IN one of the typical assessments of the country's security needs, Kunle Ajayi, a Professor of Political Science of the Ekiti State University said Nigeria required about 650,000 police men to confront the security challenges facing it.
Confronting crime with numbers is ancient. It worked when authorities fought crimes more as contests over territories than a battle for the mind, which is the case today. The circumstances and times have taken the fight against crimes above numbers.
A police officer, per Nigerian, that is 167 million police officers, will not be the answer to Nigeria's rising crimes. There are several evidences to confirm this. Even with the strength of the police at 370,000, poor training, misuse of the manpower, and inadequate equipment hamper the operations. The best officers are providing escort services for VIPs.
Corruption in the police is another obstacle. Hardly any policeman is recruited without bribing someone to endorse one form or the other. Police uniforms are on sale, every police man pays for them.
Modern crime fighting leans more on technology than numbers. The high illiteracy of the police about technology crimes - which translate to everything from bank frauds to bombings - cannot be ameliorated with numbers.
Efficiency of the police will rest on the education of the officers. Poor remuneration and low career progression in the force keep the best brains out of the force. On its part, governments are ever willing to use the resources of the better equipped military to do the job of the police. The military do no training for police duties. The result is failure in their interventions.
Increase in the number of police personnel in the past 10 years has seen more people joining for the wrong reasons. The police, especially at the lower cadre, are filled with people without other career prospects. They do the foot work, for them joining the police is a last resort.
Solutions to the present security concerns lie on many factors. Governments have to tackle burgeoning unemployment, particularly among the youth. More educated young Nigerians are resorting to crime. They have the advantage of technology. They are smarter than the security agencies. If they are employed, there would be less people involved in technology crimes for which the country is unprepared.
Equally important, is a decision on the police. Governments have to decide on the type of police they want. The debates would be long-drawn in all directions, but certainly what we have today cannot serve Nigeria's security needs.
While that decision may include ideal numbers, it must be founded on creating a modern, efficient police force with more considerations than colours and texture of the uniforms.