The role of the police in the maintenance of law and order in any society is paramount to the continued existence of the state. However in Nigeria the training and welfare of police personnel in the last two decades has witnessed an alarming decline. Following the shocking discovery of the rot and decay in the Police College, Ikeja by President Goodluck Jonathan during an unscheduled visit recently, police contractors while commending the President lamented that this is a tip of the iceberg as according to a prominent police contractor who does not want to be named, the police affairs ministry is responsible for the poor infrastructure prevalent in all police formations nationwide.
He noted that about 5,550 trained police personnel comprising architects, engineers and other professionals have been rendered redundant because the top echelon of the Police Affairs Ministry always line their pocket by awarding frivolous contracts to market women instead of utilizing the Works department of the police to execute minor police projects.
According to our source, since the 1990s, there has been massive corruption and non-utilization of the monies meant for the execution of police jobs. The source urged the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission to match its words with action by reshuffling the top hierarchy of the police. The source lamented that a whooping sum of N125million was expended in the rehabilitation of Senior Police Quarters in Lagos while N50 million would have been conveniently used to renovate the edifice.
This writer gathered that the contractors who did some jobs at the Police College, Ikeja in 2009 have not been paid till date. The pathetic state of Police colleges across the nation is responsible for the hostility of the rank and file of the police force to the civil populace. It is also regrettable that only erring police officers are deployed to police colleges as a punitive measure. What type of knowledge will an angry man impact?
The National Assembly should ensure that funds allocated to the Police are accessed by the Inspector General of Police. The present ugly scenario whereby funds meant for the Police is channeled through the Police Affairs Ministry is regrettable and counter productive. Paucity of funds and zero allocation to the police according to our source is equally responsible of the sorry state of the infrastructure across police formations.
Community policing as a veritable tool for crime prevention has been sabotaged by the mandarins in the Police Affairs Ministry. Sources allege that the Inspector General of Police invited consultants for a training programme in community policing. The Police Affairs Ministry sabotaged the programme by non-payment of the consultants and instead took its directors on a jamboree abroad under the guise of understudying the implementation of similar programmes abroad. The police affairs ministry is a cesspool of corruption. The authorities should appoint the top hierarchy of the police into the leadership of the ministry as it is the case with the Ministry of Defence where very senior military officers are part and parcel of the ministry. The synergy existing between the directors (civilians) and the senior military officers ensures strict implementation of the Ministry of Defence budget. The powers that be should borrow a cue from the Defence Ministry.
The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency strengthen its oversight function of the police. The current Senate committee chairman on Police Affairs is not competent to head this strategic committee. Sources allege that the committee has compromised by always going to the Police Affairs Ministry for assistance. The Senate President, Senator David Mark should assist in driving the police reform by reinvigorating this committee by bringing on-board a more-committed colleague to head it.
In 2012 for instance, only a paltry sum of N9billion was allocated to the entire Police Force in Nigeria for capital projects while the sum of N29.9 billion is owed police contractors from year 2005-2012. President Jonathan's transformation agenda will hit the rocks if the training and welfare of police personnel is not given top priority. Sources close to this writer maintain that contractors who executed police contracts since 2008 have not been paid. The Inspector General of Police, according to our findings, has reneged to pay for all the jobs not personally awarded by him in 2012. To add salt to injury, the police top brass has vehemently refused to pay for contracts awarded even in 2010 and 2011.
Police contractors believe that the high-turnover of IGs is also responsible for poor performance of the police. They are also advocating a fixed tenure of four years for the office of the Inspector-General of Police as is the case in the MDAs. This will make for stability and proper implementation of policies and programmes. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have witnessed a dramatic growth because it has a sustainable and secure leadership since its inception. The authorities should do the same for the police.
-Okafor sent this piece from Abuja