IT’s unbelievable! Nigeria has existed for two good months now without police roadblocks! From the fringes of the vast landmass of the North to the mangroves of the Niger Delta, from Calabar to Lagos, Nigeria has moved on without the iron bars and the sand-filled bags that forced motorists to slow down and snake through the lanes before pulling up for the necessary “check”.
And the wonder of it all is that armed robbers have not overrun the country. This is a mystery because no one, few months ago, would have accepted that this is possible.
As far as the past Police authorities were concerned, the culture of Police road block was a sacred option for a helpless country. But, today, a Daniel has come to judgement! The new IGP, Mohammed Abubakar, has put a lie to this myth and swept the sacred culture into the dustbin of history. Abubakar has demystified the myth of the inevitability of police roadblock. The new IGP has proven that Nigeria can indeed exist without these primitive barricades on our highways and inter-city roads. This is a landmark achievement for Nigeria and a great accolade for this courageous cop. In a very short time, Abubakar has raised the bar for the Nigeria Police Force and taken the Force to the next level.
However, my piece today is not a celebration of the man, Abubakar, but a celebration of courage and innovation in leadership. Like all cases of innovation that uplifted the status of society, Abubakar’s action was a huge and dangerous risk. If there was any time when such a thought shouldn’t have crossed the mind of any leader in Nigeria, it was at the time when Abubakar stepped into the Louis Edet’s House as the new IGP. This was exactly the time when the Police integrity as an institution was on the dock over the escape from Police custody of the Christmas day bomber, Mr. Kabiru Sokoto. It still is this time of high insecurity in the land.
Thus, the new society without roadblock is a fruit of a strong moral courage. I would agree with the former Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Alozie Ogugbuaja, who reasoned last week that Abubukar in taking the initiative acted alone. By acting alone, Ogugbuaja means that he listened only to himself. He exercised a great moral courage that could only have come from a strong inner conviction. “It was like embarking on a suicide mission. You won’t understand what I am talking about because the experiment has been a success. If he had failed, he would have been a lonely villain. What is remarkable is that Nigeria has not collapsed ever since the Police were withdrawn from the roads. It was as if this couldn’t have been possible in this country. But, Abubakar has made us to see Nigeria without roadblocks and the alternative is better for the country,” declared Ogugbuaja.
Indeed, the most remarkable thing is that Abubakar’s action bore the distinguishing trait of great entrepreneurs and leaders. He thought outside the box. He got out of the Police comfort zone. He took a great risk. He explored the unknown and extended the frontiers. Could he have imagined failure? Could he have weighed the backlash of failure with his name and career at great risk? What would have happened to Abubakar if his experiment had failed woefully? Of course, he would have gone the way of his forebears, disgraced out of office for non-performance.
From being a checking point, the roadblock transmuted into a settlement point and became one of the social nightmares of Nigerian life. In one journey from Lagos to the East, one could count over 200 settlement points all manned by policemen.
Though the factors that necessitated the checking points in the first instance, were germane, the manner of operation of the checking points came to outweigh its usefulness. A very conscientious group of Police officers on a roadblock could intercept arms and stolen properties. They could be a source of confidence to commuters and helpless travelers on the highways.
They could act to checkmate the activities of dare-devil armed men on the highways. But, the vision of the checking-point soon became counter-productive with the police transforming into emergency tollgates for the servicing of the Police structure.
In that barbaric regime, policemen lobby to be posted to choice settlement points like the routes to the nation’s borders and major highways from where goods are brought into the country. There was an underground railroad by which returns were sent back to the headquarters. It was an entrenched system of corruption and it is only a revolutionary that can attempt to upset this old order.
But, today, by that act of moral courage, Nigeria has seen the alternative to roadblock. Looking back, we now imagined how we had lived in that barbaric regime for so long a time. After two months of independence and freedom from the old regime , the general verdict is that Nigeria can fare better and security can be better ensured by the alternatives to roadblocks like the 24-hour patrol.
There was, it might seem, a key segment of the society who didn’t want the roadblocks dismantled. It was the Police personnel to whom the roadblock has become a mainstay and source of lifeline. But, they are, also, quickly realising that this lifeline was just a matter of the mind. After two months without the gratis from the road, the Police structure is fast undergoing a positive reorientation. They have now realised they can indeed live and survive without this ugly indulgence which, many times, led to the shooting of innocent drivers and conductors who refused to part with N20. Yet, even with the roadblocks, the activities of the robbers did not abate.
Indeed, I submit that the roadblock regime is primitive and obsolete. With the light from Abubakar, Nigeria must continue to seek for alternative methods of improving surveillance on the roads both in the day and at night. There could be an all-day aerial surveillance to monitor movement on the roads and track the activities of evil men.
Kudos to the man who bust the myth.
Mr. GODWIN ADINDU is an aide of the Abia State Governor on Media and Communication.
- LUXURY BUS ATTACK: Police arrest robbery, rape suspects, driver [Vanguard News] (transformationwatch.com)
- IG orders patrol of federal highways [The Punch] (transformationwatch.com)
- N4.63bn saved from absence of police road blocks – Rights activist (transformationwatch.com)
- Watching Police: IG gives out phone numbers – Vanguard News (transformationwatch.wordpress.com)