Warns voters against violence
As the gubernatorial election in Ondo state gets closer, all eyes are focused on security agencies to ensure that it will be devoid of violence. The police, in particular, have re-assured the people of a free and fair election. Bolaji Salami, the police boss in the state has been a tested and gallant officer who had excelled in many professional callings before coming to the state. Speaking with our Crime Editor, Emma Nnadozie on the forth-coming election in the state, the police boss promised that it will be the most peaceful ever experienced in the state. He however cautioned voters not to be violent. Excerpts:
What has been your experience in fighting crime in Ondo State?
I must be sincere, Ondo State as I see it has the lowest crime rate in the entire South West geo-political Zone. And I think this is due to the cooperation of the people with the Police Command. The Police are fully on ground and its presence is felt in every nook and cranny of the State. It is therefore difficult for criminals to wreak havoc as it is the case with some other states in the country. We believe in community policing and this is of greater advantage in the fight against crime.
What are the major challenges so far?
I think one major challenge of the Nigeria Police is the people, and this is not peculiar to Ondo Police Command alone. Once we have the backing and support of the people at all times, it will be easier to fight crime. But having said this, insufficient logistics is another challenge, and this is why we always seek the support of well-meaning Nigerians to aid our functions, understanding that government alone cannot foot all our bills. To me, the moment the people own the Police, then our problems are almost solved.
How have you been tackling the challenges?
In my own case, I believe in the people, I believe in the government and I believe in my officers and men. And with this cooperation, it is easy to surmount my challenges in policing the State.
Election in the state is very close, what challenges do you envisage?
Whether there is election or no election in Ondo State, my primary concern is to effectively police the people and the state. And even now that we are expecting an election, my priority is to provide well-planned security architecture for the entire processes and period of the election. The command under my supervision is adequately prepared to provide that solid policing of the process, and ensure the election is remembered as one of the most peaceful ever experienced in the history of Ondo State.
How have you been coping with politicians in the state, especially in the area of neutrality?
I understand myself and my calling, first as a police officer and never a politician. My duty is to provide adequate security to the state, the people, and this include all politicians that Ondo State can boast of for now. So, if you are asking how my relationship with them is, I can as well say, it is very cordial because I am the one serving them.
In the recent past, the former Deputy Governor challenged police neutrality. May we know what happened and how were you able to surmount it?
The Deputy Governor of the state never had any confrontation with me. My encounter with him that very night was on a Hilux vehicle, not on a personal level and I went to meet him at the Government House gate after his call on me. What you heard or saw was a misunderstanding created by the social media. But the moment there was an amicable resolution of that misunderstanding, we continued as master and servant. And to this day, our relationship has never waned.
What advice do you have for politicians and voters in the state?
Follow the elections procedures with all diligence. Avoid those things that call for embarrassing situations in the process. Play the game within the ambit of electoral guidelines and the laws of the land; caution your followers not to be violent and you will remain a friend of the police.
Generally, how would you describe the state in the area of crime?
I must confess, Ondo State is a blessed state in all ramifications. In the area of education, I could say it is top on the list, and in the area of security and crime it is one with the lowest crime rate in the entire country today. And this is because the people are well informed in all area of human endeavors.
What are you doing to boost the morale of your men and how do you check their excesses?
I am more of a father to them all, even to those that are within my age group by the reason of my position as the Commissioner of Police in-charge the Command. And as a father, I have a simple concept; do as I do, not as you think; because as a father, I should be the first role model for them all. I practically lead by example, and this is what true leadership entails. When anyone performs exceptionally brilliant and successful, there is a commendation for his exemplary character and performance, and when anyone does the dishonorable, he is instantly admonished. You know, this is a regimented organization.
Specifically in the area of kidnapping what have you done so far?
I have always made people understand that we are very lucky to have the kind of proactive policing system in Ondo State that is second to none. If you look at our proximity with some states in the country, you will realize that there is no kidnapping in Ondo State. With lurid stories coming out from some of these neighboring states, yet we could sleep with all eyes closed in Ondo State. However, we are not ruling out that some of the times there could be fallout from these states into Ondo State; but what is important to me is that every time they (kidnappers) stray into Ondo State, they are immediately driven out,