President Muhammadu Buhari should be commended for approving the enhanced salary structure for officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). With the new salary adjustment, the salaries, allowances and pensions of policemen will be increased.
President Buhari, who disclosed this in Abuja while receiving members of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the leadership of the force, reiterated that the gesture would go a long way to boost the performance index of the personnel and strengthen the nation’s internal security. He also promised that his administration would continue to give attention to the welfare and operational needs of the force as well as restore its lost primacy in the internal security framework of the country.
However, the president regretted that the inability of the police in their constitutional duty as the frontline force in the prevention of crime had led to military involvement in the maintenance of law and order in the country. All the same, we believe that the good gesture is expected to motivate the police workforce in the performance of their duties because to whom much is given, much is also expected.
With the new salary structure, it is believed that the police can effectively secure the country and curb armed robbery, kidnapping and other crimes which are currently on the increase nationwide. If the police can adequately ensure internal security, the military should be solely in charge of external aggression as well as the ongoing war against insurgency in the North East geopolitical zone.
We support any incentive that can improve the performance of the Police Force, including their welfare. Government should also address the manpower shortage in the force. We call on the police to use the government’s gesture to ensure professionalism during the conduct of the 2019 elections. It is the duty of the police to ensure the security of voters, the voting materials during and after the polls. The police must protect members of all the political parties and their supporters. They should be neutral in their operations during the elections. Nevertheless, government should do more to rekindle public confidence in the Nigeria Police Force.
Beyond the enhanced salary structure for the police, the government should equally look into other challenges that confront the police. According to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, the force had 334,000 officers and men to secure the lives and property of about 190 million people across the country. This revelation underscores the acute manpower shortage in the law enforcement agency.
There is no way such a meager workforce can adequately secure the country. It is also revealed that many police personnel are reportedly assigned to guard politicians and private individuals. A recent report from the Police Service Commission (PSC) shows that about 150,000 police officers are attached to private individuals. This must be addressed, too.
All police personnel must be trained and equipped to carry out the tasks of modern policing. The primary duty of the police is to ensure law and order in the society. They should also secure lives and property and combat crimes nationwide as stipulated in Section 4 of the Police Act. Indeed, the general orientation of the police and their living environment should be changed for better performance.
In all, the President has done a good thing by approving the new salary structure. There is no doubt that the Nigeria Police are grossly underpaid and ill-equipped. There is no doubt that the responsibilities of the police are daunting. They require well-trained and committed officers and men to discharge their duties effectively. Therefore, let the police reciprocate the president’s gesture by being professional in their duties. We believe that the enhanced salary would boost the welfare and morale of the police personnel.