By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
There are seemingly intensive lobbying and chess games among officers of the Nigeria Police over who becomes the next Inspector-General of Police, IGP. This is following expectations that the present Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase’s tenure will end in June, 2016.
Usually, the dramatis personae mainly consist of officers in the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG’s, but, this time around, the lobbysts include even officers on the level of Commissioners of Police, CP’s. This new development, according to credible sources, is to effect the current administration’s change mantra in the force.
Lobbysits at work
Interestingly, the lobbyists are placing their hopes on their connections with the leadership of the ruling party while ability to steer the ship of the exalted but challenging position has been thrown overboard. On the other hand, the incumbent is seriously battling for extension giving what he percieves as his unrivaled achievements since he came on the saddle. Unfortunately, both his colleagues in the police management committee and other contenders to the demanding position feel otherwise.
Intriguingly, Nigerians, especially security experts, are averse to the long practised method of ascendancy in the force which they contend gave room to brazen corruption and continued decadence in the force. So far, majority of the opinion points to a new beginning that will herald total cleansing in the belenguard force which, to a large extent , will eliminate tribalism, favouritism and many other vices that have bedevilled the force. It is a generally held opinion that such a move by the President will lead to the appointment of a lesser officer whose properly spelt out policiies will dove tail into the much touted community policing which the country desperately deserves at this time.
Rat race by power blocks
Meanwhile, feelers indicated that the rat race to the exalted posiiton saw the emergence of power blocks both within the force and externally. One goup within the force is convinced that their choice candidate stands a better chance of getting an extension based on what they percieve as his “impeccable records of achievement within the short period he handled the mantle of leadersship. They are also unabashed in their convinction that the political equation as presently represented in the ruling party will ensure an easy retention of Solomon Arase as the Inspector-General of Police.
Power shift to the North
Unfortunately, other power blocks think otherwise. Their unshakable contention is that one of the AIG’s from the North must assume the mantle of leadership as soon as the present boss completes his tenure. To them, extention is an anathema giving that they are convinced that the present leadership failed woefully to register loudable achievements even when much was expected going by the high pedigree of Solomon Arase before he assumed office.
Appointment of ‘spent forces’
Then, there is the block that feels highly agitated over the the continued ritual of appointing “spent forces”as IGP’s who will end up following the same ugly trend without achieving much for the force. Most of them, they bemoaned, ended up amassing stupendous wealth for theirselves after which they will disappear from the country and nothing will be done to call them to question over their performance while in office. Amongst this group is a reasonable number of highly intelligent and professionalized officers who have been deneid promotionc as a result of the quota system introduced long ago in the force. This decadent system gave rise to situations where some of them are still Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners of Police while their course mates from the North are already AIG’s. Some of them had even retired as IGP’s while they are still tottering as CP’s and ACPs’.
Externally, there is the power block that feels it’s their inalienable right to influence the presidency over the choice of the person that will emerge as IGP. This is where former IGP’s , retired officers of not just the police force but other security agencies come in. Intelligence agencies from other countries and even former heads of state, leading Industrialists and banking gurus fall into this group.
Chicken coming to roost
At the last count, no fewer than eight senior officers have been interviewed for the position of IGP. This list includes; a serving Commissioner of Police from the South West. However, investigations showed that five top Senior Officers may have been shortlisted so far as the incumbent, Mr. Solomon Arase prepares to quit the stage , having attained the mandatory age of 60. Arase would be bowing out of the force come June,21, 2016. Already, the short-listed officers were recently screened by top officials of the State Security Service (SSS) , following a directive from the Presidency to the effect that a new IGP to be so apointed should be preparing to take over.
Need for change of baton
The Presidency, according to sources very close to Louis Edet House,Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, saw the need to have a change of baton in the police force thereby ending speculations that Arase’s tenure could be extended. Our usually dependable sources informed further that it took the Police Service Commission’s (PSC) leadership hectic time to finally arrive at the five names that were finally submitted to the Presidency, following internal scrutiny and recommendations by the top -brass of the Directorate of State Security Services.
