Letter to the Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police Force, Sir (Dr.) Mike Mbama Okiro CFR, NPM, mni, following the death of CP Haz Iwendi


by chikwe ihekweazu

Dear IG,

It is with a heavy heart, but total submission to the Almighty that we write to express our heartfelt sympathy over the sudden death of the Comissioner of Police for Kaduna State, Haz Iwendi. The papers variously report that he died following a massive heart attack or a stroke depending on which newspaper one reads….but we know he collapsed and and was rushed to the Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, Zaria.

Dear IG, like you, we all have fond memories of Haz Iwendi as he tried doing the impossible in improving the image of the Nigerian Police Force in his role as public relations officer. The biggest paradox of his era was that your former colleague and boss, then Inspector General, Tafa Balogun was himself tried and jailed for six months for allegedly stealing millions of dollars in state funds. Try improving that image!

Dear IG, we thank you for rushing to the scene as a true officer would. Your pain was obvious. You are quoted to have initially made this statement as reported in The Guardian which no doubt showed your confidence about the way we do things in our great country:

Well, it is his time. If it is something that money or contacts can save, we would have saved him

Dear IG, you see…with matters regarding health…all those things we hold dear in our country are often worthless. Yes…there are things even money and contacts cannot get you…even in Nigeria! However Sir, what really caught our attention was your follow-up statement as reported by Thisday Newspapers on the 7th of May.

“…Henceforth, ACPs, Deputy Commissioners (DCs) Commissioners of Police (CPs), Assistant Inspectors- General (AIGs) and Deputy Inspectors- General (DIGs) must go for annual medical check up abroad, to certify their health status.”

Dear IG, while we are not in doubt of the love you have for your colleagues and your concern for their welfare (especially those from the ACP rank)…we are worried about your indictment of our local health care services. What of our national pride: The National Hospital in Abuja? What of our finest private facilities; the Lagoon Hospital or Eko Hospital? Are none of them good enough for our esteemed Commisioners? Sir, when next you meet the new Minister of Health (who will no doubt come to you to provide protection for his family against the spate of kidnappings)…please whisper your anxiety into his ears.

Dear IG, what if something is found during these “annual medical checks”? Do we continue the management of your esteemed colleagues abroad? No doubt, this is a small price to pay with our tax-payers money for the health of those protecting our lives and property. The great job they have been doing is reported daily in our papers as exemplified here, here and here. They surely deserve the best…and of course abroad only!

Dear IG, if I may ask… what happens to the rank and file? Will it be possible for them to at least attend our General Hospitals if the Nigerian Police cannot afford the small cost of taking all 300,000 of them to Wiesbaden, Germany for annual health checks. I remember Corporal Yusuf, one of my patients during my housemanship. He was in the most feared MOPOL team. I remember him lying helplessely on our ward in the Abia State University Teaching Hospital….waiting for his family to be contacted in Kwara to come to his aid. He was shot by armed robbers in the line of duty. Sir, I cannot forget Yusuf….we lost him on a Sunday, with one colleague by his side. He was not visited by the ACPs, Deputy Commissioners (DCs) Commissioners of Police (CPs), Assistant Inspectors- General (AIGs) and Deputy Inspectors- General (DIGs). His colleagues collected money to send him home….Yusuf RIP!

Dear IG, I once visited one of your Police Clinics. I saw your men and their families waiting. I spoke to my colleague who looked helpless. He told me that medicines are supplied once a month and usually finished a week after, so in the 3 weeks interim period….patients are on their own. Sir you would not want to see the list of these medicines or the state of the clinic. But after giving Haz the burial he deserves, please make out time to pay a surprise visit to some of your own clinics.

Dear IG, I will not take any more of your time…as your work is cut out for you. But as you have seen with Haz’s death…good health is central to the work we all do. Please do not leave this matter to others. Take it up with Mr. President. His own health issues will afford you a sympathetic ear.

Dear IG, finally let me leave you with one thought. As you tour the country ensuring that we are all safe…if you had a heart attack today (yes Sir…it can happen to any of us)what do you think will be your fate?

Take good care Sir…and check that BP! (you can do it at home too 🙂


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (www.epiafric.com), which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. Well written. Our people have a great level of misconception about the medical care abroad. I know it feels good to have concierge in the hospitals, CT scan, labs and you name it at your disposal. In Nigeria we have a lot of skilled and diligent doctors amidst quack MBBSers. Equip their hospitals, provide guidelines on disease management, implement CME programs and recertifications then you see we have what it takes to keep a healthy population. Also, I have noticed that blacks do not trust fellow blacks to care for them. The IG that talks about going abroad to be treated is thinking of a white doctor… This actually reflects that person’s performance which he himself does not trust. Finally I wish people in Nigeria would know they still enjoy the natural basic medical practice, the care given abroad has a great level of CYA-Defensive practice.

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