It is surprising how fate manifests in certain interesting, but unique way. When President Goodluck Jonathan, as he then was, suddenly sacked former Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, and appointed Solomon Arase in his place, not a few eyebrows were raised. In fact the action went beyond just a mere passing interest.
Because it came only few days after the last presidential election, which the ex-president lost, the decision naturally assumed a life of its own. Not a few believed that the president was punishing the former police boss, Abba for failing to adhere to an earlier script assigned him to rig the presidential election in his favour. Thus, the expectation was that firing Arase would be one of the first pronouncements President Buhari, would make immediately on assuming office. Some even went to the extent of believing that after, the reinstatement of Abba, was only a matter of time.
Today, it would be surprising if those who saw the development in this light would still be thinking in this manner. In fact, from all indications, the tenor of the mantra is already changing and rapidly too. The naysayers seem to have joined in singing halleluiah already, perhaps convinced that the former President’s action was not mischievous after all, but imbued by the right reasons.
Indeed, if the morning really foretells the day, Arase may just be the talisman not only Buhari, or APC, but the entire country needs at the moment to bring about the expected change everybody is talking about.
Imagine what would have been the case if Arase was not Nigeria’s number one policeman today. What do I mean? Were we not in this country when policemen locked out a set of lawmakers and prevented them from gaining access to their offices and the chambers of the National Assembly to perform their legitimate duties, thus leading to one of the most disgraceful outings in the history of the legislature in Nigeria, when lawmakers, who ought to be role models had to scale the fence to eventually access their offices? It was just a few months ago that a whole speaker of the country, the number six man in order of hierarchy in this country was stripped of his security on account of his joining another political party. Why, the police helmsman at that time told the entire nation that it was alright for the speaker to suffer such a fate because the law said so.
Yet, in spite of the outcry of almost the entire nation that it did not lie in his mouth to pronounce on an issue that should be reserved for the courts, did he budge?Whosai? Perhaps, it took the instruction of the same interest the police boss was trying to protect, to reverse the odious decision, especially as the target obviously came to no harm and even appeared unperturbed over the entire saga.
That is just one example. Before that disgraceful event, Nigerians and indeed the world saw what went on in states like Rivers and before then Anambra, some years back where policemen provided cover for arsonists who went on rampage in the state to the extent of burning down the government house, simply because it would please some powerful interests in government.
So, when President Buhari etched those eternal words across the pages of history that he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody, a police boss different from the likes of Arase would have given a lie to it so soon after that the President would have had to contend with managing the attendant embarrassment. Surely, nobody would have missed the difference.
Just one example will suffice. Up until recently, Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose was battling for his political life, following the impeachment threat hanging on his neck from the 19 APC legislators in the state. Could anyone conjecture what the picture would have been were a typical IG other than Arase been in charge?
Of course, it could have been anybody’s guess what would played out. Yet, besides not taking over the House of Assembly and clearing the way for the impeachment to become a fait accompli thereby leading to an inevitable turmoil and bloodshed, the police boss it was, who deployed a special squad to the state to contain the rising cases of kidnapping there, just as he did in the APC Edo State, a case of making equity equal to all parties.
Were it in the past, a different IG would have simply exacerbated the situation if only to ensure Fayose’s fate was finally sealed. Wouldn’t it have been a befitting gift to Buhari to deliver the governor on a platter? After all, who in this country or outside did not know the governor’s standing with APC, Buhari and his supporters before this time?
But this is the era of change. With Buhari playing the role of a statesman by refusing to kill the fly with the sledgehammer as others before him would have done, it was fitting also for the IG to up the ante.
What does this portend? Simple. The police boss having divested himself and his office from primordial sentiments and proclivities, has dared to be different and in so doing, become the change agent himself. Now, this has left him with the space to apply professionalism which the Nigerian Police has, over the years, been denied as an institution and an agent of development.
The pronouncements of the IG, since then, have become the gauge with which the future is likely to be measured. They conduce of an officer who does not only possess the right pedigree, but is imbued with the clear head to exploit his rich experience in the service and as a respected intellectual, to bring about the revolution, which many believe would transform the police architecture into a viable and robust institution Nigeria has been yearning for.
Chukwube, a media practitioner and public affairs analyst writes from Abuja