Police: Is FG still adamant?
The mere mention of the word police sends shivers down the spine of most citizens in the country now. That shows that the Nigerian police force has not only worked tirelessly to checkmate criminal elements but has also weakened their courage. This as well, reveals that policing in Nigeria is a step ahead to nip in the bud some criminal activities in the society.
In spite of all that, the way and manner governments past and present treat the police, to say the least, is shameful, of an organistion that bears the burden of securing the lives and property of Nigerians.
Over the years, Nigeria’s police force has suffered gross underfunding occasioned by inadequate budgetary appropriation and non-release of the limited appropriated funds. While some ministries swim in an ocean of dollars for doing little or nothing compared to what the police are mandated to achieve. The direct consequence of the negligence for not adequately funding the police is what is playing out in the name of banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency in the country today. As it were, Nigerians no longer sleep with their two eyes closed as insecurity seems to overwhelm the nation.
At the moment, it is not crystal clear what agenda is burning on President Muhammadu Buhari’s table that the government needs to urgently pay attention to. In this respect, does the recent request to fund the Nigerian police force ring alarm to attract such an urgent interest? This is because it is no longer news that the current strength and funding of the police force are grossly inadequate to effectively secure the citizens and the country. The other day, at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on police affairs, themed: “Repositioning the Nigeria police for an enhanced service delivery”, the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu presented an endless list of demand and what the police required to be efficient and effective in carrying out its obligations. Aside the almost a trillion Naira demand to purchase equipment and gadgets, like 1,000 armoured personnel carriers, (APC) 250,000 assault rifles, 2,000,000 tear gas canisters and smoke grenades, 200,000 riot gunners and smoke pistols, 1,000 tracking devices and 774 operational drones, six helicopters for the geopolitical zones, combat patrol launch an armoured gunboat for the maritime section among others. The IG further noted that the police force is in dire need of more personnel. However, to worsen the already bad situation, the police service commission records reveal that, about 2,866 senior police officers from the ranks of Assistant Superintendent to Deputy Inspector General of police were retired from service in 2019. In addition to the distress bestowed on the police force, it continues to lose officers and men in the endless combat to curb insecurity and Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
No doubt, the Nigerian police force is reeling from grossly underfunding and does not have the personnel strength or equipment to adequately manage crisis across the country. Yet, it is from that inadequate manpower that police personnel is deployed to the Presidential Villa, National Assembly, judiciary, top government officials, Embassies, Banks, among others. Of course, that perhaps reveals why skeletal police service is available at various police formations across the country. Hence they (police) hardly respond to every distress call from vulnerable citizens. Indeed, it is not in the character of the ruling government to allow sand into the wheels of security or hamper effective and efficient policing across the country. However, it is sad to note that the government seems to be the mystery rainmaker that gathers cloud of uncertainties that punishes the citizens with a deficient and ill-equipped police force.
These days, it is very difficult to find a hero in government talk less among officers and men of the Nigerian police force. Notwithstanding, instead of being vilified, let us take a moment to salute the courageous officers and men of the Nigerian police display with the less sophisticated weapons at their disposal. Despite all the odds, many police personnel still carry out their obligation with enthusiasm and great professionalism. The question therefore is, would the Buhari government, in today’s circumstance as it concerns the biting insecurity oblige to adequately fund the police force? If the ruling government thinks it is less important to fund the police force because it cajoles the people constantly through the electronic media with jingoes of degrading the insurgents or with the usual flimsy excuses of the paucity of fund. Then, it is worth considering that there may soon be a serious security challenge if the ruling government fails to reposition the hissy state of the Nigerian police force. It would be foolhardy if the Buhari government should toe the same path as previous governments and jettison the police reform recommendations that have been lying on the table for years.
Aside from funding, there are some more snags about the police force. Over the years public perception and relationship between police personnel are discouragingly unacceptable due to the poor behavioural attitude of some police officers. Of course, in every twelve there must be a Judas but this does not mean that the police force lack hounourable and patriotic police officers. Therefore, it is galling to accuse the Nigerian police force of being inefficient or callous when challenges go beyond their control as it regards rules of engagement. Such displeasing comments or humiliation is not worth an organisation like the Nigerian police force. Indeed, a prophet, the saying goes, is not valid at home but elsewhere. The Nigeria police force should continue to draw praise and admiration from all sides each time it is privileged to participate in an international engagement especially as a contingent of the United Nations Peace Corps. Yet, many fifth columnists choose to describe the police force as a kitchen sink. But much of the blame lies more with the federal government and political office holders for their inability to adequately equip and remunerate the police.
Expectations are high that the ruling government would take the first major halting step to urgently equip the police force especially with the current state of insecurity in the country. Indeed, to agree to fund the policy is to at least, put an end in sight to seeing policemen carrying rickety, antiquated guns as a weapon and to also address their remuneration handsomely.
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