Ranking the Nigeria Police Force
The objectionable low ranking by an international rating body of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as the worst in the world is, of course, objectionable, not only out of patriotic instincts but also because that rating is not within objective context and therefore unfair. That, however, does not obviate the fact that a lot needs to be done to bring the Nigeria Police Force to acceptable global standards. Indeed, the shortcomings and general underperformance of the police in many areas are glaring and Nigerians do not need an external body to point out what is obvious.
It should also be noted that the negative perception of the police by all will only be erased by a dramatic transformation of the service by a government and a people with an appreciation of their own security as paramount duty of the state.
The 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) report rated the Nigeria Police Force as the worst of such organisations in the world by measuring the ability of the police and other security providers to address internal security issues.
WISPI’s first iteration report described the NPF as the worst globally based on its inability to handle internal security challenges in four domains namely: capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes. Nigeria came last in all four categories in that report released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The assessment, which evaluated internal security issues in 127 countries, showed that Singapore performed best on all indices, followed by Finland and Denmark. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was ranked 29th, came tops in the Middle East and North African zone.
According to the report, among African countries that performed well within the context are Botswana at 47th and Rwanda at 50th position. The others that made the top 10 in Africa are Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, South Africa and Mali.
The 10 lowest performing African countries include Madagascar, 11th, Zambia 112th, Ethiopia 115th, Sierra Leone 117th, Cameroon 120th, Mozambique 122nd, Uganda 124th, Kenya 125th and Democratic Republic of Congo 126th, with of course, Nigeria occupying the 127th and last position.
The report points out, for instance, that there are 219 police officers for every 100,000 Nigerians, which is well below the index median of 300, and the sub-Saharan Africa region average of 268. This limits the capacity of the men of the force to measure up to their law and order maintenance mandate.With regards to process, legitimacy and outcomes, the story is not different, which makes the Nigeria Police Force to fall short of the required standard.
Certainly, all the challenges notwithstanding, not many people would agree that the Nigerian policemen are the worst globally when the environment in which the men and officers operate is considered. Indeed, when the administrative structure and to what extent they are equipped to do their job are also considered, they would be deemed miracle workers.
To start with, the Nigeria Police Force is currently wrongly structured under one central command which is an anathema in a federal state. Calls to decentralise the police to enable states have their own commands have fallen on deaf ears on the ground that policing is on the exclusive legislative list.
Attempts to bridge this unnecessary gap have compelled several state governments not only to fund that centrally commanded Force but also to form security outfits to complement the police. For example, the Lagos State Neigbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), is a quasi police organisation working on security in the state. The organisation, very well equipped, has demonstrated the transformation that would take place if states take charge of their own police.
Apart from that, other critical factors that affect police performance include the poor pay, poor welfare of officers and care for their families, lack of modern security gadgets, absence of training and retraining, all of which fall below international standards.
Today, there are thousands of graduates who could be recruited into the police force to boost personnel capability and intelligence and the days of hiring semi-illiterates into the police force should be over.
It is on record that Nigerian policemen do perform creditably on international duties especially because of the fact that a better environment is provided and officers on such international assignments are treated to better remuneration, equipment and other incentives.
Of course, the Nigeria Police Force has made some progress, given, especially, the magnitude of security challenges plaguing the country. The challenge of Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, militancy in the Niger Delta, wave of kidnapping, armed robbery and sundry crimes that pervade Nigeria have been overwhelming but the force cannot in all conscience be accused of sloppiness.
Commendable too is the contribution that most state governments have made towards equipping the police and boosting their morale. The rating by the international body maybe due, therefore, to lack of understanding of the peculiar Nigerian situation, considering that countries currently involved in internal conflict are not included in the index assessment. Nevertheless, the report should encourage the authorities to restructure and rejig the police in all areas to enable Nigeria come up the scale in the next assessment.
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