FOR the first time in a long while, the appointment of the new Inspector General of Police not only followed due process but also resulted in the selection of the most qualified, competent and one of the most respected in the top echelon of the Nigeria Police â€“ Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo.
Merit and competence counted above other criteria. We commend President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua for eschewing ethnic, political and sectional considerations in making this appointment. We also hope that henceforth, all appointments into the public service will emphasise merit and competence, for that is the only way to nudge the nation towards our stated goal of being one of the 20 most prosperous nations by 2020.
Onovo is a man uncommonly favoured by history. About two years ago, when his predecessor, Mr. Mike Okiro was appointed even though many had speculated that the seat was Onovoâ€™s by seniority, the normal thing was for Onovo to be shifted out of the Force to give Okiro room to operate. Rather, Onovo was kept on the job. He took the temporary loss in extremely good faith.
He kept his head and cooperated with his new boss in the execution of his lawful duties.
This earned him a lot of respect not only from Okiro but also from the Presidency. That it took only a week for his acting appointment to be confirmed shows the esteem in which he is held at the highest level of the nationâ€™s seat of power. Onovo deserves to revel in arriving at the destination with all the odds.
Appropriately, the riots in the North cut short his celebration. They introduced him to the onerous responsibilities ahead.
The first of these tasks is the high level of crime and insecurity pervading the land. Apart from the old crime of rampant robbery, there are new crimes like the ones on the internet, which pose more challenges.
Kidnapping is another new crime. From the Niger Delta where it started as a part of protests of the regionâ€™s neglect, it has assumed the ugly toga of criminality, and is gradually spreading to all parts of the country. The second is terrorism, fuelled both by internal and external interests.
The nation is just recovering from the Boko Haram crisis, which exploded in spite of many security warnings. Nigerians are looking up to Onovo and his men to arrest violent crimes while the nation pushes ahead with the implementation of the Police reforms.
Another important assignment that will test Onovoâ€™s patriotism and abilities is the 2011 elections and other polls thereabout.Â He has some time between now and then to prepare his officers and men for a civilised handling of the elections.
Onovo has to be mindful of the fact that his last three predecessors left the Force in less than dignifying circumstances. He must dare to be different. He must make the difference to a Force in which most Nigerians have lost faith.