Nigerians on social media are having a laugh at the useless order of Olukayode Egbetokun, acting Police Inspector General, that Police Mobile Force be withdrawn from VIPs escort and guard duties because, over the years, similar orders have been treated like suggestions.
It’s almost become a meaningless ritual for every newly elected Police chief in the first days following his appointment to immediately direct all Mobile police personnel withdrawn from VIPs escort, order the dismantling of roadblocks and ban its officers from harassing car owners with tinted vehicles.
This is why immediately after the communication was reported, several commentators on social media began taking a bet on the next set of orders that would be issued from the very banal script the IGP’s communication office uses.
“And then orders the immediate dismantling of all checkpoints. Then bans tinted windows.
Then the next IGP order’s withdrawal of mobile police personnel from VIPs. And then orders the immediate dismantling of all checkpoints. Then bans tinted windows.
Then the next IGP…” tweeted Joe Abah, a former government official heading reform programmes and now Country Director of DAI, an international development company.
Some social media developed an entire process mapping on the next set of futile orders that no single police officer would lose sleep over.
StatiSense is a Data Tech Company with expertise in Analysis, Infographics began a collection of previous orders as reported by the media which has had no effect.
Even before the announcement, on June 19, Oluwadamilola, a Twitter user already predicted, “The normal routine for every IGP in their first week in office is the announcement of withdrawal of police escorts from VIPs, withdrawal of SPV number plates, dissolution of all mounted road blocks but within two weeks everything returns back to the usual. Honestly, I do hope this new IGP is different….”
Sadly, the more things change in Nigeria, the more they remain the same. On Tuesday, Oluwadamilola’s disappointment was palpable, he wrote: “Rinse and repeat.”
This same set of orders issued by every new Police IGP sometimes follows the same pattern though the order of words used may differ.
Announcing his plans to withdraw the policemen on private guard duty in 2018, Musilius Smith the IGP said, “In view of the current security challenges in the country, it has become expedient for the Nigeria Police Force to streamline the deployment of its personnel attached to political and public office holders, aimed at enhancing effective and efficient policing of the country.
“To this effect, a memo will be forwarded to the President for approval which will serve as a guideline or template for deployment to VIPs, political and public office holders in the country. Accordingly, a directive for withdrawal of all police officers deployed to VIPs, political and public office holders with immediate effect, is hereby given.”
In June 2021, Baba Alkali Usman directed the “immediate withdrawal of officers attached to private citizens (To open the space for private security companies to thrive).
And exactly two years later, his successor is giving the same direction, basically following the same template
“It is a reusable template, rinse and template,” said Osunmakinwa Olusegun on the social media site Twitter. “Much like budgets of most MDAs is just a template, it will always include the same components. Just edit the cost,” he said.
This is why every year the Presidency budgets for pots and pans and other cooking utensils as if cookware are disposed of after each meal. Analysis shows that the problem is not a lack of originality but simply a conduit to steal public funds.
The inefficacy of the orders issued by the IGP lies in the conditions that breed them. Poorly paid policemen prefer to carry the handbags of VIPs because the extra pay goes a long way. The miserable pay of junior police officers elevates the extortion of road users to the status of a side hustle.
In 2018, the Police Service Commission, the civilian oversight body established under the Nigerian Constitution for the Nigeria Police Force, said that more than 150,000 police officers were attached to VIPs and unauthorised persons in the country out of 400,000 police officers.
Mike Okiro, then Chairman of the commission, in an interview, said the implementation of the withdrawal of police officers from VIP duties stalled due to a lack of funds.
“We could not sustain the enforcement of the order on the withdrawal of policemen attached to unqualified persons in the country because of lack of funds.
He condemned the practice where persons who served as ministers for over 10 to 15 years still go about with police security.
Unless Egbetokun has been given new funds to finance the withdrawal of now half of the police force deployed to escort and guard duties to VIPs, most of these orders, like those of his predecessors would mostly likely be treated like suggestions.