By Fred Femi Akinfala
Usman Alkali Baba added: “I am mindful of the yearnings of Nigerians for a policing system that will not only assure them of their safety but treat them with civility and hold their human rights sacred. I promise to provide the highest possible level of professional and responsive leadership to meet this deserved aspiration.”
IGP Baba knows his performance must meet the prospects and desires of Nigerians clamouring reforms in the Police Force. He is determined to employ efficient methods that will deliver a professional, responsive, and an accountable Police Force. This then provides a basis for understanding IGP Baba’s renewed effort to strengthen civil-police relations. Besides, he has unfurled a12-point agenda, one of which will make rights-abusing police officers answerable for their actions.
The punishment is to deduct court awarded damages from the salary of an errant officer. To ensure diligent prosecution, stop delays, and fight abuse, the IGP has promised to deploy lawyers to police divisions and commands. They are to help with investigation and prosecution of suspects.
He has also proposed installing cameras in investigation rooms, build forensic laboratories for finger print, blood sample analysis, and DNA testing. Equally significant is the IGP’s pledge of bi-monthly auditing police cells, along with members of local branches of Nigerian Bar Association. The IGP, for his parts, said he would “provide the highest possible level of professional and responsive leadership to meet this deserved aspiration”.
Moreover, his first activity shortly after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo decorated him as the 21st IGP showed his zeal and preparedness for his new task. He had moved straight from Aso Presidential Villa to the office of Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF). Baba knows the Trust Fund is to police what water is to fish.
Established in 2019 as a special intervention vehicle, the NPTF is to finance necessary expenditures of the police force. It is also NPTF’s duty to provide funds for police personnel training and welfare. Now that we have such a person in charge, it is compelling for the public to give the new leadership a chance.
Nigerians need to trust and support him to deliver on his mandate; to secure the citizens and ensure stability of the country. It is also a time for national and sub-national governments to determinedly fund, equip, train, and properly remunerate police personnel.
The other good news is the personality leading the NPTF. Ahmed Aliyu, the immediate past deputy governor of Sokoto State, is the agency’s Executive Secretary. A seasoned accountant and administrator, Aliyu stands at a vantage position to understand and tackle the security quagmire in Nigeria. Aliyu himself was a sterling performer as Sokoto Deputy Governor.
In his management team are seasoned technocrats, and, together, they have vowed to deliver a 21-st century police force. During his visit, the IGP reportedly requested the NPTF to, among other things, renovate police barracks and build additional ones across the country. Empathy is a salient quality of a good leader. Baba has it aplenty. “It is always good to have barracks to enable us to mobilise our workforce within the shortest possible time in emergency security situations,” Baba said to the NPTF management.
Aliyu, the NPTF Executive Secretary, could not agree more. He assured the IGP of the assurances and cooperation of the NPTF Board and management to do everything humanly possible to deliver the police Nigerians desire. The NPTF has declared to work for Nigerians despite not having its own office now.
Besides, its proposed budgetary expenditure of N74billion is still hanging at the National Assembly. While the Aliyu-led NPTF and IGP’s determination to transform the police force is essential, the executive and legislature must join in.
Aside Aliyu, the NPTF also has as the Chairman of its board, Abba Suleiman. Experienced, thorough, and upright, Suleiman overseas a board composed of eminent Nigerians. With the triumvirate – Baba, Aliyu, and Suleiman, Nigeria’s police force is on the path of reclaiming its fading glories.
Fred Femi Akinfala (PhD) is Director, Human Resources and General Services, Nigeria Police Trust Fund