The news that broke last week concerning the Nigeria Police Force was different from the type Nigerians have become accustomed to. This time it was a good one about officer Julius Adedeji, a police superintendent with the Ekiti State Police Command.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), known for its thoroughness and integrity -singled out Officer Adedeji from among his colleagues for policing with integrity. Officer Adedeji was found to be one Nigeria police officer who has never soiled his hands with bribe taking since joining the force.
Officer Adedeji’s high moral standard and professionalism so impressed the BBC that it honoured him with an award as the most dedicated Nigerian police officer. Though the details and the process through which Adedeji emerged have remained with the BBC, what is clear is that he emerged through a naming and shaming campaign of the British media house.
The naming and shaming campaign is a kind of sting operation which media houses conduct insome countries to help expose and stem the activities of deviants by publishing their names, especially if they are convicts in the crime. Apart from discouraging such named and shamed people from going back to the crime, it is a media alert that warns the public and neighbours to beware.
We are pleased to learn that people like Superintendent Adedeji still exist in the cesspool we know as the NPF.
Curiously, while Adedeji is being celebrated by Nigerians for his international recognition, his employer, the NPF, has maintained a studied silence.
That is understandable. The NPF knows that a moral pass mark for just one person in a force of about 371,800 personnel is a sad commentary.
For the NPF and even the country, there is nothing to celebrate about the institutional failure Adedeji’s honour exposes.
For the NPF, the fact that one officer is celebrated for performing his duty according to the rulebook is itself a serious indictment and a reality check.
But the good news for all of us with the Adedeji story is that of renewed hope that beauty can still emerge from the present ashes.
The silence which the NPF has chosen over Adedeji’s honour is therefore nothing but a path of self preservation. The NPF can, however, make the most of the situation by seeing it as a wake-up call to begin a self cleansing programme that will restore its tattered image.
We celebrate Officer Adedeji because he chose not to tread the path of others in the NPF. Again we celebrate him because he earned an international laurel which no other officer of the NPF has earned in its 198 years of existence, but more importantly because the laurel touches the very core of the problem that has so vastly diminished the NPF as an institution and its officers and men.
Officer Adedeji today symbolises light in the dark tunnel that his organisation has become for many who have had cause to interact with its men. Not just the police, all institutions and Nigeria as a nation need many more Julius Adedejis and should make conscious efforts to groom and reward them.
If Officer Adedeji has successfully resisted to join the train of bribery and corruption in the police from his early days as a constable till now that he is a superintendent, we have little fear that he would continue in this trajectory that has brought him honour and fame.
He is now a living testimony to the maxim that good name is better than gold and silver. He was even surprised to be nominated for the award because he never knew his character was on the radar.
The purity of Adedeji’s professional character and the international recognition he got for it is a refreshing development in the NPF that is home for bad news from bad eggs.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last August released a report which put the NPF as the most corrupt institution in the land. In its 2017 National Corruption Survey, the NBS said 46.4 per cent of the Nigerian population had “bribery contact” with police officers that year.
Then three months later, in November, a report by the World Internal Security and Police Index International (WISPI), which had conducted its survey in 2016, rated the Nigeria Police Force as the worst in the world when it comes to discharging its core mandates.
The report was released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a non-profit organisation that brings together scholars, experts and researchers concerned with security issues from all over the world.
The WISPI assessed police in 127 countries on the four key areas of capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes. The NPF ended up at the rear in all the four indices with a total score of 0.255, coming behind Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Uganda.
Bad as some of the local and international assessments of the NPF have been, only the Nigeria police authorities contest them, the people don’t.
No Nigerian needs a survey to agree that officers and men of the NPF hardly lift a finger without first demanding a bribe. Police in developing countries are no doubt notorious for taking bribes but we are yet to here of any other police in the world apart from that of Nigeria which mindlessly shoot citizens for refusing to give bribe or for not having to give. The police’ process of self-reinvention must begin from within; it must wean itself of the lame reasoning that the police is a product of the society it operates in.
“Let the change begin with the police,” should rather be its clarion call. The change the society desires can indeed begin with the police.
Superintendent Julius Adedeji has amply proved it.
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