From SARS to SWAT: The Nigerian Mentality for Change

Ben Jimmy

According to Rachel Hollis, “ moving doesn’t change who you are. It only changes the view outside your window”.

It is most saddening that the perception most Nigerians have developed over the years about change is that it comes or should come like a waff, inconsiderably taken and urgently executed with little or no recourse to the fundamentals of the full import of change, as it were. Worse can be said of most of leaders at all levels who have no modicum of the truism of what it entails, other than a waesome idea that names and uniforms simply make up for this change.

In The Nigeria Police Force, for instance, there has been a well grown up mentality that change mainly resides in new names, new uniforms and perhaps new motto, hence, the new appellation from SARS to SWAT.

In 2012, the former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, had introduced a new uniform referred to as camouflage. According to him, the introduction of the uniform was in line with the transformation agenda of the then Goodluck Jonathan administration and the desire of the police management to reform and launder an acceptable image for the force.

Before arrival, this explanation was already held up as a coverable and laughable justification to a uniform that only changes nothing about the image of the institution and the attitude of the ranks and files of the members of the force.

Worse off, many analysts then were not swayed by those rhetorical classics akin to those of Plato and Socrates and mere change of a uniform which, for them, was just a window-dressing exercise meant to achieve beauty only. But what was however exhumed out of the introduction which later berthed some sort of an argument was, and still is; that nothing is wrong with the police uniform, but everything is wrong with those who wear the uniform.

Prior to the unveiling of the camouflage, a sky blue uniform was introduced. This sky blue was however not a general uniform, as it was only meant for the high rank officers in Abuja and major cities in Nigeria. This introduction was also meant to, presumably, give a new image best described as friable to the force in the eyes of Nigerians and perhaps the international community as well.

In another instance within a collectible memory, The Nigeria Police was made a satire when it motto – “ the police is your friend”- snowballed into the public space. The travesty, misinterpretation and misrepresentation that this motto generated came on the heels of the fact that The Nigeria Police Force appears to be riding on a wag mentality that change of uniforms and motto is a sure way to redeeming it image that some ranks and files in the force have recalcitrantly bastardised through their unprofessional, indiscipline and uncivil conduct. For many Nigerians who cared to ponder on the motto then, it was not just a sarcastic maxim, or better still, an innuendo for comedians and comediennes to create out fun from, but also a deliberate ironically conceived statement for the laughters.

Therefore, the new name for the defunct SARS may not consternate or bewilder anybody who is a keen follower of events in the country. What, however will be surprising is that if the ongoing reforms will move beyond uniforms, names and mottos to touching on the attitude of those men and women in the force who have allowed their moral thinking wane to an irredeemable level. This will be so because Nigeria believes so much in changing names of institutions, yet every other thing remains the same, sometimes, worse off. Let’s pray that the name “Nigeria” will not be changed someday in the thinking that it is the reason corruption is unlimited in the country.

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