When in early April, Usman Baba was appointed acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), there must have been palpable fear among the upper echelon of the police force that another gale of retirements would be visiting them. The new IGP was substantially an AIG and acting as DIG, which meant that, if past practices were to be followed, all his colleagues in the AIGs ranks and his seniors, the DIG must be shown the way out. Happily, it didn’t happen that way. In a surprising turn of events, the services of the senior police officers were all spared.
Explaining what would hopefully become the new era, the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, said: ‘There was no retirement this time because adequate additional manpower was required to prosecute the fight against insecurity.’ Speaking in Abuja at the International Peace Centre during the decoration of 24 Commissioners of Police promoted to AIGs, the minister stated that the government deliberately left the senior officers to have many hands in the Force. “The Police has retained experienced professionals that would contribute toward sustaining the relative peace of the country”, he said.
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I heaved a deep sigh of relief to hear that. This is because, from my perspective, I have always viewed these summary retirements as unjust to the senior officers and cruel to the system that needed the services of such experienced officers to run their normal lives. It is a pity that in the upper echelon of our security services, it has become a norm to retire and waste the careers of very senior officers whenever their colleague or junior is appointed to head the outfit. I cannot put a finger on when it started but it became prevalent in the military in those years of the late 1970s and thereafter it became the rule.
The argument then was that envious colleagues and seniors may be prone to insidious conspiracies against the chief. They point to the example of an embittered senior who was deeply enmeshed in the conspiracy to kill Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed in 1975. Another instance was the attempted coup in the 1980s during which a colleague general and close friend of the Head of State was accused of being one of the masterminds. He was eventually convicted by a military tribunal and executed. Since then, military chiefs never tolerated their erstwhile colleagues in uniform.
The practice extended willy-nilly to other arms of the armed forces, the Air Force and the Navy as well. Somehow the Police also picked it up. And because the Police in many cases went down to the level of AIG to pick the IG, the consequent attrition of officers had been tremendous. In these dispensations, ever since Mustafa Adebayo Balogun became the IGP in 2002, from the post of AIG to date, six others have been appointed in a similar manner, leading to loss of officers at that high level. Fortunately, the civil service has been shielded from this. I can imagine the bedlam that would ensue when a new Head of Service is appointed and all his colleagues’ permanent secretaries are asked to retire.
The amount of training and the expenses associated for those police officers to reach that level and also counting on their volume of experience, I say it is too much to fritter away for one person to occupy a chair. And yet, we keep on bemoaning the shortages of men and officers in the security outfits to deal with the insurgent situations.
I commend the Police Force for taking this bold decision to stem the haemorrhage in their outfit and I pray others in the armed forces will take a cue.
From my mailbag: The last of the Bollywood greats bows out
You have written an excellent Tribute on the sad demise of iconic Bollywood film star, Dilip Kumar (real name, Mohammed Yusuf Khan) who passed away on July 7, 2021, aged 98. The tribute is one of the best I have read even by Indian film journalists. The article recalled Dilip Kumar’s major movies and a flood of tributes by current Bollywood film stars on the occasion of this monumental loss to Indian Cinema.
For me, the only thing missing in your tribute, considering Dilip Kumar died without ever having a child of his own, was an honourable mention and a token appreciation for the singular loving devotion of his most extraordinary wife, Madam Saira Banu, a prominent Bollywood actress on her own right.
Most Dilip Kumar fans, including Yours sincerely, have expressed their deep appreciation, sympathies and exemplary dedication to Saira Banu for taking excellent care of Dilip Kumar Sahab all through his numerous hospitalisations and nursing ‘the thespian’ herself at home. May Allah reward Saira for her sincere devotion. What Saira Banu said after Dilip Kumar’s passing was heart-touching; “The only reason for my existence has departed the world,” she said.
May the soul of the greatest actor of Indian Cinema, Dilip Kumar (Mohammed Yusuf Khan) rest in perfect peace in Jannatul Firdaus…Ameen.
Ahmed Tahir, Kano, Kano State.
I also seize this opportunity to thank Sheikh Ahmed Tahir for sending a copy to me, of an authorised autobiography of Dilip Kumar (The Substance and the Shadow). I shall treasure it.