“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett Buffet’s quote above aptly juxtaposes the inexorable depreciation of values and performance of the Nigeria Police Force against the pale efforts of successive governments in the country at reforming the organisation, even in the face of very great expectations. It must be said that great accomplishments in history are always preceded by great challenges and difficult choices but usually overridden by prospects of new opportunities and order.
Over the years, from when Louis Edet made history as the first Inspector-General of Police to its immediate past indigenous helmsman, the performance of the Force has consistently been plagued basically by the lack of funding upon which other ills that have bedeviled the force could well be anchored.
As far as the job of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Nigeria goes, the appointment, tenure and exit from the apex office may perhaps best be analysed or conjectured in political frames. For the uncertain period of occupying the apex seat in the Force therefore, only a rare breed of officers; competent and intelligent with a crystal clear understanding of the operational framework of the Force, as well as the established barriers or hurdles to beat in the quest to achieve set targets ever get to leaving any mark by the time they are gone. This stock of officers cannot be said to have been in adequate supply within the Force.
Perhaps, this explains in succinct terms the spontaneous jubilation which trailed Arase’s appointment, first, as the Acting Inspector General of Police, following the removal of his predecessor Suleiman Abba from office, and also the hope his confirmation as the substantive Inspector-General of Police portends for the country’s prime law enforcement agency. There is no gainsaying that, the realities of a globalised world, as well as the upsurge in technology all bring across its world of challenges which puts an imperative on quality leadership, not just in the Police but in all strata of governance; leaders with unprecedented levels of professionalism, unbridled integrity, selflessness, tact with focus and result-orientation – qualities that fortunately the new IG, Solomon Arase possess. Arase’s vast experience, having navigated the labyrinths of the Nigeria Police Force to emerge its top notch cuts him squarely for the job.
The IGP has served in various departments of the Force, including Operations, Investigation, Administration and Intelligence, leaving indelible prints of success. A man whose qualities tower high above his contemporaries, Arase’s academic background, both enviable and intimidating, puts him on a firm pedestal to better appreciate and deal with the plethora of problems that the Force is today laden with.
With Arase at the helm of affairs, the Nigeria Police now has a man whose passion on reforming the police accords with the aspirations of most Nigerians that there is a strong belief that the desired wind of change is finally wafting across the police force and will permeate every crevice of the Force’s operational machinery to make it one big and formidable institution. Widely considered a stickler for correctness and discipline, the antecedents of Arase speak volumes also in competence and ability. The Nigeria Police, as it is, needs a holistic change; a turn-around from old ways which can only be attained by a leader in the mold of the IG himself; one who has demonstrated a remarkable propensity to bring new and appropriate perspectives at providing solutions, and ideas aimed at redeeming and advancing the Force with cutting edge technology to policing functions in Nigeria.
For example, when he was in charge of the Akwa- Ibom State Police Command from August 2011 to March 2012, Arase developed anti-robbery and anti-kidnapping operational protocols that proved highly effective in addressing high-level crimes in the State. Prior to that, from 2009 to 2010, Arase was at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Lagos State Police Command as the Deputy Commissioner of Police, where he championed the restoration of professional excellence and high investigative documentation and prosecution standards; initiatives which got him a commendation letter from the Attorney- General of Lagos State, among many others.
What’s more? Arase championed the Development and Establishment of Model Police Stations and replication of the concept in phases to the 37 Police Commands (including the FCT) across the Federation with a view to re-aligning policing activities to modern dictates, best international standards and local expectations, in a cost effective manner.
A true reformist, Arase initiated policies that prevented the abuse of pre-trial detention by comprehensively overhauling and reorganising the investigation and prosecution departments of the Force, deploying qualified lawyers to take full responsibility for the prosecution of all criminal cases investigated by the Nigeria Police Force. As Head of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), Arase undertook landmark reforms and restructuring initiatives, establishing a state-ofthe- art technical intelligence platform which restored the Bureau as the most strategic intelligence agency in the internal security architecture of the country.
With Arase at the helm of affairs, the Nigeria Police now has a man whose passion on reforming the police accords with the aspirations of most Nigerians that there is a strong belief that the desired wind of change is finally wafting across the police force and will permeate every crevice of the Force’s operational machinery to make it one big and formidable institution. The incoming administration of Presidentelect Muhammadu Buhari should take the bull by the horns by having the courage and the will to initiate a comprehensive and objective reinconstructuring of the Nigeria Police to reflect the dynamism and complexities of today’s Nigeria, because change without first transforming an institution vital to that change is simply a dead end.
True to his style, Arase has wasted no time assuring Nigerians that his appointment is a wakeup call for the Nigerian Police under his command and assured that his new anti-corruption crusade will not blink to the menace. Almost always, reports on corruption by police officers ignore the publics who want to influence the police to their own advantage. Perhaps, it is in this light that Arase, on confirmation as the substantive IG recently, said that his main task would be the upgrade of the welfare of members of the Nigerian Police Force, saying motivation was key to increasing productivity, making it a top priority.
Through strategies and inputs expected of his men at this time, according to the IG, he has assured that he would bring crime rate to the lowest minimum promising, while also not reneging on his earlier commitment towards ensuring road-block free highways in Nigeria, warning that the command of any jurisdiction where roadblocks are found would be held liable and swiftly dealt with in line with police rules and regulations. Apparently beginning to walk-the-talk, the IG has set up a 16-team task Force mandated to comply with his directives on the removal of road blocks. However, to augment the encouraging initiatives of the new IG demands that the independence of the police be protected to discourage its performance from being polluted with politics.
Political interference would undermine the cohesion, effectiveness and performance of the Nigeria Police Force. If publics see the police as partisan, trust is breached. The budget must be used judiciously to address our security challenges and deliver a new Nigerian Police Force.
The incoming administration of Presidentelect Muhammadu Buhari should take the bull by the horns by having the courage and the will to initiate a comprehensive and objective restructuring of the Nigeria Police to reflect the dynamism and complexities of today’s Nigeria, because change without first transforming an institution vital to that change is simply a dead end. The mind-set that nothing can work in Nigeria is absolutely wrong. The IGP, Solomon Arase’s track record negates the ‘business-as-usual’ model of public affairs in Nigeria. He is a wellrounded police officer, a learned and wise one, a Solomon of our time