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Beyond egg and chicken


Garba Shehu

Garba Shehu, the special senior assistant to the President, on Sunday restated the reason President Buhari is not keen on the establishment of state police. He told Channels Television Seun Okinbaloye that the President wondered how state governors who are unable to pay teachers regularly would be able to pay their police. He adverted our minds to the implications of arming and sending police who are not paid to the streets. The President himself spoke in this vein last year but did not go as far as talking about the implications. His worry was how the governors who could not pay their workers regularly were going to add additional costs to the funding of their essentials.

The flaw in the argument is that security is the first responsibility of any government. Its primary contract with the citizens is protecting them and securing their property. If there is no security, the citizens cannot go out to work. If they do not work, they cannot pay taxes. Where taxes, personal income tax or corporate, are not paid, there is decline in revenue with the resultant acute shortage of funds to meet government obligations, including payment of salaries. The thousands of Nigerians in IDP camps cannot be expected to pay tax for example. They are displaced from their homes, from their farms and businesses because of insecurity. Many had come face to face with death and managed to escape only by the whiskers. Investments to boost the economy are impossible in such environments. Where there are no investments the economy in general shrinks which leads to worsening insecurity. In other words, secure the environment, let the citizens feel safe and confident to work, and there is the unfolding of abilities and talents and the economy booms for the overall good of everyone.

States that feel unable at the beginning to set up their own can collaborate with their brother contiguous states to set up one formation. Those that set up their own police will free up resources to deploy federal police to those that are yet unable to raise their own police. It is not compulsory that every state should set up their police at the same time. That was how it was in the First Republic with the West and the North at the forefront with, in fact, three tiers of policing. All that is required are guidelines which can be thoughtfully worked out. In any case, many states are funding to a large extent the police command in their domain.

I have argued on this page before that there was no way a state police in Borno State would, with their eyes open, allow their state to disintegrate economically and disorganize socially. They would undoubtedly have given their all to protect their land. Nigeria is a country of nationalities, not a land of settlers and immigrants. Each people are drawn and attached to their ancestral lands. They are, therefore, first and foremost loyal to their states with which soil their bodies were formed. The present generation is not wiser than the founding fathers of this nation nor than other nations who long recognized that policing is local, and other tiers exist only to reinforce it.

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Garba Shehu
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