The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase would attain the mandatory retirement age of 60 in June this year, having clocked 35 years in service. As the top cop gets set to commence his compulsory terminal leave this March, ANDREW OOTA writes on the bid for Arase’s successor and the challenges before the Force.
Appointed in April, 2015 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, following the removal of Barrister Sulaiman Abba, over alleged misconduct, the current Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase Arase, will bow out of office on June 21, 2016, when he would have clocked the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.
About the same time, the Edo-born top police officer would have also served the Nigerian Police Force for 35 years.
Expectedly, with less than three months left, the jostle for who succeeds Arase has began in earnest, however, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered on good authority, that the disposition of the President Muhammadu Buhari led government does not favour open lobby for all appointments and consequent upon that fact, it has reduced the usual open lobby that characterised such appointments in the past.
Although there are strong indications that the next Inspector General of Police is more likely to come from either North-Central or South-East geo-political zone, there is another school of thought that believes that rather than focusing on any particular geo-political zone for the next IGP, priority should be placed on competence and antecedents in view of the state of insecurity in the country.
Arase might proceed on a compulsory three month terminal leave any time in the next two weeks, preparatory for his retirement in line with the extant laws.
There is also another school of thought that believes even though competence and track records of service be considered above any other consideration in the appointment of a new police boss , both the North-Central and the South-East have such qualities in the police , particularly that a chart of appointments of the service and security chiefs shows that the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff are from the North East, the North-West has the Director State Service, the South-West has Chief of Defence Staff and the South-South has Chief of Naval Staff and police IG, leaving out the South-East and North-Central.
There is yet another strong school of thought who believes that no particular geo-political zone should be considered, stressing that a competent and well educated police officer, with both international and local exposure, irrespective of where he or she comes from, should be appointed as head of the Nigerian Police Force to drive the reforms and instill discipline within the Force for optimal delivery of service.
It is important to note that the appointments of Inspectors General of Police in Nigeria, following the present composition of service chiefs , might not necessarily follow the order of seniority , which favoured the current occupant of the office because of perceived imbalances in the hierarchy. However, what must not be compromised would be competence and track records of team work, which would take the lead and provide the kind of leadership that would combat internal security challenges and also complement efforts of the military in protection of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
The need for a dynamic leadership of the Nigerian Police Force under the change mantra of the current administration is also expected to be such that would emphasize professionalism and change the public perception of the Police by ensuring that police officers and their training facilities are made better for the purpose for which the institution was established.
Aside the numerous security challenges and the need for a professional police whose headship must be creative to drive the process, there are also other challenges that call for a competent headship of Nigeria Police Force as expressed by the chairman of the Senate committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim who told LEADERSHIP Weekend that; “this is a very complex situation, which I’m still trying so hard to understand. I have had many interactions with the Police hierarchy and the problem is the issue of funding.
“The Police is not well funded to do their job. There is no enabling atmosphere for their training and orientation. Other countries invest heavily on the Police and the security forces in general. In Nigeria it is not so. These are some of the things that I have found out about the problems confronting the Nigerian Police Force.
“Let me give you a simple example, the Police is all over the 774 local governments of the federation, and what you give them as their running cost is about N4billion. If you look at that amount, you will discover that it will cost no more than N1000 to run a police vehicle for a whole month. These are big vehicles such as SUVs, which ordinarily would gulp about N4000 on fuelling alone in a day. How do you expect them to go round the whole area and do their job?
“We must accept the fact that the Police as well as other security agencies, must be properly funded. Without the funding; there is nothing anybody can do. Even the recruitment now is an issue because of funding. When he is recruited, he needs the equipment to undergo training and after that training, you have to pay him his allowances. You must also get uniform for him; you cannot just take 10,000 people just like that. I am yet to go round their training institutions, but I learnt that their institutions are deplorable. I intend to take a tour of them next week after the budget assignments. I am still gathering information about these institutions, but I tell you there is so much rot in the system.
“Put yourself in the shoe of a policeman, you leave your family at night to guard the streets running from one place to the other, the following day you do not have salary. You do not have allowances, there is no money to pay your children’s school fees, you cannot pay for his school uniform, and you do not have a place to sleep. How serious are you going to take that job?
“We must begin to look at the Police as people who are laying down their lives in order to make our lives secured; they are the ones ensuring we enjoy peace in our homes. So it is disheartening that such people are not paid their salaries and allowances at the end of the day. The police plays an important role in our lives, which all of us enjoy, be it a small man or big man, therefore the Police must be properly funded for them to deliver optimally”
He continued, “Since I took over as chairman of the Police Affairs committee, I have being talking about how to fund the Police and I have said this to whoever that would listen to me. I believe that this is the only thing, if achieved, would make the Police better. This is because I truly do not see anything anybody can do to make the Police whose responsibility is to protect and combat crime, if we cannot fund the institution.
“You have the Nigeria Police with over 3,000 personnel and you give them as little as N17billion allocation in the budget, that is so insignificant”, he declared.
Speaking on ways of making the Police better from the perspective of lawmaking, Senator Ibrahim said, “We are not just looking at a Trust Fund for the Police, but we are also looking at other sources too. I have discovered other sources, which we are making moves to talking to whoever that would listen. We want everyone to appreciate the fact that the Police needs to be better funded. For the Trust Fund, the House of Representatives has passed the Bill and I am trying to see the passage in the Senate. There are some contributions where some percentage of revenue accrual to other tiers of government is channelled into the fund, rather than just states and local governments providing assistance to them.
“ We are looking at a situation where such funds can be channelled centrally for the benefit of the Police. I am also looking at the area of cyber crime funding, which we are presently working on. This would be responsible for the prosecution of these crimes I think there is hope that we would be able to get funding sources for the Police.
“Most importantly, I want to state once more that we must fund the Police because without funding the Police, we are just wasting time. There training institutions must be upgraded, their salaries and allowances must be paid, they must be provided with the right gadgets and working tools. We are talking about the raising cases of kidnapping, but the question is, how are you going to track the kidnappers when you do not have the tracking system? You can go ahead and blame the Police, but unfortunately you do not want to blame yourself for not providing them with the right equipment,” he declared.
Suffice to say that the challenges facing the Police and policing generally, are enormous and the current situation in the country has expanded the problems beyond just attitudinal change, but a well equipped and thorough Police that would exhibit professionalism and earn the confidence of the people.
There is also a growing need for a Police headship that would drive the process of a new policing order in Nigeria, as the current Inspector General of Police bows out any moment soon, the President is expected to fortify the security apparatus of the country with the appointment of a competent, educated and one with track record as next Inspector General of Police.