• DIG KOKUMO Speaks On His Retirement
DIG Johnson Kokumo has just been pulled out fo the Police Force after spending 35 meritorious years. He also recently turned 60, the statutory age for retirement in the police force.
City People Magazine went after him last week to get this Officer & a Gentleman to speak about his life. We expected to find a run of the mill Police Officer, but we found a polished and cosmopolitan officer who speaks impeccable English. He is also a very stylish man, a man of sartorial elegance, who carefully chooses his words to convey his message to you.
What sort of a man is DIG Kokumo? What made him join the Police Force? How did he survive in the force for 35 years? What next for him?
These and many more were the questions the City team led by Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE & SUNDAY ADIGUN asked this distinguished gentleman, who is now enjoying the beauty of retirement. He now sleeps soundly. And he doesn’t wake up fully till about 12 noon. His dressing has also changed. He now loves to wear a Kango caps given to him as gifts. Last Tuesday, we sat down with him for about 2 hours listening to the man many call JB, tell us about his success story in the Police Force. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Let me start by congratulating on your retirement. How is it sir, you don’t even look like a retiree?
It’s been God’s grace, nothing else. Exercise has been a tremendous assistance. I do it always, considering the nature of my job.
Even when I served in the investigative arm of the Police, we must always keep fit, and that can be achieve through physical exercise. But I must emphasise that it’s been God’s grace.
How have you been able to adjust back to normal life?
I am still in the process of adjustment, because I still see myself wanting to do my daily routine. Working up in the morning desiring situation reports, before it down on me that I am no longer in the service. I think I am enjoying my peace.
I like this banner in your living room that says the days of Uniform Are Over, how does that makes you feel?
It appear strange, it is still strange and for a long time to come it will still be strange. This is a job I did for 35 years. So, it is very strange and will still be strange for a very long time. But having a very good wife who is willing and ever ready to assist me. My wife has been there to help with the transition process.
What are your impressions of your pull out parade?
The pull out parade was a very good one. It symbolise the end of our career. To me it’s a way of thanking God and make people to understand and see in clear terms what we went through. We were 198 that started training far back 1988. 178 completed the training successfully deployed to the field and only 15 of us were pull out, at the end of our career. Many had gone to the great beyond. We have many who were tagged for one form of professional misconducts. Some where sick and reffered to the medical board where they were satified his unfit for the job. So, we have just 15 of us who completed successfully without any blemish. A career of 35 years, all glory to the Almighty God.
Are there other lessons you learnt?
I would say that its very important to remain close to God, absolutely important. I have always made a distinction between Godliness and Religiousity. You can be religious yet ungodly. Your religiousity will measure the frequency of your religion rituals, the number of times you pray the number of times you go to church, the number of times you go to Mosque. The questionb is how Godly are you. You maybe praying 100 times a day and still wicked. To be successful in this job, you need to be Godly and godfearing. Conscience is also the best judge, you try as much as you can to act according to the dictate of your conscience. If you are doing well your conscience will tell you. And in this job it has always been “obey the last order”. This is one of the thing that really put me in the job for that long. “I have had an instance when a superior officer had given me an unlawful order, an unlawful order that was to scortle the chances of a very prominent Nigeria, in fact, the current serving President, in the 2015 election before the election, there were primaries election, a superior officer told me to disallow the mother of all rallies in Lagos. What he really wanted would have put not only Lagos in crisis, if not the entire Nigeria. I refused such an unlawful order totally and I stood my ground. I chose to do what was lawful and professional. I have been able to document my experience.
If you look back sir, how do you compare the Police force today to when you joined 35 years ago?
There is a lot of difference. There is no basis for comparison. Joining the Police then was far better. Is it the training we wants to talk about, very comprehensive training. Training by experts; they have to train you within and outside Nigeria.
Even the local training, it’s difficult to come and that of course keeps impacting negatively on performance. There is always the need for training, in service training to impact positively on service delivery. Then funding, that maybe understandable if we look at the fact that resources available to the federal government is limited.
We have many ministries, parastatals competing for the limited resources. It is what is available for the federal government they will make available to various agencies. And this things have their negative impact in service delivery. Until we address some of this critical issues. Training is key. You recruit people from the street, put them together for a period of 6 months, you turn them out and they are killing the institution they are expected to function well. There is a need to make sure the training need of personnels are address adequately. The Police is expected to serve the people; they should see themselves as such, bearing in mind the fact that it is the tax-payers money that is been used to pay salary, and the guns that are even procure, given to them to work with should not be turn against the citizens. Before, when you are been tranferred from a formation to another.
There must be adequate arrangement for where you are going to stay, where you are going. But these days; it’s mass movement. If there is no money for Inspector General to disburse, what do you expect? Then the unnecessary influence of the political class; it is becoming unnecessary unbearable. Police is expected to remain apolitical, in all we do, but we still see Police Officers who wants to penetrated it is this same political class wanting protection for their families and these has reduced drastically the number of Policeman that are available to Police the public space.
I can say authoritatively that we have large number of Policeman attached to private individuals in Nigeria.
What was the attraction when you joined Police 35 years ago?
As a youngman, I was born in an environment; in fact, my late father’s house was hired by government as Police barracks and station. Actually my father’s house was the first Police barracks and Police station in Agege, I was born in Agege. The house was a hired quarters like I said, and beside the house was another house where I was born and grew up. And I grew up to like Police appearance. I grew up to love them, then there used to be one Sergent Gbere was quite an old man, he was from somewhere in Ondo State or Ekiti State. I used to see his uniform. I grew up to love the job and by the time I finished school, I just felt I may need to join the Nigeria Police Force. I told my dad what I wanted to do, I picked up the form. I never knew my father did not like it. There was one AIG my father knew then and told him to distrupt the process. I wasn’t happy when I heard and I made the 2nd attempt without telling him. And when I finished from training the first person that requested for assistance from me was my father. I asked him, if I have not become a Policeman what would have happened, he said he would consulted another person (laugh).
Then how far with all the courses attached to it?
I started in 1988, the journey has been quite tortous. It’s full of ups and downs, suffered in the course of transfer. The most interesting aspect of the transfer is; it’s not the job they will tell you your next move, at times it can be from one extrem to the other. I remember when I was Assistant Commissioner of Police, in-charge of the Operation Department in Ogun State, when on a Sunday somebody called to tell me that the signals was just been released from the force headquarter, moving me to Adamawa as Area Commander. I was in the compound and my wife was upstairs. I walked in to tell her “Madam, I am leaving for Adamawa tomorrow”. She asked when are you coming back? I said I don’t know it is transfer.
In the course of doing the job I have had several training and courses, for each post I attained. I have also been nominated for many course as well. Courses are pre-ecusite for promotion and development. You can’t not go beyound certain level if you don’t do it.
We need it to sanitize the system for someone to enlist into the force as a graduate, wearing the rank of Assistant Superintendent and spending the whole 35 years without attending any course, it’s absurd. And when people go on courses, it is very important that such courses are put into cognisance.
Looking at you as a Police Officer, your appearance, your behaviour are very different from others, what explains that?
That has to do with ones Personality development. When you are developing a personality there are so many factors responsible for that. When a child is growing, mental factor, environment factor, social factor etc. There are lots of factor responsibile for that the personality development. And all those known to a very large extent are quite hybosyncratic. You look at it individually, what do I want to look like. So, it is individual decision.
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