Despite deplorable state of barracks, my siblings and I turned out fine - Abdulkadir Habeeb (Son of Late CP CRS) - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Monday, 19 July 2021

Despite deplorable state of barracks, my siblings and I turned out fine - Abdulkadir Habeeb (Son of Late CP CRS)

●Late C P Abdulkadir Jimoh Olanrewaju ●His son, Habeeb Abdulkadir

When CP Abdulkadir Jimoh Olanrewaju the then Commissioner of Police in Cross River State suddenly died December last year, while in office, emotions sprang out from all corners of the country.

Lanre Olopa as he was fondly called, was married to Segilola Abdulkadir, a two-term member of the Kwara State House of Assembly. He hailed from the famous Ilorin Emirate and at his burial, his colleagues staged a honour of 21 gun salutes before he was interred after encouraging words from the Chief Imam for the family.

In this interview with Paul Ukpabio, his son Habeeb Abdulkadir, relives the emotions and suggests a way forward for the police/citizens relationship among other things.

Your Dad rose to the rank of a CP in the Nigerian Police force. How easy was it for him to do so, did he tell you some of his stories and experiences?

My dad was an exceptionally brilliant officer, and this was testified to by many of his friends and colleagues. I was fortunate to live through most of his experiences as an officer of the Nigerian Police Force, and rising through the ranks, to the rank of CP is not an easy feat. Just like in the federal civil service, many factors determine the eligibility of an officer for promotion to a higher cadre or rank. In his case, aside from his performance in his previous ranks, he also attended two renowned security institutions for training, which prepared him for his subsequent promotion as a Police commissioner. This however, didn’t come without it challenges, I remember vividly that he was frustrated at some point when he had to wait for more than seven years for his promotion to the rank of DCP due to no fault of his. Also, his posting to Yobe state in 2011 at the height of Boko haram insurgence is another nasty experience in the force, but all in all, we thank Allah for an unblemished career in the NPF.

There's no doubt that once a public figure or a renowned personality dies, so many rumors are attached to their death, of which, many are false, told to suit each others narratives.

My dad was a devoted Muslim so am I. I believe Allah was ready to take him from us, hence, his demise. Since every human has their numbers of days written, I believe my dad's time was up, he did so well and served the country in an exceptional way, he was good to the family, colleagues and friends. So I believe his time was up. And we thank God for a life well lived.

Governor Ayade said of your Dad, “a brave and courageous officer who was a central figure in the fight against kidnapping and other crimes in the state...You were a hero in our relentless quest to ensure peace. Your gallantry and bravery will remain an enduring memory as we mourn your sudden demise...You kept us safe and gave us your all." Does that summarize who your Dad was to you?

Of course, yes, the present security architecture of the state has his prints all over it, and by this, I meant the operation “akpakwu” which was lunched few days before his demise in collaboration with other sister security agencies in the state. But I have to say that he was not only brave and courageous in his dealings, he was also a disciplinarian, a man of piety in his dealings with others, and he his an extraordinary statesman, whose love for his country and profession is second to none.

What did his rise to be the CP in Cross river state mean to the Ilorin Emirate where your famly hail from. Do you think he was fulfilled as a policeman?

His rise to the CP in Cross River state of course isn’t the first of such in the Emirate, but I make bold to say it was one of the most celebrated in the Emirate in particular, and kwara state in general. The reason for this isn’t far-fetched, “Lanre Olopa” as he was popularly known, was a committed, diligent, and extremely responsive person. like I said earlier; rising to the position of CP is no easy feat, it takes a lot of exceptional characteristics coming together to form a personality, and that is what all ‘good’ sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate are known for, and what we the upcoming generation should strive to emulate.

At what point did your Dad join the police? And why did you not take to his footsteps by joining the police?

My Dad joined the police force in those days when joining the force wasn’t the fashionable thing to do. This was well captured in the article written about him, by Alh Imam the National Publicity Secretary of IEDPU. I believe that speaks volume of his courage, and determination to be a problem solver. As for me, growing up in the police barracks of course, I wanted to be a police officer, as a matter of fact I usually play the role of a Police officer whenever I and my friends engage in the ‘police and thief’ play acting. However, time happens to all things, and I discovered that my dad is much more than a police officer. He genuinely loved and cared for everyone, always concerned about people’s welfare. He always discusses the reasons and importance of his actions with me and this exposed me to what it meant to be selfless. I was greatly influenced by him, and Alhamdulilah today I’m an administrator by profession with specialization in planning and welfare management, and I’m also a seasoned agriculturalist, for what can be more humane than ensuring food security to all?

Oh! So you lived in the barracks? How was your experience?

Yes, when my dad was transferred to the State CID at Panti in Lagos, we moved from Agege to the Police barrack at Alausa Secretariat. I had some of my fondest childhood memories in that barrack. You can imagine having hundreds of kids of the same age as yourself to play with everyday. It was chaos, but at the same time it was fun. This doesn’t discount the deplorable state of the barrack, but as kids we didn’t care much, because that was what we knew the world to be at that time. People say the barrack is a breeding ground for several vices, but I think myself and my siblings proved to be exceptions to that, I think we turned out fine.

Tell us briefly about your early life, growing up, where you grew up

I was born in the ancient town of Ilorin, in baboko area of ilorin west local government. Growing up I attended several schools due to the unstable nature of my dad’s job then. I started schooling at the Apostolic Church Nursery and primary school Eruda, Baboko, ilorin, where I did my nursery school, and then in 1993 my dad was posted to Lagos, and I started my primary education at Queens & Kings International school in Agege, Lagos state. I concluded my primary education at Hiwanu LGEA nursery and primary school Kuntu, Ilorin, kwara state and it was there I obtained my first school leaving certificate. I then proceeded to the Federal Government College Ilorin, and in 2005 I obtained my Senior Secondary School Certificate. Thereafter I was granted admission to study Sociology at the University of Abuja. Upon completion of my Bachelors degree, I proceeded to the prestigious Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law & Policy (CEPMLP) University of Dundee, Scotland, for my Masters in International Oil and Gas Management. Just before departing for my Masters in the United Kingdom, I started my poultry farm in 2011. To the glory of God today, I am a Principal Administrator at the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), and also the proprietor of ZIS Integrated farms which I started as a hobby.

