The new police boss should strive to restore confidence in the force

President Muhammadu Buhari last week appointed Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotum Idris as the acting Inspector General of Police. During the handover ceremony between him and his predecessor, Mr. Solomon Arase, Idris sounded the right note and defined the direction of his leadership. “We will do everything possible to ensure that we provide the best service to this country,” he declared. “Under my leadership, the police will be governed by internationally recognised core values of policing. We will ensure that our streets, neighbourhoods and communities remain safe.”

Apparently embarrassed that despite the gallant efforts of his predecessor, corruption is still rife and has indeed eroded the image and confidence of the public in the police, Idris vowed to address the issue of integrity and accountability in the force. “We will make sure that our police officers are accountable to the people. I am assuring you that every police officer from my rank to the assistant superintendent of police must declare their assets,” he pledged. The new IGP has also set for himself the task of making the police work, devoid of impunity and conducting diligent investigations that would lead to diligent prosecution and eventual convictions of criminals.

While we congratulate Idris on his elevation, we must also remind him that there is no promise that he is making now that his predecessors did not make; yet it is doubtful if any of them left with their heads held high. It is therefore important for Idris to recognise that he is taking the office as IGP at a very difficult time, both in our nation’s history and that of the police force he now leads.

As many Nigerians have observed, after the Nigerian civil war, never has the security of the nation degenerated in this manner, almost to the point where Nigeria is now practically at the edge of the abyss. No place is safe and no time is sacred: the “enemy” strikes with regularity. Everywhere in the country today, there is the pervasive sense of fear and insecurity. Armed robberies, kidnappings and other allied crimes have painted a picture of a country practically at war with itself.

Even though the nation’s armed forces have recently made remarkable gains against the Boko Haram insurgents, they still constitute a grave danger to the polity. The renewed militancy in the Niger Delta is crippling the economy, particularly because of their costly oil infrastructure damage. In addition, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) once in a while holds the entire southeast to ransom while some Fulani herdsmen are on the rampage, maiming, killing and causing general unease across the nation.

Yet the police whose officers and men are supposed to be at the epicentre of restoring law and order within our national territory appear also besieged and almost incapable of performing its onerous constitutional responsibility. Thus, the major task facing the new IGP is to restore a measure of order and help calm frayed nerves, not only for the ordinary citizens but also within the rank and file of its own members.

It is particularly noteworthy that Idris recognises the need to restore the trust of Nigerians in the police. Today, a force that ought to be a friend is perceived more as a foe and treated with suspicion, and sometimes derision. It is also important that the IG has pledged serious attention to the welfare of police officers and other issues that affect their performance. The security of the nation cannot be entrusted in the hands of hungry and ill-equipped men.

With 32 years experience in the force, and a tour of duty in various commands and formations – both local and international – IGP Idris comes to the job highly qualified. We wish him the best in his new assignment.