Police Reform: Nigeria needs a 21st century Police force

By The Citizen
Click for Full Image Size

By Emeka Chiakwelu
The Police force is the physical embodiment of a representative

government, the closest manifestation of democracy to the people.  It is

not farfetched to describe the police force as the face of a government.

The state of the police force – its appearance, psychology and

respectability delineate the worth and priority of a nation to a tourist

and potential investor.
In America, Britain, Japan and industrial nations the appearance and

ambiance of the police men and women speaks a volume, if not a thousand

words about those nations. These aforementioned nations  held their

police force in high esteem and duly reward them with attractive salaries

and benefits. Nigerian cannot be an exception if she is serious about

building a respectful and prosperous democratic nation.

Nigeria needs to completely overhaul its police institute with a

comprehensive reform that will usher in a seasoned and improved trained

police men and women. Nigeria's reform of the police will not be a

piecemeal, where many issues affecting the force will be relegated to the

background for a quick fix. A comprehensive solution will be a panacea to

the end of the deficiencies associated with policing in Nigeria.

Nigeria cannot be a nation with a progressive economy without astute

security apparatus. Capitalists and investors must perceive a sense of

security in Nigeria before putting their capital in the country. Security

and peace will make Nigeria attractive to investors. There must be a

strong law enforcement apparatus if Nigeria will make a head way in

becoming one of the twenty largest economies by the year 2020.

All things being equal, the police force cannot rise to the occasion of

protecting lives and properties on empty stomach. Both literally and

figuratively the core men and women of the force are starving. Their

penury situations cannot allow them to be all they can be. They are

victims to corruption thereby debasing their profession of upholding law

and order. When reasonable and livable salaries are paid, they become true

professionals and the bad fruits in their midst can be detached and

rid-off from the force. To enhance and dignify the police force, who is

assigned the awesome job of fighting crimes in Nigeria, they must be

richly compensated and the perks must be made appealing.

Equipped police force
For Nigerian police force to become equal to the assigned responsibilities

of fighting crimes and upholding justice, it must be equipped with the

necessary materials including functioning communication system, efficient

vehicles and reliable armaments to deter and destroy targets.

Educated police force
An enlightened police force must be realized by setting up institutions of

higher learning dedicated to educating the police community. The

curriculum must be geared toward making a dedicated citizen whose civic

duties comes first. They must be exposed to the history and politics of

the country and must be educated on the inner workings of the governments.

Educated and enlightened police realized that the protection of lives and

properties are supreme to a well manage and progressive state.

Decentralization and Neighborhood policing
In democratic setting with Nigeria's rich diversity both in religion and

ethnicity, decentralization and neighborhood policing enriches community

and enhances security.
The colonial modus operandi of governance from top to bottom has been

proven unworkable and obsolete. Nigerian police must formulate a policy of

administration and operations that ascends with acceleration supervision

from bottom to top.
The local governments should be allowed to create and have their

autonomous police force, while the federal and state can maintain the

status quo. Police men and women should come from the neighborhoods and

communities that they are protecting. Abuja headquarters should not

control the entire police force structure from the far distant center. The

local governments must be empowered because of their proximity to the

people at the grassroots.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have

appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other

important journals around the world. 
His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning

including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic

Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental

objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa.

To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable

green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and

probity in Africa.   [email protected]    www.afripol.org