It is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that empowered the Nigeria Police Force as a security institution to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians. The police is not a revenue-generating institution neither is it set up to recover money for keeps. It is an institution that is entrusted with the internal security of a land mass called Nigeria with an estimated population of 170 million people. Since its establishment, the force, which has been headed by 19 Inspectors-General of Police, is yet to come to terms with many aspects of its daily administrative and operational activities, especially as regards its funding. Apart from payment of salary, the force has not been well-provided with funding to cater for the welfare of its officers and men, not to mention its logistics and infrastructures. A time there was, during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, when some junior police officers publicly revolted for over unpaid salary and Mr. Musiliu Smith, the IGP, was sacked. The same President also axed IGP Tafa Balogun for alleged impropriety. Two IGPs were removed by the Obasanjo administration and he skinned the force by establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), upgraded , equiped and armed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, to the detriment of the Nigeria Police Force. It seems a recurring issue that whenever a retired General is elected as democratic President, it is either the police force is starved of funds or the serving IGP is rattled and ruffled. Historically, police blossom whenever a civilian is the President of the country but not so when a military officer assumes the office of President. When Alhaji Shehu Shagari was President, that was when late Sunday Adewusi, as IGP, introduced the formation of the elite Mobile Police command. During the administration of Kam-Salem as IGP, the welfare of policemen was at its peak and the police cooperative, community banks were established, while the police welfare scheme was upgraded. However funding nosedived with the introduction of bad economic policies, as government found it extremely difficult to adequately fund some of the security organisations, especially the police. In most instances, hurdles are placed to hinder funding. Oftentimes, the approved budgets are staggered for release but are never released before the end of the fiscal year. The police, like other security organisations, have been operating on zero budgets and are indebted for billions of naira to contractors. This is not the best way to handle security organisations. It is important to note that the present administration has concentrated more on funding the armed forces, sequel to their operational activities in the North-East part of the country, leaving out the police . No wonder, the recent upsurge of criminality is already marring the internal security of the country. Insecurity is, no doubt, gearing up and overwhelming the police, operationally. It is noticeable that the police, in recent times, have not been able to acquire new vehicles and other security hardware for operational activities, yet more attention is given to all the armed forces by providing them with gunboats, helicopters, armored vehicles and fighter jets.
This pathetic situation has made police leaders to embark on a cap-in-hand visit to buoyant state governors for donations. It is on record that states like Rivers, Enugu, Anambra, Kano, Abia, Delta, Edo, Benue, Imo, Ogun, Cross River and Lagos have been the major donors and sustainers of the Nigeria Police Force in the last 10 years. The question is, how could a security organisation like the police continue in this unacceptable situation in a country blessed with abundant natural resources? This is a police force that is yet to meet the international ratio of the the United Nation, which is one police officer to 400 people.This disgraceful state of affairs was once exhibited in Haiti where a Nigerian police contingent was on a peace-keeping operation. As one of the observers, l noticed that Nigerian police personnel were using firewood, instead of gascookers, like other contingents from Syria, India and Pakistan.The Nigerian contingent was starved of virtually everything, including vehicles. The only serviceable vehicle had no battery to start it. It was a publication by this writer that drew the attention of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who directed the then IGP to wade in and correct the ugly situation. It is true that the Nigeria Police is not the only institution that needs the attention of the federal government; nonetheless, it is important to note that when there is insecurity in the country, companies would close shop, with foreign investors backing off. The situation today is not too impressive. The so-called rapid response is achievable only in a few states of the country. A visit to many divisional police stations across Nigeria speaks volumes about their neglect. Many police stations have no serviceable patrol vehicle. The federal government likes to emulate from the United States of America but where it is expected to implement security strategies and operational procedures it lags behind. In the city of Atlanta, Georgia, police posts have numerous patrol cars, similar to what Lagos State is exhibiting. Each time the story of an effective policing system is mentioned in Nigeria, the first and only state that easily comes to mind is Lagos. If there is a state government that is showing the way, why would other state governors not follow suit? After all, the security vote at their disposal is not only for their personal upkeep to secure the lives and property of the people.
Each time an election is conducted in Nigeria, the next news that emerges is the cry of the foot soldiers (policemen), who carried out election assignments, complaining of non-payment of their welfare allowances. Non-payment of allowances is in itself a corrupt practice, and it is not enough for the IGP to set up a committee to investigate this reoccurring issue. One hopes that this investigation would put an end to this disgusting act of depriving policemen of their rights after operational duties. Structures that would ensure quick payment to every election participant are advisable so that such does not happenagain.