Salute To A Super Cop

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Lekan Fatodu
It should have been known to all by now that power has effectively changed hands at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force. President Muhammadu Buhari has just announced the appointment of Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Ibrahim Idris as the new (acting) Inspector General of Police, to replace the retired Solomon Arase.

Arase, who was appointed IGP by former President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2015, attained the mandatory retirement age of 60 on June 21. And it was just the right time for him to leave the force where he has served for 35 years.

Many had thought that in a politically and ethnically divided country like Nigeria, it wouldn’t be too long before Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party that took over power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by President Jonathan would show Arase the exit door. Afterall, we have seen such happen at different levels of political leadership in the country where change of power led to the dumping of viable talents from previous administrations.

Hence, Buhari deserves kudos for allowing Arase to serve under him till the date of the police chief’s retirement.
Arase, as adjudged by many Nigerians, has equallyexercised unusual mettle by giving his very best to the herculean responsibility of securing the lives and property of all Nigerians.
Of course, different people have divergent views on the man,particularly as the police boss, but one thing remains certain: no matter how much anyone schemes to envelope the truth, it will still find a way of illuminating our thoughts and world at large.

So the truth is, especially as extracted from popular perspectives, Arase gave his all to the repositioning of the force to global standards and the upliftment of the morale and general living conditions of the men and women of the Police force for effective service delivery.

Perhaps it would be necessary to share a very significant encounter with Arase that made yours truly believe, from the get-go, that the man was well suited for the big job and would make an impressive mark during his time.

Shortly after President Buhari assumed the Presidency in May 2015, Arase embarked on a move to intimate strategic stakeholders in the security sector and the general public of his programmes towards reinvigorating the police for excellent performance. He had a new concept (in Nigeria) termed Community Policing as part of his action plans for modern and responsive policing in the country.

For wider engagement, he invited some thinkers to a private gathering to exchange thoughts and take a critical look at his ideas so as to have a wholistic outlook and achievethe desired objectives for Nigeria.
I happened to be one of the individuals invited to the gathering. In my usual manner, I arrived early at the venue of the meeting. There, I met a few individuals who had occupied some tables and were discussing like people who were quite familiar with one another.

So I moved to an empty table where I sat alone and went through my phone to keep track of my “To-do-list”. Before long all the tables were filled leaving only my table, which could occupy about eight persons, empty.

The occasion and the arrangement of the hall didn’t suggest the typical “high table” plan where an outlandishly decorated table is reserved for a highly placed personality. So I was comfortable in my seat all alone until a tall and huge man stepped in through the entrance with about eight men and women in tow. The man and his entourage, some in police uniform and others in mufti,walked straight to my table. Of course I recognised the IGP Arase amongst them.

At that point it dawned on me that I had unknowingly taken over the seats of some powerful people in Nigeria. The man greeted me politely as he joined me at the table. Apparently I had taken one of his men’s seat, so the IGP asked for an extra chair.

My major challenge came when the occasion was opened with an individual introduction which started from the people on the other tables. When it eventually got to my table, the IGP was first to introduce himself while his top ranking colleagues,including the Lagos State Commissioner, and Mr. Fatai Owoseni and the first female Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mrs. Bisi Kolawole,alsotook their turns. And I became last amongst the entire guests to do the introduction.

Understandably, all eyes were on me to know what position I occupied in the force while the IGP and his men were just looking to hear my line of introduction. After saying my name, I narrated the tale of a man who found himself on a live BBC interview when he came for an IT job at the BBC office and was mistaken for a TV guest. I then “apologised” for “hijacking” the table of the police unintentionally. The whole hall erupted in laughter.

Arase, also gripped with laughter, took the microphone after my narration. He linked the experience to how courteously and professionally he had been engaging with his officials and offering good listening ears to help tackle problems of security in the public. The rest, as they say, is history.

By and large, amongst other lofty accomplishments, Arase will be remembered for deepening professionalism and fighting indiscipline in the force, improving the deplorable living conditions of the men and women of the police, strengthening security, law and order and the appointment of the first female PRO of the force after over 50 years of the command’s existence.

While wishing Arase a blissful retirement and success in his other engagements, one hopes that the new IGP Ibrahim Idris will equally make a big success in his new duty post.