The list of the persons submitted to the Presidency includes but not limited to the following officers: Messrs Bala Magaji Nassarawa, Femi Adenaike, Umaru Manko, Ibrahim C . Idris and Bala A.Hassan. These are all Assistant-Inspectors General of Police, AIG’s. At the last count, it was relaibly learnt that the list has been narrowed down to three including; Bala Magaji Nassarawa, Umaru Manko and a new entrant, Aderenle Shinaba. They are strongly being considered for the position. Investigations revealed that almost all the short-listed officers parade tall and intimidating credentials. What was not immediately known is the final parameter that could stand out the very best amongst the candidates.
Ex-IGP’candidate on the firing line
Inside sources at the Louis Edet House, Abuja, had earlier told our correspondent that intensive lobbying has since been going on particularly, for a candidate said to have been presented by a formal Inspector -General of Police of Northern extraction. The ex-IGP, it was gathered once influenced the appointment of another police officer, who has since retired as IGP.
However, with the no-nonsense posture of the present administration that has as its mantra “change”, it is expected that the best candidate would naturally emerge without undue influence from any quarters. Moreover, feelers from the seat of power indicated that President Buhari is determined to make an impressive outing in his choice of a new helsman for the force. He was quoted by inside sources as vowing to stamp out all sorts of favoritism, quota system and most importantly, corrupt practises in the force. According to sources, he is an ardent believer in the general resolve to clean up the mess that resulted in building up a team of disgruntled officers who became corrupt and discrimatory with no progression in the force.
Legal practitioner speaks
Speaking with Vanguard on the matter, a renowned Lagos based legal practitioenr who sought strict anonymity said; “if anything at all, he must have the sagacity, sterling qualities of a true leader, the will-power, clean-clear credentials, track records of field works and capable of knowing the general geography of Nigeria to lead, most especially now that our country is facing many security challenges. He must be a field officer who must have navigated through the force by holding key positions/appointments. ” He stressed further that, President Buhari, owes this nation the will power to make a choice of the best candidate without undue influences.”Our President should do the best for us in the appointment of a new IGP. We need a candidate that knows the law and will respect the law. We neither need a docile IGP nor an imposed one who may not know what it takes to lead a multi-tribed country like ours,” he said.
Arase at a glance
Meanwhile, the present Police boss, Solomon Arase, before his appointment almost at the near climax of the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan, had navigated through most of the sensiitive departments in the Niigeria Police Force. He had served at the apex inttelligence gathering arm of the police, known as the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department-where both overt and covert systematic enquiries are usually analysed. Since assumption of office, he actually improved on police human rights, safer high way patrol, housing units for policemen especially, the rank and file all over the states, offer of scholarship for police children from primary to tertiary institutions and other sundry feats.
Neglect of critical areas
However, what remains to be seen is the anticipated improvement in other critical areas that bedevil the force like a colosus. Of particular mention is the vexatious issue of putting square pegs in round holes which typified his administration. Aside his Special Intelligence and Response Team, SIRT, which creditably achieved inumerable feats in the area of fighting armed robbery, his nearly two-year tenure, according to security observers, woefully failed in superior intelligence gathering and, most importantly, curbing the hydra-headed monster of corruption in the force. Rather, it witnessed brazen array of injustices perpetrated on both Nigerians and even members of the force while their widely touted welfare packages were anything but encouraging.
The last straw
This is coupled with the inability of the force to face glaring monstrous challenges like terrorism, vandalism, the menace of fulani cattle rearers , cultism etc. Infact, the general impression is that the Inspector-General of Police epic pronouncement on the recent merciless killings and destructions at Agatu, Benue State, should rightly be considered as the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Pundits beleive it was the highest point of insensitivity by a country’s number one law enforcement officer.