A Dream For The Nigerian Police Force

Personally for me, I love movies and I have watched a lot of them from Hollywood, Bollywood to our dear Nollywood. One thing I gain from watching movies is its ability to broaden my perception and knowledge about a people, their culture and their ideas just to mention a few.

Across these movies that Ihave watched, it's only a necessity to notice the varying dynamics of societal institutions in them. But one such institution that captivates me is the Police Force in such films shot in various countries. The police force is an institution that as I have notice is always surrounded by varying degrees of intelligence, focus and detailed attention to problems. Is it their nice and colourful saloon cars that amazes me or their fitted outwear worn by smartly poised policemen or policewomen as they stroll the streets ensuring law and order?

If you mention the word “police” to an average Nigerian, immediately, the picture that pops up is that of skinny man armed with a AK-47 ammunition standing at a checkpoint and you would picture along a big pot bellied man sitting on a chair nearby as his boys operate all dressed in their customary black. A visit to typical Nigerian police station depicts a poor facility crumbling with neglect and a decadence that could make an angel weep. Distinguished by the Yellow and Blue strips paint around the vicinity of the facility, this colour makes me wonder about its origin. The place is totally crap and clear that it is a malnourished building.

As alarming as this sound to the ears, I am yet to see a police station structure bigger than a bungalow. They are mostly filthy and not pleasing to the eyes. The tales I hear of the prison cells is that it's a den of mosquitoes and it will take 200 Mortein cylinders to kill them all. Is it the overcrowded cells or the poor hygiene that is not bad enough, I am left to wonder?

An average police officer is perceived by Nigerians to be corrupt with willing hands to collect 'egunje', all you need do is to offer it. Sometimes they even ask for the “egunje” if you don't offer. I am unsurprised that various policies to stop this act yields low returns, one reason is that I believe such solution will only come out of a mind revolution. Another reason is that an average police officer is unsecure about his future after service; the pension scheme available for him is not sure. The recent police pension fund embezzlement scandal speaks as evidence.

Many times have I read that this decadence started with underfunding by the Military government in previous past in a bid to make the Police Force less strong that the armed forces and drive home fear into the police ranks. But sincerely, I think such an excuse is intolerable in 2014 and 15 years into the 4th republic that started in 1999. By implication of our constitution, the police force is under the control of the federal government by virtue of exclusive list. The federal government then has some salient questions to answer as regards this decadence in our dear police force.

Organization as I know is made up of people and for such organization to excel and grow beyond its moribund nature, its people has to be adequately nourished and upgraded to fit such a new status. Some of the key areas the federal government needs look to effect some of this changes are highlighted as follows

A highly motivated man is capable of functioning at the highest optimum level. How motivated is the Nigerian Police force? Has the government provided a good retirement plan? In the case of loss of life, what steps will be taken to care for the families of the departed? What sorts of continuous training are available? What are the benefits for the children and wives of the officers in form of scholarships? If there are positive answers to this question then the Nigerian police force will be a highly motivated one.

One contrasting difference between the Nigerian police force and its counterparts in Europe and other developed societies is the equipment and apparatus for use. An investigation by TheNEWS in 2008 showed that the number of arms used by the Nigerian Police Force was just over 90,000 with 92 million rounds of ammunition which is too small compared to the number of police officers in the force. A crime doesn't start after a bank robbery, a murder or a burglary. It starts weeks, months and sometimes years before the actual incident. The only way to uncover patterns and myths surrounding criminal cases is through deep understanding derived from research. This ultimately means that the federal government should invest into infrastructure, ammunitions, laboratories and ET all in aiding the fight against crime.

An attempt at a totally new and upgraded recruitment exercise can be lauded as a pragmatic approach to uplifting the Nigerian police force. In a country where about 70% of its youth population are unemployed after graduation, graduates of fields such as Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Law among others committed to the growth of the country would take up appointments with the police force. It takes a mind of attention to details for a crime to be successfully cracked; an informed mind of a graduate may effectively fit this.

Intel as it is popularly called is very vital for the police, without Intel and leads; an investigation is good as dead on arrival (DOA). The Nigerian Police force needs to develop a system for gathering Intel that it can use in prosecuting cases and investigation. One popular and useful method is Closed Circuit television, which involves putting out cameras that record activities within a closed setting. Notice that it is closed because, there is a flow of cameras and they follow a circuit, this ensures that it is well defined. It is only in very few places in Nigeria that CCTV's are installed, this is a backstab to effective Intel gathering by the police. The federal government definitely has some works to be done.

Any individual with a dear love for our country would have noticed these problems. The solutions are clear and definitely I dream of Nigerian Police Force that is characterised by the positive variants of these problems highlighted.

Abiola Ayodeji Gbemisola, is a student of Economics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun state. He is an Editor with Economic Insight Press Agency OAU and also the PRO of the Nigerian Economics Student Association, OAU [NESA-OAU]. He tweets from @bilex_g. Contact him via [email protected]

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Articles by Abiola Ayodeji Gbemisola