President Goodluck Jonathan visits Police College in Ikeja, Lagos
By Chiemelie Ezeobi
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday paid a surprise visit to the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos, in a move presidency sources say was meant to pre-empt the whitewash that usually precedes the visit of top government officials to agencies.
But the grim situation the president glimpsed through his visit is said to be causing unease for police chiefs who fear there may be some harsh consequences particularly given that they had been totally kept in the dark over the unscheduled visit.
The president who was heading to Cote d'Ivoire for an Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government was said to have surprised his aides with the news that he would be visiting the Police College, Ikeja, after a stop in Lagos in order to get a first hand assessment of infrastructure at the college.
THISDAY learnt his visit was spawned by a documentary aired by Channels Television that highlighted the deplorable state of facilities at the college built 73 years ago by the colonial government.
Jonathan's determination to get an unvarnished picture of the college's state of affairs was underscored by the fact that he apparently kept the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar and the minister of police affairs, Caleb Olubolade, in the dark about his mission.
Neither the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Umar Manko, nor the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 2 which covers Lagos and Ogun states, Alhaji Mamman Tsafe, had a prior knowledge of the president's visit. The only top-ranking police personnel that witnessed the president's visit was the commandant of the college, Mr Irimiya Yerima.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Reuben Abati, hinted at the discreetness of the visit in his response to journalists' enquiries. He said: " We just left the police college. It was a surprise visit. We stopped over on our way to Cote d'Ivoire."
Abati told THISDAY that Jonathan was "visibly angry by the squalid condition he saw at the condition".
He said the president visited the hostels and classrooms and toured the premises of the college overgrown with weeds. "The president asked the commandant several questions to which he had no response. He asked him why the grass could not be cut even if the college does not receive sufficient fund. He also asked him if it's the practice for students to eat their meals in buckets as shown in the Channels' documentary," Abati said
There was, however, a mild drama at the college's field when hosts of a private wedding reception hurriedly dismantled canopies they had installed on sighting the president. At another end of the field, a party was in full swing.
Police sources say the visit which the president called a "fact-finding mission" was the first by a president since the college was built and that it would enable him address certain issues hampering the qualitative training of policemen in Nigeria's oldest police college.