An Advisory Note To Acting Igp Usman Baba
I agree that the talk of secession is hot right now, but the largest threat to Nigeria’s national security is not the public cry for regional separation or sovereignty but the sweeping acts of kidnapping for ransom targeting boarding schools; violence between herding and farming communities; the unlawful wearing of an AK-47-style rifle in public; communal suffering inflicted by Boko Haram; ongoing daylight armed robbery, and other crises of murder, rape, jail outbreaks, killer food/fruit juice and road safety concerns.
As a veteran Police officer, you know that the primary duty of a police officer is to protect people and property. Which includes duties of patrolling neighborhoods, responding to emergency calls, and arresting lawbreakers in a timely manner; as well as focusing on widespread corruption within the police force, reducing aggressive policing methods and work on unsolved multiple complaints of extraordinary brutality from police and other state security forces.
All these are the factors and irritants that partly form the basis of insecurity and a fragmented nation-state.
Instead, in your first few days in office as the nation’s police chief, you are saying you will be addressing “pervasive security threats in the country such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, secessionist agitation and sundry organized crimes.” Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba the minute you used the words “secessionist agitation” you have automatically shown or prescribed yourself as a political police leader to others. In that Nigeria is fully and currently deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines now.
And especially for a man that almost half of the nation perceives as controversially and illegally appointed based on being a northern Muslim, particularly from a Sharia propelled State, Yobe.
No one doubts your professional police credentials and experience but your very existence as part of a national leadership dominated by the Hausa-Fulani ethnic Muslims, remains one of the prominent points of clashes at this time. The view is that in recent times especially now, half of the nation as it relates to the East and West of Nigeria, view themselves as under marginalization. All these levels of psychic pain, mental tension and emotional distress have awakened the shouts of succession and echoes of separatism.
By your own words, “secessionist agitation” they see you as a politician targeting non northern regions instead of you standing on a high moral ground by avoiding overly sensitive, sectional, and divisive words.
As you should know, whenever there are secession related uprisings, it is the military that is used by the national government to control or prevent it, not a law enforcement body at the outset. I have no doubt that the nation is trending towards secession or separation hopefully peacefully, but we are not there yet; so, I urged you strongly stop and zoom away from this political temptation and challenges right now. You have other institutional headaches as you try to settle down, so be careful how you touch it - because it a reality you cannot stop due to its deeply ethnic, political, sensitive and security nature.
I am talking about the formation of the police-like systems with markers of separatism known by different descriptions: In the Yoruba land of South-West, there is a security network known as “Amotekun”, symbolized by Leopard. In the Igbo land of the East, there is the security network identified as “Ëbube Agu” symbolized by Lion. You will agree that they are just following the footsteps of Hisbah Corps in the North, known internationally as a religious police outfit in Hausa-Fulani land, apparently symbolized by “Saniya” the Cow.
Now you see the moment you are in.
Psychologically, I do not know if the call for secession will be realized violently or peacefully but one reality is clear, the Yorubas/Igbos are now telling the world they can no longer engage in a peaceful coexistence with the North due to dual completely different notions of life.
The idea of regions seceding from the Federation is because of deep political and ethnic polarization. And I say it cannot go on this way.
Talk of secession is mostly relegated to fragmented eastern and western groups but now has continued to gain momentum amid deep regional division and political anger about President Buhari, and unfortunately includes you and others who are in domination of top strategic national appointments across the country.
So, I urge you to apply common sense on all these divisive issues. You and your police team have enough to worry about. I am talking about maintaining public safety and order; enforcing the law; and helping our citizens when necessary. I will end by saying to you as our nation’s police chief at least for now, please work with all types of people -- policymakers, citizens, and officers across all regions, and do it with an equitable mind or you will remember this advisory article.
Prof John Egbeazien Oshodi, an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government Consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult/child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional and Career Development. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African settings especially. The Development Professor and International Liaison Consultant at the African University of Benin, and a Virtual Faculty at the ISCOM University, Benin of Republic. Author of over 35 academic publications/creations, at least 200 public opinion writeups on African issues, and various books.
Prof. Oshodi was born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria to parents with almost 40 years of police/corrections service, respectively. Periodically visits home for scholastic and humanitarian works. [email protected]