President Jonathan has publicly declared that he is the most criticized president in the world. Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati followed up with the well-circulated attack on the critics of his principal, especially the ones using the social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The truth though is that it’s not criticism all the way, as exemplified by this post on Facebook by Justin Akpovi-Esade which I find quite remarkable: “Perhaps President Jonathan’s only smartest decision till date was the appointment of the IG of police, MD Mohammed Abubakar, I really could not believe that a Nigerian police would treat me so politely as I drove home late last night. I was stopped by these guys (it was not the usual road block stops) and politely asked if there was any problem. I said no. The one close to the window asked if I had the division’s emergency number, again, I said no, and I was promptly given the number and told to drive safely. I thought I was a character in an American movie, I swear cos what happened to me could only be viewed in C&I channels ONLY by an average Nigerian. Pray, what did Abubakar do to these guys that other past IGs could not do? And to think I was vehemently opposed to his appointment at first! Pls, let the police continue like this, we are tired of living like animals. The bad eggs among them should align now or leave the force.”
The recognition given to the work of IGP MD Abubakar by the vast majority of Nigerians is an eloquent reason to still have faith in the country. Nobody can take away the fact that President Jonathan appointed IGP Abubakar. On the day of the recent Edo gubernatorial elections, I was one of a handful of analysts selected to do a live programme on the polls at Galaxy TV, Lagos. I remember one of my co-analysts arguing that President Jonathan must have upped Abubakar’s appointment from Acting IGP to a substantive one so that the now-confirmed Inspector-General would help the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rig the elections! When the results of the elections got announced with the PDP gubernatorial candidate losing his deposit as it were, it was the erstwhile nay-saying analyst who phoned me up to salute the courage of Abubakar “for being his own man.”
Not a few Nigerians have been made to change their minds on the workability of the police given the positive marching orders of IGP MD Abubakar.
It is a real change for the good that Nigerians are for once seeing a police force displaying a measure of personable certitude in its functions. When the State Security Services (SSS) curiously stepped into the murder case of Edo Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s Private Secretary Olaitan Oyerinde, the police under the astute leadership of IGP Abubakar refused to be swayed from continuing with its own investigations. The murder suspects have now been charged to court by the police as it ought to be.
The dismantling of police roadblocks had been beyond the ken of past IGPs but Abubakar pulled down the affront without the heavens falling. The fear had been that he stood to make himself unpopular with the rank and file who made a daily killing through the checkpoints. In a major twist it is there to be seen that the IGP’s men and women are dutifully following his lead. This goes to show that Nigerians can always forge ahead given the right leadership. If the police which had been written off can show signs of improvement, what institution cannot be salvaged in Nigeria?
What will ultimately stand IGP Abubakar in good stead is to understand that perception is almost always seen as reality all over the world. The paradigm shift in the police ought to be displayed to the world through comprehensive public relations. If the general public cannot grasp what is going on there would still be the cynicism that the police had not changed.
The anti-corruption crusade in the country will gain needed cubits through a thorough sanitization of the police as is ongoing now. On the evidence of what has been happening thus far there is no denying that Abubakar is poised to take the tough decisions and kick some butts. The training and re-training of the police rank and file cannot be gainsaid. Conflict management ought to be done through intelligence rather than brute force. Partnering with the community in policing will yield great dividends. It is the local populace that can tell the violators in the midst. There ought to be inter-service and inter-agency cooperation at all levels. Police work should be seamless, synergized like the Nitrogen Cycle. Thus far, IGP Abubakar has his finger on the pulse and button through his robust championing of improved conditions of service and enhanced welfare package for the police.
The knowledge is readily available that effective crime prevention and control comes through “intelligence-led policing”, as is clearly stated in the book, Policing Nigeria in the 21st Century edited by Solomon E. Arase and Iheanyi P. O. Iwuofor. There is no doubt in my mind that, as IGP Abubakar is putting the stamp of discipline on the police, Nigeria stands to reap bountiful rewards in the patriotic drive toward having a stable polity. It is my clarion cry that we should all support this fresh charge of electricity, a veritable reason to believe.