The police service Nigeria needs
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris’s recent lamentation of the failure to pass the Nigeria Police Force Reform Trust Fund Bill into law since 2008 underscores the failure of the Federal Government to do what is right in making it possible for the police to serve the nation better.
That such a critical bill, which would have helped to boost the efficiency of the police, was dumped for so long speaks volume of how government is paying lip service to national security. The National Assembly should, indeed, exhume the bill with a view to having it passed without further delay.
The country is under-policed and the service needs more personnel. The recruitment of more policemen, therefore, as the IGP rightly noted, should be a priority.
The fact that the police needs to recruit more personnel to meet the United Nations (UN) standard of effective policing should be taken seriously in view of the worsening insecurity in the country.
Kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, vandalism and other crimes are on the rise. Whatever measures need to be taken to put more police personnel to secure the citizens should be put in place.
The police authorities have reportedly sent a proposal to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval to shore up their manpower by recruiting 155, 000 personnel in five years as part of measures to meet the United Nations standard.
Earlier, a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Inyang, who is in-charge of Training and Development disclosed at the Bayelsa State Police Command headquarters that the recruitments were underway to secure personnel required to fight crimes. He said the plan was to recruit 31, 000 policemen every year for the next five years.
Inyang noted that the police force had discovered that the United Nations standard of policing is one policeman to 400 citizens. But from all calculations, Nigeria is falling too far short of this. According to the officer, increase in personnel would help reduce the number of work hours spent daily by policemen from 12 to eight, adding that such reduction will increase the efficiency and productivity of the men.
The issue of under-policing of Nigeria has been long-standing and calls for state police in line with the best practices in a federation have also been ignored.
A former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, once disclosed that there were barely 377,000 policemen in the country. Worse still, another former IGP, Ogbonna Onovo, said that over 100,000 policemen were on illegal duty nationwide. When this number is removed from what is believed to be the number of policemen in the country, the actual number of policemen on active duty comes to a little over 200, 000, for a country with over 150 million people. That, without doubt, partly explains why the police are unable to effectively combat crime.
Onovo had once given a seven-day ultimatum to all illegally assigned policemen to return to their duty posts or risk arrest, threatening that special squads would be stationed at strategic locations, including markets, to arrest policemen escorting the wives of people not entitled to police guards.
The insecurity in the country is daily getting worse. Armed robbers are on the prowl. Kidnappers, ritual killers and fraudsters have become bolder in perpetrating crime.
Consequently, there is need to recruit more policemen who should be trained on new approaches in view of the emerging crime sophistication.
It is regrettable, as the IGP noted, that since 2011, the police have not conducted recruitment into the rank and file cadre of the force, until last year when President Buhari approved the recruitment of 10, 000 men.
The police should target at least one million officers in the next ten years, who should be recruited and trained on a continuous basis.
Once again, it needs to be emphasized that the police should be decentralised with states having their own police services. This is the least Nigeria deserves.
The massive underfunding of and manpower shortage in the police force underscores the need to decentralize the police in the spirit of federalism to enable each federating entity organize and fund its police properly. That does not, in any way, abolish federal police.
With the various state government, at the moment practically funding their respective police command by providing operational vehicles and equipment, it is tantamount to self-deceit to still believe that the police should be one unified entity under on tier of government in a supposed federation,
The other day, the Lagos State Government launched its neighbourhood security watch made up of fully equipped security personnel. The deteriorating security condition in Lagos State, which the conventional federal police are unable to tackle, informed the establishment of the outfit and the move has given hope to residents on their safety.
Nigeria certainly needs a better organised, better structured and better funded police forces for the different tiers of government as expected in a federation.