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Re: Buhari’s New Year Speech and The Rejigging of Security Agencies -Matters Arising

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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By Silas Joseph Onu, Esq

Your Excellency sir, it was a great privilege hearing from you on the occasion of our entrance into a brand new year and I must begin by sincerely wishing you and your family/cabinet, a happy, prosperous and a more secured, bloodless new year.

The news of the release of the auxiliary Bishop of Owerri is one that brings hope in the new year, even as his kidnap is still an issue of great concern.

We have celebrated and prayed for God’s intervention in this new year, but we all know that our myriads of insecurity and other leadership challenges will not disappear simply because we have exited one year and entered another.

Your Excellency, I usually do not listen to your speeches as they are mostly uninspiring and full of rhetorics without a scintila of sincerity or willingness to follow through with the contents of such speeches. It became as if Mr. President is not the author of his own speeches, and or, Mr. President was not even consulted in the development of his speech. It appears to me that certain powerful interest groups around Mr. President are responsible for His Excellency’s many empty speeches.

However, considering that yesterday was an auspicious day and one that many Nigerians, including my humble self, were seeking hope and inspiration from its leaders – religious and political, I made sure that i listened to much publicised Presidential New Year’s Speech.

Mr. President, i must say that after listening to your New Year’s Speech, it wasn’t different from all other speeches that i had earlier categorised as empty. In a new year speech, Nigerians would have been inspired if it wasn’t full of rhetoric and went further to be a decisive speech.

I will centre my reason for calling Your Excellency’s an empty one on the aspect of rejigging the security architecture of our nation.

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Mr. President sir, Nigerians have seen too much killings and other terrible vices which are direct consequences of a totally inept security apparatus. Such experience by Nigerians cannot be assuaged by mere words that are couched in poetic dictions designed to inspire hope, no! Nigerians want to see action!

Mr. President has made many remarks like this that have never seen the light of day – there is now a trust deficit between Nigerians and Mr. President.

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Your Excellency, your New Year’s speech presented an opportunity for you to keep to your oath of office, one of which is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (this includes all laws made pursuant to the Constitution) by straightly announcing that as part of the decision to reorganise the Nigerian Security, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is to proceed on terminal leave in accordance with our law and the most qualified senior Police Officer who has got requisite time (4 years as required by the Police Act, 2020) be appointed immediately to begin a reform and total restructuring of the Nigerian Police. This would have made your new year speech a sincere and forceful one.

Nigerians aren’t really interested in the reorganisation being proposed in the Presidential New Year Speech as many have dismissed the plan to be another agenda for further nothernization of the security agencies. No one actually believes that Mr. President will follow the law that he personally signed in 2020. A law designed with the best of intentions, but will be rubbished on the alter of nepotism, ethnicity and favouritism as has been the case since 2015.

I am focusing on the Police, not because there are no issues with the handling of the Armed Forces and the DSS, no! I am focusing on the Police because it presents a clear and present danger of how nepotism, ethnicity and favouritism can destroy our nation.

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I have got a number of good friends who are fine officers of the Nigerian Police and that was how I got to know that the present Inspector General is due for retirement on February 1 2021. I also took special interest in the new Police Act, 2020 signed by Mr. President and it is a laudable first step towards a new Police Force in Nigeria.

One of the problems that this new Police Act will cure is to stop the office of the IGP from being a place for retirement plans by very Senior officers who have just a short time to retirement. The law also eliminate the chances of lobbying for tenure extension upon the attainment of retirement age. We saw the law in action late last year when DIG Anthony Ogbizi retired after putting in 35 years of service, even when his 60th birthday is in February of this year together with the IGP. What is interesting is that DIG Ogbizi was recruited on the same day with the current IGP, hasn’t he attained the 35 years of service too? Our brand new law is gradually being thrown into the dustbin by Mr. President.

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Another very interesting, but dangerous stories making the round is that Mr. President is desperately seeking to replace the current IGP with another northerner by possibly promoting some Commissioners of northern extraction to the rank of Assistant Inspector General and thereby evade the only southerner with the most excellent qualifications and age for the realisation of a reform into modern policing. It has been said that Mr. President will never appoint a Southerner as the IGP, not atleast someone whom i understand is from Bayelsa State.

Well, if the people of Bayelsa are less interested in ensuring that their rights as Nigerians is fully given to them, it will be unfortunate. I say this because if the most qualified Police officer to be an IGP is from my State, i will mobilise my people and fight openly for him. Nigeria has reached that level of decadence where qualified persons must fight to get a deserving job.

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So, Mr. President sir, you still have the window to begin inspiring Nigerians in this new year with actions, not mere words. I am interested to see how you will handle this Police issue. Whether you will be a President for all Nigerians or a President for those you conaider more Nigerian than others. The politics of appointment into our critical security agencies has to stop in this new year in orde to stem the astronomical rise in the tide of insecurity and needless loss of lives.

Begin now and we will know if you truly meant your word on revamping our nation’s security for good.

I am not an ethnic jingoist and will support any officer that is the most qualified by the Standard set out in the Nigerian Police Act, 2020. As it stands today and in the next 4 years, I understand that only one officer is so qualified and he is from Bayelsa State and the only disqualifying factor standing against him is his state of origin and religion. Let us hope that these concerns are mere rumours and that the most qualified will emerge to lead the Police under the new Act.

Your Excellency, I do wish you, once again, a happy and eventful new year.

Thank you sir.

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