The outgoing president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan has served Nigeria for six years. He was the vice president when the then president, Musa Yar’Adua died in 2009.
Through the doctrine of necessity, he was elevated to the position of acting president and eventually confirmed as substantive president by the senate that same year.
Between May 29, 2009 when he became the vice president and Tuesday April 14, 2015, it is on record that five inspectors-general of police (IGPs) have served the country.
These IGPs are: Mike Okiro, Ogbonna Onovo, Hafiz Ringim, Mohammed Abubakar and Suleiman Abba. The new IGP, Suleiman Abba, is the sixth.
Mike Okiro (2007 – 2009)
Mike Okiro served the country as inspector-general of police from 2007 to 2009. He retired from the Nigeria Police Force on July 24, 2009, having clocked 60 years.
Retired and serving senior and junior police officers, who spoke with our correspondent, said that while Okiro was in service, he improved the relationships between the police and members of the public and ensured that the take-home -pay of the estimated 370,000 serving police officers in the country was increased.
This was possible because the immediate past president, late Musa Yar’Adua was favourably disposed to the welfare of members of the Nigeria Police Force, as well as other security agencies.
With what could be described as near living wages paid to the police nationwide under Okiro, the vex issues of wetin you carry was reduced to a manageable level.
However, some other officers insisted that Okiro was too close to President Jonathan, who was then the vice-president, for comfort.
“Yes, he was a professional and trained police officer, but at the tail end of his service year, it was obvious that he was eyeing political appointment”, a senior police officer said in Lagos.
This might have informed his appointment by President Jonathan as chairman of the Police Service Commission, as well as the security adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ogbonna Onovo (2009 – 2010)
Ogbonna Onovo took over from Mike Okiro as acting inspector-general of police in July 2009 and was confirmed on August 4 of the same year.
While in office, Onovo tried to encourage police officers nationwide to be proactive, instead of being reactive in tackling criminalities.
Police officers said he also attempted to work out modalities to ensure that serving police officers are routinely sent abroad for training. However, it did not quite add up.
It was during the regime of Onovo that kidnapping became one big, lucrative and booming business, especially in the south-south and south-east geo-political zones of the country.
Remember the Abia kidnapping scandal in which some officials of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos state council were abducted for ransom by kidnappers?
For record sake, the affected journalists were: the then chairman of Lagos NUJ, Wahab Oba; secretary, late Adolphus Okonkwo; assistant secretary, Sylva Okereke, Sola Oyeyipo and the council driver, Azeez Abdulrauf.
Hafiz Ringim (2010 – 2012)
In 2010, President Jonathan retired nine deputy inspectors-general of police to pave way for Hafiz Ringim, who was then an assistant inspector-general of police, to be appointed as inspector-general of police.
This action, which came when terrorism was just gaining grounds around the north-eastern parts of the country, did not go down well with top police officers at the management level and other security agencies.
Some of the then DIGs who lost their jobs due to Ringim were: Israel Ajao, Uzoma Declan, Haruna Ahmadu, Olusegun Efuntayo and Udo Ekpoudom.
Police sources in Lagos and Abuja said Ringim restructured the entire security architecture nationwide to embrace the terrorism challenges the country was faced with, as well as the post election violence triggered off by the 2011 general elections.
But, as a source alleged, Ringim was not well groomed in the areas of operation to tackle the emerging issues of bank robberies, terrorism, kidnapping and other criminalities that were rampant then.
He was consequently fired in January 2012 by the same president who sidelined other senior police officers to appoint him as inspector-general of police.
Mohammed Abubakar (2012-2014)
Mixed reactions trailed the appointment by President Jonathan of Mohammed Abubakar, a Zamfara state indigene, as inspector-general of police.
Some police officers, however, praised Abubakar for ensuring that there is an appreciable link between the police and the community.
“The link has helped the police in intelligence gathering, which has resulted in police officers crushing criminalities”, a police inspector at the Lagos state command said.
But, some other officers insisted that President Jonathan, in the last six years, has not added a dime as salary increase to any police officer serving nationwide.
“We expected Abubakar to convince Jonathan to give camouflage uniforms to police officers. But, regrettably, some of us had to buy our uniforms and other kits while serving the country,” an officer said.
Suleiman Abba (2014 – April 2015)
Suleiman Abba, who became the Inspector General of Police on August 1, 2014, was on Tuesday April 14, sacked by President Jonathan under controversial circumstances after having served the country for about eight months. No reason was, however, given by the president for his removal. He immediately replaced him with Solomon Arase, who has since resumed duties.
Unconfirmed reports have it that the outgoing president resisted pressures from some quarters to appoint Abba as IGP for two major reasons – repositioning the police structure for the re-election dream of Jonathan and crushing Boko Haram.
Abba, in an attempt to please his paymaster preached the gospel of community policing and intelligence gathering, proactive method of policing Nigeria.
In fairness to the police under IGPAbba, local and foreign training of officers recorded appreciable percentages. But, working tools for serving police officers nationwide were largely funded by the state government.
Where did the police go wrong here? Some officers say police annual budget is grossly inadequate and so corruption in the police is likely to stay with us, except Muhammadu Buhari, the incoming president, performs miracles.
This is why some officers buy their uniforms and other kits, while the police management team, as always, engaged in endless weekly meetings, an angry officer lamented in Lagos.
Solomon Arase (2015 – Date)
Solomon Arase, formerly Deputy Inspector-General of Police, now Acting Inspector-General of Police, was until his appointment the Head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.
Following his announcement as the new Police boss, the Force Headquarters and the Force Criminal Investigation Department where he held sway until his appointment went agog with jubilation. How long Arase will occupy this position, only time will tell.