Sirens and IGP Abubakar’s bluff By Zainab Suleiman- Okino



Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, talks tough; and appears ready to take on hard and knotty issues. Hard as he tries, the rotten system we run, which can overwhelm anybody, seems to be drowning him. He started with a bang: he stopped all illegal police checkpoints and ‘toll’ collections that demean and debase the institution.

Commuters can now differentiate, because apart from military checkpoints which stretch far-flung, any road blocks mounted now, can easily be identified as the handiwork of armed robbers. However, and even with the best of intentions,armed robberies and other highway crimes have not abated. His predecessor,Hafiz Ringim was removed with fanfare, especially because of his mis(handling) of the Boko Haram riddle, but I’m not sure that Abubakar has fared any better.

When, therefore, he reiterated, last Friday in Awka, Anambra state, that officers should arrest senators who deafen our ears and cause commotion on the roads by blaring their sirens, I wonder if he was serious… or he was just playing to the gallery, again? For as long as I can

remember, there have been talks about regulating and checkmating the abuse of sirens, and there are even extant laws to that effect.

Again, as long as we can recall, this has always been breached by the power elite, who can invoke their influence, the Nigerian way, if some lowly officers dare accost them, in an attempt to enforce the laws. The IG also castigated officers who use sirens to scare citizens,

observing that the best form of policing is not in the unnecessary use of sirens. I agree with the IG especially his determination to stop his men from abusing the sirens. It’s doable in the force, but not so easy with other influential Nigerians like senators that are now his targets.

When the late John Haruna was commissioner of police in Abuja, he enforced to the letters, the Prohibition of Tinted Glass Act of 1999. So, the use of tinted glasses by motorists was banned, and there was a massive arrest and payment of fines by people who contravened the Act.

But where are we today? We still see tinted glass cars around and as it is usual with Nigeria, even when the police apprehend offenders, they merely bribe their way to freedom.

The IG equally chose to make the declaration in Awka, a state with the highest users (and abusers) of sirens. It is understandable, considering Anamba’s legendary political turmoil, which has propped up many tin-gods and kingmakers who crave VIP treatment, and which

blaring sirens can confer, albeit temporarily. In a state where millionaires are found in every home and politicians seek protection, abductors and armed robbers strike with the speed of light, it will be a herculean task for the IG to enforce the ban on sirens there. The roads have to be cleared of miscreants and would-be abductors/robbers and to prove to them that a superior power is around.

There have been cases where frightened motorists crashed and died due to the activities of our siren-blaring VIPs. In the 2000s there was a case of a newly married couple on honeymoon, that were killed in Epe by a minister’s convoy after they were driven into and crashed into a ditch. That ex-minister still walks freely in the country. He was never

prosecuted for murder or manslaughter. Judging from this experience and numerous others (reported and unreported), the IG’s statement may just be an addition to the numerous proclamations of people in government. Human life holds no value in Nigeria anymore. Healthy people are heralded with sirens; and monies transferred from one bank to the other are protected with sirens, yet humans are left to their own devices. It was a pitiable sight one day on Nyanya-Abuja road when an ambulance carrying a patient in danger tried to

meander its way through a congested three lane traffic snarl that was virtually at a standstill.

So, the IG has a long way to go. We have to re-orient our people and refocus our priorities. The big man’s syndrome has to be removed from our psyche. As long as laws are observed in the breach and no one is ever convicted of any offence, throwing talks at problems won’t take us anywhere.

 

Sarkozy’s exit and lessons never learnt in Nigeria Until the last votes were cast, no pundits in his daring exactitude could say that the outgoing French president would lose the presidential election. And this is despite the fact that Francois Hollande led in most of the pre-election polls at 56 percent. The reason is simple. Sarkozy is a political juggernaut of sort. Here is a man seen in the mould of Charles de Gaule, France’s charismatic World War 11 leader, statesman, national hero and an advocate of the free French movement.

Despite his iconic political prowess, and his famed ability to turn enemies into allies and allies into prey, if need be, Sarkozy still lost to Hollande. Not even incumbency factor which in Nigeria gives almost 100 percent advantage, could secure him a victory. Compared with France’s election and the result it produced, our election is simply a travesty of what democracy is. A sham coded in flowery language to deceive voters to believe that they are active participants in their destiny. In a country where election is not about the people’s choice, but what is now referred to as elite consensus, the same self-promoting elite simply revolve power around and among themselves. It’s soul wrenching that while democracy works elsewhere and produces the desired results, it is a vehicle to emasculate the weak in Nigeria. If Hollande fails, French people only have to wait for a few years to shove him aside.

It has been 13 years since democracy returned, but Nigerians have never been allowed to choose their leaders. Our democracy is like a relay race. The baton changes from one person to the other, but it’s the same team all along.

 

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