By Chris Onuoha
Superintendent of Police (SP), Ifedolapo Opeyemi Badmos is the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Zone 2 with headquarters in Lagos. Having served in various capacities in the force and as Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Isokoko, Agege, she was later appointed as Lagos State PPRO for a couple of months before being elevated to Zone 2 command PPRO covering Ogun and Lagos States. She is a graduate of Accounting and also a degree holder in Public Administration. She was inducted into the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations as an Associate Member in November, 2016. The Ekiti State born super cop in the course of her career as a police woman has exhibited enigmatic virtues that propelled her movement from one position to another. Her background, upbringing and subsequently, her impact on topical issues that affect lives of women, brings to bear in this exclusive chat with Vanguard.
What was your upbringing like?
I am the second of six children in my family. I grew up in Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State. My late father used to be a politician. He was a one time member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and also one time Local Government Chairman. My mother was a teacher. She is retired. The siblings and I were brought up in a proper teacher -disciplinarian way where understanding of eye and body language was the order of the day.
My primary school was done under my mum’s tutelage as a teacher. You don’t have a free moment under the watchful eye of your mum and from there straight to secondary school, girls-only boarding school where you had your eyes opened to the larger world. I joined the Nigerian Police Force in the year 2002 as a cadet officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) where I had 18 months training in far away Wudil in Kano State under a regimented unit. It was tough and demanding.
What was that special interest you had in choosing what you studied in school and why a different career after that?
We had education counselors as part of school staff who put you through on what you are good in.
I wanted to be a medical doctor but I believed that my Physics teacher did not let me make it because he was strict to the core. He came to class with long cane and every time he entered the classroom, students would be scared. That alone coupled with the teacher’s life approach affected me negatively.
My counselor and I sat and discussed the whole issue of psychological trauma after which I then chose commercial subjects that lead me to read Accounting.
There’s always a place for destiny in someone’s life. The two jobs tally which is caring about people.
Do you in any way feel discriminated against?
I think it is all about that particular teacher. If a child is not doing well, you need to find out why and how to go about it. The man believed that it was all about caning – spare the rod and spoil the child. Whenever he entered the classroom, everyone would be dead quiet and would not wish to offend him. I tend to believe that he might have taken a lot of would-be scientists out of their dreams but funnily, some still made it through with the tough teacher notwithstanding.
How did you then get into police force when your place could have been the banking or financial sector?
I was actually influenced by my uncle. He had ever wanted to be a police officer. He graduated from school in 1984, sought to enroll in the force and could not get the opportunity. He talked me into the career – always saying you have the physique, the height and the stamina to be in the force. But mind you, I was never a tom-boy while growing up.
Did you ever cringe as a woman at the sight and feelings of being that combatant personnel who would be chasing criminals and law offenders in the society?
When we got to the training academy, it was a different world. It was the advent of mobile phone services but in the Academy, there was not even connectivity not to talk about other restrictions that left you with no choice. There’s was no freedom to exercise those free rights you have as a woman. At that point, I was like ‘Oh my God’ is this what I will pass through for 18 months? But funnily, I lived with it which at some point I made up my mind that I was at a point of no return after the gun training that toughened my imagination. On the onset, I wanted to run away but for one female colleague. She had half of her family members in the police force and it was not like anything to her. For me the 18 months in the training academy were like 18 years.
What is your experience like as a woman in the Nigerian police force?
A lot of people believe that this is a place for men. Even at the training school, the teachers would shout, ‘All of you here are men, in this academy, there is no woman, everyone here is a man’. In every activity, be it obstacle crossing or rigorous exercise, you have to do it like any other person. There’s no discrimination of exemption of gender. That is what makes you a police officer.
Are you fulfilled?
I am satisfied but not fulfilled yet. I am barely 15 years out the stipulated 35 years in the service. This is a very noble job that gives you opportunity to free the oppressed. When I was growing up, I was always in the forefront of fighting for my mates against the oppression of boys against girls. This profession is not for everyone rather it is for those who have passion for protecting the oppressed in the society.
As a police woman, you have championed the cause of women in the society. What informs such drive?
In African setting, women are relegated and maltreated. There are two things I actually concern myself with in life which is how to be successful and how to fight against domestic violence. This is not necessarily against women alone but anything that connotes domestic violence of both genders. Most people who noticed my effort in such areas deemed it wise to involve me in their talk shows, seminars and workshops. I want to be a role model to others.
What are your values in life?
‘Hard work does not kill’. To me, it’s high time women braced up and proved that weakness is not only in the saying but in the doing. I value what I do in the police force.
Within half way of career, you seem to enjoy elevated positions…
It is not yet Uhuru. Basically, I would say it is by God’s grace that such positions come to me, but perhaps, I will extend gratitude to the regime of the new Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Kpotun Idris who has given women opportunity to break forth and show what they can do. The ones I have attained so far, which you call enjoyment is nothing but a challenge to me to wake up and face the realities of the career. The force recognizes and rewards hard work.
Are women in Nigerian Police Force marginalised in any form?
Well, seeing me as former state command PPRO and now zonal command PPRO, with all other women in exulted positions like AIGs, Commissioners, and federal Force PROs, you will understand that women are having it good in the force. What the force is now doing is a departure from the old. ‘A gold fish has no hiding place’. Promotions will always come through hard work.
However, in a workplace setting generally, men always feel superior and the police force is not an exception. But with what the leadership of the force is doing now, women now believe in themselves.
Do you see a woman becoming the next Inspector General of Police in Nigeria ?
The office of the inspector general of police is not a child’s play. It is for someone that will bring innovation that will affect the lives of people. It is like a moving train where people will be motivated and effect changes that will reflect in the society. Just like the new IG is doing. When a woman gets to AIG level, what would then stop her to reach the peak?
How can you possibly advise women in the society to brace up the challenge in any chosen career?
From a spiritual angle, I will quote a bible verse that says ‘women are weaker vessels’ but I would say that it is when it comes to treatment of women that one should apply that. When it comes to the level of delivering, a woman cannot say she is weak because bible had said so. Every woman has the mental ability, physical strength, technical know-how and even academic strength to deliver in any job or duty she may find herself. The only place the wisdom of weaker vessel should be applied is when it comes to the issue of domestic violence. A man exerts more physical strength in anger than a woman. Women are soft and tender at home because of their loving nature which some men see as being weak.
What are the challenges you have encountered so far?
“The challenge of life is like examination” without which you will not graduate to the next level. This has to do with me as a person. I have this ‘never say never’ attitude. I don’t give up.
How do you combine home and office work?
I thank God because I have a very caring husband who is always there to support, coupled with immediate family members that support as well. But they have come to understand that mummy is a busy person who is out there taking care of people’s live and properties.
How do you spend your leisure when you are not carrying guns?
I am a fun loving person. I work hard and when they opportunity comes for me to loosen up I utilize it well. Music gives me joy. I love all kinds of music genres but devote more on philosophical music that makes me think such as classical music. My mum was a good dancer in her younger days which I eventually inherited..