JA’AFARU AHMED: A TENURE EXTENSION WELL DESERVED

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Since the inauguration of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, expectations became high over which government agencies or parastatals will stand out as top performers. And even as the administration entered its second tenure, such expectations have remained constant.

· Nigerians far and wide are concerned about infrastructural development and capital projects, and at the same time agitated by issues of security. The recent thumbs up coming directly from the presidency, aimed towards the head of the Nigerian Prisons Service, in the form of tenure elongation, could only mean one thing: excellent performance. They say one good turn deserves another, and President Buhari has put his money where his mouth is.

· Excellence is not given, it is earned. When an individual is given a task and he exceeds expectation, it is worthy for him to be applauded. Perhaps before this begins to appear like an empty praise, a cursory look into what the Nigerian Prisons Service used to be and now will afford a vivid understanding.

· The Nigerian Prisons has been bereft of any meaningful impact in terms of achievement in the last couple of years. So much so that all hope of revamp was lost as there was no light at the end of the tunnel. The prisons were a forgotten case. From terrible infrastructure, poor inmate’s condition, uncountable cases of awaiting trial down to an appalling or non-existent staff welfare structure and many issues of jailbreak, the Nigerian prison was left for dead. Such was the knowledge that past heads of the prisons have all tried in their rights but found it herculean to change the narrative. But as they say, when there is a will, there is a way.

· Ja’afaru Ahmed was appointed as the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Prisons in 2016 and he immediately hit the ground running by conveying a meeting of all top prison commanders to quickly look at the incessant cases of jail breaks all over the country and put an end to it. This remains a landmark achievement of his reign till date. Worthy of note is that since CGP Ahmed took office, issues of jailbreak that bedeviled our prisons have since become a thing of the past.

Not only has he upturned the fortune of the Nigerian Prisons, Ahmed has expelled the myth that the Prisons Service is impregnable. The reasons given for his tenure elongation by the president include but not limited to his track record of innovative reforms and the need to consolidate and complete some of the on-going programmes especially on human rights compliance, reformation, health care, agricultural and educational programmes for the inmate.

· Comptroller General Ahmed surely has the will and commitment to serve and his first two years was a clear proof of that. He went to work immediately and pushed the envelope beyond human conception.

· Another assignment he took very seriously was staff welfare. He has successfully turned the Nigerian Prisons into a very attractive government agency. A fact that can easily be crosschecked. An excursion to any of the Nigerian Prisons Service locations is greeted by warm and professional members of staff. Officers are all looking neat, smart and going about their duties in the most professional manner. Staff welfare is at an all-time high under his watch and this is unmatched by any of his predecessors. Prior to his administration, projects suffered abandonment as many important plans for facelift or renovations ended just at implementation level. All that changed with the effort of one man.

· Many say this is the administration of “show” working, and what the prison boss is doing is a complete evidence of that. If you are a performer, let your work speak for you. Maybe then you too can be asked to continue. This is not a case of those who are given a second chance to right their wrongs or see if they can do better. Here is a pure example of allowing a good work to continue.

This is where an appeal will also be made to the Interior Ministry, under the leadership of the newly appointed Minister, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, to please ensure that the prisons are well funded. One of the biggest challenges to effectively carry out and complete many of the important projects is funding. It is expected that the former Osun State governor will make issues of inadequate funding of the prisons a thing of the past so as to ensure that the very many projects embarked upon are duly completed.

Chief Henry Udutchay, hochay2000@yahoo.com