(By Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown) – Late Tafa Balogun had an imposing resume and star career. It points to the footstep of a career giant who practically blazed a trail to the position of IGP in less than 10 years from 1990 when he served as Deputy Commissioner. Shouldn’t his career life serve as an inspiration to a nation seeking direction to greatness and happiness of citizens? So we need to we know the strengths and weaknesses of Tafa Balogun’s life, as one who ruled one of our national establishments.
But the publication on his biography raises the challenge of what should be considered a biography: should it be selective on FACTS?
Where is the editorial humility expected in a case like that of our brilliant late Tafa Balogun former IGP, whose exit from the Police Force was done on Prime Time TV ?
It was such a glaring case that Tafa Balogun became one of the poster faces of President Obasanjo’s anti-corruption battle, at a time when the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, successfully launched the first ever National Reputation Summit in 2002 and was encouraging government to pursue a “Marketing Brand Nigeria” campaign which NIPR announced in 2003.
Tafa Balogun’s case was such that an overwhelmed President of the Federal Republic went public, shouting “Ole! Ole”. Should we not believe the government and what was unchallenged in the public domain? Or do we now fall for this daylight version of what appears to be an attempt to bury the man in a painted Sepulchre? Such would be quite an audacious attempt to clothe the departed as an Angel. He didn’t need the decorations.
Lest we forget, Tafa Balogun was a lawyer and the nation’s No 1 Police Officer at the time he was removed in a public show. He knew his rights as a citizen and also knew the importance of keeping the records straight. Pray, did Tafa Balogun raise a petition in the public domain, make a Press Statement or go to court to redeem any good name he felt he had?
About FACTS, there are admirable qualities of late Tafa Balogun that this so called biography publication did not even scratch. Such qualities should be made mandatory in a new Police System that Nigerians deserve, after a national eruption called #EndSars Protest. That moment should have made a big room for open laundry of the nation’s stinking establishment linens. But it didn’t.
Tafa Balogun loved his job and approached it with discernible passion. He was cerebral and felt at home to discuss any issues of Public interest, without being quixotic. He didn’t bully the public with “official” line. I am among media colleagues and other corporate executives who interacted with Tafa Balogun in his early days, before he became Commissioner of Police. He was great at making friends, quite approachable and did not intimidate, at least not those he had to work with.
He also did not play the trick of many of Nigeria’s top Police officers who would pretend not to know you, when you need help. We need such features as core values to make our Police and Security agencies to be seen as citizen-friendly and efficiency driven.
But on his way to the exhalted IGP position, late Tafa Balogun appeared to have forgotten to seek forgiveness from the ticking public conscience whose unspoken grief fires the wheel of social justice and our nation’s history.
I was assigned to receive late Tata Balogun as IGP on an official visit to SHELL East. Let me just say that it appears that on good PR advice, SPDC corporate management agreed to make his visit a low key event. At the time, top members of corporate management in the Oil industry and perhaps Corporate Nigeria, could see a growing cloud of integrity concerns about how the Police System was known to be managing payments made by companies for SPY Police services.
Do we have more responsive channels today to engender more confidence in our citizens ( individual and corporate, including Police personnel and their families )?
Can we say the public who use Police services today are happier with the Police System? Are DPOs and their personnel rated according to crime rate in each division and given incentives for better performance in a measurable way?
Are our Police men and women treated by the Police System as deserving of dignity on their job and invested with a sense of pride in their identity? Not with the evidence based exposures in the works of informed intellectuals like Dr Mike Uche Chukuma, FNIPR.
One school of literary arts claims that it’s adherents should “speak no evil of the dead”. But in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, we see that position rubbished by the confrontation between Brutus and Mark Antony. In that drama, we learn real lessons of life which justify with overwhelming benefits the flood- ighting effect of what I may call the “heuristic school”.
It seems to hold convincingly that each side of a dead person’s life needs to be examined by presenting the combination of FACTS of success and failures: on one hand let’s see the twinkles of excellence in the person and the path that took the person to stand in the Sky as a Star.
But on the other hand, please also draw our attention to the muddy stains, foibles and weaknesses in the person which he struggled with or overcame.
For it takes both sides to make each of us human. Even more, let the Living learn from the dead who was able to identify, address and bleach off those muddy stains of character, while alive! That is a complete book to educate the living on what to aspire to and what to avoid. The published biography is so much teaching and learning of lessons about the brilliance and promise of Tafa Balogun’s career life. But it is an incomplete and indeed questionable account, if we fail to draw attention to unwanted stains of character that came up when he was alive.
To anyone who followed the Tafa Balogun story ( 1999 – 2005), such glaring stains seem to stand like ghosts around his memory.
Unfortunately, as the nation’s No 1 Police man at the time, he appeared to have failed to arrest them while on duty. We shouldn’t bury him with those ghosts still standing.
*Amaopusenibo Bobo Sofiri Brown is a retired Management Staff of Shell and former National President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.