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Experts urge states to impose security taxes to fund police operations

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Nigeria Police. Photo: THEWILL


Experts have harped on the need for states and local governments to introduce security/police taxes to address police underfunding.The experts said this in Abuja, at a two-day workshop on Media Engagement on Police Funding and Bail Process, organised by the Nigerian Police Programme (NPP).

Speaking at the event, the Lagos State Intervention Lead, NPP, Tosin Osasona, who argued that policing is a very expensive enterprise across the world, noted that the key to proper funding of the police was how innovatively states can tax Nigeria’s large and growing informal sector.
She said almost every police service across the world derive a percentage of their operational costs from grants, and donations from businesses and foundations.

Osasona argued that it was impracticable for states in the face of acute underfunding of the Nigeria Police Force from the Federal Government to hinge the functioning of the police services that is solely responsible for local security on donations, adding, “why can’t states be innovative?”

According to him, aside direct government funding, countries across the world finance their various policing actors through council/county tax, tax on gambling and sports betting, fines from traffic infractions, taxes on open-air events among others.He frowned at the awkward realities of policing in Nigeria, where the Federal Government bears the major responsibility of financing the Force, despite that the responsibility of the Police is more consequential at state and local government levels, as indicated by successive crime data in Nigeria.

Osasona added: “The argument that states cannot do much for the Police, because it is not owned by them is insincere, when factually the security of the governors and chairmen to that of a newborn baby in all of our 36 states and local governments, depends primarily on the Police.
 
“The bigger question: is why should a city like Kano, with its bustling informal economic life not creatively legislate a sustainable funding source for the police? Imagine what a daily N100 tax on the hundreds of thousands of tricycles in Kano metropolis would raise to provide the required security? Or a security trust fund that is based on nominal rate of N200 daily or even weekly that is imposed on ‘danfos’, ‘okada’ riders and other operators in the informal sector?”He said that a funding model based on voluntary and generous willingness of a few is not sustainable in a permanently growing megacity, adding, “What happens when there is an economic dip and the cohort of current funders cannot afford to contribute? Why is it difficult in a city of more than 20 million residents to raise funds annually through taxation to provide security?

According to Osasona, as deficient as the Lagos State Security Trust Fund is, it is still far better than the parodies that are in other states like Kano, Ekiti, and Enugu as well as the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act that the President recently assented to.He went on: “The very tiers of government who mostly need very efficient police services contribute little or nothing for the services. But come to think of it, how can states and local governments be expected to pay for a Police Force that they neither control nor have any input into its operations? Can it be said that states don’t adequately fund the police because they do not own it, and it is in turn incapable of addressing local security challenges because of being poorly resourced?” have harped on the need for states and local governments to introduce security/police taxes to address police underfunding.The experts said this in Abuja, at a two-day workshop on Media Engagement on Police Funding and Bail Process, organised by the Nigerian Police Programme (NPP).

Speaking at the event, the Lagos State Intervention Lead, NPP, Tosin Osasona, who argued that policing is a very expensive enterprise across the world, noted that the key to proper funding of the police was how innovatively states can tax Nigeria’s large and growing informal sector.
She said almost every police service across the world derive a percentage of their operational costs from grants, and donations from businesses and foundations.

Osasona argued that it was impracticable for states in the face of acute underfunding of the Nigeria Police Force from the Federal Government to hinge the functioning of the police services that is solely responsible for local security on donations, adding, “why can’t states be innovative?”

According to him, aside direct government funding, countries across the world finance their various policing actors through council/county tax, tax on gambling and sports betting, fines from traffic infractions, taxes on open air events among others.He frowned at the awkward realities of policing in Nigeria, where the Federal Government bears the major responsibility of financing the Force, despite that the responsibility of the Police is more consequential at state and local government levels, as indicated by successive crime data in Nigeria.

Osasona added: “The argument that states cannot do much for the Police, because it is not owned by them is insincere, when factually the security of the governors and chairmen to that of a new born baby in all of our 36 states and local governments, depends primarily on the Police.
 


“The bigger question: is why should a city like Kano, with its bustling informal economic life not creatively legislate a sustainable funding source for the police? Imagine what a daily N100 tax on the hundreds of thousands of tricycles in Kano metropolis would raise to provide the required security? Or a security trust fund that is based on nominal rate of N200 daily or even weekly that is imposed on ‘danfos’, ‘okada’ riders and other operators in the informal sector?”

He said that a funding model based on voluntary and generous willingness of a few is not sustainable in a permanently growing megacity, adding, “What happens when there is an economic dip and the cohort of current funders cannot afford to contribute? Why is it difficult in a city of more than 20 million residents to raise funds annually through taxation to provide security?

According to Osasona, as deficient as the Lagos State Security Trust Fund is, it is still far better than the parodies that are in other states like Kano, Ekiti, and Enugu as well as the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act that the President recently assented to.He went on: “The very tiers of government who mostly need very efficient police services contribute little or nothing for the services. But come to think of it, how can states and local governments be expected to pay for a Police Force that they neither control nor have any input into its operations? Can it be said that states don’t adequately fund the police because they do not own it, and it is in turn incapable of addressing local security challenges because of being poorly resourced?”


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