‘How poor salary leads to rot, corruption in Nigeria Police’
Stakeholders have said that there may never be end to corruption in the Nigeria Police Force if government fails to take urgent measures to address the poor take-home pay and living conditions of the personnel.
Pundits believe that the dismal package contributes directly to the alarming rate of corruption in the security organisation and rampant attack on and extortion of civilians by personnel.
A Nigerian police constable was said to be earning between N22, 000 and N27, 000, depending on his length of service and accommodation plan; a sergeant’s pay is about N30, 000, after deductions of tax, accommodation allowance and others; a Police inspector now earns at least N50, 000 monthly.
In the Senior Police Officers (SPO) cadre, an assistant superintendent of police earns a little above 80,000 after deductions have been made. Some experts in the security sector are condemning this trend, saying for the Nigerian nation to get the kind of police it deserves, the Federal Government must address the issue of poor salary for police officers and men without which, the morale of officers would remain at its lowest ebb and corruption in the larger society may not seize since the “police is the mirror of any society.”
Juxtaposing the realities in the Nigeria Police with its counterparts in United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Ghana and South Africa, it was revealed that the Nigeria police do not earn salary but ‘survival stipend’.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average starting salaries of new police officers ranged from $26,600 to $49,500. “In the US, the city or state where police officers work affects their wages. As of 2012, the starting salary for officers in the Miami Police Department was $45,929. “New police officers working for the Los Angeles Police Department start out earning $46,583 with a high school diploma.
Officers who had completed at least 60 credit hours of college and had at least a 2.0 grade point average started out earning $48,462 in Los Angeles.
Those who had a bachelor’s degree or more advanced degree earned $50,342.” Thousands of officers and men of the Nigeria Police receive some of the poorest pay even in the West African sub-region, and the worst hit are the rank and files popularly known as ‘The Force’s foot soldiers’ who spend decades in the line of duty but are hardly promoted, accommodated or paid well.
According to Ghana Labour Act, the government recently announced increase in minimum wage of an average police officer by 16.7%, from 6 GH¢ per day to 7 GH¢ per day, with effect from January 1. Ghanaian police officers, for instance, earn more money than their Nigerian counterparts, ands receive better training and welfare packages.
According to the National Salary Data of South Africa, an average police officer in that country earns R142, 900 per year. In Great Britain, “Police officers receive very competitive pay and benefits packages. Rates of pay vary by force, generally starting at an annual rate of around £23,000, and rising with each year of experience.
Officers in some forces receive additional allowances to complement their salary.” One of the officers (names withheld) painted a piteous picture while explaining how he manages to keep a wife and four children, pay for the children’s school fees, accommodation and buy food for many years now with a little more than N40, 000 salary after 25 years as police officer. “Only through black magic could anybody feed his wife and four children for 30 days with the kind of salary the Nigeria Police pays me,” he said.
But after putting in a quarter of a century on a job he so cherishes, his gross annual salary stands at N577, 234, while his gross monthly pay stands at N55, 147.
When tax and sundry deductions are made, the officer, a sergeant, goes home with less than N48, 000, 00 every month. His colleagues with accommodation in the police barracks part with additional N7, 000 for that privilege and go home with even less monthly.
Across Nigeria, officers live in squalor within and outside the barracks. They live and go to work for months from broken-down vehicles, uncompleted buildings and garages.
A former chairman of the Nigeria Police Service Commission was in the forefront of pushing for a better remuneration for police personnel. While submitting a report on how to improve the welfare of the Nigerian police personnel in 2012, former Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Parry Osayande, told President Goodluck Jonathan how police in Nigeria were the worst paid in the West African sub-region.
Osayande’s report only drew from several past documents from government panels identifying poor remuneration and conditions of service as factors affecting performance in the force. “The poverty of the ordinary police officer, coupled with weak institutional governance predisposes him to engaging in all sorts of schemes for self-help and survival.
While parallel organizations carved out of the Nigeria Police only perform part of its functions, their staff are better remunerated and motivated than the police,” Osayande had noted.
He called for urgent review of working terms to boost performance, instill discipline and restore the dignity of the police officer. The report, like the rest, remains unimplemented two years after.
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