Mike Okiro: Birth of a New Order in Nigeria Police Service

No Comments » June 6th, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Mike Okiro: Birth of a New Order in Nigeria Police Service – Is this a rhetoric or cliché?

By Dr Olayiwola Ajileye MD

In the advent of the new democratic dispensation in Nigeria, President UM Yar Adua appointed in a twist,  Mr Mike Okiro as the Acting Inspector General of Police. No sooner than he was named that he rolled out 8-pronged agenda of his leadership of the Nigeria Police Force.


He listed transparency, war on corruption, crime data upgrade, training, police public relations, human rights and community policing amongst other agenda as part of the emphasis of his tenure as the Chief Security Officer of Nigeria and arrowhead of the Nigeria Police Service.


But the question many well meaning Nigerians, home and abroad, and other keen watchers of the Nigerian political theatre, would be pondering in their minds is that, have we not heard this before somewhere, sometime? What is so new about these trumpeted 8-point agenda in the 47 years history of the Nigeria Police Force? Is this not rhetoric or a Cliché? Should Nigerians be so excited about this new order in the Nigeria Police Force?


Every change of government or leadership in the country often brings about changes of personalities in our public services, often accompanied with so much sense of anticipations for positive changes for Nigerians. But the novelty of such changes and the excitement of possible turn for the better quickly pale in the background of blurred, discordant sense of purpose and commitment from the anchormen responsible for steering the ruder of change. Only a few situations and circumstances have defied this trend in the contemporary Nigerian history and Nigerians know them and applaud them.


However, in the Nigeria Police Force, it has not been a different story, we have witnessed leadership change in quick successions with brilliant opening addresses and speeches but the status quo has remained the same, largely in the conduct and attitude of the Police to their statutory duties and also in the way and manner ordinary Nigerians have related to them.


Mr Mike Okiro sounded very stern, ambitious and committed in this opening address to the rank and files of the Senior Police Officers, but the question is that do they share the same commitment with him? Do they see themselves as stakeholders in the reform goals and objectives and the 8-prong agenda? Are they willing and can they work together to deliver an effective and reliable Police service that Nigerians would be proud of? Can Nigerians expect in its entirety, a real transformation of the Police system cutting across the rank and files of the organisation? The truth is, there are many Nigerian professionals home and abroad who would want to be part of this New Police system in Nigeria, but what they hear, see and know of the Police Force has changed very little over the years.


Mr Mike Okiro has enjoyed a brilliant Police career in Nigeria with tremendous amount of experience and service in the Force. He is still part and parcel of the Nigerian system and establishment. That is the concern that makes one thinks that what appreciable difference can be made given all these 8-points agenda and speeches. The challenge for him is great, Niger Delta, Police image, discipline, integrity, professionalism, job satisfaction, police welfare, anti-corruption, rule of Law, civil right and liberty etc, so also the opportunity to make real difference in the Nigerian Psyche, home and abroad is undoubtedly in his hands, inspiring confidence in the services of the Police force, detection and investigation of Crime, protection of our citizenry, response to terrorism challenges, international collaboration and investment in infrastructure for effective policing and avenue for public complaints and audit of police activities. It is therefore, the choice he has to make, whether his words becomes the usual rhetoric or an epitome of positive professional and exemplary police leadership.


I would remind him that the current fashion and trend around the world is towards selfless and impactful service to the people, efforts that brings real and palpable changes in the immediate and longer term to the citizenry and the world at large. The trend is towards entrenching one’s name in the golden plate of human service. Will Mike Okiro follow suit? Nigerians and indeed the world watches how this plays out.


Nigerians, home and abroad, are ready to support you, we shall sing your praise and celebrate you, and we shall constructively criticise and advise you, we shall appraise your performance, form our opinions and make judgements of your effectiveness. All we want is to translate the rhetoric into real actions that Nigerians would be proud of. Improve the image of the Nigeria Police domestically, regionally and internationally, reward bravery and innovative services, lead by examples and support their families. Punish internal traitors of your policy without fear or favour; maintain consistency in your approach and command. While we watch, let not the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians of a responsive, supportive and professional police service be thrown into the ocean of history or the bin of dashed hopes. Good luck and get on with it!


Dr Olayiwola Ajileye writes from Birmingham, United Kingdom


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