Interrogating Baba’s Choice As New IGP

IGP

BEVERLY HILLS, April 11, (THEWILL) – After two months of grandstanding, President Muhammadu Buhari caves in and finally allows Mohammed Abubakar Adamu to retire in peace. In Adamu’s place, the Commander-in-Chief has named a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, as Acting Inspector-General of Police. Like his predecessor Adamu from Nasarawa State, Baba hails from the North, Yobe State, specifically.

ADAMU’S TURBULENT LEGACY

IGP Adamu had been due for retirement since February when he clocked the 35 years in service beyond which the police rules forbade an officer from serving. Against popular opinion, however, Buhari decided to retain Adamu on the beat. It amounted to a rather controversial move when the President on 4th February announced the extension of the lapsed tenure of the 20th indigenous IGP for three more months. It stirred up a dust of disenchantment.

Not a few wondered why Buhari wanted to keep a not-so-fantastic IGP. Under Adamu’s watch, kidnapping had soared unabated, with highways and educational institutions turning into kidnappers’ favourite haunting grounds. Killings and cultism have gone unabated. Today, the country has turned into a virtual crime jungle with the police appearing incapable of restoring law and order. In fact, police officers became prime targets for killers, who made away with service rifles and pistols like bounty hunters.

Under his watch, EndSARS protests rocked the entire nation. Nigerian youth organised a mass action that specifically targeted nothing but police brutality. In answer to the agitations, Adamu hurriedly replaced the infamous SARS with a half-baked contraption, that many contemptuously stigmatised as a rather unintelligent attempt to replicate the American outfit, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit. No one bought Adamu’s SWAT. It apparently died on arrival. Following the Lekki Tollgate killings by those whom eyewitnesses described as soldiers followed by SARS operatives, violence broke out nationwide with police as prime targets of a long-suffering citizenry. By the time the smoke died down, 22 policemen were killed and 205 stations burnt.

That legacy will haunt Adamu’s turbulent and truculent tenure.

But the President could not be bothered and rewarded Adamu with an extended term. Aides backed the tenure extension and even Adamu said he could remain in office for the next three years and the heavens would not fall.

The heavens did not fall upon Adamu; but on Tuesday the seat moved from beneath him.

A NEW SHERIFF

On the day the inevitable happened, the man who had spent what many regarded as an unproductive and turbulent two years and three months as IGP was on tour of Owerri, Imo State, inspecting the debris of the police headquarters that unknown gunmen had set on fire alongside the nearby prisons from where over 2,000 inmates broke out to steal the breath of freedom. Suddenly, on that trip, news hit the streets that Adamu’s days were numbered. A new Sheriff had come to town.

The new Sheriff in town, the 21st indigenous IGP, goes by the name Usman Alkali Baba. An indigene of Yobe Sta te, he was born in 1963. Baba is an alumnus of Bayero University, Kano, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Maiduguri. He is also a fellow of the National Defence College and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, all of which have seen him attending several professional courses and workshops.

Recruited into the officer cadre of the Nigerian Police in March 1988, he rose from the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police to the rank of Commissioner, during which he had charge of several strategic responsibilities, including:

• Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone-5 Benin

• Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone-4       Makurdi

• Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone-7 Abuja

• Commissioner of Police FCT

• Commissioner of Police Delta Commands

He later got promoted to the rank of AIG in which capacity he served as Force Secretary from November 2020. In December 2020, IGP Adamu approved Baba’s posting to take charge of Finance and Administration. Four months ago in December 2020, the Police Service Commission promoted AIG Alkali Baba along with others to the rank of Deputy Inspector General, in which capacity he served in-charge of Finance and Administration as well as a member of the Nigeria Police Force Management Team.

THE POLITICS OF BUHARI’S 3RD NORTHERN IGP

For many, the focus remains why the President ignored equally qualified officers from other regions and selected another Northerner for the post. Already, socio-political groups like the Ohanaeze have confronted him for turning a blind eye to sensitivity, national balancing and Federal Character. There were at least three DIGs of other zones from which Buhari could have taken a pick. Under ex-IGP Adamu seven DIGs held sway: Sanusi N. Lemu, Usman Alkali Baba, David Folawiyo, Joseph Egbunike, Dan-Mallam Mohammed, Moses A. Jitoboh, Baba Tijjani and Zana Ibrahim. In that list of DIGs are at least three non-Northerners. Buhari ignored them all.

People are already interrogating this new choice. For one, that Buhari settled for Yobe-born Baba makes it three unbroken runs of Northern IGPs back-to-back that Buhari has appointed since taking office. Buhari inherited Solomon Arase (appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2015), but replaced him with Ibrahim Kpotum Idris (2016 to 2019), followed by Mohammed Abubakar Adamu (2019 to 2021). In fact, the President frog-leaped Adamu, then an Assistant Inspector General of Police, over his seniors in the DIG cadre, and landed him directly as IGP.

Not a few had hoped that Buhari’s selection of a Police IG this time around from the South would dilute a security architecture facing fierce criticism for being lopsidedly weighted towards the North.

The National Assembly must still confirm the appointment of Alkali Baba as the country’s 21st Inspector General of Police. And for this Ninth Assembly that has never questioned Buhari’s security appointments, Usman Alkali Baba’s appointment as IGP is as good as a done deal.

Meanwhile, Baba, was on Wednesday decorated with his new rank in the State House, Abuja by the  Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

Present at the decoration ceremony taking place at Vice President Conference Hall were Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, former IGP, Mohammed Adamu, Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, and his colleague in the office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande.

Also present was the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Police Affairs, Mr Temitope Fashedemi.

Osinbajo, in his twitter handle after the decoration ceremony extended his congratulation to the new IGP: “Congratulations to the new Acting Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force, Usamn Alkali Baba, who I had the honour of decorating earlier today.

The safety and protection of all Nigerians remains a priority of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration”