BY OUR EDITORS
Nigerians received the news of the appointment, by President Muhammadu Buhari, of a new inspector- general of police (IGP) in the person of DIG Usman Alkali Baba, with measured surprise. Essentially so because his predecessor in office, Mohammed Adamu, had still one month left in his extended tenure.
The minister of police affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, who disclosed this, said the appointment was with immediate effect. Actually Baba has since assumed his new office, having being decorated with his new rank by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The newly appointed IGP is coming at a time when there has been an onslaught on police operatives and stations in parts of the country with the most recent being in the South South and South East. The attack in Imo State was very daring and is considered a direct affront to the Nigeria Police Force.
No doubt, insecurity in the country is at its all-time high with every section of the country experiencing one challenge or the other. With Insurgency in the North East, banditry in the North West and North Central, kidnapping and cultism in the South West and South South and the rising insurgency in the South East, no region is exempted from the threat to life and property. It is axiomatic that internal security is the purview of the police.
But seemingly overwhelmed in recent years, the military has virtually taken over that challenge.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, the problem with the police is systemic. We recall that in 2017, World Internal Security and Police Index International (WISPI) disclosed that Nigeria has the worst police force in the world. The 2016 report rated the Nigeria Police Force the “worst” globally in terms of its ability to handle internal security challenges.
With this in mind and as the IGP mounts the saddle, we are compelled to suggest that he activates the process of reforms within the force as a matter of priority. Without a holistic reform of the police force, in our view, the country will continue to go round in circles. He should also review the police recruitment process to ensure that misfits, cultists and political thugs do not find their way into the force.
Besides, the country is still smarting from the EndSARS protest which was a protest against police brutality. Despite the scrapping of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), reports of police brutality and misconduct still persist. The impression this reality creates in the minds of the citizens is that the police have learnt nothing and have forgotten nothing.
The IGP should, therefore, ensure that police officers, the rank and file are trained and retrained in a manner that would improve their conduct and operational effectiveness and efficiency. The image of the police has been badly battered and needs a forensic cleansing. There is always mutual suspicion and mistrust between the police and the citizenry, which ought not to be.
Again, the decrepit state of police barracks across the country is a reflection of the status of the welfare available to the men and women of the force. That also means that the wellbeing of members of the force is an area the new IGP must pay more than a passing attention.
Security experts are of the opinion that part of the challenges the police face has to do with paucity of funds. As much as we are wont to argue that the force deserves to be better equipped, it is also pertinent to point out that the force is its own worst enemy.
The pervasive misuse and abuse of available resources make it almost difficult to accept that mere infusion of funds will change the narrative in their favour. It will not. Regardless, we are persuaded to urge the federal government to increase funding to the police so as to remove that as an excuse for near incompetence. The fund is required for the provision of modern technology needed to tackle rising crimes and criminality.
Interestingly, the new acting IGP appears well prepared for the task ahead. He boasts of an impressive résumé which includes a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) and a BA (ED) in Political Science. Born in 1963, acting IGP Baba joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1988 as an assistant superintendent of police (ASP).
He is a fellow of the National Defence College and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He was also acting DIG in-charge of Finance and Administration and Force Secretary. Until his recent appointment, he was DIG Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID).