THE late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, in one of his books, “My Oddsey,” wrote: “The Igbo, from a lowly beginning, have reached the top.” I read this book in 1968, and ever since, I have seen in practical terms Dr Azikiwe’s assertion about the Igbo people generally.
Even though the man being celebrated in this write-up was not an Igbo by tribe, he displayed their endearing traits.
Around 1966 and 1973, we used to call Igbo people who we came in contact with “Oteku Mayan,” the meaning of this is, someone who sells palm wine, or someone who hawks drink. Why we called them was because Igbo people were never static; whatever they were doing, they were always advancing, and it is still the same today.
For example, if an Igbo man was a newspaper vendor, in less than a year, he would have ‘upgraded’ by selling electronics. This observation confirms Dr Azikiwe’s assertion that: From the lowest beginning, they have reached the top.
The late Owelle of Onitsha’s observation is also applicable to our father and elder statesman, the late Inspector General of Police, Chief Etim Inyang.
I recall as a young officer how I used to admire IGP Inyang whenever he was descending the balcony at Kam Salem House in Lagos, on his way home after a hard day’s job. He was always neat, especially with his starched uniform. I could recall he was always with his swagger cane, which he occasionally used to strike the side of his trouser.
The late IGP also had very warm relationship with his officers, and I can remember how he used to call one of his able officers, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Adebowale Aboyade Cole of blessed memory, ‘Wale.’
From the lowliest beginning, IGP Inyang reached the pinnacle of his profession, and today, everybody can learn one or two things from his life, as his ascension to the peak of the police force was a rare feat.
Inyang started his professional career as a Police Constable, and he walked the tight ropes, rose through the ranks to become the number one police officer in the country in his time.
Chief Inyang spent the greatest part of his career at the Force CID, where he became a Commissioner in charge of Investigation, until General Muhammad Buhari, now our dear President, identified him as an incorruptible police officer, thereby appointing him as the IGP in 1983.
While IGP Inyang was at the helm of affairs, he policed with the fear of God, and that is why his death is a great loss to the country at a time when his experience is highly needed.
In a bid to curb extortion or bribe-taking by policemen at road-blocks, IGP Inyang ordered that no policeman should have more than N5.00 in his pocket while on duty; this order brought sanity to the rank and file of policemen.
Although IGP Inyang may have transited this world, the good he did while on this side of the planet will continue to live on, and as a result, our elder statesman is not dead. He has only shed his mortal body for an immortal one.
Adieu Papa! Adieu IGP Inyang. Your life served as an encouragement to several police officers who also went on to achieve great things in the Force.
IGP Inyang’s contribution to national development was recognised when a street was named after him in Lagos.
Now, from the lowliest beginning, the late Inyang reached the top of his profession; this is definitely a lesson for all under-privileged Nigerians. May IGP Inyang continue to rest in peace.
- Barrister Akeremale is a retired Commissioner of Police.