Considering the rising criminality in the country and the poor numerical strength of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the plan by the police authorities to recruit additional 40,000 men is cheering. The recruitment has become more urgent in view of increasing threats to the nation due to unprecedented banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen’s activities and sundry acts of lawlessness across the country.
According to the spokesman of the NPF, Frank Mba, the planned recruitment is part of the new measures to arrest the spate of worsening security problems across the country and get the buy-in of the people at the grassroots. We can recall that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, recently met with the state governments and traditional and religious leaders across the country, on how to address the disturbing security situation in the country.
One of the outcomes of the ongoing consultations is the decision to recruit more men to close the wide gap in the current police-to-civilian ratio in the country, in keeping with global best practices. The Nigeria Police Force presently has about 400,000 men to police over 190 million Nigerians. This is not close to the United Nations (UN) recommended ratio of 1: 221. To cover the shortfall, it has been recommended that about 40,000 new policemen should be recruited annually for the next 10 years. Given our penchant to renege on some of these policy issues, it would require the political will of those in power to achieve this goal.
This is why we are encouraged by this bold initiative by the police authorities. The fact that the new 40,000 men to be recruited are the lower cadre personnel even makes the initiative more remarkable. The policing challenge the country currently faces would require men on the ground. The theatre of conflict is daily expanding and the country needs men on the ground to comb all the parts of the country, including the vast forests, hinterlands, creeks and waterways to surmount it. As the country is getting immersed in a myriad of challenges, the criminals are getting emboldened in their resolve to make illicit gains at the expense of the peace-loving citizens of the country. What is even more painful is that these criminals take the lives of innocent Nigerians indiscriminately. In the last six months alone, thousands of lives had been lost through the activities of these criminals, even more than from the Boko Haram insurgents.
The police must be adequately equipped to rise up to the challenge. While the planned acquisition and deployment of modern equipment and technology, including drones and CCTV cameras are necessary to aid the police in this onerous challenge, we believe that putting more men on the ground will go a long way to overcome the extant security challenges.
The new police constables to be recruited therefore are expected to come from the local communities and deployed to same communities as part of the community policing initiative. The state and local governments as well as the traditional institutions should play key roles in the new recruitment process. This will address the problem of posting policemen to areas they are not familiar and do not understand the local language, culture and traditions of the people. When policemen are posted to their states and communities, it will enhance their effectiveness. It will enhance intelligence gathering and sharing.
Besides, the Federal Government should seriously consider the issue of state policing which we believe will strongly address the current security challenges in the country. The current centralised policing cannot ensure effective monitoring and control of the entire police force. There is no way it would guarantee adequate security for the entire country. With state police in place, the country would be secure.