IGP: An offensive extension!
Yesterday's decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of Mohammed Abubakar Adamu as the Inspector General of Police for three months is not only unnecessary, it patently violates the extant rules of the Public Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as the Police Act 2020.
The decision is a slap on the morale of thousands of police officers nationwide, whose career progression has thus been put on hold. It is also a disparaging message that the entire police force cannot boast of more than one person who can inspire the president’s confidence, or lead the policing of the nation creditably. The President should have allowed Adamu to retire on Monday, February 1, 2021.
Adamu was duly appointed and confirmed Inspector General of Police on May 23, 2019. Although he will be 60 in September, he was due for retirement on Monday, February 1, 2021, having enlisted in 1986 as a graduate of Geography and therefore served the 35 years allowed in public service.
According to Item No. 020810 (i) and (ii) of the Public Service Rules (2008), “the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the Service shall be 60 years or 35 years in pensionable service, whichever is earlier.” Further, “No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.”
More specifically, section 7(6) of the Police Act 2020, signed by Buhari on September 15, 2020, states that: “A person appointed to the office of the Inspector General of the Police shall hold office for four years.” Furthermore, section 18(8) of the Act repeated the exact provisions of the Public Service Rules. In announcing the tenure extension, the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi said that the decision of the President to extend the IGP’s tenure for another three months was to give time for proper selection of the new helmsman. This is obnoxious and vexatious.
In a country where the law rules rather than men, there is no reason that the I-G should not be allowed a well-deserved retirement by the President who has not named a successor. Yet, it will be difficult to believe that the presidency is unaware, at least three months earlier, that the topmost cop was due to leave. So, Adamu, for three days until yesterday was, more or less, in his office but not certain if his tenure was officially extended, or he was no more ‘in office.’ He might have even been unsure if to go to the office and in his uniform. Mr. Adamu’s action or statement, effective from February 2, might be read as ultra vires. Even worse, the effect of a not clear decision from the top on the headship of the Force has, according to news reports, put activities within the system, to put it mildly, on slow motion. Naturally, because given the peculiar configuration of the Nigeria Police Force as the first line enforcer of internal security, its formations across the federation await news of who is in and who is out at the top hierarchy. There is, of course, a wide-ranging ripple effect on who becomes the I-G.
Before yesterday, Police spokesman Aremu Adeniran had insisted that policing Nigeria is not affected in any way. He was quoted as asking with a tinge of irritation: ‘‘Are people saying that there is no more policing? Are they saying there is no more administration?’’ Of course there is policing going on, and the police administration has not collapsed. Nonetheless, the uncertainty of, and in leadership has a serious negative impact on the functioning of any organisation. That is a basic fact of organisational leadership. And, especially for the civil law enforcement agency, the entire area of its jurisdiction feels it one way or other. It will be living in denial to not accept this.
There are sound arguments against the manner that Buhari handles this matter. The first point to make is to condemn the tardiness with which matters such as this are handled by the presidency. The office of the IGP is a high public office; it is a powerful and influential position of authority. Its powers and authority are such that in myriad ways, can affect the entire polity. There is absolutely no justifiable reason that a successor is not named as soon as the outgoing officer is due to step out. Is there no one among the very senior officers good enough to succeed Adamu? That is neither tenable nor believable. It is even preposterous to so think.
Second, deriving from the answer that presidential spokesman Garba Shehu gave to questions of when a new I-G might be named, it is difficult not to think that this very important matter is not attracting the deserved priority attention. Besides that it is well known Adamu would retire effective February 1, one should reasonably think that the decision to put another man in charge of the Nigeria Police can be taken from wherever the President is – even if on the moon. His powers and authority are not delimited by place. So, Nigerians cannot be impressed by the argument that ‘‘the President returns to Abuja on Tuesday (and) he should be at his desk by Wednesday.’’ No, that is not good enough for Nigeria.
Third, it is given, from yesterday’s announcement, that Buhari actually intended to extend the tenure of Adamu, needless as that may be. Incidentally, he did so for Adamu’s predecessor, and some other service chiefs, against rules and received wisdom. What beneficial end this is meant to serve for the system or the polity, we seek, we cannot find. But whatever might be the President’s intention, there was no justifiable need to have kept Adamu, the Police Force, and the country in suspense. The President should simply have done the needful and spared the Force further dilemma and the nation further suspense.
Fourth, organisations thrive on fresh ideas from new leadership. Whatever good Adamu achieved in his two-year tenure can always be improved upon by a new man. Arguably, the Nigeria Police Force can only benefit from new management with new, improved thinking.
Fifth, the retention, against extant rules, of public officers after their service year has expired gives the erroneous impression that they are indispensable. They are not; no man is indispensable, in this country of more than 200 million people, indeed anywhere on earth. And the President should not be the one to encourage that false sense of importance in any public office. Besides, the esteem of the presidency is badly dented for its disdain for due process and rules it enacted.
Finally, the retirement of long-serving public officers gives room for career advancement from below. That, by the due and transparent process, an officer can honourably aspire to great heights in the Force is a sound motivation to put in his and her best. But if, as it has become the culture in this government, people are retained ad infinitum, ad nauseam, in their positions, even when they are glaringly tired at the job, career progression is delayed and denied. This harms both morale and the enthusiasm to work hard or a just reward. Ultimately, the Force and the country suffer. Mohammed Adamu came, did his best, and he was due for retirement. He should have been given his deserved break. For the second time in our editorial during the Buhari government, The Guardian is constrained to tell the President ‘Let the IGP go, please.’
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