This is the concluding part of this series. Previous works looked at Recruitment, Training Schools and Colleges, need for Training and Retraining and now the core of the whole thing funding. The exposition in previous parts showed need for funding of the Force.
This part will reveal some misplaced conception against the Police with practical illustrations. Attempt will be made as to why police is considered corrupt but in reality, they are mere victims of circumstances and not victims of their own contradictions because they operate in same society like you and I, majority of their children attend same school like ours, their wives buy from same market and supermarkets like ours, we buy fuel at same amount and pay same land and air fares. We may condemn the Police but we cannot play down the importance of same police we castigate apart from the ills and activities few of them indulge in as mentioned under Training which adequate funding and continuous Training can remedy significantly.
The major underfunded areas are:
1. Police stations
2. Car Donations
1. Police Station:
In 2013 the then Acting Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Force Headquarter FHQ, CSP Frank Mba now an DCP and FPPRO, gave an insight into the painful cash experiences of Police Station Heads. Mba accepted that the challenge of poor funding of stations was a nationwide issue and described it as pathetic. Underscoring underfunding, he said “we cannot give what we don’t have” noting that it predates the era of the then IGP. He further justified cash and kind donations by individuals and corporate organizations and asserted that it’s a global attitude but that Station Heads must conduct Due Dilligence to know the background of donors.
As at that 2013, quarterly allocation ranged between N45, 000 and N80,000 averaging between N15,000 and N27,000 monthly to run an entire station.
Today, the story is not different as it averages a mere N30,000 to N35,000 to run a full police station. The amount is meant to pay electricity bills, buy desiel/fuel, maintain the generators, fuel the patrol vehicles that operate 24/7, service and maintain the vehicles, service communication equipment, buy stationeries for the station (foolscap sheets for statement) and other sundry expenses.
Pathetically, nothing has changed in terms of the funding hence the inability to officially allocate funds to the Police Stations which are Foundation of Police operations. What is N30,000 or whatever? What can it achieve? Indeed, this unfortunate issue of disbursement to Stations is not the making of the Inspector General of Police. It’s true that a state like Lagos has Lagos State Security Trust Fund. However, report has it that assistance of LSSTF is limited to Rapid Response Team and not Police Stations.
a. How does the Police Stations survive with N35,000 monthly expected in running station, machines and vehicles? They survive through extortions for bail, road blocks, illegal arrests, goodwill from innocent citizens and criminals alike, through cash and gifts from legitimate businesses and criminal organizations. Practically, no Police Station anywhere in Nigeria will depend on that paltry amount and carry out their duties. More than 70% of the readers will be shocked by this revelation. Bottom-line is that POLICE NEED FUNDS TO OPERATE AS POLICE FORCE IS CONSISTENTLY AND GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED. In spite of these financial shortfalls, Nigeria Police Force is still operating to the best of her abilities.
b. Can they discharge their duties creditably? NO. It will be morally difficult to arrest your criminal helper except it is an escalated matter. A Police Officer once narrated how difficult it was for them to arrest a “station helper” because of his kindness in cash and kind without knowing the Chief was into criminal activities and used his closeness to Police as cover. This kind of practice will unfortunately deny the poor local justice against the giver. Oppression is promoted and justice miscarried. Investigations are skewed and evil is adorned because the Station was not government funded but depended on charity.
c. That’s the reason why most stations don’t have fuel for operations; they can’t respond to emergencies and can’t be fully available where and when needed. In this instance, uninformed civilians will be grumbling over their own seeming ineffectiveness of police complaining of not having fuel in the vehicle to respond to distress calls. But in reality, that is the truth. Sometimes officers use their money to buy fuel, change tires, recharge DSTV, buy stationeries for statements etc. What is N35.000?
d. They often resort to begging to renovate and maintain the police station. The officers consistently are under pressure to perform with nothing and at the same time in bad books of the public for being inefficient and ineffective. What a wrong way to judge and hang an innocent man? What is N35,000?
e. Who does not know that police officers kit themselves. They buy materials and sew their uniforms and that informed the reason we see “coats of many colors”, booth, etc. Am pretty sure that if arms are sold like uniform materials, these committed policemen would still have opted to buy arms to fight criminals and to protect themselves.
f. In absence of government funding, some investigations may hit the rock. In other circumstances the rich could sway and influence investigation denying the poor fair hearing and justice.
