The International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace recently jointly released what they called the World Internal Security and Police Index International (WISPI) report, proclaiming Nigeria as having the 'worst police force in the world' in their rating for the year 2016. The report said the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has the least capacity to "handle internal security challenges among the 127 countries that were sampled.
It is important to note that the report was compiled by experts, researchers and scholars who were pre-occupied with security efforts from all over the world. This is important because, the resultant report from their efforts could be understood more appropriately only by those who have equal or near equal capacity to apply logic, rationality and basic education to interpret it, not those who will only fixate on the last pronouncement without giving cognisance to the premises.
The IPSA and the Institute for Economics and Peace had intimated from the start that there were criteria through which assessments were made. There were also areas of concern which the two bodies have concentrated on. Hence, the report was not really a blanketed one as some commentators have made it out to be. The indices used in assessing the countries were aimed at measuring what they called "the ability of the security apparatus within a country to respond to internal security challenges. And the areas of concern were four, viz: capacity, process, legitimacy and outcome. Nigeria was said to have scored badly in all four.
The report had it that in Nigeria, there are only "219 police officers for every 100, 000 Nigerians, well below both the Index median of 300, and the sub-Saharan Africa region average of 268... This limits the capacity of the force to measure up to its law and order mandate... "
The above surely offered both the cause and the effect. In fact, it offered also a good hint at the solution. To the discerning mind, the Nigerian policemen and women are doing far beyond what is expected of any policeman anywhere in the world. Their peers, even in the poorest African nations are burdened with far less responsibilities than they are. Add to that equation, un-conducive working condition, bad remuneration, obsolete equipment and other minuses, and you would come out with the expected results, even if IPSA did not prompt you.
The report also pointed out that "High levels of political terror have been an issue for Nigeria since 1993, with the country scoring a four on the Political Terror Scale every year since then... Terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to internal security. Terrorism has increased dramatically over the last three years, with more than 62, 000 people being killed in terrorist attacks between 2012 and 2014 ... " The take here is that the so-called political terror in Nigeria is one that successive governments in the country have taken away from the mandate of the Nigeria Police Force, the same way that other traditional roles of the Force, like road safety management, basic investigations on financial crimes and others have been taken away. How then do the police, which have not been in the forefront of the fight against terrorism, become responsible for whatever result that was obtainable from the fight? It would appear that the researchers are not abreast with the peculiarities of Nigeria in this regard. They may have built their assertions on the ideal, not the real deal in Nigeria. This, of course, is a goof, because all variables are supposed to have been considered in a research of this nature. But we, the citizens, know very well what is obtainable in our country.
Now, if we juxtapose the top 10 performing African countries, according to the report, we will realise that Botswana, which topped the list has a current population of around 2, 331, 390 people. In fact, it was projected that the population may reach 2, 377, 831 people at the beginning of 2018. Rwanda, in the second position, has a population of 12, 315, 410 people as at Monday, November 13, 2017 based on the latest United Nations estimate. Algeria has around 41, 571, 214 people. Nigeria, on the other hand, has an estimated population of around 180, 000, 000 people.
With such a diminished capacity in terms of personnel, diminished process in terms of funding and equipment, and diminished legitimacy in terms of welfare and motivation, there is no way outcome would not be diminished. Yet, despite all these challenges, the Nigeria Police have been able to perform creditably well in the discharge of its duties.
To resolve all of the challenges inhibiting the Nigeria Police, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris has laid out a comprehensive roadmap towards revamping the Force. The shortage of personnel is being addressed as 10, 000 men and women have been recruited into the Force and trained, with a plan to recruit more in the years ahead. The issue of equipment is still a lingering problem, as dearth of fund meant that the best gadgets could not be obtained to kit them.
Even the persistent problem of funding is being addressed as IGP Idris Ibrahim has been in the vanguard of the advocacy for the establishment of the proposed Police Trust Fund. Unfortunately, the National Assembly seems uninterested in considering the bill and probably passing it into law.
In all, the IPSA report, to a certain extent, has revealed the constraints of the Nigeria Police Force. It has also latently suggested the areas that would need urgent redress. Those, incidentally, are the areas that have been receiving the attention of the present police hierarchy in the country under Idris Ibrahim. The government also appears to be in tune with the idea that the basic requirements must be provided, and the synergy between the police head and the head of the national government may end up repositioning the Force for a far better performance henceforth.
There is no doubt that if the Nigeria Police enjoy the same conducive working condition that their peers around the world do, they will perform better. This is because they are already performing in full capacity under the sort of condition where others will get coldly incapacitated. One attestation to this has always been the performance of the Nigerian police in international peace-keeping missions and IGP Idris is a living example of such shining performances. They have always been adjudged the best in such missions, and this is due to their resilience, endurance, dedication, focus and professionalism. We need to celebrate our own heroes. We need to accord them the best treatment and give them all what they require to perform optimally. I make bold to say, given the circumstances under which they operate, Nigeria Police should be called the best.
Ibrahim writes from Abuja