By Oladimeji Amuda
There exist plethora of factors which act as clog in the wheels of Nigeria Police’s effective performance. Although, members of the public seldom perceive these factors as inimical to the emergence of a dynamic police force, they are nevertheless largely responsible for the poor outing of the organization which had attracted public cries.
A critical analysis of police burden and their historical underpinning factors has unarguably and unequivocally revealed inadequate funding as a chief factor that gives birth to other encapsulating factors. Part of the retinue of crises engendered by the phenomenon of poor funding is poor training, poor equipment, poor remunerations, poor motivation and, most disturbingly, absence of recruitment of officers and men into the force for over a decade.
Nigeria Police as an institution having its root in colonial era was established in 1930. This means the organization is 30 years older than Nigeria as an independent country. It is therefore disturbing to note that for over 80 years of its existence, the police has only 371, 800 men and officers, a group not enough to effectively man a single state in the federation. In fact, Nigeria Police total manpower is less than what countries with similar size in population assign to man a local government.
Some have argued that the numerical position of a police organization can hardly be treated in isolation as factors underscoring its strength and efficiency, such as preponderance of intelligence, sophistication in training, enduring observation of police ethics and general discipline are to them, equally crucial and critical in a realistic assessment of a police organization. Even at the level of these factors enumerated above, the Nigeria police has been queuing behind most police organizations elsewhere in the world, taking into consideration its historical antecedents.
It is germane to assert unequivocally that the underlying deficiencies of the Nigeria police is hardly a factor inherent in inability of men and officers of the force to compete favorably with their peers elsewhere in the world.
In fact, all things being equal, the Nigeria police men and women are rated among the most committed and intelligent in the world, using their performances in international operations as baseline. However, one crippling factor that has consistently dwarfed the efficiency of the police is poor funding, which ultimately created other disenabling factors.
Taking into consideration the snail pace in growth in numerical strength, equipment, training and in sophistication, is there any wonder that the police we have is the police we hardly deserve?
It is bizarre to note that most of these factors that had had such damaging impact on the police are largely external to the police system itself.
For example, throughout the military regimes, the police force was relegated to the background. This ignoble act of undermining the interest of the police by the military did not only render the organization redundant but also created the picture of an irrelevant institution in the minds of the general public. Most duties which, statutorily speaking, are police responsibilities like keeping internal security were usurped by the military. This military discriminatory and brutal mindset against the police and other non military organizations had damaging impact on police in terms of recruitment, training, equipment and general motivational dynamics.
Unless one is willing to stand the truth on its forehead, one must agree that the police, in the decades of military governance in the country, existed largely in name while it was the military men that were actually doing police job. This was indeed unfortunate.
Of course, suffice it to say that the then perennial abnormalities in governance made it possible for the entire resources of the nation to be devoted for the sustenance of the military cabals who though, claiming to be protecting the country, were actually destroying it by stealing all the available resources and rendering the nation’s police moribund. All of this had affected police funding which in turn negatively affected its recruitment and training exercises.
Beside the deliberate marginalization of the Nigeria police from the scheme of things by the military, its advancement was also retarded through the creation of additional statutory establishment to deprive it of its statutory functions.
This they perfected by creating parallel organizations to take over functions which are ordinary police duties. The creation of agencies such as Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Civil Defense, ICPC, etc are all grand conspiracy to frustrate the police, otherwise, what statutory assignment does any of these agencies do which the police, given adequate funding and men, can’t handle perfectly. Disturbingly, leaders of these agencies are serving officers of the Nigeria police. What an irony! With all these conspiracies against the police, is there any wonder that for over a decade, the issue of massive police recruitment had been relegated to the background?
As he took over the police command in the country, the IGP wasn’t really happy with what some labour experts referred to as inadequate number of work force in the police. Irked by this inadequacy, he wondered how he could adequately police 182 million people with only 371, 000 police men.
From then, he resolved to aggressively work toward increasing the number, and in line with his pledge, over 10, 000 police officers and men are currently under-going training in different police colleges and academy in the country. This bold move by the IGP needs to be commended because the hitherto state of the Nigeria Police was not only ridiculous but embarrassing to the image of the country.
The aspects of the recruitment which the police high command must take cognizance of in its future recruitment drives must be based on the demonstrative interest of the would be police men and women. The underpinning significance of this admonition is anchored on the caliber and the interest of candidates. Experience has clearly shown that a huge number of those successful in any mass recruitment exercise grab the opportunities not largely based on their interest in force, but because it is the only job available to them. This development can’t give birth to the kind of police in the contemplation of the IGP.
It is advisable to make sure that whoever must be recruited into the force must have more than passive interest in the force. A police organization is essentially an intelligence establishment. It can’t be all-comers affair nor can it be allowed as a dumping ground for those with doubtful interest. For, unless we take into the nation’s police system men and women who love what they do because, essentially, they do what they love, we can hardly have a desired police system.
Amuda wrote from Ilorin, Kwara state