On 17 February, Vice President Namadi Sambo inaugurated a committee to re-organise the Nigeria Police Force, headed by Chief Parry Osayande.
Speaking at the inauguration, VP Sambo said the task of the committee would be to “redress the rot in the Nigeria Police Force and reposition it to face the challenges of democratic society, through the timely prevention and detection of crime in all its ramifications”.
The 8-member committee was constituted on 25 January, after President Goodluck Jonathan had sacked the former Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, and his six deputies, following the embarrassing escape from police custody, of a key suspect in a Christmas Day bomb incident.
Its terms of reference as follows:
1. To identify the challenges and factors militating against effective performance in the Nigeria Police Force and make recommendations for addressing the challenges.
2. To examine the scope and standard of training and other personnel development activities in the Police to determine their adequacy or otherwise.
3. To determine the general and specific causes of the collapse of public confidence in the police and recommend ways of restoring public trust in the institution.
4. To examine records of performance of Officers and Men of the Nigeria Police Force with a view to identifying those that can no longer fit into the system due to declining productivity, age, indiscipline, corruption and/or disloyalty.
5. To make any other recommendations for the improvement of the Nigeria Police Force.
Its chairman, Osayande, 76, a former deputy inspector general of police, had been chairman of the Police Service Commission since April 2008.
This is the sixth committee on police reform set up by the Federal Government in the last 17 years. There was a Police Reform Panel in 1995, a Vision 2010 committee in 1997, the Tamuno Committee in 2002, the Danmadami Police Reform Committee in 2006, and a Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigeria Police Force chaired by Alhaji M. D. Yusuf in 2008.
The Yusuf Committee, of which Osayande was a member, particularly lamented that the government had failed to implement the recommendations of previous committees. As it turned out, its own recommendations were again largely ignored since 2008, leading now to the Osayande committee!
On 26 May, President Goodluck Jonathan cancelled his scheduled trip to the Summit of Eight Industrialised Nations (G8) in Deauville, France, due to ash clouds and flight safety concerns arising from the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman Ima Niboro, the cancellation was informed by indications from aviation authorities that a possible resumption of the eruptions would make flights unsafe, which in turn would make it impossible for Jonathan to return to Abuja in time for his inauguration for a fresh term on Sunday 29 May.
The G8 is an unofficial annual forum for the leaders of the eight leading industrialised countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. President Jonathan was among five African leaders invited to join some sessions of the summit this year, the others being the leaders of Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa.
Issues on the Summit’s agenda this year, which are of interest to Nigeria include the G8’s partnership with Africa, and a range of security issues particularly counter-terrorism and curbing trans-Atlantic drug trafficking. However, that agenda also spelt out that the summit’s main focus would be on the continuing transformations in Egypt and Tunisia, the seemingly stalemated conflict in Libya and the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in stabilising democracy in these nations.
The Grimsvotn volcano in Vatnajokull National Park, which is Iceland’s most active volcano, began erupting on 21 May, belching a plume of white smoke as high as 15 km into the sky. It would be recalled that a little over a year earlier, another Iceland volcano – the Eyjafjallajokull – had forced the cancellation of thousands of flights across northern Europe for five days. Some 10 million travellers were stranded and airlines lost millions of dollars. The ash cloud caused by this year’s eruption of the Grimsvotn has not been as disruptive, but it has been enough to alter the itineraries of several notables.
U.S. President Barack Obama had to cut short his visit to Ireland on Monday 23 May due to the ash cloud. Barcelona’s soccer team travelling to London for the Champions League final against Manchester United, scheduled for Saturday 28 May, had to leave Spain on Tuesday, two days ahead of schedule, to avoid having its travel plans disrupted by volcanic ash, for a second consecutive year!