Against the backdrop of public outcry over poor working conditions of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, the Executive chairman of National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr Richard Egbule, recently approved a new salary structure for the crime-busting organisation. Though the new salary has been long overdue since late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua approved the last review that experienced epileptic implementation, not a few members of the public are describing the current review as the right step in the right direction to ameliorate the suffering of the Police.
The upward review can best be appreciated when viewed against the poor remunerations that have dogged the faulty reward system in the force, which in turn has led to poor morale and despair. Before the new salary structure was approved, officers and men of the force had been enmeshed in several crisis involving non-payment of salaries to hundreds of its personnel and inability to improve the welfare of the workforce. Worried by this situation, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, had called on the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) to resolve cases of non-payment and short-payment of salaries of hundreds of police personnel across the nation. The IG's distress call came on the heels of several petitions written by affected officers on the matter that largely went unresolved, with many of them complaining that portions of their salaries were deducted from the months of February to March, 2018.
Complaints over salary deductions of some police personnel may not be unconnected with the full migration of the Nigeria Police Force into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), which has seen many deductions on a monthly basis. At present, there are personnel who have not received three months salaries, but have been assured that their problems would be rectified in no time. Despite assurances that the problem would soon be resolved, the hope of payment is still in the realm of promise. Considering the problems associated with salary payments in the police, the recent upward review of salaries for police personnel is stirring up members of the Force.
It is in this light that we commend the recent upward review of salaries for police officers who have been under strenuous conditions amidst challenges of monumental proportions. What must be avoided is a situation where these reviews are not implemented through constant deductions and delayed payments to meet the expected purpose. Since its establishment in 1930, the Nigeria Police has been exposed to too many challenges bordering on financial strains, with most of the officers resorting to buying their uniforms and other kits, among others. In some of the 2000 stations spread across the country, members of the Force have had to contribute to buy fuel for operational vehicles. All these have tended to encourage corruption in the system.
For the current upward salary review to be positively impactful, it should be implemented quickly so as to offer respite and improve conditions of personnel.
To make the new salaries effective, operational funding for the police should be enhanced and effectively implemented so that officers and men should be absolved of the responsibility of donation to fund operational activities of the police. Like members of other paramilitary organisations in the country, efforts should be geared towards providing accommodation to personnel in order to cushion the high cost of rents and provide conducive atmosphere for men and women of the Force for enhanced efficiency. Beyond the commendable approval for a new salary structure, the Police Command should liaise with the OAGF to ensure that henceforth no police personnel suffers from deducted/delayed salaries. Other welfare programmes for personnel of the Force should also be approved in order to boost morale of members in developing an effective crime-fighting machine for the safety of citizens.