By Onome Amawhe
Of all the commands in the Nigerian Police Force, Lagos holds the status of being the most strategic with its status as the nation’s economic capital. Deploying a commissioner to head the command is not a decision lightly taken as the performance or lack of almost aggregates to the general performance of the force nationwide.
Lagos has been on the front burners for all the wrong reasons, especially in the areas of state of road traffic and security. Initially, Lagos had to contend only with with the crippling traffic that was pronounced mainly in the Apapa area, home to the busiest seaports in the country. But in past one year, the nation’s commercial capital has been the subject of unprecedented traffic logjam. The high rate of failure of the roads, some of which could not retain their pristine state for just a rainy season provided the perfect storm for nightmarish experiences on the roads.
When Hakeem Olusegun Odumosu was named the Commissioner for Police in Lagos on November 14, he knew his task was cut out. It also came with an air of expectation that there must be something unique about him that could be harnessed to bring succour to Lagos road users.
Apart from the extensive failure of the major highways, poor traffic management of roads undergoing repairs, undisciplined road use and the savoury attitude and pace of work by some of the contractors rehabilitating the roads have all combined to create the perfect storm of a nightmare scenario.
But Odumosu comes with the resumé of a super cop. Less than a week into his redeployment, he signalled his intention to make efficient traffic management a top priority. He immediately deployed over 1,000 policemen to join in tackling the gridlock that has made commuting unbearable in the state. The move has a two-pronged objective. Motorists in prolonged gridlock often become sitting ducks for armed criminals who are always lurking in the neighbourhood. Valuables are routinely lost to the thieves who smash windows and, sometimes, bones in their heinous crime almost unhindered.
The new Lagos police boss introduced an innovative approach to the schedule of service men manning the roads. Rather than policemen leaving motorists to their fate at the peak of the crippling traffic having completed their beat, Odumosu reviewed the time schedule of traffic wardens to run between 10am and 10pm, while the second shift would run from 10pm to 10am to provide 24 hours coverage. Assuring motorists of safety, Bala Elkana, Lagos police spokesman, said its men will all operate in their usual reflective jackets. The measure will help in ensuring free flow of traffic and will also curb the menace of traffic robbery.
Odumosu belongs to the school of thought that believes a good boss should lead from the front and maintain a hands-on approach to policy execution. Mobilising his men for the task ahead, the Lagos police chief convened a meeting of heads of all the critical units and departments in his command. In attendance were Deputy Commissioners of Police, Department of Finance and Administration, Department of Operations, Criminal Investigation Department and Rapid Response Squad.
Also in attendance were Area F Commanders, Area Operations Officers, State Traffic Officers, Divisional Traffic Officers as well as the chairman, Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences, among others.
His leadership style and robust communication with the rank and file has rekindled the air of optimism among Lagos residents that a man with the right mix in education, practical application of motivational leadership and eclectic management of security challenges has come to town.
Odumosu flaunts a rich curriculum vitae with extensive academic credentials in various fields that have prepared him for the most challenging command in the 36 states. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Bachelor of Law degree and Master Degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the National Open University of Nigeria. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Lagos State University. Others include a Post Graduate Diploma in Security Management and Operations, Advanced Diploma in Law Enforcement Administration and Higher Diploma in Terrorism Studies from University of Lagos. He also obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations and Marketing from Nigeria Institute of Journalism.
Odumosu was enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on March 3, 1990 as cadet ASP and rose through the ranks.
He started his policing career as Operations Officer in Isokoko, Ketu and Satellite Divisions as well as Area D Command, Mushin, Lagos. He was the chairman, Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences, Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja. He equally served as the Officer in Charge, Pensions Office in Edo and Ogun states. He was in charge of Research and Planning Department, Kaduna State Command.
Odumosu was one time Commander, Rapid Response Squad, Lagos State Command and Area Commander, Akwanga, Nasarawa State. He was Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations, Western Ports Authority Command, Lagos and Area Commander, Agodi Area Command, Oyo State.
He was Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations, and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Administration, Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja. He was Commissioner of Police, Department of Research and Planning and Commissioner of Police (Inspectorate) and Department of Training and Development, Force Headquarters Abuja. He served as the Commissioner of Police, Edo State and later Commissioner of Police, Finance and Administration, Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja. Odumosu also served as member and Head of Enforcement Unit of the Presidential Taskforce on the Restoration of Law and Order on Apapa gridlock, Lagos.
He belongs to various professional bodies, including the Institute of Corporate Administration where he is a fellow. He is also a Fellow of International Institute of Professional Security. The Lagos police chief is an active member of International Association of Chiefs of Police and a member of Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria. He is a multiple awards winner.
Odumosu is very much familiar with Lagos terrain and there is no doubt, he will bring his wealth of experience to bear in piloting the affairs of the Command.
Onome Amawhe is an international journalist based in Lagos.