Ex-IGP Solomon Arase: A Round Peg in a Round Hole
By Zayd Ibn Isah
Richard Scragg in his article, “A Round Peg in a Round Hole” wrote: “Some people grow up knowing what they want to do for a career. They have a plan; they follow that plan. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I would imagine sometimes it does and they end up working in an industry and for a company that is a great fit for them. Then there are others, like me, who don’t have a plan. Therefore, my career path has had to evolve over time, I’ve tried a few difficult things, and worked for a few (not loads, only four) companies. Having experienced sectors, and different companies and their cultures, Mott Macdonald fits for me.”
Unlike Richard Scragg of Mott Macdonald, former IGP Solomon Arase already had his career path figured out in his mind after he earned his first degree in Political Science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State. This was in spite of the fact that his mother already had a different plan for him. In his first interview with selected journalists after his appointment as the 18th Inspector-General of Police by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, he said his mother, who was a teacher, had wanted him to become a diplomat. But that was until he told her that he wanted to be a police officer. His mother simply couldn’t believe her ears. “Police!” she exclaimed. “How am I supposed to tell my friends that my only son is a police officer?’’
But young Solomon Arase’s mind was already made up. And that must have taken a lot of guts. Since time immemorial, and even till date, traditional African parents often impose their will upon their offspringsʼ personal choices—especially when it involves education, career and marriage. As such, one can only imagine just how much willpower the young Arase needed to convince his mother to let him join the service of the Nigeria Police Force.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
There are a lot of existential lessons to learn from the trajectory of someone like Solomon Arase. The most important one here being that parents should be open-minded and considerate while helping their children to make career choices. Perhaps, if Arase’s mother had insisted on her son becoming a diplomat or something of the sort, he may not have become who he is today. He might not have worked hard enough to become a respected figure in the history of the Police Force, an erudite lawyer, a humanitarian and author of many books on security and police reforms. All of this within a record track of excellent service. At this point, there is only one word sufficient enough to describe Dr. Solomon Arase’s profile: Intimidating.
Born on 21 June, 1956, Arase became a graduate of Political Science from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. His insatiable taste for knowledge spurred him to further study law at the University of Benin, situated within his home state. From there, he proceeded to Law School and subsequently became a Barrister and Solicitor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But he didn’t just stop there, no. He would still go on to get his LLM from the Lagos State University, majoring in Corporate Management and Finance Law. At this point, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise that Arase also holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan. One has to wonder from just where he got the drive and focus to achieve all these, especially when the hectic and rigorous demands of policing is brought into consideration. Certainly, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to speculate on the possibility of this man being built differently with an advanced kind of life-force.
His impressive policing career of over three decades began with his enlistment into the Nigeria Police in 1981 as Cadet ASP. And since then, Dr. Solomon Arase has made several meaningful contributions to the Nigeria Police Force, having served in different departments including Operations, Investigation, Administration and Intelligence. Notable among these professional contributions is the ‘stick and carrot’ strategy he deployed as IGP to keep officers of the Force under his command on their toes.
His appointment as the Chairman, Police Service Commission did not come to many as a surprise at all. Especially when this appointment was from President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR—a leader who knows what he knows how to do best. After all, Mr. President has mastered the art of putting round pegs in round holes, and he has just done exactly that by placing Dr. Solomon Arase at the head of the PSC. As PSC Chairman, Arase will be saddled with the enormous responsibilities of bridging the wide gap between the police and members of the public, as well as appointing officers into the Force, promoting and disciplining erring officers for the overall good of the Force, etc.
Ultimately, Dr. Solomon Arase has proven himself to be a man of intellectual sagacity, time and time again. His decisive interventions on national issues earned him the highly prestigious honour of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic. This award is often given to eminent personalities who have made positive contributions towards the growth and development of our country, Nigeria. Definitely, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, did not make any mistake by appointing Dr. Solomon Arase to head the Police Service Commission. Such an appointment is quite timely, particularly because citizens have been clamouring for a Police Force that will serve the interest of every Nigerian, no matter how lowly placed.
Surely, no one other than the formidable Arase is well cut out to handle the affairs of the police, and he will no doubt leave an indelible mark.
Zayd Ibn Isah writes from Abuja via [email protected]