When the announcement of the appointment of Usman Alkali Baba, NPM, psc, was made on the 6th of April, 2021, by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, as the 21st Inspector General of Police, he made a few pledges, one of which is to harness all human and material resources of the Force, towards improving security, safety, law and order in the country.
Today, less than six months on the saddle, the IGP seems to be keeping with his promise, as the profile of the Nigeria Police is not only pushing upward, but the position of professionalism in the service is becoming more prosperous.
Through some deliberately designed strategies, IGP Alkali and the abled members of the police management team, are identifying competence and skills of officers, whom they post to man key positions in formations, as trusted professionals.
Persons lacking in merits, or those without the requisite special ability for performance, are either encouraged to belt up, or be boxed out. Today, all the commands are doing well. The Kaduna-Abuja highway is safer. Serenity at the FHQ is at it’s highest. Staff are working under saner and safer situations. And the story everywhere is that of success.
Yes, under IGP Alkali, a new slogan has arrived in the police- belt up or get boxed out. It’s the era of enthusiasm of order and discipline.
This is boosting staff morale and rapidly restoring confidence amongst the officers and men of the police. And the results are also showing by way of improved safety and security in the country.
Through silent but coordinated collaboration with the military, the special arms of the police are recording remarkable progress in the battle with the bandits in Zamfara, Katsina and some parts of Kaduna and Niger states.
Having realized that public security issues are the biggest challenges facing Nigeria today, and the Nigeria Police Force is central to responding to those challenges, IGP Alkali made it a duty to revamp the culture of discipline, by eradicating mediocrity in service.
In addition, for synergy and success, or meaningful progress towards meeting the objectives of all the agencies, addressing inter-agency rivalry, which everyone believes is limiting the capacity of the Nigeria Police Force to effectively tackle insecurity, must be made the low hanging fruit.
No sooner than he assumed office, and while addressing a yearly ministerial retreat with the theme, “Strengthening Inter-Agency Collaboration and Organization Efficiency” in Abuja, IGP Alkali said, ‘interagency rivalry is harmful to the service and system, as the friction constitutes a major threat to internal security and national cohesion. The menace has been of concern to majority of Nigerians over the years, even though the problem is not peculiar to Nigeria’.
As a priority project of cooperation, IGP Alkali is daily cementing and smoothening the channels of communications with sister agencies, because according to him, ‘that unsavory development accounts for budgetary wastage, duplication of functions, mutual suspicion and encroachment on legal and operational space by competing agencies’.
He noted that the hostility was also exposing security agencies to public ridicule and confidence deficit in the discharge of their statutory duties.
Inspired by his determination to strengthen inter-agency collaboration in order to enhance Nigeria’s security, an NGO, Konrad Adenuer Stiftung, KAS, a German foundation, was quick to cue into his vision, with a workshop in Kano shortly after his assumption of office. The theme of the workshop was, Promoting inter-agency collaboration and conflict resolution among personnel of security agencies.
KAS assembled about 100 personnel from security agencies’ (DSS, Army, the Police, Immigration, Customs, FRSC, and the Correction Service), Departments of operations, conflict resolution and intelligence in Kano, to train and empower them on how to be sensitive to social context, conduct security analysis, utilize early warning systems, build trust with communities and collaborate with sister agencies to enhance national security.
Undoubtedly, the credit of the exercise goes to the IGP.
In his characteristic principled policy of silent but positive performance, since coming to office in April, IGP Alkali has been addressing the issue of the delay in the recruitment of more Police officers, which was caused by the clash of interests between the Police Service Commission and the Police hierarchy at Louis Edet House, with regards who is the appropriate body to conduct the exercise.
The previous police management team had a dispute with the police service commission on the recruitment exercise, the matter of which went to court. But under his polite and principled policy, the dispute had been resolved, and the recruitment of more personnel for the Force is poised to commence soon.
Beyond that, he has equally gotten the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the recruitment of 10,000 officers yearly, for the next six years, to increase the manpower in the force and contend with the current insurgency crisis.
Since the destruction of property and police facilities during and after the #EndSARS protests, and the misguided public outcry against the police, the morale of many officers was dampened, all through to the tail end of his predecessor’s tenure. But with his coming, IGP Alkali has since changed the narrative, with the slogan:
“Your welfare is being taken care of like never before, so do not commit suicide by being unprofessional”.
Yes, under IGP Alkali Baba, policing is not only getting polished, but increasingly principled and more professional.
Ibrahim, a media adviser writes from Abuja