Nigeria Police: A Force To Reckon With
IN my entire being, I have never seen a job or profession so maligned and dissented like the Nigeria Police. Apart from being underpaid, they are the only organ of government who works round the clock and gets low credit. To whom much is given, much is obviously expected, in the case of the Nigeria Police, this maxim is faulty because Nigerians expects so much from the Force that little has been given.
Even though many people are frustrated at the Nigeria Police, there is a department that not very many people seem to recognize their immense contributions to the functionality of the society: The Traffic Warders. This people work so hard and get little credit. Apart from being paid a peanut (N40-50 thousand) as salary and allowances, they are so vulnerable than any other department of the state policing. They stand to either monitor or regulate traffic in the scorching sun or stormy gale. They are not just exposed to accidents from reckless drivers, they inhale all manner of gases like carbon-monoxide and sulphur dioxide; being emitted by cars with bad exhaust pipes; leaving them susceptible to cancer and other diseases.
Have you ever imagined a turning axis or roundabout without either a traffic warder or light? How chaotic and jam-packed the roads will be? Especially in a society like Nigeria where people run out of patience trying to obey laws and order. Yet, someone is always there taking the risks just to ensure that we have a smooth ride on the roads and gets so low credit. When we add how terribly reckless some commercial drivers can be after consuming ethanol and other cerebral-antagonizing substances, coupled with the health vulnerability of our traffic warders, you'll agree that the Police deserve better.
The unfortunate disparity in the take-home pay of the organs of government isn't just peculiar to the traffic warders' department, it spans throughout the Nigerian policing system. We expect so much from them with little or no motivation to work. The Steve Orasanye's report showed that the Nigeria Police is the least underpaid in Sub-Saharan Africa – until very recently when there seem to be an intervention from the Federal Government, though still a far cry to what should be the leverage. To think that they are not even allowed to have money in their pockets while on duty is even more inimical.
Next time before we take a swipe at the Nigeria Police officers, we must remember that these people are also humans with emotions, families, responsibilities and what have you. How much has a traffic warder who spends his or her day in the scorching sun got – in N44, 000 – to take home daily for medical upkeep? Or how much has he got to approach a private hospital for proper medical check-up and to check for cancer tendencies orchestrated by daily exposure to hazardous substances? How much has a cadet officer got to provide not just food for a family of four, but quality education for his two kids? These and many more are the questions we must ask ourselves, the very next time we want to take a swipe at the Nigeria Police.
Commendable, are the efforts of the present Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, under whose watchful eyes and leadership dexterity the Nigeria Police is now wearing a new look with friendly uniforms, infrastructural developments and reforms. But we must remind the government that much work still needs to be done in the transformation of the entire policing system. The success stories that our police officers record when on an international mission or assignment must be replicated and domesticated at home.
Paradoxically, isn't it incredible that the same police many people love to hate are the same crop of people we beckon on when in distress? During an arm-robbery attack, who do we run to for help? Police! When our car is hit by another car on the road, who do we align with for legal actions? Police! When a rape or misdemeanor of whatever proportion is committed, who comes to our rescue? Police! To help us maintain law and order are the exclusive responsibilities of the police. When we consider some of these factors and many more, we should be pricked to reality. The Police deserve more.
The frustrations of many are quite understandable. Many are so opinionated against the police because of their past experiences with them. But like J.F Kennedy aptly puts it: “those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. How long shall we remain mentally fixated to the events of yesteryears? Informed by the events of those times and surrounding circumstances? It's time to move on. No matter the disappointments or frustrations, the Police are still our friend anytime any day.
I therefore urge well meaning Nigerians in whatever capacity they can to support not just the welfare of the police officers but the entire policing system. Nothing can be more stupendous as having a friend in need. The Police can truly be your friend when you need them. And if we don't take care of them…who will?
Psychology Press Organization,
University of Ibadan
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