Archive for December, 2008


December 28, 2008
I do believe that Unity is not Uniformity. We are very much aware that some cities in the United States of America are bigger in land mass and population than some countries in the world. We know about United Arab Emirate, United Kingdom and so on. Their unity does not mean uniformity. Most of them have different leaders at different levels who are not under one platform or political party. All the governors, members of Congress or Parliament all belong to different political parties, yet they work together and are united for the sake of their nation. Unity therefore does not necessarily have to mean uniformity.
In Nigeria, we have different ethnic groups or tribes and languages; we all form the entity called Nigeria. We now have about fifty political parties. But there is an error spreading in the land. Many are trying to sell the opinion or idea that unity means uniformity. But I do beg to differ. They are trying their best to make sure that unity in Nigeria means having only one political party. Everybody by hook or crook must be made to be under the ‘big umbrella’. Many half baked democrats have been hooked and are trying to get others hooked to be part of the campaign to have everybody come under the ‘Big Umbrella’.
We do not need to use the United States of America as reference point again. Our neighbour Ghana may need to teach us some political tricks or lessons. In Ghana, President John Kufour did not ask every right thinking Ghanian to join New Patriotic Party. National Democratic Congress proved a formidable opposition in Ghana. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe would have become the only living ‘god’ of the land if not for M.D.C (Movement for Democratic Change) and Morgan Tsvangirai. Kenya that used to be very peaceful and a tourist attraction was in the news not too long ago because the opposition refused to be rigged out or intimidated by the ruling party.
The voice of the opposition only dies down completely in a situation where there are no genuine democrats or just a handful of them. Many who claim to be democrats over here are only political jobbers and political prostitutes. Some have never stayed in a particular party for more than a year. They just jump from one political party to the other and you cannot see clearly what and what they actually stand for. Senator Hilary Clinton did not dump the democrats when she did not pick the presidential ticket of their party. But over here selfish personal and party interest have made many sell their integrity, their stand and ideals; there is a scarcity of men and women who mind about their reputation during and after tenure in the polity.
The feud between the Presidential candidate of A.N.P.P(All Nigeria Peoples Party) and the National Chairman of their party is a pointer to the fact that many lack reputation in the political terrain. The Chairman is very much interested in what he stands to gain than even what the party would gain should they remain as a formidable opposition. Nigeria is experiencing all manner of crisis and corruption because many put selfish personal or party interest far above National interest. Our political parties are more like social clubs or beer parlour groups devoid of values and virtues. Opposition is not in the number of political parties.
Nigeria is gradually becoming a one party state. Greedy politicians are helping to make sure that there is no opposition or a weak one. You need to see the faces of the stalwarts of the ruling party whenever they lost at the Elections Petitions Tribunal. To them everybody supposed to be under the ‘big umbrella by hook or crook. We need to understand that even goods and services are better when there is stiff competition or rivalry. Nigeria may become a nation of Zombies if the voice of opposition kicks the bucket. Without opposition the ruling party might turn all policies and it becomes dictorial democracy – the equivalent of military dictatorship. Let the ruling party stop their bid to turn Nigeria to a one party state. The opposition can only make them shape up and perform better. Mediocrity is celebrated in monopoly. We do not need  a mediocre democracy. Let the opposition become formidable like in other places. Our banks are perfoming better since some of them merged, the opposition can be formidable if they merge together. Let our democracy be democracy indeed. The voice of opposition should be strengthened and not snuffed out. The ruling party should  not force all to be under the umbrella and democrats should not be cheap articles!


December 4, 2008




Most products and services are repackaged every now and then. Some of them are repackaged when it looks like they are becoming old in people’s faces or not meeting the need of their targeted audience. Recently the Imo State government launched the ‘NEW FACE OF IMO’. They promised to put behind the old practices of governance and bring on board innovative ideas for the transformation of their state. Their strategies seem to be working based on the feedback from their people. The Nigerian Police should wear a new face, because many believe that inspite of the slogan ‘Police is your friend’, they are not people friendly; many do not want to have anything to do with the Police


Some countries are described as Police states because of the effectiveness of their Police. Our country cannot be described as such. Whenever I read through the Acts or Laws backing the anti-graft agencies in our nation, I wonder if those laws were not taking away the core responsibilities of the men and women of the Police and giving them to an agency. What the Metropolitan Police would handle effectively in London are seen as the work of an agency different from the Police over here. I do feel that setting up these agencies contributed greatly to our Police being seen as not good enough or having little or nothing to contribute in preventing or combating crimes. It is indeed high time we reversed the trend.


I have always heard our public office holders claim that they would create the right enabling environment for everything to strive. But I wish to submit that the right environment had not been created for an effective Nigerian Police. Many people do think that buying new patrol vehicles, arms and ammunitions would translate to an effective Police Force. That would amount to celebrating mediocrity. Even the patrol vehicles are not enough because I always witness our policemen and women stop commercial vehicles, discharge their passengers, and command them to take them to their assigned locations. Would you blame these junior officers who are commanded to report at their assigned locations without putting the necessary logistics in place? It is not as if I support what they are doing to the commercial bus drivers but they were pushed into doing such by their zeal to work. So, the authorities must accept responsibility for these.


