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An Open letter to President Jonathan on Minister Abba Moro’s Truths
By: John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D  
 Published  June 5th, 2012

President, every now and then in life you find an individual in various part of the globe who is willing to tell the noble truth. In Nigeria mostly, is it very difficult to find somebody with the courage to tell the truth especially if it is a bitter truth?

As a scholar and practitioner in forensic psychology with a focus on prison and police matters as well as one who recently returned home from the United States of America after about three decades, there is need for the full examination of some of these internal security issues.

Now, what are the lines of noble truths that came from the mouth of Comrade Patrick Abba Moro, the Minister of Interior?

His words are crucial to achieving the Jonathan Transformation Agenda especially in the areas of internal affairs of our nation.

Mr. President, only if you are able to have access to this open letter, it will be one way for you to be able to experience the pain and bitterness that Minister Moro described in many of his recent words about the internal-based security hurdles and other related matters.

Sir, we need experts, who in the spirit of the nation and for the service of the people will thrive to tackle many compounding issues raised by Minister Moro, and for the sake of the society the expert service should come out voluntarily, and it should be done professionally and in a timely way.

 For the collectivization of services the expected services should be of help to all of us and not for one’s own selfish sake and in all of these we need experts and leaders with a cycle of clear conscience.

Speaking about clear conscience, we now know openly through the Minister that since 1981 at least 10 prison projects were contracted with many of them suffering abandonment.  Again, since 1981.

Mr. President this information which you may already know of and be aware of remains mind burgling. 

Mr. President, we all agree that nation-making must surely occur slowly but it must be executed progressively by men and women of conscience.

In another issue, the Minister as part of his sacred task and as a man who is vast of the elements and local factors evoked a sense of pain and worry about a nation where during personnel selection for a job a serving senator may send a letter requesting a member of his constituency to be selected—no matter what is on ground for the admitting agency.

The senator’s letter or request is generally obliged to in the midst of high competition for a tight position. And not picking the senator’s or another Higher official’s choice is a temptation that is not worth risking.

Mr. President, this dilemma could be reduced if  employment to jobs are based on merit as you recently ordered for in executive positions where you made it clear that  one does not need to know anybody to be employed.

Mr. President, as you vigorously put to practice your administration's national transformation agenda in the course of turning the country around we will need more of the likes of Comrade Patrick Abba Moro who will disclose  real and painful aspects about our internal affairs. We need the likes of him who will stay on to drive the administration's transformation agenda in regards to many security threats in our country at this time.

Mr. President, as an expert in prison matters it is only proper to state to you to use boldness to reduce a long standing ambivalence raised by Minister Moro. In other words, how does one expect a Ministry charged with the responsibility of almost guaranteeing internal security perform superior, when functions which supposed to be under the control of ministry of internal affairs as done in healthy societies are placed under other ministries as in the case of the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Customs Service—Mr. President this is crazy.

In fact, internal security and community areas like the National Emergency Management Agency and the National Youth Service Corp should be under the ministry of interior or internal Affairs.

For the sake of coordination or planning security matters in regards to domestic affairs, disaster management and general national service one body or ministry should carry out all the required measures relating to internal affairs issues, especially when we all know that all these areas complement each other.

Mr. President, how can one argue in a non-psychotic way that the Ministry of Interior  which is officially charged with Prison management and responsibilities has one of its mightiest challenges and issues—congestion—being handled by the Ministry of Justice where the prison decongestion program of the federal government is currently domiciled?

Mr. President, this approach is not only self-defeating but could cause unnecessary challenges due to operational logistics.

The Minister alerted the nation of inmates’ inaccessibility to the courts due to inadequate vehicles; now we see why the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Musdapher cried out recently about the 110, 000 plus cases that are pending before our courts across the nation with no quick rescue in sight.

 Mr. President, this is a serious issue that could have been addressed long time ago as convicts /suspects held in prison(a place that suspects are not supposed to be in the first place) could become more of institutional risk and judicial mess if these problems continues.

How do we tell the world that series of postponements of court appearances result from lack of vehicles to convey suspects or inmates to the courts in a country that is financially the largest market in Africa? 

The Minister has shown that he is not only a focused and bold leader but an ethical leader as he continues to exemplify moral leadership in regards to his strong concern for children.

Mr. President, adult prison is no place for kids, yet as pointed out by the Minister there are juveniles in our prison.

There used to be a time when the practice of locking up undeveloped people or children with adult criminals across the world but that was a time marked with policies of the 1700s.

The Minister as part of his ethical leadership sees the urgent need for the building of an adequate number of remand homes for minors.

Mr. President, the creation of institutions and juveniles’ residential centers away from prisons is for the sole purpose of bringing modification in their behaviors and actions very early on. And putting a juvenile in prison could actually make a criminal out of a potentially good child. Mr. President what is wrong with us?

Actually the affairs of juvenile delinquents should be the non-function of the Nigeria Prison Service, instead it should be housed in a ministry that is concerned with social development, families and children as that is where substantial responsibilities of children usually takes place.

Mr. President with the continued revelations that our prisons are congested with about fifty thousand inmates as well as the fact that almost 70 percent of them are awaiting trial the criminal prosecution phase of our judiciary should be made to implement the provisions of  suspended sentence and probation now.

The provisions of suspended sentence and probation are already directly or directly in the Criminal Procedure Act but for some reasons the Nigeria judiciary to date, still holds on to the colonial mentality of strict punishment. This plain insanity especially now that we are currently in the 21st century!

Mr. President it is time to put to reality Chief Justice Dahiru Musdapher’s  call for a complete overhaul of our criminal law and policies in regards to full allowances for suspended sentence and other modern practices.

Mr. President, under Moro's leadership, change is certain in the management of our internal affairs but only if his very capable leadership continues to get the highest support in terms full blown realignment of institutional functions, and their delivery.

The expert breakdown of many the issues facing internal security have been raised in here in terms of their need for coherence.

While no one is asking the President, to help straighten out these problems today, you Sir should quickly help bring out some degree of transformation to many of these complications by putting a stop the madness.

 Mr. President, our internal security challenges do not have to be this way as you know they can be reduced only if you go in full swing on many challenges revealed by the Minister Moro and analyzed with solutions by this expert.

Mr. President with a bold, timely, and rapid resolve to many of these issues you Sir will go into history as a real Transformation President in Africa.

John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., is an Abuja-based Forensic/Clinical Psychologist. 08126909839

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