– Laments death of parents in one year
ON Friday, September 26, 2014, ENCOMIUM Weekly visited the former Lagos Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Ngozi Braide at her GRA, Ikeja, Lagos office shortly after she issued a press release, notifying the public of her redeployment. We took her up on this and much more including the pains of losing her parents within 12 months.
Today, Friday, September 26, 2014, we got a press release from you, notifying the general public that you have been redeployed by the Lagos State Police Command for greater assignment. When is that taking effect?
Yes, the release was sent by me. And I will be handing over to my junior colleagues that will be taking over from me on Monday, September 29, 2014. The redeployment came out today, and I decided to inform the public, especially my friends in the media that there is a new Public Relations Officer for Lagos State Command, who I also want you to accord all necessary co-operation just as you did to me. The official handing and taking over will hold on Monday, and you guys are all invited to be part of the occasion.
How did you feel when you got the letter that you have been redeployed?
I was happy. I think the last time I spoke with you, I told you that when I look back and see some of my achievements, I feel so fulfilled. I think I can say I came, I saw and conquered. I don’t think there is more that I would have done. I am happy I am leaving a legacy behind. When I look back and see how I met this office, and how it is now, I feel so happy. When people come in and see the present structure of Police Public Relations Department, Lagos State, they’re so amazed and keep wondering what it has been turned into now. They don’t know this kind of structure can be a Police Public Relations Office in this country. I think it’s one of my achievements that I so much thank God for. I think I have spent about two and a half years. I am okay, I am very happy. That’s police job for you. I told people when I came on board that I don’t see it as the height of my career, I see it as just a stepping stone. I also expect to go higher.
How are you handling the redeployment now?
There is no way to handle it. Just like I keep saying, what brought me to Lagos Police Command was posting, which is something inevitable in the Nigeria Police. You can’t be kept in a place and make that place your home. You’re there to serve your fatherland and you can work anywhere at any time. Whenever any posting comes to you, you should accept it with happiness. You should be glad, an also grateful to God. When you have left a legacy, you should be proud. Anywhere I am going now, it’s by posting, and I should be happy about it. We are being paid to serve the nation. So, I can work anywhere. I should be able to function in any department in any part of the country as a police officer.
How would you describe the experience for the past two and a half years?
It has been a fantastic one. It’s an experience I love so much. Although, at the initial stage, it wasn’t easy. Later, it became very easy, especially with the cooperation of my media friends. They’re really supportive. Being a Police Public Relations Officer, you’re also like a complete journalist but in police uniform. So, there is no way you can do it successfully without the cooperation of the people in the media, be it the print, non-print and the new one (social media). So, initially it wasn’t all that easy but at a time, everything set in. I can confidently tell you that I don’t have any regret being the first female PPRO in Lagos State. I came and made a mark. I thank God for that.
What were the specific challenges you faced all through the time you spent in the office?
Like I keep saying, one of the challenges is that when I keep trying to educate the public or tell them what’s actually transpiring, they will think you’re lying to them. As a police officer, they will feel you’re trying to cover your men. That is not having confidence in us, not believing in us was a great challenge to me. And that was why when I came on board, I tried to create a radio programme called Lagos Crime Burster. It was on Radio Nigeria One. It used to be in Ikeja here before it was relocated to the Island. The programme was every Wednesday, 10.30 to 11 a.m. I have the mind of bridging the gap between the public and the police. So, it’s always an interactive forum where I used to discuss with people, especially on their opinions concerning policing and security of lives and property in Lagos State. At times I would give them appointments to come to the office, listen to their problems. And the programme really worked because my number was open to everybody. Throughout my stay in my office here, I operated an open door policy. I was accessible to everybody. Everybody on the street had access to me. I don’t need to know you before I assist you or educate you on what you don’t know about the law. So, I assisted a lot of people in the course of my duty as PPRO here in Lagos. And most of them called to say thank you. I would say yes there were challenges but the most important thing was that I was able to overcome them.
Serving as PPRO, Lagos State, how would you describe it, especially in the area of crime control?
It’s not an easy one. Lagos is over populated and it’s the nation’s economic nerve centre. It has people from different places, different countries. All are here to make ends meet. So, you can’t have crime totally eradicated in Lagos. But the most important thing is how are you able to curb the excesses of the hoodlums as a responsible law enforcement agent. So, during my time and that of my previous commissioner, and even during the time of my present commissioner that has just spent about one month, you could see that they are serious-minded people that are on ground to make Lagos crime free. To be honest, it wasn’t easy, but we thank God we conquered it.
What will you miss about the office and Lagos State?
I will miss the stress and calls from you guys and the general public. Now, I will enjoy my sleep. I can afford not to pick any call I don’t want to pick. But when I was there, I dared not say I don’t know the person calling, so I won’t pick the call. But now, I will have my life back because the job, to an extent, took away a lot of things from me. But now, I can spend quality time with my family and relax when necessary. To be sincere, I will miss a lot. All our arguments and reconciliations and all that will surely be missed.
What does it take to be a successful Police Public Relations Officer?
For you to be a successful PPRO, you must be very intelligent. You will also not be quick to anger. You should be able to know how to manage your anger because you will see a lot of things that will irritate and provoke you. That department is like a school that can remold you and you become a better person. So, you need to be disciplined as well. You should be able to tell the people the truth, you don’t deceive them. You should also be dedicated, up and doing and responsible. If you lack all these qualities, you’re not likely to succeed. And more important, you should also know how to maintain your relationship with the media.
Let’s talk about personal issues. On Thursday, July 31, 2014, you lost your mom, exactly one year your dad also passed on. How do you feel now losing your parents in just one year interval?
I would say that will be my greatest regret in the office (shed tears). Anyway, I would say that was my only regret during my stay in the Public Relations Department, Lagos Command because losing one’s parents, especially when they were not that old, it’s a painful thing. My father died at 67, my mother was just 65. It wasn’t really good, they were my backbones. I just lost them within one year. I would have loved them to see me leave this office to a greater height. But both of them died while I was in this office. They were hale and hearty when I came to this office but quite unfortunate, they didn’t live to see me leave the office with my achievements. I would have been happier if they saw my accomplishments and also my career.
What do you now miss specifically about your mom?
Everything about her. She was always in my house. She used to visit me more than other children. That time, she visited me as usual, she came on July 1, 2014, she was full of life. The following day, she went to the market and prepared food for me. The third day, she complained of fever. But the fifth day, we were surprised she fainted and was rushed to the hospital. At the hospital, they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. She was hospitalized later she returned home after a week. But on Thursday, July 31, 2014, she died. She died in my hands right inside my house. I have never seen that kind of a thing. It was painful. She was a friend to me. I confided in her but she is no more. I will miss everything about her.
What about her final burial plans?
That will be in December. Sometime last year, she told me that anytime she dies, she doesn’t want to be taken to the mortuary. She said no one should embalm her. So, we took her body to the village immediately and buried her. So, the final burial will be in December. I will keep you informed of the actual date.
– TADE ASIFAT