By Gambo Dori
ASKING this question seemed to have reverberated across the nation in the wake of communal clashes in some parts of the North West and Central Nigeria that resulted in large scale killings. Suddenly sleeping bills came alive in both the two houses of the National Assembly, seeking amendments in the constitution to allow states to form and run their police force independent of the centre. The debate was widely circulated and the proponents were all over the media, canvassing their views and giving the impression that creation of the state police is the only panacea for the incessant killings. I watched some of the interviews given by one of the most prominent proponents of state police, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and I could see that he was relishing the moment.
The senator who represents Enugu West constituency for the third time had even pulled a rabbit out of the hat this time around by clinching the Deputy Presidency of the Senate, despite being in the PDP, the minority party. In the interviews I watched, suave Ekweremadu was at his most self-assured self. He was superbly knowledgeable on the subject. I guess this comes from the many skirmishes he fought on the floor of the Senate leading the troops for state police. Add that to the fact that he has three degrees in law and a war room of advisers filled with many eminent legal minds.You cannot take that away from him. He is an excellent advocate and the fact that he had lost the battle for state police many times over had never deterred him. The loss only became a spur when the right moment presented itself. And the moment came with the wanton killings that took place in Plateau State and the increase of brigandage in Zamfara and Kaduna States. The sleeping bills came to life and the proponents went to town in full force. The media was inundated.
A Wednesday in that week, I was driving back to Abuja from Kaduna and all I could hear from the cacophony of the talk shows beaming from most of the radio stations in my car were just on one topic: the state police. I picked four or five stations from Kaduna, one from Minna, one from Keffi, and five stations from Abuja all discussing the issue of state police, most of it from the stand point of the proponents. The mobilization seemed total. This went on for the rest of the week and I surmised that the promoters of idea of state police were making one final onslaught before the elections. It was the ultimate blitzkrieg, German term for a swift intensive military attack especially using tanks supported by aircraft designed to defeat the opposition quickly.
Obviously the security situation of the country is in dire straits. It seems as if in the last many years the country has been entrapped in a vortex of violence. We were just seeing the back of the heinous campaigns of Boko Haram when kidnappings and herdsmen brigandage reared their ugly heads endangering to consume many parts of the country. As the situation worsened it was evident that the police force was always overwhelmed. But should this be considered the failure of the Nigerian Police Force or our collective failure to fix their problems and make the Force more efficient?
I raised this question with a person I would call an elder statesman. He wondered why we never learn from our mistakes. He threw more questions back at me asking rhetorically, ‘Why do we create a problem to solve another problem? Have we made any concerted efforts to solve the problems bedevilling the police force, before proposing the creation of mini police forces in the states and hope that they would succeed, where even a larger better funded and trained body had seemingly failed?’ I pondered over his retort and realized that we should pause and find answers to these questions before we embark on another orgy of constitutional amendment.The proponents of state police have even conceded that the Act governing the Police Force had not been changed since when it was enacted over 70 years ago. Now instead of making changes in the law to streamline the Force and look at what is hindering its performance, we are proposing the death penalty to the very existence of the Force. We shall return to this soon. Keep a date with this page.
Re – Professor Anthony Kirk-Greene
My piece last week on the death of Professor Kirk-Greene elicited many responses ranging from those who knew him as a Divisional Officer in some Northern Provinces in the 1950s to those whom he taught in ABU Zaria in the early 1960s. Many who share a common interest kept in touch with him over the years benefitting from his counsel and the array of research material on Nigeria that he had accumulated. Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar, a former Minister of the FCT as well as in the Ministries of Commerce and Power and Steel encountered Tony in the 1980s. He sent this tribute to the Oxford University:
A.H.M. Kirk- Greene Mutumin Kirki:
In writing this tribute, it’s quite befitting to refer to our late teacher, colleague, and friend A.H.M. Kirk-Greene as mutumin kirki, Hausa Language words for a good man. For those who have known Kirk-Greene over the years, are aware that Mutumin Kirki is a title of a book he wrote and was published in 1974.My first encounter with Kirk-Greene was as a result of a research on a paper I was writing 31 years ago, while pursuing a Masters’ Degree in African Area Studies at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In spite of the fact that the years have piled up, I still vividly recalled my effort to compare and contrast the virtues of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics to the Fulani concept of Pulaaku. While frantically searching for materials for this topic, I happily stumbled on Kirk-Greene’s Mutumin Kirki, discussing the concept of a good man in Hausa Society.In the book, Kirk-Greene stated his understanding of what the Hausa people refer to as a good man through these virtues: Gaskiya(Truth), Amana (Trust),Karamchi (Reverence),Hakuri (Patience),Hankali (Common Sense), Kunya(Deference), Ladabi(Proper manners), Mutunchi (Respect), Hikima(Wisdom), Adalchi(Justice and fair play).Around 1988, I met Prof. Kirk-Greene at a Conference on Nigeria, organized by Stanford University. After exchanging pleasantries at the margin of the conference, I came to realize that indeed, Prof. Kirk-Greene embodies all the virtues of a good man. To my surprise, he spoke Fulfulde, my language, as a result of his position as the colonial district officer in Adamawa Province in the 1950s. He told me that the then Lamido of Adamawa bestowed on him the title of Ardo (leader) during his sojourn. The two days conference afforded me the opportunity to discuss extensively on some of his scholarly works that were of interest to me. These include: Adamawa, past and present; an historical approach to the development of a northern Cameroons province (1958), Maiduguri and the capitals of Borno; Maiduguri da manyan biranen Barno (1958), Hausa ba dabo ba ne; a collection of 500 proverbs (1966), West African travels and adventures; two autobiographical narratives from Northern Nigeria (1971), Crisis and conflict in Nigeria: a documentary sourcebook (1971), The genesis of the Nigerian civil war and the theory of fear (1975), “Stay by your radios”: documentation for a study of military government in tropical Africa (1981).While still at UCLA, I kept in touch with the erudite Professor but lost touch after returning to Nigeria in 1992. His death is no doubt a big lost to the Africanist Community worldwide, but we must take solace in the fact that Ardo A.H.M Kirk-Greene has contributed immensely to understanding Africa and its people. I extend my condolences to the family and friends of this seeker of true knowledge.