Recent Police Commissioners’ Redeployment: An ObservationFeatured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News, News Saturday, February 7th, 2015
Justin Chijioke Okongwu – (While I applaud the excellence of our brave men and women in the Nigerian police force, who risk their lives every day to protect lives and property in our nation, I wish to bring a singular but loaded issue to the national limelight as food for thought as well as for a necessary and immediate correction. There is no gainsaying that certain inappropriate actions, presumed to have been inadvertently or even expertly taken, could easily bastardize a long-term achievement already made in a given state by an incumbent, well-meaning and good governor of a state. Such inappropriate actions could quickly dismantle or simply put, destabilize a structure that has been firmly put in place. This very issue is with direct reference to Anambra State as a progressive state that currently has a good security framework.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state has achieved, within a few months into his first term in office, what some governors in Nigeria have not been able to achieve in their two terms in office; namely, the security of lives and property. Chief (Dr.) Willie Obiano has singlehandedly created a solid security structure that is not only the cynosure of all eyes but also has come to stay in Anambra state, making this southeastern state, once again, the “Light of the Nation.” Take it or drop it, as a governor and strong administrator, he has distinguished himself, in so many remarkable ways, giving the entire security apparatus in Anambra state a modern but spectacularly creative twist.
The recent appointment or redeployment of Mr. Dibal Paul Yakadi as the new Commissioner of Police in Anambra state by the Nigeria Police Service Commission is particularly; and of course, deeply troubling. This is much more troubling even when Mr. Hosea Hassan Karma, who in my opinion has done so well, has not lasted in Anambra state for up to six months as the commissioner of police. This type of scenario leaves me with surprise, disappointment and an altogether expected suspicion. Understandably, if Mr. Yakadi is being used for some political reasons; “to do some hidden service,” during the election period and leave the state afterwards for his own destination, it could have been a well-reasoned arrangement, provided everyone is kept in the know. But what type of service would he be doing in Anambra state, at this time, that would be helpful to the common and good citizens of our state. Certainly, not much positive development might be expected of him or a person of his ilk ever since he seemed surreptitiously entrenched in Anambra state.
The redeployment of Mr. Yakadi in Anambra is deeply troubling because of his chequered history both as a police officer and deputy commissioner of police in Anambra state. Even though Mr. Yakadi should not be blamed for every single thing that went wrong during their time in office, without doubt, he still belongs to the old regime, anyway. Also, I seriously doubt the probability that he would begin now to do what they never did during their own time in office. But even if he would improve in the positive direction and in a twinkle of an eye, I do not subscribe to the idea of using Anambra state as a state where people with his type of disposition could be trained and retrained-deployed and redeployed-for eventual police commissionership. Why punish him and the people of Anambra state? As a good citizen of Anambra state and as someone, who with this brief write up attempts to represent as much as express the thoughts of so many ordinary citizens in Anambra state, I am seriously worried that this man is coming to Anambra state again. So many good citizens of the state thought that he was long gone. They are indeed happy with the new dispensation and the beautiful security climate already created in our state. I do not have anything personal against Mr. Yakadi but Anambrarians are still reeling from the stinking aftermath of the poor performance of the previous police administration in Anambra state, of which he was strongly an influential part.
Someone might prefer to argue that Mr. Ballah Nasarawa was the commissioner of police in Anambra state during that period. However, Mr. Yakadi was his right hand man, deputy and indeed the “director of operations” a kind of, and in actual fact, the doer. But what was he up to, what was he able to accomplish in Anambra state during his long period of service in the state. He even outlasted about five commissioners of police in the state. Of course, based on his long period of residence in Anambra state, he perhaps knew every nook and cranny in the state. But was that knowledge deployed for the good of the good citizens of the state? Unfortunately, during their regime, Anambra state experienced almost the highest number of armed robbery, kidnappings, disappearances, extra judicial killings in the whole of southeastern Nigeria. We should not forget the Ezu River horrors among others. Permit me to cite a prominent Human Right’s lawyer and activist in Anambra state, who in 2013 described the previous security dispensation as “a regime of killers”. Countless numbers of Anambra state citizens had sought and found safer places of residence in surrounding states like Delta, Enugu, Imo and so forth where their commissioners of police were doing good jobs until the coming of the present administration in our state.
The inexplicable rationale that informed the promotion of Mr. Yakadi (and people of his type) to commissioner(s) of police as well as his subsequent redeployment in Anambra state is yet to be demystified. Possibly having an influential god-father at the higher government quarters, and even beyond the office of the IG, often helps but at whose expense? Of course, at the expense of the common good and well-being of the helpless citizens of any given state. Most often the official clause: “redeployment for optimal performance” is used but how could that be defined or described in this very instance. Thankfully, “optimal performance” is merely being anticipated but not predicated upon merited excellence. I would believe that pushing one’s personal agenda or maneuvering one’s way, during a conference, for the sole purpose of planting one’s arbitrarily chosen candidate to a particular state in the nation is not desirable in a true democratic society. The same is applicable to a situation where a high-ranking person gains support and approval of others to get his own candidate in; either by hook, crook, intimidation or psychological coercion all in a ‘conference’ or ‘commission’. Hopefully, that was not what happened in this particular case of the redeployment of Mr. Yakadi in Anambra state.
The complexity of policing in Nigeria may, in fact, have come to a point where the nomination and election of commissioners of police in various states could be introduced. Citizens of each state could as well be allowed to take part in the nomination and election process of police commissioners in their various states. People naturally and literally know police officers whose policies and activities have helped to increase the security of lives and property in their individual states and neighborhoods. Knowing a good policeman who loves the people as well as protects lives and property could easily be determined by simply distributing anonymous questionnaire or surveys to the citizens. It could also be decided by plebiscite; just by simply asking people to nominate their best police officers after about a period of one year; based on the officers’ sense of security, politeness, professionalism, courtesy and friendliness. The police, irrespective of rank, should, therefore, make themselves known as well as accessible to the people they serve; not only as those who care for their security and well-being but also as those who regard them as friends and compatriots.
The synopsis of this entire write-up and public petition is that Mr. Yakadi may have indeed overstayed his welcome in Anambra state. I do not think anybody would even care whether or not he is promoted to the rank of Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, early tomorrow morning, but he should have been transferred to a different state along with his colleagues. He may have privately and hugely impressed the powers-that-be but does that mean that he has also impressed the general public and the common people of Anambra state? But why ‘impose’ him on the good people of the state, especially, after the advent of a new Governor with a new vision, workable administrative and security structure that has, for now, proven to be next to none.
Interestingly, Anambra state has long ago been known and even touted as one of those affluent states in Nigeria to which police officers competitively vie to be assigned. Moreover, some people have also come to believe that those who assign them probably get something huge from them in return. What do they actually get in return and what do the assignees do in those states if that is the case? I believe that the greatest favour a god-father of a police officer, if any, could do to his favourite police officer is to put him (or her) in his hometown or state instead of exploiting the general public with a view to rewarding someone for some gifts (give and take) received from some expected gratuitous favours.
I do believe that it behooves the Nigerian Police Service Commission to redress whatever may have gone wrong in this recent and latest redeployment of commissioners of police for the good and well-being of the good people of Anambra state.
Justin Chijioke Okongwu (JC) writes from Onitsha, Anambra state
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