Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has decorated the acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, with his new rank.
Speaking at the ceremony held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday, the Vice President urged the new acting IGP to work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the public in the police by stamping out excesses, abuses, and culture of impunity exhibited by some personnel.
“You must stamp out the excesses, abuses, and the culture of impunity illustrated by some elements of the force which provoke public outrage against the institution,” he said.
He said, under the leadership of the new boss, the police must rebuild the broken bridges of trust with the public and regain the confidence of the citizenry.
The Vice President also stressed the need for community policing as a way of securing the lives of Nigerians.
He said implementation of the community policing policy and reconceptualizing policing should be carried out in partnership with local communities and by officers who are members of these localities.
He said the welfare and working conditions of police officers must also be improved significantly.
He said, under the leadership of the acting IGP, officers must live up to all of the highest standards of professional conduct and compliance to the rule of law.
“Your selection by Mr. President follows a rigorous process where all eligible Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of police were considered. The president then appointed you as the most senior qualified and eligible officer.
“This is a departure from the past when the selection of the new Inspector General of Police often meant the immediate retirement of a cohort of senior police officers whose vast experience and training would no longer be available to the country.
“This appointment, which is largely on the basis of seniority and competence, will ensure that you have access to professional and experienced officers to support you in your new role.
“You are assuming office at a very turbulent time in the life of our people. There are multiple threats to law, order and public safety. The role of law enforcement and particular that of the police force as primary agency charged with maintaining law and order has never been more important. The police is our institution of first resort, the first line of defence against crime and anarchy and the first sign of the strength of the state.
“Last year, Mr. President signed the new Police Act, the first police reform legislation to be enacted in almost 50 years. The Act is the centrepiece of our commitment to reinventing the police as an institution that we can all be proud of. It articulates this administration’s vision of the modern competent police force as an institution committed to the preservation of human rights and human dignity and protection of the public against all criminal threats.
“The challenges before you are indeed onerous and will test your mettle, the organisation you are leading is one that is itself facing several challenges. Your officers work still in extremely difficult conditions. And some face the threat of physical harm by terrorists and hostile non-state actors while in the line of duty but they have lived up to expectations,
“There is no question at all that there is a lot that needs to be done. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Under your leadership. The police must now rebuild in some ways also the broken bridges of trust to the public and regain the confidence of the citizenry. This is an ongoing challenge, is an ongoing task that the police force and all of the senior members of the police force must take on as a responsibility, that of the continual process of building trust to the Nigerian people,” he said.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the even, acting IGP Usman Alkali Baba, said Nigerians would see improvement from where his predecessor has stopped.
“You will see improvement from where my predecessor has left. I came in at a very challenging time. I know it. I recognise it and I will work on how to improve from where my predecessor has left. I have been a member of the management team. We have tried to do our best, but it’s not enough. There is room for improvement,” he said.
Asked if the strategies would will change, the acting IGP said: “Definitely, we are going to rejig our operational strategies.”
On equipment and manpower, he said: “We have the blessings of Mr. President and we are hoping to get more of what we have requested through the Police Trust Fund very quickly. Nigerians should expect improvement on the security situation.
“And Nigerians should also collaborate and cooperate with us. With all the inadequacies we have, we still require everybody to be part of policing in this country. And that is why the emphasis on community policing will continue and the emphasis of collaborating with all other sister agencies will continue and we hope to have a better situation very soon.”
Asked how he hopes to improve on community policing from where his predecessor left, the acting IGP said: “We will continue to practicalise it. My predecessor has left at the theoretical stage, we have started practicalising it but we have not gone far and therefore all the methods of practicalising it has been put in place and we are going to continue with it in collaboration with other stakeholders.”