major focus of the military and the police would have been more in the North, where there are high human casualties, rather than the stormy joint operation in the South that has created an uncomfortable atmosphere and more bad blood between Eastern leaders and their followers against the Buhari administration because of military intervention in those states. An old assessment of the insecurity in the East would present a police operational solution not military action.
Even as I write this, bandits are still operating in Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna and Niger states unchallanged.
What is happening in the North is not the same as in the South-East and West. So, the operational strategies cannot be the same. At times, war atmosphere could be created to achieve operational goals, while, on the other hand, simple police operation “show of force” can douse the situation followed by political dialogue. It is time for our security leaders to turn back and invite to their operational room retired, experienced officers as consultants.
What prevents the Nigeria Police from tapping from the wealth of knowledge of men like Amusa Bello, Mike Okiro, Taiwo Lakano, Simeon Mindenda, Junaid, Sam Okaula, Zakari Biu and others? These are patriotic crime fighters who saved the country from the deadly and devastating onslaught of armed robbers and kidnappers in the early 1990s. Their experiences matter and they can be recalled to serve the country, by producing an operational plan on how to end banditry. Recently, the governor of Zamfara State recalled a son of the state, former IGP M.D. Abubakar, to head a security action committee to fashion out strategies to combat insecurity in the state. Members of “Total Security,” a security platform, an umbrella of retired senior police, DSS and military officers, with the objective to always address difficult security situations in the country and proffer solutions, can be involved as security consultants because they have the experience. When the terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden was being hunted by the American government under President Barack Obama, some experienced retired security agents were recalled for the operation, which turned out to be successful.
Nigeria is on the edge of insecurity and all hands must be brought on deck to restore peace, as the Presidency has graciously accepted to dialogue with all the aggrieved “militant” groups creating disaffection in the East. No party should enter the hall with any perceived notion but to tackle all the knotty issues of disaffection,so that peace can be achieved and every other part of the economy can come alive.
IGP Baba should know that much is expected of him, considering that the two last occupants of his office, Idris Ibrahim and Muhammed Adamu, failed to better restructure the police. An IGP is expected to add administrative, operational, structural and moral values, including discipline, to the institution before his exits, and not leave it fallow like an uncultivated and unattractive farm yard.
Race to embrace history
“No guts, no glory.”
– General Frederick C. Blesse
The Nigeria military is a remarkable institution. As a security writer, I have followed the military around major continents of the world. This is one institution that has brought international glory and dents to the image of Nigerians. The dents are usually attracted whenever it usurps the role of the Nigeria Police when there is major internal insecurity.
Having covered a few unpopular activities of te military, one is elated whenever they are celebrated for outstanding performance. Such acts make many people change their earlier perception and embrace the glorious euphoria. When bandits infiltrated many northern states of the country, not many expected the military to evict them, since it was an internal security issue that was the constitutional preserve of the Nigeria Police.
(To be continued)
SECURITY FILE congratulates one of the finest and professionally distinguished Inspector-Generals of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, as he clocks 65 years. We say, “Ride on in good health.” Happy birthday.