Reflection on IGP Abba’s sack
NOTWITHSTANDING the offence committed, the recent summary dismissal of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, by President Goodluck Jonathan, without any disclosed official reason, is truly hard to swallow; for it is another display of executive fiat that could undermine the sensibilities of Nigerians.
A statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said that Abba was relieved of “his appointment and duties with immediate effect”.
Abba might have committed serious goofs and professional blunders during his stewardship, but the lack of explanation for the booting equally raises more fundamental questions. Why would a sack be carried out that way? What purpose would it achieve?
For President Jonathan, whose acceptance of defeat and concession of victory to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari at the recent elections reflected an exemplary demonstration of sportsmanship, Abba’s manner of sack dents the good intention the President’s earlier gesture portended for the polity. It is condescending, questionable and leaves him with more puzzles.
Whilst the President may possess executive powers backed by certain provisions in the Constitution, it is equally true that the edification of Nigerians is demonstrated in the way the President conducts the appointment and removal of key appointees. If he summarily dismisses a key officer for any strong reason which his government can adduce, the least the President could do is to offer explanation to the people, to whom he is accountable, else he leaves Nigerians to speculate.
Already, reports are rife of untowardness to the sack. Citing sources at the Presidency, a report claimed “Abba has been conducting himself in ways unbecoming of a professional policeman by allegedly lobbying for his continuity in office after May 29, 2015.”
Another, relying on a “reliable government source in Abuja”, stated that “the Presidency did not only feel that Abba failed to mobilize enough men for the PDP during the polls, it believed that he was ‘tactically working for the opposition (APC)’”.
To keen watchers of ongoing critical events in the polity, the speculation making the round seems to border on conflict of loyalty, and so calls for a need to redefine the idea of loyalty. When it comes to the Nigeria Police, the legal provisions and constitutional expectations, especially as enshrined in the Nigeria Police Act, point to one direction: Loyalty to state has primacy over loyalty to persons or parties. In furtherance of this line of thought, it would be official impunity of great magnitude to conceive the Nigeria Police as a private militia of any political party or any single individual of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigeria Police is a law enforcement agency and security service of the state, which primary purpose is to maintain law and order as well as ensure security of lives and property.
It needs also be stated that at the topmost management of the public, respect amongst officers is mutual and reciprocal for the smooth running of the state. Such mutuality is dictated by the decorum exercised by authorities in the discharge of their functions. The government should treat the office of people of this level with some dignity.
They should be treated at their exit, in the same manner they were treated when they held sway. But the manner Abba’s removal was carried out fell short of this required decorum, for it diminishes the office of the IGP and debases the values that the nation’s founding fathers enunciated. By elimination, it is an index of what Nigeria does not value.
This is not the first time top public officers would be treated in this ignominious manner. In the last few years, there have been disruptions of appointment of many public officers both at the state and national levels.
Moreover, the indiscriminate dismissal of top ranking state officials is injurious to the knowledge base and capacity building prospect of the state.
When such officials, on whom huge state funds have been expended to garner expertise, are casually wished away, there is not only an unwarranted depletion of financial resources, but also an obliteration of institutional memory.
This is a very sad situation because the knowledge and expertise of these senior officers seldom serve the public cause when they are dismissed.
A natural consequence of indiscriminate sack of productive persons is the fear amongst top ranking officers that prolonged professional life-span in the system, especially at the top, depends on primordial loyalty to persons.
It also promotes a proliferation of ‘yes’ men and entrenches inefficient public officers, with huge financial burden on Nigerians. Above all, it showcases the lack of seriousness on the part of a government that does not care.
The real lesson here though is that, on both sides, people in high public offices should respect the rules of engagement.