Buhari, let IGP Idris go home
IF the President Muhammadu Buhari government’s patent obsession with plumbing the depths of cronyism gains fresh expression in the extension of the tenure of Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris, it would not really be a source of shock to the citizens. By January next year, Idris would have put in 35 years of service and thus by his terms of employment he should quit the police. But the suspicion is rife that Buhari would extend his tenure. Such suspicion may not be unfounded. After all, that was how Buhari extended the tenures of the nation’s service chiefs last year when they were supposed to retire.
The tragedy of these extensions is that they are not reflective of exemplary services that render the beneficiaries indispensable. No, what has become clear is that they are actuated by a desire to cater for the dark motives of the Buhari government. Or why is multi-faceted damage often inflicted in the course of prosecuting these extensions? Consider these: officers in whom the nation has invested so much in terms of professional training are often retired prematurely. The morale of officers is extremely dampened and they are disincentivised since it becomes clear to them that they would not attain the peak of their career by dint of industry and merit as promotion is procured by nepotism. The fragile national unity is further threatened as regions whose indigenes are supposed to produce the next helmsmen feel marginalised. Worse, incompetence is enthroned as an inevitable feature of national service.
Buhari has been consistently alerted to these dangers. But he is neither propelled by a sense of patriotism nor professional integrity to unlearn his provincialism. A major criticism against him is that of nepotism. He has surrounded himself with people who are Muslims from his part of the country. The citizens have never gone wrong in predicting that if a southerner leaves office, Buhari would replace him or her with a northern Muslim. When the Acting Vice President Yemi Osinbajo sacked the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, Buhari did not replace him with Matthew Seiyefa who was the most senior officer in the agency.
Rather, despite the citizens’ outrage, Buhari appointed Yusuf Bichi, a junior officer to replace Daura simply because he is a northern Muslim. When Kemi Adeosun quit as the minister of finance, Buhari did not replace her with another south-west person. He rather gave the ministry to a northerner Zainab Ahmed. In doing this, he has always sacrificed merit. It is this impenetrability that would make Buhari to extend the tenure of Idris.
Unlike Buhari, the many reasons that should discourage the extension of the tenure of Idris are not lost on the citizens. In fact, left to the citizens who are readily persuaded that the performance of Idris as IGP is below par, he should have been sacked a long time before now. So much was sacrificed to make Idris the IGP. At the time he was appointed, he was an assistant inspector general of police. There were deputy inspectors general of police above him. To make him the IGP, all these above him were prematurely retired. It was not because Idris had some great attributes that others did not have. It was rather because of cronyism and that Buhari felt he was the right person to prosecute his provincial agenda that demonstrably negates the collective good .
Idris’ tenure as IGP has been marred by a cocktail of scandals. He has failed to live up to professional expectations. What major reform has Idris engendered to ensure professionalism in the police? Under Idris, the police have not improved on discipline. Under Idris, the police predilection of harassing, intimidating and killing innocent citizens for not allowing themselves to be extorted has enjoyed untrammelled perpetuation. Police custodies are brimming with activists and journalists they consider critics of the Buhari government.
Indeed, if Buhari actually loathes sleaze as he wants the world to believe, Idris should have long been sacked. Last year, the nation was scandalised when Senator Isa Misau accused Idris of collecting billions from corporate organisations and others and appropriating them for himself and selling promotions to the highest bidders . The senator further alleged that Idris was plagued by libidinous excesses that made him to do some promotions for some operatives of the police not on account of their gallantry in a fight against criminality but rather on their virtuosity in the “other room.” These allegations were not probed by the Buhari government even after the senator kept insisting on their veracity. Rather, it was the senator who became hunted by the police.
At a time when it was clear that the nation’s security apparatus had collapsed under Idris and killings had become a common feature of national life, Idris was summoned by the Senate to avail the legislative chamber of his perspectives on the grisly statistics . Instead of honouring these invitations, Idris rushed to court to seek protection from the lawmakers. When the court ruled that the legislative chamber had the right to ask him questions about his responsibilities to the nation, he refused to heed the summonses. This made the Senate to declare him an enemy of democracy. But it is not only the Senate that Idris disrespects. He does not also obey Buhari, although this fact may be lost on the president. This was why when the president sent him to Benue, he did not go. Even after the president felt embarrassed that Idris was not in Benue, he remained remorseless and disdained the idea of going to the state to stop the Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism.
If Idris has nothing ennobling to offer the nation and his immediate constituency, the police, why must Buhari retain him after his tenure? If Buhari extends the tenure of Idris, he may have confirmed the suspicion of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Buhari wants to extend the tenure of Idris so that he can use him to rig elections next year. To be sure, we cannot easily dismiss the suspicion of the PDP as the ranting of a perplexed opposition. In this regard, the PDP is on a higher moral ground. It has cited how its erstwhile leader, former President Goodluck Jonathan handled a similar situation and did not allow his selfish agenda to interfere with national interest. Jonathan did not extend the tenure of the IGP working under him despite pressure on him to do this. The APC unabashedly justifies some of its impunities on the grounds that the Jonathan government was not immune to them.
There were killings during the Jonathan government, so nobody should lament that Nigerians are being killed now. There was nepotism under the Jonathan government, so nobody should complain now. There was corruption in the Jonathan government, so nobody should complain about the ongoing heist under the Buhari government. But the Buhari government should not limit itself to replicating the failings of the Jonathan era. It should equally replicate some good things with which it has been credited. Buhari should replicate the good precedent Jonathan set by not extending the tenure of his IGP.
In this regard, Buhari should consider it imperative to replicate Jonathan’s good legacies of ensuring transparent elections. As Buhari himself has repeatedly acknowledged, he is a prime beneficiary of the level playing field that Jonathan midwifed by not retaining an IGP who would do his electoral bidding, and through his electoral reforms. Buhari can replicate Jonathan’s feats and even surpass them by creating a level playing field that is devoid of the extension of the tenure of his minions like IGP Idris. He should go further to sack the service chiefs who have already demonstrated their partisanship by being at the launch of his campaign for the 2019 elections. It is only through these that Buhari could confer a measure of credibility on the next year’s elections that are already being threatened by the many self-serving steps – like not signing the electoral bill – that he has taken.