Babankowa, a prominent ACF chieftain retired from Police after 24 years in service. Babankowa as he is fondly called by friends and admirers is a man with deep sense of history.
He played a role in stabilizing the Nigerian project some few years after independence. In this interview, he declared that Nigeria is not ripe for state police and instead advocated for the decentralization of the force. Excerpts:
Why are we finding it difficult to police the country effectively?
Basically there about three factors which in my opinion are responsible for the shortcomings in the Nigerian Police. I don’t know whether the budget office of the organization is up and doing, in other words I don’t know whether those responsible take details of what is required in order to make it strong to face challenges regarding its constitutional duties.
The current Nigeria police is getting extremely large to be controlled centrally. No where in the world where you have one police organization dealing with over hundred and fifty million people with one Inspector-General who is going to give instruction and everything has to go back to him for approval. Even the setting up of 5 Deputy Inspectors-General under an the Inspector General is not enough.
In controlling crime and making sure that internal security is secured, you need to split the force into 6 with each geographical zone having a chief police officer and these officers should have autonomy, their funding, training and all other requisites should also be autonomous. They should be completely independent and that is not to say that we should not have an IG.
His role under these arrangement is supervisory, and he played the role of a coordinator. The chief Police officers in the 6 geopolitical zones will now have to compete in warding off crime as no one will risk habour criminals or allowing his zone reduced to criminal den. None of them would work below par in the discharge of his duties.
They will continue to wear the same uniform, same kit and everything except an emblem that will distinguish, and depict a zonal officer. The laws will remain the same, the training Programme will remain the same but if you dismantle the current arrangement, that will give effective policing and will enhance the internal security of this country.
The current system was adopted when we were only 50 million at Independence. We have to look critically at the system and fashion out a workable policy that will secure the system and the polity. In UK , they don’t have a central police force, they have a County police. I am not a supporter of state police, we are not yet ripe for state police.
What went wrong with the old order?
The military of course crippled the police force. The 1983 coup crippled the police and their performances has since then been on the decline. One can recalled that even the water tank was removed from them and taken to the army barrack. The police was strong and the army feels they will be safer if they reduced their capabilities.
Do you agree that officer and men of the police force no longer believe in commitment and sacrifice to fatherland?
How can you have commitment when you don’t have the means of enhancing your own responsibility?. No equipment, no communication, no living wage, no allowances, no barrack, no discipline, it’s only when you quartered them in a barrack that you can instill discipline, they dont wear good uniform that will convey to the public that they are men of authority.
Even if you have the wish to be committed to the country, the officer are confronted with a lot of challenges, and unless we are prepared to change our attitude, I am afraid things might remain the same.
Pundits believe the twin bomb blast that nearly marred celebration of Nigeria at 50 was simply an intelligence failure, are you surprised that no one has resigned in connection to that?
I am not surprised, no one had accepted the responsibility and step down because such honourable way of doing things is not in our character, it’s not our way of doing things. Nobody ever accept responsibility if even it’s glaring. It is not in our culture for a leader to accept the shortcomings of their subordinate and resign. I don’t think we may live to see one.. The whole thing is unfortunate, and shameful.
Why was it that the efforts of the Constitutional Review Committee of the 1995 constitution did not see the light of the day?
Its one of the greatest regret Nigerian had been subjected to in recent history.
In 1994-1995 General Sani Abacha convene a Constitutional conference where delegates were elected and were mandated to fashion out a suitable constitution for the country. Eventually the conference produced a beautiful constitution, and Government set up a Review Committee where I served alongside other distinguished Nigerians. We completed the job in good time and it was a week left for General Abacha to sign it into law when he passed on.