After his meritorious service to his fatherland, the immediate past Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, was honoured by his native Benin people, writes Adibe Emenyonu
Since the 1930s when the present day Nigeria Police Force was established with headquarters in Lagos and under the command of an Inspector General of Police, no Benin man was made to head the establishment.
Even when officers and men from the then Midwest, now Edo and Delta states, constituted the operational hub of the Nigeria Police, no officer was appointed to the position of Inspector General. The highest position they got to was Deputy Inspector-General of Police in the likes of Parry Osayande and Christopher Omoben, while others such as Eddy Obinwevbi, Casmire Akagbosun, Stephen Olumese and Fidelis Oyakhilome and Sam Igbe ended up as Assistant Inspector-General of Police and Commissioner of Police respectively, until April 22, 2015 when the 18th indigenous Inspector General of Police was appointed by then President Goodluck Jonathan in the person of Solomon Igbe Arase.
It was on the basis of this that upon his retirement from service after attaining the mandatory age of 60 years on June 21 this year, a group, known as like minds mainly of Benin extraction, organised a reception in honour of the former Police boss to welcome him home.
In a welcome address, delivered by Victor Osarenren, Chairman of the Organising Committee in honour of the ex-police boss, the group said the motive behind the welcome reception was to acknowledge one of their own who for the first time since the creation of Nigeria Police, got to the apex of his career and retired meritoriously without blemish.
Appreciating those who conceived the idea to welcome Arase, Osarenren said it was a meeting of like minds that made it possible for the event to take place because of their numerous contributions and supportive role they played in the organisation of the event which earned Arase encomiums from his kinsmen.
The praises were showered first by the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri who said what made Arase outstanding was because he distinguished himself amongst other citizens of the state by visiting the late Benin Monarch, Oba Erediauwa, in his palace to intimate him of his new position as the IGP.
According to the Esogban, “what made Mr. Solomon Arase so exemplary amongst others was that shortly after he got promoted to the rank of IGP, he visited the late Benin monarch for his blessings and advice,” stressing that others who got promotions in their various field of endeavours did not deem it feat to visit the palace to notify the Oba, but Arase did.
“Many citizens of the state have risen to various prestigious positions in the country which have made them very proud, but were however brought down along the line by circumstance beyond their control. Arase’s case was different as he rose from the ebb of the ladder to the zenith of his profession before he eventually retired from the police force,” he said.
Describing the feat attained by the former IGP, as a ‘Finger of Fate’ Mr. Parry Osayande, retired Deputy Inspector General of Police and former Chairman, Police Service Commission, who chronicled the history of the Nigerian Police said, Arase was among the over 150 officers whose promotion were regularised by the commission.
“Is it then the finger of fate that Solomon Igbe Arase became the first Inspector General of Police from the neglected Edo State? Yes it is. Let me explain today that this same Arase was one of the over one hundred and fifty officers whose promotions were regularised by the Police Service,” the former DIG enthused.
In its goodwill message, the government of Edo State described Arase as a courageous and gallant police officer who made the noble profession of policing not just a career but a calling. The goodwill message personally signed by Governor Adams Oshiomhole noted that the government and people of the state are proud of the retired IG because he brought respect and recognition to the state in the eyes of the world through his inspiring and exemplary record which saw him rose to the pinnacle of the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force.
“It is also noteworthy that you have not only brought renewed dynamism, but that you have left a worthy legacy of a repositioned Nigeria Police Force. Therefore, I wish to seize this opportunity to congratulate you for a successful public service career, which had been marked by several distinctions, well deserved promotions and commendations,” Oshioomhole stated.
The judiciary and legislative arm of Edo State government were not left out in the showers of praises poured on Arase. For instance, in the goodwill message signed by Justice Cromwell Idahosa, Chief Judge of the state on behalf of the judiciary, congratulated Arase for a successful retirement after a distinguished career in the Nigeria Police Force, adding that “we rejoice with you as the drums are rolled out to honour and welcome you home.”
Justice Idahosa who joined others to acknowledge Arase as the first Benin man to rise to the apex rank of IGP, also noted his remarkable contributions in the promotion of policing policy, welfare of members of the force in an immeasurable way.
Words of commendation also came from the office of the Deputy Speaker, Edo House of Assembly who in a statement, said she is proud of the retired IGP for his numerous contributions to uplift the Nigeria Police Force in particular, and the nation in general during his tenure.
Responding, Arase said though he is retired but not tired because he would like to write books and teach to contribute to society, as a retired police officer.
Arase, who described life after active service as “very relaxing”, added: “I am an academic; I will write books, I will rest and do humanity work. I want to spend the rest of my life touching the less-privileged people within my community.
“I will sit down to write some books, develop protocol for security sector reforms and, if I have an opportunity to teach, I like teaching; I like talking. I will do humanitarian work.”
Describing the process of addressing the security challenges in the country as a “marathon” and not a “sprint,” he however, noted that Federal Government was on course, with its current efforts.
In order to advance peace and security across the country, he also pledged his support for the police.
His words, “It is a gradual thing. It is not a sprint; it is a marathon. When you want to deal with security situations, it is a gradual thing and I think we are on course in the country. I have been a policeman for 35 years. I will always remain a policeman and anything that I will do to enhance the policing culture, you know I will always do that.”
While expressing appreciation for all the support he received during his time as IGP, Arase debunked the speculation that he might delve into politics, and said, “No, I do not have the temperament for politics.”
Continuing, he declared, “I am humbled; I am grateful that my people have found me worthy to be so honoured in this way. That is why I said in my speech that I will continue to do everything that is edifying of a Benin man.”