The proposal by the Federal Government to recruit 40,000 additional constables to the current 371,800 staff strength of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF as part of measures to reinforce the nation’s security architecture is a right step in the holistic approach to dealing with increasing crime waves across the country.
If implemented, the fresh recruitment under which 50 policemen will be deployed in each of the 774 councils nationwide to join forces with their colleagues to strengthen security at the grassroots level, is part of the government’s community policing agenda, according to the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu.
Besides, adoption of the latest initiative we note, however falls short of the ongoing popular clamour by governors and ethnic nationalities including Afenifere, pan Yoruba socio-cultural organization and Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the wholesale adoption of State Police which they maintained holds the ace to effective policing and capable of reducing the increasing criminality and killings in parts of Nigeria.
Expatiating on the proposal, Adamu who was spoke through the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 9, Mr. Baba Tijini, at the launch of the Police Campaign Against Cultism and Other Vices (POCACOV) in Enugu recently further hinted that the force would also engage community-based organisations, groups and institutions to ensure adequate protection of lives and property.
Under the programme also, members of the public would be sensitised to join the fight against crime and criminality at the community level, adding that: “I want all Nigerians to key into this programme for the overall reduction of crime in all our communities in the country as we want to engage and work together with local citizens to easily identify security threats and proffer local solutions to them”.
Though we believe that the new scheme if faithfully incorporated to the existing security arrangement coupled with active collaboration with sister security agencies, is capable of reducing violent crimes in the country, the Federal Government should not lose sight of the other major challenges confronting effective policing besides the manpower shortage with a view to resolving them.
These in our view include, border control, poverty, unemployment, logistics, underfunding, brutality against citizens which results in public apathy and contrary to its motto: ‘Police is your friend’, poor remuneration for personnel, poor intelligence gathering, preventive measures to nip crime in the bud and corruption among personnel of the force.
More importantly to be able to address these problems decisively and holistically, we believe that the federal, state and local governments should not leave any stone unturned even though policing remains in the exclusive list of the central administration given the fact that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” as stipulated in section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
It should be further be noted that the raging debate on the desirability or otherwise of State Police should not constitute a stumbling block to the government’s latest initiative to effectively secure the country for the citizens to sleep with their two eyes closed.
We recommend that no effort should be spared by the security operatives in mitigating if not totaling eliminating the daily bloodletting through banditry, Boko Haram, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, communal attacks, killer herdsmen and other violent crimes for which Nigeria is now notorious for and vilified across the globe.
A good starting point in our view is an aggressive and sustained collective effort by the government and the private sector to address the grinding poverty and joblessness in the land for which Nigeria is ranked the poverty capital of the world because as the popular axiom goes, the devil finds work for the idle hand.
Towards this end, the government especially at the federal and state levels should as a matter of national priority provide the enabling environment through protection of lives and property, provision of basic amenities like electricity and potable water as well as good road network for prospective investors.
There is no denying the fact that government’s consistent campaign for potential foreign industrialists to take advantage of the business opportunities that abound in the country will remain largely unheeded if concrete steps are not taken to ameliorate the rather harsh investment climate which had also resulted in capital flight to the detriment of the economy.
Similarly the National Social Investment Programme under which over 12million of the estimated 90million Nigerians within the poverty bracket have reportedly benefitted should be reinvigorated to accommodate more beneficiaries across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. Economic empowerment of the people should henceforth be taken seriously as one of the effective means of tackling insecurity which has reached alarming proportion.
For the police and indeed the security agencies to perform above the expected deliverables in our view also, requires a lasting solution to the nation’s porous borders and we challenge the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS to intensify its e-migrant registration scheme in order to control illegal movements and identity foreign criminal elements who do not mean well for their hosts.
Certainly this is the best time for the Federal Government to seek a permanent solution to the porosity of our borders which has been reported to have greatly aided smuggling of small arms and light weapons from war-torn zones, including Libya and Central Africa Republic, terrorism, cross- border crimes, human trafficking, irregular migration and smuggling of migrants, among other challenges.
We call on State Governments that share borders with the country’s neighbours to support the government efforts by enlightening their subjects on the bigger implication of harbouring irregular migrants and other aliens in their midst.
Again, the government should seriously address such issues as inadequate logistics including shortage of operational vehicles and speed boats, armour personnel carriers, modern communication equipment, technology driven intelligence gathering, improved motivation as well enhanced welfare of the officers and men of the NPF who daily put their lives on the line of duty while performing their constitutional responsibility of protecting the citizens.
We declare that never again should we allow the families of our gallant policemen felled on the line of duty be allowed to wallow in penury on account of poor funding and inadequate insurance cover by government while no effort should be spared in ensuring prompt settlement of gratuities and pensions of retired policemen.
This, we believe will surely go a long way to address the menace of corruption among personnel of the force since their future and that of their families and dependants are guaranteed in the event of the unexpected.
It is heart breaking and totally unacceptable recent revelation that 1,460 Nigerians were gunned down in about 330 attacks by bandits alone within the last seven months of this year in the country which is outside the hundreds of lives lost to Boko Haram, killer Fulani herdsmen and communal attacks across. This must stop.
The Federal Government should end the wanton killings and we are confident that recruitment of additional policemen to the existing officers and men coupled with active support of sister security agencies and collaboration of citizens who should volunteer information on criminal elements will help the nation address criminality and killings in land because socio-economic development can only thrive in an atmosphere of peace and order.