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Published On: Mon, Jun 11th, 2018

Saving the Nigerian from politics

Recent events relating to the actions and image of the Nigerian Police should be of concern to well-meaning people. As the main institution of the state for the protection of lives and property and enforcement of law and order in the country, the police should not only be above politics and should be seen to be so. But a situation where the police become a subject of political suspicion and accusation of partisan politics is a danger to all.

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It is unlikely that the entire institution of the police could have a political leaning toward a candidate or party, but once the leadership is so perceived, it taints the image of the organization because as a command and control institution, the operative culture is obey-the-last-order. So most civilized societies diligently strive to separate and insulate the police from political influences.

They try to draw a distinction between loyalty to the state and serving the government because the government and its leadership come and go periodically but the state abides forever. The police are there to protect the state as well as serve the government that represents it.

In the choice of its head, in our case the Inspector General, all these issues are put into considerations; it is not just about integrity, expertise and capability. While these are all important factors, the personality of the appointee is also crucial.

To appoint somebody without the clear understanding the dual role demanded and the strong character to distinguish between this fine line of loyalty to the state and the government is to court disaster for the institution. The head of the Force should be one who would look power in the face and say, no sir! To whatever will affect the organization negatively.

Indeed, the image of the police has come under intense political scrutiny since the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Idris as IGP. Little has been associated with this IGP except for controversy. If it is not allegations of consorting with female officers, one of whom he married against Force regulations, it is allegations of sidelining his DIGs and running a parallel operation using only trusted aides and cronies; or snubbing constituted authorities, such as the National Assembly. The current investigation and media trial of Senate president Bukola Saraki epitomize the depth of descent of the police.

But the most damning perception is the one alleging that he is being used by the presidency to harass and intimidate political opposition especially those considered threats to the president. This is dangerous and reminds us of the sad days of Mr. Sunday Adewusi and President Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria fame

It was the evil liaison between the government and the police that resulted in the atrocious 1983 Landslide election victory that ultimately brought back the military led by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Unfortunately, it is under the same Buhari that the image and conduct of the police is becoming opprobrious. How history repeats itself!

When sacred institutions of state such as the military, judiciary, police etc get involved in politics, we all are in danger. But the police are so critical for the political and social health of society that politicizing it would be very sad. After the 2015 polls, Mrs. Maurilyn Ogar, spokesperson of the Department of State Security, DSS, was demoted and eventually retired for alleged partisanship; yet here we are with a more insidious spectre.

The political posture of the IGP has deeper implications for the polity: He could only be so brazen in his actions if he is already sure and convinced that the incumbent will return to power regardless; because whoever is not sure of the future would be more circumspect. Mr. Idris, the IGP, has proved time without number that he is not apolitical. Remember IGP Abba was sacked for partisan and disloyalty to a sitting president.

Loyalty to the President is not the same thing as being his errand boy and attack dog. We should not allow state institutions to be reduced to the ranka dede culture as that will endanger our democracy and enthrone the rule of man above that of law. Although we have not attained the political culture and sophistication of western democracies, like what happened between President Trump and Comey, the FBI director, we should at least try to beat ourselves.

As the chief law enforcement officer of the nation, once his political neutrality is in doubt he becomes a liability to both the government and the nation. He cannot take side in any political fight between the arms of government, for whatever reason. His threat of withdrawing police protection to the NASS is not only insulting to the taxpayers and electorate but affront to an arm of government. Can the police operate effectively without budgetary appropriation by the NASS?

The IGP must realize that Buhari is a politician, regardless of how he is perceived who is not completely altruistic; and will leave office someday. President Buhari will not be assessed by how he ran the police; it is Idris who will carry the can. It is better for him to leave the police better than he met it than leave it worse; otherwise, history will judge him harshly.

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  1. Comrade Ifenuga says:

    Succinct! I totally agree with the write-up. The police should be professional and maintain neutrality. Good one.

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