By Chioma Gabriel
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Ngozi Conchita Braide is the first female Lagos Police Command Public Relations Officer, PPRO. She was appointed on 11th of June 2012 and in this encounter with Saturday Vanguard, she talks about her beginning, her career, her experience and her future expectations. Excerpts.
You are the first female officer to assume the position of Police Public Relations Officer. How did this journey begin?
I’ve been in the Police Force for the past twelve years. I joined the Nigeria Police in 1996 as a Cadet Inspector and have attended several professional courses both within and outside Nigeria. I attended the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Academy, Atlanta, United States where I obtained a certificate in International Post-blast Investigation in 2000.
I attended a course in Psychotraumaology, debriefing and diffusing course in Switzerland in 2001. I also attended a prosecution course at the Nigeria Police Detective College, Enugu in 1999 and successfully participated in two United Nations Peace Keeping Operations. I was also in UNMIK Kosovo in 2000 where I worked in various crime investigation units and eventually, headed the Domestic Violence Unit.
I was equally in the United Nations Peace Keeping Operation in Liberia in 2006 where I was appointed the head of Finance Unit of the United Nations Police in Liberia. There, I earned a commendation award for devotion to duty and hardwork. I also served with International Criminal Police Organisation, INTERPOL between 1999 – 2003.
When I was at INTERPOL, I was attached to Organized Crime Division, OCD and from 2003 to 2007, I worked at Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) and Special Fraud Unit (SFU from 2007 – 2012. While I was with SFU, I was attached to Commercial Fraud Unit but later, I rose to become the Sectional head of Oil and Gas Fraud Section. Well, to cut the long story short, here I am today as the Lagos State Police PRO on secondment with the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit, Force Headquarters.
That was really tough for a woman.
A woman? No way. There is nothing like being a woman. When you have a passion for what you are doing, there is nothing like being a woman. I don’t belong to those who say it’s a man’s world because there is nothing I cannot do today in this job. I have headed a lot of very tough positions. In Liberia, I was the head of Finance Unit for the whole United Nations Police Officers, everybody that was in the United Nations and a police officer, I was in charge of the Finance Unit. I came back to Nigeria in 2007 after serving in different parts of the world before being posted to the Special Fraud Unit.
In Nigeria, we talk about Police men and you hardly hear of police women. So, how do you manage the men?
For one thing, I don’t have any complex. I don’t believe a man is superior. I believe God created both male and female equal. We also have equal opportunity to succeed. Most of the people working with me are men. And we received the same training. When I was in the Police Academy , we went for a mobile training course and there’s a rope through which you ascend to a rock.
This rope has no safety guard. It’s just you and the rope. You’d be told that your life is in your hands and if you leave this rope, you are gone. We were to ascend a rock and I can tell you that most men did not ascend that rock. We were like three or four women but I ascended that rock hanging on that rope. I did it. And we were the first set of female officers to wear trousers.
It was during our passing out parade practice in 1996 that a DIG came and observed that we were very bright and very young but she observed that we were not raising our legs very well because we were wearing skirts. She also observed that women in our sister agencies wear trousers. So, we were the first set to wear trousers and when we came out in 1998, people were impressed. So, I don’t feel anyhow on this job. There is nowhere I cannot compete with men on this job. Vocationally, intellectually, I know about the job and I cannot be intimidated.
So, you don’t believe it’s a man’s job.
It’s not a man’s job. And I’m so happy to be a police officer and in my next world, I would want to be a police officer because this is a job that will give you opportunity to know so many things and do so many things. When I was in the Investigation Unit, I met a lot of people. Doctors would come to you with their problems, you’d solve medical problems and see yourself unveiling many things that you are not trained for. You’d see an accountant come and you see yourself dealing with figures. So, it’s a kind of being jack of all trades and master of all. So, it’s not a man’s job. These days, we have female command CP’s unlike before and they are doing very well. So, I’m very okay. I’m very fit.
Over the years, the image of the Nigeria Police has retrogressed. What do you plan to do about it?
The police is supposed to be something that people will see and like but unfortunately, because of few bad eggs, the image of the police is battered. But this is not just a police thing because when you talk about corruption, it is everywhere. In all establishments, you would see corruption but I am here. I can do it. As a matter of fact, since I came on board, I have been receiving calls. People see me and want to join the Police Force because they like me and want to be like me.
It’s a different world in Lagos, everywhere you go, you see young unemployed people and these are security issues. What do you plan to do?
Creating more job opportunities would help take care of that and also a lot of our big men should help in generating employment. That’s the only way out because most of these people you see hanging around are graduates. It’s not fair that a youngman should graduate from the university and remains jobless. In the past, when one graduates from the university, he is a hot cake but now, it’s a different story. I have been around Lagos for sometime and I know this is a different routine from my normal routine, but I’m very confident. I will cope.
Did you grow up planning to join the Police?
No. As a matter of fact, I didn’t like the Police and never wanted to do anything with the police. But it just happened when I left secondary school and got admission into Abia State University. I was 17 years then and I was studying English at Abia State University. But in my second year, second semester, my mother called me and said she would want me to join the Force as a Cadet Inspector. I told her I didn’t like the Police but she encouraged me. She said she liked the police. My father tried to kick against it but my mother bought him over and today they have no regrets.
Did you abandon your academics?
Well, I went for the interview and was taken. I went for another interview in Lagos. They asked me questions and I answered. By the way, I had five As and three credits in my WAEC and they found that attractive. I went back to Abia State University and deferred my course. Before that, I had changed my mind about joining the police but after about a month, people started calling my parents to complain that I had wasted Abia State slot in the Police and my parents compelled me to come out and join the Police.
I abandoned my academics, deferred my admission, hoping that after the training, I would return to the university to continue my education but that was not to be. I was posted to Ekiti State for my one year attachment after two years in the Police Academy. So, I couldn’t go back.
I was in Ekiti State for one year where I underwent further training. So, when I eventually came to Lagos and joined INTERPOL, I sat for JAMB again and got admission to Lagos State University where I read English. I graduated and bagged my B.A English and that made me so happy.
Now, when you look ahead, what do you see?
I have a very strong dream for this job. I am happy to be a police officer. I will encourage my daughter to be a police officer if she agrees. Wherever I am, I have very big dreams for this job. I don’t have any other job. This is all I have and I’m ready to go wherever I am posted to. Let me tell you, I dream to become the first female IGP.
What do you have to tell women who aspire for this kind of job?
The problem we have is that most women feel that they are the weaker sex and some don’t take their jobs seriously and men take advantage of that. When men feel that you are not doing well in your job, they take advantage of that. What some women keep doing is shout sexual harassment but it’s only a woman who allows sexual harassment that is harassed.
A woman should be bold, intelligent and firm. If you know what you are doing, nobody would harass you sexually. Sexual harassment is in all establishments but when the men try and see that you are a strong character, a firm character, they will leave you.Really, I think more women should join the Police Force because I’m a living example of what a woman can do. They will have no regrets.