The act of begging negates one of the principles of effective policing as the state is meant to provide the enabling environment for Police to effectively function including proper funding. Furthermore, the quest for alternative means of funds could provide platform for criminals to penetrate Police and use the opportunity to perpetuate evil against the society. The need for government funding of Police Force cannot be over emphasized. Police Station is the grassroot of policing and must be adequately provided for. Often, we chastise the Police for lying in her Press Releases. The DPO supply grassroot information through established structures which gets to the PPRO to make public statement which often is to the contrary and raises questions. The PPRO 99% may not be at the scene of crimes and incidences but rely on information. If the foundation information is faulty which goes to the public then everything including perception becomes faulty especially where the DPO compromise report. The poor funding of police directly and indirectly create gap between police and policed. When the public see station officers as beggars, molesters, extorters etc they will not trust police and it affects the relationship negatively which impact on effective Community Policing. Any action at the station triggers multiple reactions from the public.
2. Car Donations:
We have often heard, seen, celebrated and eulogized state governments for donating 100, 200, 300 etc fully fitted operational vehicles to the Nigeria Police. This kind gesture comes at any time of the year when budgets are already running. The donated vehicles which were meant to be daily used 24/7 for security purposes is then distributed to various stations, departments and units and the main issue sets in.
What are the issues?
a. Who fuels these new vehicles?
b. Who service and maintain the new vehicles?
c. Do the state governments maintain them knowing fully well that NPF doesn’t have capacity for that? These questions deserve answers.
That’s another dimension of corruption from such governments. Much as Police need such operational tools, inability to maintain them means returning responsibilities back to these innocent men on uniform to privately cater for the running of the vehicles which invariably return to the ordinary man in the street to bear the burden through various means. Therefore, the extortion leveled against Police is a creation of a faulty and unanalytical systems that doesn’t look beyond their nose. The gifts without corresponding maintenance plans are accessories to offence of extortion. It is like buying a car for a struggling poor female student without taking up the responsibility of maintaining the car and a clause not to sell the car. Your guess is as good as mine.
The respite for poor funding of the Nigeria Police Force is funding the Force. The funding challenges which the previous IGPs faced is same problem the current IGP is facing and we shall be wallowing in self-deceit if we still expect even the next IGP to perform miracles unless we change the match strategy. It is only a fool that will keep doing same thing repeatedly and expect a different result.
The cry for improved funding has become a reoccurring decimal and am sure the repeated music is boring officers that are eager, willing, able and ready to perform. Adequate funding will reduce crime considerably by more than 70% and up the relationship rating with policed by same 70%. Its evidently clear that Police interests cannot be adequately accommodated in our annual budgets and solution now lie on the Police Trust Fund Team expected to be constituted. The managers of the fund must be conscious of the fact that the rebirth, renewal, repackaging and relaunching of wretched and dry Police Force lie on their shoulders and shouldn’t be business as usual. The responsibility of managing this fund shouldn’t be a retirement benefit for retired IGs or Senior Police Officers. Judicious deployment of resources may be handled by a none uniformed person and membership must be on merit with adequate representations.
TASKS AHEAD OF THE POLICE TRUST FUND TEAM
1. Rehabilitation of Training Schools and Colleges must be of utmost importance. The facilities used in converting civilians to police officers should be ready to positively transform the trainees in body, spirit, character, conducts and in learning to enable us have well rounded cops. Interventions in renovations, equipment of lecture halls, dormitories, e-learning, building Trainers’ capacity and special allowances for staff.
