THE recent change of guard in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) occasioned by the exit of Mr. Ibrahim Kpotun Idris and the appointment of Mr. Mohammed Adamu as the Acting Inspector General of Police was a huge relief to Nigerians traumatised by the tenure of the former IGP. Idris had to go having reached the mandatory retirement age and clocked 35 years in service, but Nigerians certainly have no fond memories of his stewardship. To be sure, the NPF has since independence in 1960 been struggling with the imperative of evolving from a colonial outfit of civil pacification into a truly independent security agency saddled with the responsibility of securing a liberated citizenry. The extent to which it has succeeded however remains contentious.
While the police desire to be seen as the friend of the people, their modus operandi belies such an ambitious desire. Under the ex-IGP for instance, the police sank into an unprecedented abyss in terms of professionalism. For him, loyalty to one’s principal also included the sacrifice of professionalism even in matters of state security. From his early days in office, he adopted an adversarial posture against his predecessor, Mr. Solomon Arase, making wild and unsubstantiated allegations about his tenure. He alleged that Arase had made away with 22 police vehicles but had no response to Arase’s reply wherein the latter wondered if he (Idris) had read the handing over notes given to him which detailed the whereabouts of the said vehicles, but he never apologised for his indiscretion. Idris’ tenure was also marred by allegations of sleaze and moral lapses unbecoming of any civil servant, much less the head of the police.
Ex-IGP Idris flagrantly disobeyed his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, when he was requested to relocate to Makurdi, Benue State, following the massacre in that state which left 73 persons dead in January 2018. His spokesman branded Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State a drowning man when the latter queried that action. If Nigeria had defective IGPs in the past, they were heroes in comparison to the immediate past IGP who could not even feign any embarrassment when his successor openly indicted him on his leadership style. It surprised no one that his last minute posting of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police was immediately reversed. Mr. Mohammed Adamu, the Acting IGP, therefore has a difficult task ahead in the bid to restore the sullied image of the police, at least to retrieve the confidence of the people which his predecessor scoffed at in order to please certain interests. He would need to avoid the pitfalls of partisanship which obviously ensnared his immediate and other predecessors.
Adamu must improve service delivery in the police by making the outfit professional and courteous to the people, living up to the dictum that “the police is your friend.” The police colleges where the men and officers of the force receive their training do not have to be torture chambers in order to deliver fitness training. It is possible to train the policemen without stripping them of their humanity and compassion. It was once suggested that the callous training environment was partly responsible for the frequent bestial rage of policemen in dealing with the citizenry and even one another. Better training of police personnel will ensure that the constant friction with the civilian population is greatly reduced.
Recruiting police cadets from the top of the classes in tertiary institutions like it is done elsewhere should not be a taboo; it can only improve service delivery and enhance courtesy and professionalism. It is possible to replicate the modern policing system in Nigeria. With determination, this can be achieved by the Acting IGP who has worked with Interpol for quite a while in his professional career. Recently, the US government expressed worry about the seeming lack of neutrality by the Nigeria Police and other security agencies ahead of next month’s election. We expect Adamu to allay these fears with his disposition and conduct in the coming months and show that his appointment was not only merited but also fortuitous in reinventing the essence of the Nigeria Police.