What were the challenges that you noticed that your Dad had at work before he became late?

Noticeably, his biggest challenge was managing the chaos that erupted with the Endsars protest. I remembered vividly that he couldn’t sleep for days, I knew this because I was with him in Calabar at that time. I recalled explaining to him the essence of the youthful protest and we both were able to agree that the police needed to reform their manner of engagement with the public, particularly the youths. He was worried about the spate of vandals on the rampage and how to separate that from genuine protesters. Some advised he bans protests altogether and shutdown the city, I argued otherwise and made him see reasons why that wouldn’t be productive. The following day,  he invited organizers of the Endsars campaign in Calabar to his office and promised to provide them with security, so long they conducted themselves in a lawful manner. In the end, the protest took place without any case of harassment or police brutality and also the vandals were apprehended in other parts of the states.

How has life been for you and the entire family after your Dad left?

My dad’s death left such a void that can never be filled by anyone. It was such a great loss, unforeseen, sudden and sad, not just to me, but to the entire extended family and by extension the whole emirate. He played a pivotal role as a father and brother to many, husband, mentor and as the head of the Abdulkadir family. As Muslims it is our strong belief that Allah is the ultimate Provider and Guardian, it was He that raised my dad CP Abdulkadir Jimoh Olanrewaju to prominence from humble beginnings, and I also believe that He will continue to increase His blessings upon us and forgive our dear patriarch.

Now you are a civilian, but you have had an insight knowledge of the police force through your Dad, how best do you think the civilian population can work well with the police force to help the society at large?

Well, I would want the citizens to pay more attention to the debate on state policing/restructuring of the Nigerian police force, this is because policing a diverse and populated country like Nigeria is not an easy job that should be left for Abuja alone. The challenges inherent in the force itself are too enormous and the police can only be as good as it’s environment permits. The public need to engage more with the police and show interest in matters of security.

How would you say having a politician as a mother has influenced your political leanings/outlook?

I knew this is one question I won’t be able to dodge, but anyway, I’m not going to shy away from the fact that my mum is what you categorized as a politically exposed person, who has been an important part of the struggle for women’s right and representation in governance in kwara state. Without mincing words, her adventures in the political wilderness did impacted me in many ways; from campaigns to electioneering, to party activities and processes, the meetings with several interest groups and opinion leaders, the activities are endless and I was privileged to have been part of most of these processes. As for political leanings, I would say ideology comes before leanings for me, and my ideology is centered around youth inclusiveness in political processes and governance, and by youth inclusiveness, I mean progressive youths with proven capacity and very sharp moral compass.

Given your understanding of politics and governance in kwara state, what will be your assessment of Governor AA’s policy on youth inclusiveness in governance?

Permit me to employ an analogy to explain my opinion on this. Governor AA is like that person that sought direction to a particular destination, and was told to take the third turning to his right on the next street. On getting to that street, he decided to take the first turning to the right thinking that will get him faster to his destination. Engaging youths on the scale that it’s been done by the Governor AA’s administration is no doubt laudable and commendable, but then there’s the question of capacity and track record of those individuals. Personally, I think he’s making the right efforts in the wrong direction.  

As a farmer, how would you rate his performance in the agric sector?

This is one topic I would want to exercise some restraint, because if you get me started on agric,  the scope of this interview wouldn’t be enough to encapsulate the discussion. At the inception of his administration it appeared as if the government was going to invest more in the sector, with constant talks about the domestication of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), and agricultural mechanization. More so, the border closure policy of the FGN at about the same time inspired farmers to ramp up local production capacity, but the lack of government support and insecurity quickly took the wind out of our sail.  As it stands today, most farmers are pessimistic about any government interventions, this has seen a lot of farmlands abandoned and the prices of food has in turn skyrocketed. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel in the foreseeable future.

Oh! So you think the border closure has its positives?

I understand this is a very controversial topic for most people, but yes, the border closure has its ‘intended’ positives for the manufacturing sector. For a poultry farmer like myself, I went from five thousand birds capacity to twenty thousand by the second month of the closure. The demand seriously surpasses the supply and huge investments in the form of increased capacity poured into the manufacturing sector. Although, this doesn’t deprecate the hardship faced by the general populace in the short term, it is my fervent belief that the policy, although good, was a bit rushed and not carefully planned to provide cushion for the immediate effect of the closure. Border closure policy has its positives and negatives, it goes both ways. What Nigerians need to understand is that our excessive taste for foreign goods is at the detriment of our local manufacturing industry, a temporary closure is meant to reduce the pressure of our FX reserve, increase local production, and thereby, increase employment opportunities too. If we fail to take the pain in the short-term, we will definitely have to leave with the consequences of dwindling reserves and increased unemployment.

What would be your advice to your generation?

It is important for my generation to understand that it’s not enough to complain about the situation of things in the country, but to get involve in the discussion and processes of critical decision making in the country. We can claim to be professionals and shy away from participating in the processes by which leaders are chosen, this leaders will eventually make policies that will guide our various professions and then we will continue to complain. We need to encourage our best and brightest to step forward and dominate the political pool from which our leaders are drawn. It’s important to understand that politics trumps everything. We cannot afford to seat on the sideline, while decisions about our future is been determined by those who don’t share the same vision with our generation.

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