The 18th Inspector General of Police, Solomon Ehigiator Arase, came on board at a very precarious moment when the police force was grappling with issues of low budget, poor morale, corruption, increase in crime rate, poor remunerations, welfare package, ill-trained, ill-motivated and insufficient manpower.
Thoroughly angry with the plethora of problems, but with a clear understanding of the operational framework and a remarkable propensity to bring about new and appropriate perspective at providing ideas and solutions aimed at redeeming the already battered image of the force, over the years the new IGP moved to change the story, as great accomplishments in history are always championed by great men who think outside the box.
The IGP and men of the police have now all agreed that the days of jamboree are over and that the force under his watch will tackle criminality head-long in collaboration with other security agencies. Tagging corruption and lawlessness by officers as aberration, the IGP set the pace for the new change and tide we are now witnessing today. True to type, the reformist and change agent with a revolutionary touch to solving the age-long challenges in the force, initiated intelligence based policing as the surest way of ridding the society of crime and criminality in line with institutional best practices, and this explains the great achievements being recorded today.
Arase undertook milestone reforms, and established a state- of- the-art technical intelligence platform which restored the force as the most strategic intelligence agency in the internal security architecture of the nation. Coupled with the prevention of abuse of pre-trial detention by officers, he comprehensively over-hauled and reorganised the prosecution and investigation departments of the force, deploying and making qualified lawyers take full responsibility for the prosecution of all criminal cases investigated by the force. The Inspector General had also revived the moribund premier police detective college at Oji River in Enugu State, which had been comatose for years, with appropriate modern technology for capacity development of high calibre professionals.
To safeguard lives and property of Nigerians, who ply highways from one destination to another, he had put in place patrol vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, code-named “safer highways,” and road blocks have now become a thing of the past.
To effectively stamp out corruption by officers, he introduced a welfare package where the ranks and file on patrol are given a special allowance to boost their morale while their patrol cars are fuelled from designated filling stations close to the divisional headquarters.
Training and re-training have become a cardinal focus of the Inspector General of Police, as the police training colleges have been up-graded and equipped to taste and best standards while officers and men of the Nigeria police force are daily undergoing training to increase their skills.
With the state of terrorism globally, the Inspector General as an advocate for grassroots policing as a better means of keeping the nation safe, enacted the community policy initiative also known as the community and intelligence partnership approach, which has given rise to the aggressive advocacy and sensitisation of the traditional rulers and other opinion moulders at various levels of community on confidence and trust building mechanism to bring the people closer to the police and counter the belief that “most informants become victims” and a “friend becomes a suspect.”
There is no gain-saying the fact, that the Inspector General is walking the talk, and has initiated a comprehensive and objective restructuring of the force to reflect the dynamism and complexities of today’s global police in the 21st century.
He has launched the social media platform for swift response to distress calls and complaints by citizens called the Nigeria Police Force Complaint Response Unit (CRU), a 24/7 platform, which greatly addressed the social disconnect between the public and police.
True to his word, recently the Inspector General of Police launched the police housing scheme in partnership with the private sector, where police officers, ranks and file now have their own houses through mortgage payments at affordable rate. This noble initiative of the leadership, have improved the morale of the police and had also motivated them as it has rekindled their sense of duty, patriotism and sense of belonging to the oath of allegiance sworn to by the officers. The 18th Inspector General of Police, reiterated that his main focus will be the upgrade of the welfare of members of the force, echoing that motivation was key to increased productivity. He has¬¬¬¬ therefore, initiated the police scholarship scheme, the police group life assurance scheme and the Nigerian Police Group personal accident insurance scheme for the officers, rank and file of the police force dead or living.
So far, about 57 police personnel have benefited from the police group life assurance recently, while eight fallen officers’ next of kin received over N3 million. At the event, the Inspector General emphasised that the purpose of the schemes is to enhance the welfare of officers and men of the force, dead or injured in the course of their selfless service to their fatherland, and to ameliorate the sufferings of their immediate family members, or next of kin.
As Arase guides his loins to revamp the Nigeria Police Force, a lot of salient achievements and milestones had been achieved. The establishment and development of the model police stations across the country with 37 police commands including the FCT. It has also broken the glass ceiling in the annals of police by the appointment of the first female force public relations officer. He also organised a two day workshop for public relations officers of the force from all over the country to chart a new course and road-map in police/public crisis management.
He has also instructed the officers to visit community schools to inculcate into the youths the need to live a crime-free life, and shun drug abuse. As part of his agenda to take the institution to the next level, and knowing full well the role the media plays in developing nations, he commissioned a press centre at the force headquarters. This, according to him, will enable journalists to cross-check their stories before filing them to various media houses, a paradigm shift from the old order to the new indeed.
– Omoba wrote from Abuja.