Usman Alkali Baba: Deepening Community Policing, By Issa Aremu

I congratulate Mr Usman Alkali Baba, former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, (force criminal investigation department, police headquarters), who was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to replace Mohammed Adamu Nigeria’s 20th indigenous Inspector-General of Police (IGP). And through the new Acting IGP, I salute the former Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu for an eventful activist tenure at this time of critical national security challenges of varying dimensions. At the historic handover ceremony, on Wednesday 7th of April, the Ag IGP exhibited remarkable humility just like his predecessor to accept that the deserved elevation “ to head the largest Police Force in Africa both in terms of personnel profile and operational jurisdiction is ….more than a fulfillment of destiny” . “It is a call to national duty, particularly, at this critical time that our nation is experiencing increasingly complex and pervasive security threats occasioned by terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, secessionist agitation and sundry highly organized crimes” he said. I agree with him that “the Nigeria Police is endowed with some of the finest, courageous and patriotic officers who, undoubtedly, shall support me to advance the internal security vision of Mr. President.” He is actually an epitome of the police endowment. Mr Usman Alkali Baba is certainly eminently positioned for the new responsibility. He is a multiple degree holder from Bayero University, Kano, and the University of Maiduguri. Having enlisted in the Police Force on 15th March 1988 over the years he had the benefit of “all mandatory courses at various ranks including extra courses like investigation, insurgency and counter-terrorism and traffic management, Baba commendably rose from the rank of a police officer to IGP. He served in various commands: Kaduna state and FCT as Deputy Commissioner, served-in , Investigation, and was also in the college as a directing : in Ilorin as an Area Commander, the second-in-command in Ebonyi, Assistant Commissioner, CID in Kaduna, and before then he was DPO (Divisional Police Officer) in various places like Yola, Gombe, Kaduna, and Jos. The new IGP is a fellow of the National Defence College (NDC) and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He has also “facilitated several professional workshops”. As Nigeria attains 60 plus years of independence, more than ever before, Internal security (IS) is the critical success factor for Nation – building. The point cannot be overstated that at the heart of Internal security (IS) is Nigerian Police. 1999 constitution envisages security and welfare of citizens as the primary purpose of governance. President Muhammadu Buhari commendably also priorities Internal security among his 3-point agenda that include anti- Corruption and Economic Recovery. There is no doubt that the outgoing Inspector General of Police “laid a solid foundation and entrenched a culture of professional efficiency in the Force”. Remarkably Usman Alkali Baba, the Ag IGP was part of the Management team of the former IGP.

These will stimulate me in my capacity as the new Acting Inspector General of Police, to strengthen ourstrategies and provide the requisite leadership that will change the narratives in relation to our operational approach to the current security threats. In a record time, IGP Mohammed Abubakar Adamu initiated remarkable innovations and changes in the Force. Operation Puff Adder, supported by other tactical police departments led to mass arrest of criminals, recovery of firearms and stolen vehicles, and rescue of thousands of crime victims. He also initiated steps to promote peoples’ ownership of policing by engaging with the state governors and other stakeholders through various “regional” security summits across the different geopolitical zones in the country. In the wake of #ENDSARS protests, Nigerians acknowledged and commended the disbandment of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector-General of Police, as a mark of sensitivity to some excesses of few operatives. Nigeria marks 21 years of uninterrupted democratic process. Central to democracy are periodic elections and bye elections. Nigeria Police force had in the past two decades worked assiduously to ensure free and credible elections despite the challenges of electoral violence occurred by some political overturn . The most recently celebrated credit to Nigerian Police was the concluded successful Edo and Ondo State elections. Community policing (CP) is a relatively novel complimentary approach to overcoming the challenges of insecurity. Mr Mohammed Abubakar Adamu was a passionate driver of Community Policing ( CP). The concept of Community Policing is long dated. But he passionately tirelessly ensured the vision translates into a practical framework with the subsequent approval of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Ag IGP has commendably agreed to deepen community policing. Considering the limited strength of personnel at the disposal of the Nigeria Police Force, a practical way for protection of life and property is democratization of policing through Community Policing. There is the need to democratize policing such that policing reflects public concerns and priorities.

The current security challenges are legacy problems arising from long of military dictatorships which not under underdeveloped Nigeria but deliberately underfunded and incapacitated the police force as an indispensable institution for sustainable internal security.

For a successful implementation of Community Policing concept nation- wide, it is imperative for both members of the Nigeria Police Force and the communities to grasp the general framework so as to give them mutual understanding on how to work together. Members of the Police Force must therefore understand Community Policing Concept. It is imperative that the public and critical stakeholders also appreciate the role expected of them in the overall scheme.

In each Zone, there was profound appreciation of your leadership in promoting Community Policing. More than IGPs, you have been singled out as a passionate driver of the principle of Community Policing in addition to other initiated steps aimed at peoples’ ownership of policing such as engagement with the state governors and other stakeholders through various “regional” security summits across the different geopolitical zones in the country. Notwithstanding the challenges of security nation wide, most Nigerians are desirous of peace and stability as precondition for . Separatists, kidnappers, and insurgents are exceptional few out players that must be isolated in the communities. With increasing that policing is a collective responsibility, I bear witness that most Nigerians appreciate the commendable efforts of police men and women. There must therefore be a shift from the traditional reactionary method of policing to a proactive method such that the Community will be actively involved in the process of crime-fighting and maintenance of peace, law and order.

The Police must be well-resourced, well-equipped with the necessary facilities to reflect global technological best practices with respect to security. Members of the force should be re-oriented, better trained, adequately remunerated, motivated and accorded dignity in order for them to offer patriotic services to the citizens. Policemen are working men and women who must be well paid. The Wages and Salaries Commission should quickly implement the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on this.

Crime and criminality in society have strong correlations with quality of governance. There is the urgent need for mass employment for the youths as a sustainable solution to rising crime rates.

Issa Aremu mni