The cost of insecurity

The protection of life and property of citizens is the most important function of a responsible government.

Security should be the greatest priority. If there is no security, the country would be at standstill. Zn atmosphere of peace and tranquility is germane to development. It is critical to harmonious living, investment flow and good governance.

In the last few years, Nigeria has been submerged in chaos, confusion, anxiety and tension. Across the states, the security challenges stares the governors in the face. They are puppet chief security officers of their states.

The armed forces are battling terrorism in the Northeast. Banditry has taken over Northwest. The Northcentral, and the South are confronted by the menace of killer herdsmen, who invade communities, rape, maim and kidnap for ransom.

Ethnic clashes are now bring recorded again, putting national unity and cohesion on edge.

The police is overwhelmed. Policemen are not enough. They are not motivated to discharge their responsibilities.

Besides, the policing structure, the type of Nigerian arrangement, is fundamentally faulty. It is unsuitable for a federal country.

Thus, many stakeholders are intensifying their agitations for the devolution of policing. The desirability of state police in a highly heterogeneous country cannot be over emphasised.

The police is overwhelmed. Policemen are not enough. They are not motivated to discharge their responsibilities.

Put succinctly,  the police faces an uphill task. As it currently exists, it is not well positioned to perform the arduous responsibilities of protecting Nigerians.  It is demoralised; deprived of adequate funding and lacking the required numerical strength to police a country of estimated 200 million people. It is always in want of critical tools to work,  and suffering the agony of poor remuneration. Many policemen are not proud of their calling. Their presence, unlike before, does not evoke respect in the community.

During the #EndSARS protests, the police became vulnerable. It could not even defend itself from molestation by hoodlums to avoid a wrong consequence and negative interpretation. Police stations were vandalised. Their uniforms and guns were carted away. Police formations were set ablaze.

The image of the police is that of an over-worked agency that is denied the motivation  to perform. To augment their income, many policemen promote vices by taking bribes. Some even go as far as aiding and abetting crimes.

It is a different ball game when Nigerian policemen go on foreign operations. They excel. When they go abroad for peace-keeping, they return home with laurels. The environment outside is conducive. The implication is that a society gets the kind of police it deserves.

Funding is critical. Police authorities should be initiator of police reforms along this line. The take home pay of policemen should be jerked up to motivate them. This will not encourage them to cut corners at checking points and inside their stations. Also, police pensions should not be embezzled.

Training and retraining are very important. The grave security challenges mean that policemen should be well equipped with new skills and implements to combat crime. It is sad that policemen usually bow to superior weapons when armed bandits are on the prowl.

There should special training focussing on improved capacity for intelligence gathering. Nigeria should go back to the good old days when policemen were friends of the people.

The bad eggs in the police should be flushed out  by the IGP to prevent contamination with the patriotic elements in the system. Discipline should be vigorously enforced.

The police service commission and the IGP should not work at cross purpose.

There is the need to recruit more Nigerians into the police to bridge the manpower gap.

The police/public collaboration should be reinvigorated. Security is a collective enterprise involving policemen and other citizens.

An over-centralised police structure is incompatible with the spirit of federalism.

It is embarrassing that governors are chief security officers in their respective states only in name.

State governors have been providing guns, patrol vehicles and other tools for the police. But, policemen are only accountable to the power-loaded Federal Government.

Governors can issue directives to police commissioners in their states, but the commissioners have to take clearance from the distant Inspector General in Abuja before compliance.

What is the essence of posting a Kanuri as policeman to police Ijebu or Egba in Ogun State? How can a policeman of Enugu origin perform excellently while on police duty in Nupe, Tiv and Hausa/ Fulani states?

Will language not be a barrier? Does he know the geography, sociology and custom of his place of assignment? Is devolution of police not the solution? Is state or community not the answer? Unless these lines of reforms and restructuring are pursued, the Police may  not live up to expectation in the maintenance of law and order.

President Muhammadu Buhri has accepted the recommendation of the panel that has recommended state police.

The onus is on the president to now approach the National Assembly with a bill to make it a reality.

State police can only become a reality, if there is a constitutional amendment in that direction by the parliament.

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