A retired police officer, Ezinna Awuzim Nwokolo has shared his experience during his days in office as a police officer. In this exclusive interview with Ika Weekly correspondent in his home town, Igbodo, Ika Northeast Local Government Area of Delta State. Ezinna Nwokolo said police work is good for only those who are willing to serve their country. He also spoke on his background and the need for Nigerians to love and appreciate police officers, see them as friends and not enemies, and give them the necessary information and support they need, in order for them to be able to protect lives and properties.
It is a pleasure to meet you sir, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Ezinna Awuzim Nwokolo. I am from Ilabor quarter in Igbodo community, Ika Northeast Local Government Area of Delta State. I am a retired police officer. I served in the police force for thirty five (35) good years before I retired with the rank of an inspector in the year 1978.
Can you briefly tell us more about your background?
I was born into the family of Ezinna Awuzin of Igbodo Kingdom, a poor family, but one thing that is common in us is that our parents taught us to be hardworking and to love one another. After my standard six, I decided to stay in the city with my brother who was a police officer and was residing in the barracks. After seeing the movements and activities of police men in the barracks, I fell in love with police work and later joined the force.
What other things inspired you to join Nigeria police?
It was interest that inspired me to join Nigeria police, nothing else. I love to see where lives and properties are protected. I have that urge to keep and maintain peace. I did not join the police force because there was no other alternative, rather, I joined the police force because of the love I have for my dear country, Nigeria.
How long did you serve in the police force?
I served for 35 years. I retired in 1978. I was very happy and proud that my dream of being a police officer was actualized in the end. I retired hail and healthy. It is God’s work. Whatever God has destined for you no one can change it. God destined that I was going to retire from the force without losing any party of my body and it was so. It was not that I was better than others who died during their service years but it was just God and nothing else.
How do you see corruption with regard to Nigeria police?
For now, corruption in the police force is almost dying because there are no road blocks again. The corruption level has drastically reduced but not totally eradicated. Most of the bad eggs in the police are those that joined the force because there was no other alternative, so whenever they see any opportunity to do things that are against the law, they do it, so long their personal interest is achieved. National interest is supposed to superceed personal interest in all careers and professions. Anything contrary to that is a total disservice to the nation. Though there are still some corrupt police officers, there are also discipline and good ones. There is no gains saying the fact that the police in Nigeria, especially those in Delta State are doing their best.
What are your experiences while in service
I had good experiences during my service days. I learnt that you must do your best in anything you find yourself doing and respect your senior colleagues. I started as a recruit before I was promoted to the rank of an inspector. The experiences I gained in my service years are also helping me till today. One thing I noticed is that so many Nigerians are not willing to give out vital information to the police even when we all know that the police can always work effectively based on the information at their finger tips. My advice to the public is that they should see the police as their friends and not enemies. The work of the police is to protect lives and properties but this can only be achieved if the police is supported and encouraged.
What is your assessment of Nigeria police?
Nigerian Police is one of the best in the world. It is not the most corrupt sector in our society. In Nigeria today, for instance, most persons that have been apprehended by the Economic Financial Crime Commission, (EFCC) were not police officers. Though there are a lot to put in place but we still need to commend the police in order for them to do more.
Can you compare the standard of Nigeria police during your time with what we have today?
There are little changes in the standard. Then, we had police barracks, where police expatriates come to your house to inspect your toilet, and other things in the house. Then, most police officers were resident in the barracks. But now nearly all police officers live outside the barrack.
In those days, we had traffic police, who were always on standby on the road but today, I think it is only when there is an accident that people see traffic police. Talking about standard, there are so many aspects of Nigeria police that need to be reformed. There is so much to achieve in this modern world, that is why the government should invest more in the police force.
What is your take on the police recruitment requirement of a minimum qualification of NCE or OND?
Educationally, it is very good. The standard them was that you must pass standard six. It is a good thing and it is going to bring development to the country. At least, a police officer is someone who is supposed to be able to read, speak and write very well. So, if the lowest qualification for recruitment into the police force is NCE or OND; it is good and it will in the long run bring good reformation to the entire system.
Any regret joining the police?
No regret, the, Police force made me what I am today. I have no regret joining the police. I am married with nine children and, twelve grand children, two great grand children. Most of my children are graduates and I am now living my life comfortably by the grace of God.
Who are some of the people, you worked with in police force before your retirement?
I worked with the first Indigenous Inspector General of Police, Mr. Louis Edet, we were together in the police headquarters in those days and he taught me so many things that I am using to succeed in life today.
Do you have a role model in the police force?
I don’t have a role model. I look up to God and not man because my destiny is in the hand of God and not in the hand of man.
How do you see the pay in the police work?
Police work is a very tedious one. So the government should endeavour to take care of them, pay them good salaries and allowances, in other for them to be able to take care of their family. Some police men will leave their house in the morning and may not be able to come back to their families again. The government should do more to upgrade the salaries of police men. By so doing, they will be encouraged to do more for the country.
What is your advice to Igbodo politicians?
I am not a politician. I am a community leader. I welcome all politician. Whoever that wins I congratulate him/her. My advice to politician is to let them know that politics is not a do or die affair. They should love one another and strive to bring development to Ika land and the country at large.
Your advice to the youths?
I advice the youths to be law abiding and shun all forms of social vices that will be detrimental to the society and always help the police in maintaining law and order.
What are your Hobbies?
I like sports, especially football. I love watching football. And I want to use this medium to congratulate the Super Eagles for their victory in the just concluded AFCON 2013. That is a plus to this great country. The boys that played were so marvelous and the coach, Stephen Keshi has done well for being able to bring the boys together to win the African Cup of Nation.
Are you a Christian
Yes I am a devoted Christian. I am an Ezinna in Anglican communion.
Our next personality of the week is Prince Dr. Henry Emeluem, the managing Director of Leads guest House, Boji-Boji, Owa. In the exclusive interview with Ika Weekly on Tuesday, 5th March, 2013, the revered and successful entrepreneur talked about how he started, dream and vision for the hospitality business in Nigeria. He also spoke on the need for people to be honest, dedicated and hardworking as it is the hallmark of true success. It is a must read.