2. Funds should be spent in regular Training of Officers. Capacity building on Human Rights Training is important and must be as practical as possible. It’s also good to consider Training on Mental Health Awareness. Most importantly is investment in Training and retraining of officers in arms handling. It should be compulsory periodically. Most of the Training must be outsourced.
3. For proper integration and acceptance of Police into the society, the Police management must abolish the Barracks system. This integration will enable them to live with and among the people. It will reduce bribery and corruption considerably such that it will be difficult to collect bribe from a neighbor that has issues and freely face them back in the neighborhood. In addition, it will dismantle the myth of master servant relationship and surely see all parties as partners in progress. Furthermore, being among the people will help officers in intelligence gathering and foster collaboration without announcing that “Police is your friend.” This harmonious system is a boost to and without doubts, one of the core ingredients of delivering Community Policing policy. Some people may come up with argument of unduly exposing the officers but those that present this argument certainly must clean up their dirty cupboards. The place of the Trust Fund here is to ensure that officers are properly housed.
4. We are aware of the pains and trauma almost all junior officers go through when they are transferred. Its pitiable, disheartening and demotivating seeing many officers convert stations, abandoned vehicles, trees and shanties around the station as homes. Greater majority move to their new base without space to even sleep. The condition of their families is secondary. Of a truth, no human can give his or her best to the service he’s called upon when conditions precedent for performance are lacking. The anger of abandonment is rightly or wrongly transferred to the innocent citizens. It follows with rejection, frustration and depression. There are situations whereby increase in salaries cannot be solution but adequate provisions. In view of the above, the Police Trust Fund Team must work closely with Police Management to ensure that proper and functional housing policy is put in place.
Finally, no sacrifice is too big to get our Police running in a responsible, responsive, efficient and effective manner. Police cannot achieve results by operating alone without the policed. They are no magicians. Nigeria police was built on the culture of dedication and commitment hence the laurels they have regularly won in Peacekeeping in the past on foreign assignments.
Apparently, the culture and the Nigeria dominating winning spirit of excellence could have delivered such five-star performances. It is a truism that better operational environment will place them on zenith point of performance.
Policing is not easy. They are daily exposed to criminals once on uniform. The ignorance of what they go through has made them public “enemy” yet when the chips are down we run to these “enemies.” Sincerely we need them and they need us. The unnatural exposures for survival and running of stations has pitched them against the public as corrupt but as I said earlier on, there are also natural bad eggs in the Force that the proposed new face of Police will weed.
The IGP should strengthen his monitoring Team. He should set up a Team to monitor the Monitors. He cannot be everywhere all the time but he can deploy technology to assist in checkmating his men. This work did not mention or appeal to the Federal government to increase Police allocation because it has been proven over and over again that government cannot adequately fund police through budgetary allocations. The present regime has done their best in efforts to annually recruit Constables to fill the gaps but the number in the Police Force is still below expected number of Police man per persons. This is obtained by dividing our population by number of policemen. The result is a far cry. For example, United Nations gave ratio of Citizens to Policeman as 400 but in Nigeria we have average of one policeman to over 500 officially but in reality, it’s about 700 as some privileged citizens have as much as 20 policemen attached to them and so we need to annually triple our intakes. The Police Service Commission and Police Management must clear backlog of promotions. Its demoralizing and one of the poor performance indicators in the Force. Promote people that are due and see people exceed your expectations of performance. We no longer hear of induced or monetized promotions. We want to believe the era is over but per venture it still hovers around the Force, perpetrators should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed to serve as a deterrent to others. There is so much controlled grumbling and well-placed anger among policemen and officers due for promotion.
Let me end by urging the IGP not to be weary in well doing for in due season, he shall reap if he faint not. Work to write your name in gold by working closely with the Police Trust Fund Team which you are expected to be a member so as to change the narratives of the Nigeria Police Force.
Mazi Agodi Kanu is a Writer, Author and Security Consultant and writes from Lagos
Enquiries: 09099999632 and firstname.lastname@example.org