The new Acting Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba may have a long list of what he needs to do to gain the trust and support of Nigerians.
Usman Baba, who has a long list of experience serving in various geopolitical areas of the country, has been for many Nigerians unexpectedly announced as the new Nigerian police chief very troubled and beaten by the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi Tuesday. .
According to the minister, Baba’s appointment was taken by President Muhammadu Buhari, who is absent in London for what the presidency says is a “routine” medical check-up.
There is no doubt that the new acting IG comes at a time when the police are desperate to reinvent themselves due to the crisis brought on by the #ENDSARS protests in October 2020 and the ongoing crippling insecurity in different parts of the country. . Police are also currently beset by vicious attacks by gunmen in the geopolitical areas of the south-east and south-south, with the attack and burning of the Imo State Police Command in Owerri that comes off like a sore thumb.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, briefly decorating Baba, said nothing to tell him that he was assuming leadership of the force at a critical time.
Osinbajo said, “You are taking office at a very turbulent time in the lives of our people. There are multiple threats to law, order and public safety.
“The role of law enforcement, especially the police force as the main body responsible for maintaining law and order, has never been more important.
“The police are our institution of first resort, the first line of defense against crime and lawlessness, and the first sign of state strength.”
The vice president also told the acting IGP that the challenges would certainly test him.
The serious challenges facing police in the country, however, may not be foreign to the new police chief, as he made him a passing reference on Wednesday, shortly after his predecessor, Mohammed Adamu, handed him over. at the headquarters of the force.
He said: “You will see an improvement from where my predecessor left. I arrived at a very difficult time. I know that. I recognize that and will work on how to improve myself where my predecessor left.
“I was a member of the management team. We have tried to do our best, but it is not enough. There is room for improvement.
“Nigerians should expect the security situation to improve. And Nigerians should also collaborate and cooperate with us. With all the shortcomings we have, we still demand that everyone be a part of the police service in this country.
Speaking further, Baba said he knew the expectations of Nigerians, promising to create a police force that would make human rights central.
Nigerians, however, called on the new interim IGP to urgently bring about the promised improvement in respect for human rights, discipline, anti-corruption and bribery by officers and men. of strength and well-being. saddle.
According to them, it will be assessed on the basis of the immediate needs of the population, and not on anything else.
Tunde Kosoko, a film director, believes the new police chief has a tough job in the security arena, insisting that the police have so far abandoned the task of securing the country to Nigerians, who have now started to self-help. According to him, if Usman Baba were able to provide immediate security thanks to the police, he would have won the hearts and admiration of Nigerians.
“Insecurity is the biggest threat to Nigerians and Nigeria as a country. Nowhere is safe and the police have continued in recent times as if they are helpless or overwhelmed. The new Acting Inspector General undoubtedly has a daunting task in ensuring that Nigerians can sleep with both eyes closed, Nigerians can hit the road and travel to any part of the country without praying to get to their destination. and become an addition to the growing list. victims of kidnapping or attacked and killed by marauding bandits and insurgents.
“Securing Nigeria and Nigerians is urgent if the country hopes to develop economically. As it stands, insecurity is negatively impacting economic activities as Nigerians now think twice before going about their business, especially those that require travel. In my profession, we make a lot of trips between the South-West, the South-East and the South-South. But if you invite me now for your film project outside of Lagos and I can’t fly there, I’m going to have to think twice. It’s so bad, ”Kosoko said.
Retired police officer Aniette Akpan, in conversation with DAILY POST, believes that if the new police chief can take care of the welfare of the police, most of the rots he faces will be minimized the closest.
“People continue to complain to the police, especially when it comes to bribes and other vices, but they have not admitted that these people are working in extreme conditions. What is the salary of a gendarme or even an inspector? They are people with families and when you think about the cost of living in the country and the need to take care of their families and educate their children, you will understand that they must have worked miracles. I was there before and I know what it feels like.
“The condition of the barracks is also a horror. Sometimes I wonder how human beings survive living in such environments. Even the inhabitants of the villages are not exposed to the kind of rotten and degrading environments in which the country’s police officers live. Something must be done urgently to improve their living conditions and save the force if the Nigerians and the new acting IGP hope to see something different and applause, ”Akpan said.
Also responding to a question about his expectations from the police chief, Chief Asiwaju Akerele, a real estate consultant, said Usman Baba should learn lessons from the #ENDSARS protests and subsequent riots in the construction of ‘a police force that respects human rights, in particular the right of young people to express themselves fully without being unduly harassed under the pretext of being fraudsters.
According to him, most of the mistrust of Nigerians towards the police at the moment is their keen sense in the management of the civilian population.
“The new IGP must ensure that its officers and men strictly respect the provisions of the law with regard to the rights of the people. The law says that even suspects are held innocent until found guilty by a competent court. But here in Nigeria, before you even get arrested, the police threaten everyone like criminals. For them, anyone they have any suspicion of is a criminal who should be treated as such, even if there are no reasonable grounds for it.
“The revelations of the various police brutality panels across the country bear witness to this, and the sooner the IGP puts an end to this, the better for the force and the country. This is because the Nigerian people already know that they are not powerless in the face of a brutal police force and that they can in fact call their bluff and shut down the country, putting pressure on the aggressors. But surely Nigeria can’t afford another #ENDSARS episode anymore, so IGP Baba must do all it can to reinvent the police with a new focus that emphasizes not only the rights of Nigerians but also suspects. Baba must make police brutality a thing of the past, ”Akerele said.
Mazi Okechukwu, a security guard at a federal government maritime agency in Lagos, believes the new IG must make discipline of its officers and men a top priority. According to him, one of the major problems of the police in Nigeria is the lack of discipline, which he says has affected their professionalism over the years.
“I am a security guard and I can tell you that the police mainly suffer from a lack of discipline. Visit any police formation and do the same with any branch of the military and compare the two. They are worlds of difference. In fact, you cannot compare them. There is hardly any discipline and because of this professionalism has been seriously affected. So, the new man must consciously instill discipline to create a professional police force, ”Okechukwu said.