By Kayode Oladeji
Vince Thomas Lombardi was a respected American footballer, Coach and an administrator who during his time, won many laurels and diadems.
According to Lombardi,”The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor”.
Truly, unwavering commitment to a cause/endeavor, brings about excellence often accompanied by applauses/accolades and celebrations in different life callings.
In this regard, this piece is dedicated to one of the very few finest officers in the Nigeria Police Force, Mr Sikiru Kayode Akande, who has just been promoted to the rank of Commissioner of Police.
Truly, a well deserved promotion/entitlement or accolade, can only be delayed, it can never be denied. Like a patient dog, some of us had waited long for this to happen.
On Friday, 3rd July, 2020, around 3:30pm, I received one of my best news this year that our man has been elevated to the rank of a Commissioner of Police CP. On hearing the good news, all the essence of my being, leaped for joy. This is because we had longed for it.
The reason for this is not far-fetched at all: Akande is a special breed and a Police Officer with a difference. Filled with the needed intelligence, he’s the complete opposite of an average Police man on the street. If Sikay, as fondly called by some of us, his close friends, visits you, he gives, if you visit him, he gives. Giving has naturally become part of him.
Though Nigeria has a bad name especially with the exploits of most of Nigerian leaders in corruption coupled with the nefarious activities of some cretins like Hushpuppi, the Nigeria Police Force is equally seen as a bastion of bribery and corruption.
Despite the negative label, one of the very few that stands out, is our newly promoted CP. This is obviously because his records in the Force have remained pristine and unsullied.
Both at home and abroad, the graduate of Political Science from the University of Benin, has proved his professional mettle, a development that has hauled in honours, recognitions and awards for him, both locally and internationally.
For instance, his exploits in Kosovo and Liberia, earned him recognition and awards from the United Nations. As the Commander, 1st African Armed Police Unit to a UN operations, the never-assuming Akande, proved his professional competence by restoring peace in the troubled Bong and Nimba counties in December 2004.
Similarly in Morovia, the Liberian capital, amidst growing tension and riot which the combined formations from Nepal and Jordan had been unable to quell for 3 days, his Unit, which he led, within hours of being deployed, quenched the unrest successfully.
This feat achieved by his Unit, earned Nigeria a special request from the UN for the deployment of four extra units to its other missions. While in addition it earned his boys on the mission, special commendation from the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSE), Akande was certificated in Gold by the UN.
A flower remains a flower anywhere, even on the dunghill. He is an officer without airs and is never aerated with buffoonery often associated with some men in uniform.
The new CP had countless times, successfully cop-knocked at the enclave of criminals and came out triumphantly. For instance, while in 1994, he successfully investigated and recovered items worth £4.7m stolen from the defunct Welcome Pharmacy in Lagos, with the suspects convicted, in 1996, operating under a Presidential Task Force on Financial Crimes, he, in league with others, arrested a foreign national who duped some Nigerian businessmen to the tune of #480 million.
No doubt, before arriving at this enviable height, he had gone through the crucible. Successfully in the profession, the newest CP has traversed with a keel. He has always plied his trade with the needed gusto.
At any point in time, he does not see the NPF as a deadborn as many in the society would see it. As PPRO Baluchi State Command in 1997, he established a functional Police Library, served and won Governor’s award in Cross River in 2007. Meritoriously, he has served in other places. Currently, he is the OC, Presidential/VIP Movements, State House, Abuja.
A thoroughbred professional and super cop always with his cap and cop on, he knows when to be civil and when to adorn the garb of a tough officer. Akande’s works and good deeds have become his keepsake for many in all areas he has touched in life.
With benefit of hindsight and at the risk of sounding somewhat patronizing, one can safely infer that today, Sikay is one of the very few linchpins, providing the needed positive vibe to the dark spots often associated with the Nigeria Police.
Despite his status in the Force, whenever we are traveling together and we get to any road block manned by his men, he will not show off unless it becomes extremely compelling for him to do so, more so that he is most times in mufti. If it is at night, he will switch on the inner light of the car. It was on one occasion at around Old CBN, Garki 2 in Abuja, that he was really mad at some officers who mounted a road block which caused a long tortuous queue.
“You, come here! Who sent you this?” This tone sent a loud alarm and those on that post, rented the air with Shion Sir! “Who is your Commander? That’s how you people go about spoiling the reputation of this profession”, he angrily queried.
That fateful night, because of his simplicity, the Police men didn’t know he was one of their ogas until he thundered those few words. Anyway, the rest is history.
On this job, this man knows his onion. When I buried my mother, he was deeply involved. He handled the security arrangements. One important advice he gave which I can never forget was in the area of musician to invite.
This was because, the popular Fuji musician, Osupa Saheed, offered to play for me for free while Dele Taiwo, Juju musician, equally offered to play for free. If you’re wondering why, both of them are my friends.
Ordinarily, I would have preferred Osupa but he advised against it that since it was an open field that was designated for the burial party and not a hall, it would be too tight. With Osupa, he warned that the party might be disrupted by area boys. His counsel prevailed, I settled for Dele Taiwo (DT) who performed that day. Even with DT on the bandstand, Akande was on his feet throughout, together with other friends of mine just to ensure everything went well.
Whoever must have come in contact with our new CP will know that not all Nigeria Police officers and men are bad. Though few, there are those among them who are working assiduously to see a Nigeria Police Force that will become a source of pride to the nation. The Akande that I know belongs to the class of this patriotic few.
Some 52years ago, precisely in 1968, a popular Ghanian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah, titled one of his literary works, “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born”. But with the like of Akande in the Police, one can say that the beautiful ones are already here, even though it may take time before their number grow big enough.
Above all, nothing good and enduring in life, comes cheap. For him, he has duly paid his price and the prizes are now rolling in, in torrents.
“Olopa, I begy Sir ” as I normally call you, congratulations. We shall soon celebrate you again.
By Kayode Oladeji