I was in a Leadership conference recently, and heard one of the keynote speakers say something very true of our nation. The speaker (Sunday Adelaja) said that over here we mistake too much activities for hard work. The same is true of almost all areas of our national life. He said while developed nations encourage smart work, we encourage too many activities and brand them hard work. While he was speaking, my mind was reflecting on the activities of our Police. There are too many activities going on, but they do not seem to be on top of the situation. Some things are probably not how, when, and where they should be. Someone said that our Police are just Jack of all trade and master of none. On our roads, the Police do the work of the Immigration Service, the Custom Service, the Road Safety Service, and many others put together. I suspect some of them do not know the scope of their work.


I was telling a friend recently that our orientation as a people caused most of these problems. Parents threaten their toddlers and teens with that name Police. These children grow up having a wrong impression about the Police. In our society, you always hear the poor, average, rich and mighty threaten their friends and neighbours with the Police. Many believe therefore that the Police cannot give a fair treatment or hearing as long as you are not rich, troublesome or the one that gets to report to them first. This is one of the reasons people detest having anything to do with the Police. The National Orientation Agency have so much work to do in this area, and they must start doing something serious. Customer and people friendly products and services are very attractive. So they must re-orientate the people about the impact, importance, and the image of the Police. Rebranding will do a lot in this regard.


A lot of work needs to be done to have a New Face of the Police. Instead of having to invite the Metropolitan Police to come help unravel crimes, we should send our people to be trained to do it. I was marveled when I was stopped by a police officer recently and he did not know what a flash drive was. He displayed his ignorance further by telling me he can charge me for possession of a live ammunition. I asked him whether he was trained at all if he cannot identify a bullet and differentiate it from a flash drive. It only showed we have a lot of uninformed or unexposed officers in this computer age. Whenever I watch foreign news and see how their Police are dressed, equipped with up-to-date gadgets and ready to work, I pity our men over here who are left to catch lions and quench mega fires with bare hands. We are expecting too much from our Police based on the level of things here.


Their salary was reviewed upward only recently after many years of receiving peanuts as salaries. If you pay peanuts, you hire monkeys. What is their welfare package like? Have you been to the Police Barracks? Do they look like places befitting for monkeys or human beings? The senior ranked officers are displaying something new. Have you taken a closer look at the uniforms of some of our men? Some are made to wear one set all week. Why? We need to look at our Policemen on the highways. The former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero promised to do something about the state of those made to monitor the highways. He promised he was working out modalities with some other agencies to have mini-shelters on the highways where our Policemen and women can change their uniforms, take their bath, relax and be ready any time of the day to answer to distress calls on the highways. His exit from the post seems to have buried that idea. I wish to say that most of the complains about these men on the highways would not be if they were not left like animals on the highways to fend for themselves. They are human beings and should be treated like human beings not animals; No shelter, no conveniences, and no canteens, it is fair.



Seeing these things show we have wrong value systems. We need to add value to lives and appreciate people better. Sunday Adelaja said nations do not develop by virtue of their wealth, but by the wealth of their virtues. We need to change many things, and that change is only possible if we can acquire good virtues-chief of which is attaching great value to human life. Let us add some value to our Police. Street urchins do not respect our Police because of how we have devalued them. Our Policemen are almost like house helps in the houses of our politicians and public office holders. You can afford to see a policeman escorting a fraudster or drug baron in his convoy. We should withdraw our men from all the services that devalue the image of our Police.


I wish to submit that one good Police helicopter is better for monitoring and surveillance than one hundred patrol vans. People should stop using the police to score cheap political points by buying just patrol vans. We need smart policing not too many activities. We should be working at computerizing all our Police stations and formations to one network. Claims and counter claims by criminals would be taken care of if we have a criminal data base on a network accessible to all Police formations. We should also encourage specialization on all fronts in the Police; training, training and training is the key. Police Officers should not be dismissed and left empty handed; dismissed officers can turn to hoodlums with experience if they are dismissed without anything to live on. Fingerprint detectors should compulsory be available at every Police station. Police men and women should be kitted with up-to-date gadgets to be able to handle emergencies and report for reinforcement where necessary.


Having a New Face of the Police is inevitable bearing in mind the aforementioned low points. Let us not see the Police like the proverbial goat owned by many folks that usually die of hunger. Change of uniforms cannot translate to change of character. Change start from within. To have a New Face of the Police, we must change the information level; people are shaped by the information they are exposed to. We must re-orientate them about value systems; you become in life what the values set before you entail. We must change principles on which they base their decisions; they must be made to understand that they are not there to kill or brutalise the people whose taxes pay their salaries because they have guns or wear uniforms. These would take collective responsibility; personal, public, cooperate and government. We can have a New Face of the Police. Yes, we can!






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