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Nigeria: Leadership, Not the Police, Has Failed - Even On Boko Haram

9 March 2010

By Abdulrahman Muhammad Dan-Asabe

Finally, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) has admitted the failure of one of its own institutions, the Police Force. This shameful and overdue admission by FG was conveyed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, by the Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Lame, according to The Punch, 5 March 2010.

According to Lame, the FG is displeased with the Police Force because of: too much extra-judicial killings, current rate of crime across the nation, human rights violation, robberies, high profile assassinations and deliberate failure to comply with government directives, amongst others. All these, the Minister added, are despite increment in salary and increase in the capital budget of the Police Force.

By coming public with this damning assessment of the Police Force, one would have thought that the FG would, at least, demand from the Police Force an immediate and comprehensive time-based plan for addressing the issues raised (and for possible FG support) without further delay. An employee must be listened to, given needed tools and fully supported throughout the course of discharging his/her duty before (s)he may be condemned as incompetent.

Anyone with the above view is sure to be thoroughly disappointed by the government’s vague and empty threat to the Force. Hear what the Minister had to tell the Force: “The police high command should rise up to the challenge, failing which government would be left with no option than to find an appropriate solution it deems fit”. (Emphasis mine).

The above has once again demonstrated the un-seriousness and incompetence of our so-called leaders. Why wait until tomorrow to do what can be done today? Perhaps the FG has given the Police Force until when there are no more innocent people left to be killed before finding its so-called “appropriate solution”? And how does the head(s) of a government institution that has failed in its primary assignment (of providing security), failed again to comply with government directives be allowed to remain in office? The answer to this question is simple and obvious: it is not just the Police Force that has failed; leadership in all aspects of the nation has failed.

Lame’s claim that increment in salary and increase in the capital budget of the Police Force should have changed the force for the better is rather comical, in Nigerian context. When has increase in salary or in capital budget resulted in better performance of any kind in any FG establishment in Nigeria? Has huge oil revenue to the nation and to the PDP government resulted in better power supply, or water supply, or better health care services to the people? What has changed for better? What has the eye-popping and mind-boggling salaries that politicians and political office holders award themselves (forget corruption and outright thievery that they engage in) achieved in the past ten years of pseudo democracy in Nigeria?

The FG public accusation of the Police Force is akin to “the pot calling the kettle black”. These are a bunch of people who could not fulfill their own campaign promise of declaring a state-of-emergency on power supply nor fulfill their later days promise of delivering a mere 6000MW of power supply to the nation. There is no power, no water, no roads and no security of any kind for the ordinary person. Worst of it all, the future of the nation is being systematically and deliberately compromised through these so-called leaders’ cavalier attitude towards public education, training and employment of the youths.

In any case, the government should know that ordinary Nigerians are not deceived into thinking that this belated vague threat to the Police Force is done out of genuine concern for their plight in the hands of the Police. It is the superpower of the Internet and the ubiquitous camera-phones (mobile-phones with cameras) that has made it more difficult, if not impossible, for these gory crimes by the police to be swept under the carpet as usual. Why did the government have to wait until pressured by the western leaders to act, following the recent gory pictures of police extra-judicial killings of civilian members of Boko Haram shown on global media such as AL-JAZEERA and some blog sites?

That the government is only now coming to the realization that the Police Force is rotten is a clear manifestation of the quality of leadership the nation has been bedeviled with. Nevertheless, we will keep a close watch to see what concrete changes follow.

By Abdulrahman Muhammad Dan-Asabe, Ph.D. Ningbo, P. R. China muhdan@yahoo.com



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