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WHEN PRESIDENT JONATHAN WENT TO PRISON

By NBF News
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It was on a very sunny Friday on June 4, at Sauka village along Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road in Abuja , when Nigeria 's President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, visited the Prisons.

Many years back, who would have believed that a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could visit the Nigeria Prisons? This is not because a President was above the law, but in the irony people, because of their perceptions, neither reckoned with the Service nor its officers, as they saw it as a place for unserious-minded people, who were charged with taking care of criminals.

Today, the story has changed. The rejected stone has become the chief corner stone. The Services is making progress, which attracted the attention of all citizens including the President, who decided that he must visit the Prisons to see and reckon with these successes.

Mr President had been duly briefed about the efforts of the service to get to itself a befitting corporate headquarters by building a multi-billion naira edifice. On completion, the Service, under the leadership of the ebullient Controller General (CGP) Olushola Ogundipe, prayed that no other Nigerian should commission such an edifice of national importance except Mr President.

Consequently the Service, although very eager to move, consistently postponed its movement to ensure that the President actually came to commission the place without delegating someone else to perform the exercise.

Following their importunity, Dr Jonathan graciously decided that he was personally going there to witness what made the Service to insist on his presence and, he was not disappointed because all over his face you could see excitement, an indication that he is happy that the Service and its CG, Ogundipe had expended public funds judiciously.

During the visit, the President told the Prisons and other Services in the Interior ministry that he was quite interested in their activities because they were very vital to the overall security and economic development of the nation. He particularly warned them to pay utmost attention to the internal security of the nation.

He did not visit and commission only the Prisons headquarters. President Jonathan who was happy with the overall achievements of the Interior ministry which had supervisory function over these Para-military Services, also commissioned the beautifully built structures for the Civil Defence Academy by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) under the leadership of its Commandant General Dr Ade Abolurin and the official residence of the Comptroller General of Immigrations under the leadership of Mr Joseph Chukwura Udeh, all located at Sauka village.

The new corporate headquarters of the Service was well planned and also built according to plan on a very large hecters of land meant to accommodate the office complex, residential quarters, other institutions and facilities within the premises. The three storey office complex that was built under a very strict security considerations with a basement and installations, state of the art facilities strategically with the Prisons colours and crest such that when you are approaching, nobody would need telling you that this is Prisons.

The office rooms are built to sizes and shapes that are attractive and quite appealing to all such that, everyone that ever worked at the Area 1 Garki Old Federal Secretariat complex, where the Service had its headquarters, would love to move in for comfort and convenience, including the minister of Interior, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho, who had earlier expressed satisfaction with the edifices during his pre-commissioning inspection visit on assumption of office.

Un-doubtful that they were just waiting by the corner for the departure of Mr President, the officers and men in the various departments of the Service began packing their loads in a haste to take possession of their office rooms at the new headquarters. Although they are excited, most of them especially those that are not mobile, are lamenting over the inconveniences that the relocation is causing them, because of the distance and the fact that the Airport road is a restricted route and not very open to commercial buses to ply on cheaper rates.

Since majority of the officers and men would go to work there from the suburbs and the city following the fact that staff quarters are not yet ready within the complex, it is obvious that those that are not mobile would find it pretty difficult especially from the Airport junction, as it is a known fact that the Service does not have the required number of buses to cater for its staff strength.

The foundation stone of the Prisons headquarters was laid on April 21, 2003 by the retired Controller General of the Service, Mr Abraham Akpe and on assumption of office as the new CGP, Mr Olushola Ogundipe, vowed that he would ensure that no stone was left unturned for the edifice to be ready and commissioned by Mr President for the Service to move in during his tenure.

Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho at the commissioning told President Jonathan that it was a momentous occasion for him as the supervising minister of these organizations particularly in retrospect of his charge to the cabinet at inauguration to 'hit the road and deliver the goods within this short time frame and thus leave a legacy that will stand the test of time.'