From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC), Alhaji Musiliu Smith, has raised the alarm that if care is not taken, Nigeria may face dearth of policemen in the nearest future, which may make the campaign against crime and criminality more difficult.
He made the observation on Wednesday at a one-day South West Zone police recruitment sensitisation forum held at the Kola Daisi Civic Centre, Idi-Ape, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Smith, a retired Inspector-General of Police (IGP), noted that the strength of Nigeria Police of many years was far below the United Nations recommended police-population ratio. He added that his fear stemmed from the inability of many states in the country to meet up with police recruitment quota allocated to their respective states.
He explained that the sensitisation forum was organised by the PSC towards gathering relevant information and finding a lasting solution on why youth in many states have apathy for police jobs in Nigeria, in spite of the fact that the country is still lagging behind in the ideal number of policemen that should police over 200million Nigerians.
He stated that in the previous recruitment exercises carried out, the states in the southwest geo-political zone did not meet up with the quota allocated to them each. He noted that those that applied, many of them were still dropped on medical grounds because they have high blood pressure and tuberculosis as well as other medical conditions.
Smith, particularly accused some traditional rulers of demanding money from applicants for police jobs for them to sign their forms or to give them letters of introduction, saying such unwholesome practices must stop for a better future for the nation. He also noted that some traditional rulers and local government officials were also in the habit of giving letters of introduction and citizenship certificates to non-indigenes of their states, on pecuniary gains, with a view to filling the quota allocated to their states.
He stated that the Nigerian Police supposed to have the strength, and the personnel are not supposed to work with only their blood, hands, and brain, saying: “modern policing is very much dependent on modern security equipment. I am sure you will agree with me that we are not yet near providing necessary security gadgets that can modernise and help police our country effectively. I am not saying the government is not trying. But I think the government should try more so that as we are improving the strength of the police, virtually everything the police need to use to support themselves, they (the government) should provide.”
Smith said the PSC is currently in line with the presidential approval given three years ago, which directed the recruitment of 10,000 police officers each year, saying the commission was in the process of recruitment of policemen for 2021 in continuation of the exercise for the past three years. He said at a meeting of commissioners in the commission held recently, it was discovered that a lot of states were not able to fill up their quota, adding: “Those who applied, so many of them too had to be dropped out because they were not able to pass the required examinations.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, was represented by Oba Adebanjo Adedinni, on the occasion. However, Commissioner of Police in Osun State, Olawale Olokode; the Timi of Ede in Osun State, Oba Munirudeen Odesola; Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; and the Onpetu of Ijeruland in Oyo State, Oba Sunday Oyediran.
The list also comprised the President-General, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Prince Yemisi Adeaga; Special Adviser to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State on Security Matters, Taofeek Falade, and leadership of the Police Community Relation Committee (PCRC) were some of the dignitaries at the programme. The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Ngozi Onadeko, was represented on the occasion.
In their submissions, the traditional rulers noted that poor funding for policemen has been responsible for why many youths have apathy for joining the Nigeria Police, and why a number of parents would discourage their children from being enlisted into the police force. They said some policemen receive between N40,000 and N50,000 as salaries and they are expected to confront criminal elements, carrying more sophisticated firearms. According to them, youth would be discouraged when they have information of poor funding such that many junior police officers would have to buy unform and shoes by themselves.
But Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, specifically advocated N100,000 as a minimum wage for policemen, adding that “It is high time Nigeria woke up to where we got the police ideology. How are they funding their own? Are the policemen in that country underpaid? This is why I am advocating minimum pay for police officers should be N100,000 and then we can say the police should not be corrupt.
“Also, police recruitment should be put in the hands of traditional rulers. We have the structure of kings, princes, chiefs and baales(village heads). If you don’t want criminals to be recruited into the police system, then the kings are the ones that know who is not a criminal. They should be the ones to be empowered to be helping the government in recruiting.”