The Retirement of 21 AIGs

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The sacking of the senior police officers raises plenty of questions

The controversy generated by the sudden retirement, last week, of 21 Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIG) will not go away quickly. According to a statement from the Police Service Commission, the retirement of the officers stemmed from the fact that they were senior to the new acting Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, before his appointment. While this would not be the first time such mass retrenchment was done after the appointment of a junior police officer to the highest rank, we do not think this particular decision or the way it was handled serves the interest of the institution or that of the general public.

Indeed, there are several questions flowing from the current exercise. Is it not double jeopardy to retire these police officers simply on account that their junior had been elevated above them? Given how much has been invested in the training of these officers over the years, how does one explain this cynical waste of experienced hands? Will it encourage other officers to give their best knowing that such efforts would not be enough to sustain them in service? And what is the fairness in truncating the careers of officers without blemish just because a junior officer is given a political appointment? If the reward system is so warped that professionals, including those who put in their best, can lose their means of livelihood anytime, how does that encourage excellence?

More disturbing about the exercise is that charges of favouritism and arbitrariness that could undermine the effectiveness of the police are now coming to light. For instance, despite retiring 21 AIGs on grounds that they were senior to the current acting IGP, there is a particular case of an officer who is actually senior to Idris but has been retained while another AIG junior to him was retired. There is also a case of an officer promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) on the basis of representing the geopolitical zone of the country he hails from even when there is an officer senior to him from the same zone. One of the newly promoted officers has also been publicly indicted over a matter that is now subject of litigation.

In all, the exercise has raised more questions than answers. Besides, the now regular sacking or retirements of able personnel, who have been extensively trained with public funds, merely because of a need to bring some lower cadre individuals to positions of IGP, continues to rob the nation many of its best, whilst showing us up as a people infatuated with primordial sectionalism and petty sectarian proclivities.

Yet in a milieu where public officials are not sure of a future based on service excellence, it is easy to understand the culture of “get what you can, while you can” and “no be my papa work” which today pervade the entire system. In the main, what this instant termination of appointments in our public service does to the psyche of the nation is that it increases the propensity for self-enrichment and other vices.

Whichever way one looks at it, this particular police retirement was untidy. And so were some of the promotions. The canvassed criteria were a mixture of political convenience and poor attention to service record. Even at that, the excuse that the 21 AIGs were retired for no other crime than being senior to the new IG testifies to an embarrassing procedural laziness that should have no place in a modern society. While an officer like Joseph Mbu who compromised the force and was reckless in the discharge of his duties merited the treatment, majority of others have been sacrificed on the altar of political convenience.

That is not how to build a serious institution.

QUOTE; Whichever way one looks at it, this particular police retirement was untidy. And so were some of the promotions. The canvassed criteria were a mixture of political convenience and poor attention to service record