By Abubakar Atiku Nuhu-Koko
As President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) prepares his mind to appoint the 21st Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for the country before and or by January 31, 2021 as the current IGP, Muhammed Abubakar Adamu, retires February 1, 2021, having served 35 years in the service of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the nation is full of great expectation. The Service Chiefs are now gone and new ones are in place.
However, all things been considered and by the provisions of the new Police Bill 2020 (adopted by the Senate on July 22, 2020 and signed/assented into law by PMB on September 16, 2020), the President, through the Nigerian Police Council (NPC) can also recommend IGP MA Adamu under the new dispensation.
But, opinions vary on this issue; depending upon who is interpreting the new provisions for the appointment of IGP under the new Police Act 2020, Part III, Clause 7 (2), (6) and Clause 18 (8) respectively. For instance, Clause 7 (2) states that:
“The person to be appointed as Inspector-General of Police shall be a Senior Police Officer not below the rank of an Assistant Inspector-General of Police with the requisite academic qualifications of not less than a first degree or its equivalent in addition to professional and management experience.”
While Clause 7 (6) states that:
“The person appointed to the Office of the Inspector-General of Police shall hold Office for four (4) years subject to the provision of clause 18 (8) of the Act.”
And, Clause 18 (8) states that:
“Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he (or she) attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.”
[CAVEAT: The above quoted Clauses of the new Police Act 2020 are from the: Nigeria Police Force (Establishment) Bill 2020 (Harmonized) adopted by the Senate on Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020. I could not lay my hands on the final version signed into law by the President. Hence, variations are likely from the above.]
The major bone of contention here is clause 18 (8) which seems to contradict Clause 7 (6) that establishes a four (4) year single tenure regime for the Office of the IGP. A tenure regime usually does not recognize or take into consideration the regular civil service 35 years of service and or the statutory retirement age (say 60, 65, or 70 years, accordingly) of the office holder.
For example, the four (4) or (5) year statutory tenure of Director Generals/Chief Executive Officers (GD/CEOs) and or Executive Secretaries or Executive Vice Chairmen of Federal Government agencies as the case may be, are not based on Clause 18 (6) common in the regular civil services conditions of service.
Therefore, since Clause 7 (6) is a new innovation that establishes a tenure regime for the Office of the IGP in consonance with what exists in other governmental extra ministerial establishments, then Clause 18 (8) should be seen as an aberration.
Hence, it should be made redundant until it is expunged. Retaining these two Clauses together will make it very chaotic, clumsy and messy affair in the selection and appointment of future IGPs.
For instance, what happens if an AIG who already clocked 20+ years in service and 45+ years of age is appointed to be an IGP and served his or her single four-year tenure? He or she still has 10 years left in service and or 10+ more years to the mandatory 60 years retirement age!
Furthermore, what should happen to his or her superior officers who are DIGs during his or her tenure and still have more years of service before the mandatory retirement provisions as stipulated under Clause 18 (8)? It is too dicey a situation.
However, let me revert to the realm of rational thinking and precedence. One can equally rationally argue that PMB has the executive power or authority to reappoint IGP MA Adamu as the 21st IGP and or extend his tenure in office.
One does not need to go far to justify this proposition. Since coming into Office in 2015, PMB established precedence in extending the tenure or years of service of senior government officials; from Permanent Secretaries to heads of federal government agencies/parastatals, heads of paramilitary services such as the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCS), National Drugs Laws Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and River Basins Authorities, etc.
Under this precedence, many Chief Executive officers have gotten second term tenure reappointments; serving 8 or 10 years maximum accordingly. Services Chiefs also benefitted from this precedence; some of them serving for 40+ years and above 60 years of age.
Arguably therefore, PMB can equally extend the same precedence to IGP MA Adamu to kick start the new four (4) year single tenure regime for the Office of the IGP as established by the new Police Act 2020.
Having made the above observations and arguments, it is pertinent to state that the appointment of the IGP should be predicated upon national interest first, and not based on ethnic, geopolitics and religious considerations.
When people start ethicizing or playing politics of geography as the fundamental and basic criteria above competence, integrity, character, and national interest for the appointment of heads of security agencies, then this country will continue to be in turmoil and will never know peace and stability in all facets of life, nation building and nationhood.
Nigeria cannot afford the practice of systemic ethnicity, religious bigotry and narcissism and hate and regional divisiveness. Equity, inclusiveness, truth and justice and fair play should be the fundamental building blocks of national unity, peace and progress in Nigeria.
It is against this backdrop and the successful police reform, innovation (e.g. implementation of Community Policing and Strategies) and substantial improvement in policing in the country brought to bear on the NPF in past two years that one can rationally and reasonably make a very strong case for PMB to allow IGP MA Adamu to kick-start the new four (4) year single tenure regime for the office of the IGP as provided for under the new Police Act 2020.
Abubakar Atiku Nuhu-Koko Founder/Pioneer Executive Director
The Shehu Shagari World Institute for Leadership and Good Governance (SSWi), Sokoto
Frontpage September 13, 2019