Sunday Solomon Arase replaced Abba Suleiman yesterday as Nigeria’s new Inspector General of Police in an acting capacity. The appointment was made by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Until his appointment Arase was a Deputy Inspector General and Head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in Law as well as bachelors and masters degrees in a Political Science and Strategic Studies. He is an author and Fellow of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Arase’s appointment is a delicate one. Whether this cerebral intelligence specialist would be allowed to redirect the mentality of men and officers of the Nigeria Police, debrief them of innate corruption and rekindle in them a commitment to professionalism remains to be seen.
As the 18th indigenous IGP, Arase may now have his best career opportunity ever in proving his mettle and reorganising the Nigeria Police. He too can make history like Professor Attahiru Jega has done with the Independent National Electoral Commission and the 2015 general elections.
Policing Nigeria properly may not be as much a problem as the crass corruption that has eaten up the moral fibre of the police and the paucity of its training and arming facilities. This is what Arase is up against; an institution that is divided and impoverished from within, and totally distrusted by Nigerians.
Would Arase’s tenure continue the rape of police fortunes that his many predecessors were accused of perpetuating; a system in which higher ups allegedly enrich themselves from huge funds that are statutorily disbursed by the federal government instead of paying salaries, bonuses and allowances to their men and officers on time?
Would Arase cancel the roguish checkpoints that Suleiman brought back, delete ghost workers from the police data bank, stop the money-for-arrests-and-bail as well as the un-receipted pay-for-reports-petitions-and-statements rackets that continue to feed the police fat?
The substantive appointment of acting IGP Arase may be left to the incoming Muhammadu Buhari-administration to confirm. In the spirit of change, which 15.4 million Nigerians voted for, it is believed that national institutions will be overhauled and made more efficient like the military, police, presidency, civil service, NNPC, legislature, judiciary, etc.
If in five weeks just before the new administration is sworn into office and hits the ground running on May 29, Arase says and does all the right things to show that with him at the helm of affairs, it would no longer be business as usual, he may secure his term in office as well as give Nigeria a new police within the four years of the Buhari administration.
His antecedents from his days of heading Panti SCID in Lagos to his last Interpol assignment in Abuja show that he fits the bill.
As former Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State, Arase had said: “Akwa-Ibom is strategic to the socio-economic configuration of this country. It is home to well-respected intellectuals, highly successful professionals and businessmen, vibrant youths and a highly literate population. It is imperative for the police to develop effective pro-active strategies and evolve vital partnerships needed to guarantee peace and security within the ambit of due process and human rights statutes.”
He succeeded in Akwa Ibom state by deploying the tripartite strategies of community policing, intelligence-led policing and zero tolerance policing. Arase’s predecessor has gone down in Nigeria’s history as the IGP that served the shortest term in office; eight months and three weeks from 31 July 2014 to 21 April 2015.