President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday, declared that the June 12, 1993 presidential election widely acclaimed to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abiola, remains a watershed in the nation’s political history.He also identified the promotion of indiscipline as well as the elevation of mediocrity as some of the reasons Nigerians don’t have respect for the police.
The President spoke Wednesday while swearing in the Chairman and members of the newly-confirmed Police Service Commission (PSC) led by a former Inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro, at Aso Rock Villa.
“Today is also a unique day (June 12), a date that has changed the political history of this country in one way or another. In some parts of the country, some state governments have declared public holiday to mark today but at the centre, it has not been formally recognised as a public holiday. We appreciate what happened on this day, that you are being inaugurated on this date, I think is a unique date.”
According to Jonathan, “you will agree with me that Nigerians don’t have so much confidence in the police but Nigerian police are good. The Nigerian Police that work outside under United Nations (UN) are highly honoured, highly commended and Okiro will agree with me. But once we come back home, that is not reflected in what we do.”
The President recalled that in the wake of the Police Headquarters bombing in 2011, some people, whom he declined to mention their names, advised him to sack a lot of police officers from Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs) and above, but that he declined to do so.
In his words, “I did not sack any because of that incident but that was the advice I got: that ‘if you do that, subsequent people that would be posted there will sit up. How could the police allow their headquarters to be bombed by a very local group called Boko Haram.’”
He insisted that “one of the responsibilities of the Police Service Commission is to instill discipline. Another thing I believe is that people who have no merit to certain ranks are being promoted to those ranks. One of your responsibilities is to handle promotion. I believe with you, only those who merit or deserve promotion should be promoted. Those who deserve to be disciplined or even dismissed must be disciplined.”
Citing the example of the Nigerian Immigration Service, the President said he was shocked to discover recently through intelligence report that five out of six top officers whose names were forwarded to him for consideration for the position of the Comptroller-General of Immigration ought to have been dismissed from the service for misconducts.
Jonathan said, “Among them, only one is qualified to even stay and serve, others ordinarily are supposed to be dismissed from the records. And I believe that the story of Immigration is the same with most of our services. I believe that is why the performance of some of our military and para-military officers is abysmal. Because the yardstick being used for promotion is not based on competence, merit and performance.”
The President then directed the PSC to look into the area of promotions in the police and directed that anyone from the rank of assistant police commissioner and above who did not deserve the rank should be retired because according to him, “it is better for you not to have enough manpower than for you to have viruses and all kinds of characters in the police force.”