Editorial: Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 25
A new Sheriff is in town. There is a change of guard within the Nigeria Police amidst increasing insecurity in the country underlined by a takeover of virtually all parts of the country by new militarism, that is, non-state actors, challenging the country’s sovereignty. Mr. Mohammed Adamu, until the change, was the Inspector General of Police (IGP). He has been replaced by Mr. Alkali Baba, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIGP) in an acting capacity.
It would be recalled that the former IGP who was due for retirement last February had his tenure extended with arguments that appointment was at the pleasure of the president and could extend the tenure of an appointee when so inclined. This logic was put forward as a result of the discountenance of the public over the extension of the tenure of the former IGP despite clearly spelt out succession process within the police formation. Citizens went to great length in seeking a judicial review for due process to be followed. The elongation of his tenure was more exasperating to the public on account of the worsening insecurity situation in the country that had engendered a massive nationwide protest against the police formation under the (hashtag) #EndSARS. Worse still was his handling of the aftermath. The so-called disbandment of the Special Anti-robbery Squad and its replacement with SWATT was seen as a shoddy job with the SARs structure still in place. Indeed, in a saner environment, it would have led to a voluntary step-down by the police presiding officer. The medium was against the extension of his tenure by some three months. His sack was therefore overdue.
However, the immediate prompt for the former IGP is the attack on Imo State Police Headquarters and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) facility in Owerri without any resistance. In the attacks on the police headquarters and the custodial facility, an estimated 100 vehicles were destroyed and 1,844 inmates were freed. As is often the case in times of failure, the former IGP blamed the twin attack on Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its security arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN). As Mr. Maigari Dingyadi, the minister of Police Affairs, noted, replacing Mr. Adamu became imperative to address the security challenges facing the nation. In his words, “These changes are in line with the determination of Mr. President to rejig the security architecture of the country to ensure that the security challenges bedevilling the nation are brought to an end.”
However, the new sheriff from Gaidam, Yobe State, was until his appointment the DIG in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Force Headquarters and held several command positions. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and was at various times the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in Charge of Zone 4, Makurdi; Zone 7, Abuja, and Zone 5, Benin. He had been Commissioner of Police in charge of Delta State and the Federal Capital Territory and served as Acting Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Finance and Administration and Force Secretary.
He has declared his vision and mission for the police force which in his words are “To enhance police primacy in Nigeria through the provision of a motivational and credible leadership driven by professional knowledge, ethics, emotional intelligence tools, and strategic planning and operational models that are directed at stabilising internal security and modernising police operations, facilities and standards within the framework of citizens, consent, trust, and rule of law.” Also, he has vowed to pursue secessionist betraying a mindset of a standpatter oblivious of the contemporary dynamics of the Nigerian state. Besides this is the constraint of limited tenure. With less than two years left in service, what mission can be prosecuted within such a fleeting moment? He can only hope for time if he becomes substantive on the application of the new Police Act. Section 7 (6) of the Police Act states that the person appointed to the office of Inspector-General of Police shall hold office for four years. Are we therefore to expect a new tenure extension for the Acting IGP? Above all, what result can be gotten from the present policing structure in the country? Isn’t it time to embrace the state policing proposal to align the formation to the federal scaffolding as has been severally called for by well-meaning Nigerians?
Given the unworkability of the present police structure in this vast federation, we advise heeding the call for state police, and not the wrong-headed community policing being designed under a unitary garb. As this newspaper has been reiterating, anything short of this will not lead to any drastic change. The new IGP may end up marking time with no new feather to his cap unless there is a meaningful restructuring of the federal police service. The point should be made that as far back as the late 1970s, a view that emerged from comparative reflection on federalism was that many federal states globally were involved in the process of reviewing their federal systems to retain their relevance to their societies. Those who embarked on that road have survived to this day and those who ignored the reality of restructuring ended up in dismemberment. There is no such thing in praxis called indivisible concerning state entities. Let us re-enact the federal rituals to save our country. In other words, if our political leaders in Abuja fail to make peaceful change in policing possible in this convoluted federation, they may discover to their chagrin later that they are preparing for inevitability of a radical and disruptive change. And that won’t be glorious.
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