By Henry Udutchay
For every new season there’s a renewed hope. The hope of a better today than yesterday. The hope that things will change and every setback of the past shall be forgotten and new dawn will befall. This is the case of our dear country Nigeria, when on May 29, 2023, the baton of democracy was passed and extended to a man who many have described as a cat with nine lives.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took over on Democracy Day and in the midst of the fanfare there have been serious political machinations going on. From the executive, legislative and judiciary, it is going to be a long period of sitting up, permutations and calculations, as the case may be.
Many heads of agencies and parastatals who are unsure of their portfolio would be busy going from place to place seeking audience and trying to be in the good books. Newbies, hangers-on and other political jobbers would also be jostling and lobbying for various opportunities. For those who have performed well, they will can expect their good works to do the talking. They are convinced that they’ve performed well and as such do not need to develop an emergency “high BP”. Good work speaks for itself.
Therefore, whenever we speak on performance and being true to duty, one agency keeps coming to mind. Indeed, it is very glaring, without being told, from the numerous projects it started inaugurating in recent time, which has earned it the nickname “The Performer”, that Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), under the stewardship of Controller General Haliru Nababa, stands out every time.
To avoid the need to sound like a broken record, perhaps it’s imperative to highlight some of these projects inaugurated recently by the NCoS so as to create a perfect picture of how things are from how they used to be before today.
Nababa and his team have successfully inaugurated the following projects in recent time; the Nigerian Correctional Service zone A headquarters in Lagos, 20-bed COVID-19 intervention fund hospital at Medium Security Custodial Centre, Ilesha, Osun State, Nigerian Correctional Service, Imo State headquarters, another 20-bed COVID-19 intervention fund hospital at Maximum Security Custodial Centre, Port Harcourt, and the most recent, which is the 3,000-capacity ultramodern custodial centre at Janguza, in Kano State, to mention but a few of the outstanding projects of this very commendable leadership.
Most of these projects were inaugurated by members of the executive arm, including former President Muhammadu Buhari, who was on hand to launch the ultramodern custodial centre in Kano some days before he vacated office. It was a unique and special occasion because it was a first of it’s kind and in line with the former President’s promise to fully support the NCoS in the discharge of its duties effectively.
While addressing journalists at the unveiling of the project in Janguza on Friday, May 26, 2023, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, noted that the auspicious ceremony confirmed Buhari’s capacity to transform the critical component of criminal justice administration with the NCoS as a prime beneficiary.
“Indeed, this ceremony further confirms Mr. President’s capacity and tenacity to rewrite the history of justice administration in Nigeria, through total transformation of the critical component of criminal justice administration”.
The custodial centre will provide a conducive environment for inmates and reduce congestion in that particular region. Dealing with congestion is a paramount issues across all custodial centres around the country. So this is a step in the right direction. Again, kudos to the amazing leadership of the NCos.
The various projects carried out and completed by the leadership of the NCos clearly shows the direction and drive of the agency and the competence of those running it. It proves that once the right people are put in the right places, excellence delivery will stop being a myth in governance.
For instance the 20-bed COVID-19 hospitals inaugurated were among some of the most important needs around the correctional centres, because even as the centres house those who have been convicted of varying degrees of crimes and offences, international human rights law requires inmates to be provided with adequate medical care while in custody. This is as important as the remand process itself. With this development, inmates can now access proper care and cases of those in incarceration falling sick and dying would be drastically reduced. Except for natural occurrence, the life of every inmate is now secured more than before.
The past administration has done its part and they’re commended. However, for progress to be maintained, especially in governance, it is well known that continuity must be sustained.
This is why an appeal is being made to the new government, under the leadership of President Tinubu, to not abandon the NCoS, and ensure that adequate funding is provided because that is sacrosanct to efficient performance delivery across board.
Issues around funding for an important agency such as the Nigerian Correctional Service cannot be overemphasized. It is through proper funding that maximum security of the centres can be guaranteed; it is funding that will enable officers and men of the service discharge their duties judiciously and eliminate issues of corruption.
The administrative aspect of the correctional services is already in good hands, it is only right to provide them with the necessary support they required for outstanding service delivery.
The President will expectedly have his hands full in the coming weeks, as he would have to set up his cabinet and prepare his team to lead Nigeria right. There’s renewed hope that just maybe this is the turning point that Nigeria needs. So, as the dust is finally settling and congratulatory messages are trooping in from all corners of the world, the task ahead is huge and, if we must get it right as a nation, particular efforts must be made to retain those who have performed well in their various capacities to enable them consolidate on the blueprint that has already been created.
•Chief Udutchay is a political analyst and social commentator; email@example.com, 08091111250