The actual figure of the workforce in the Nigerian Police can be said to be shrouded in mystery. Neither the Police affairs Ministry, the Police Service Commission nor even the Police itself seem to know the actual figure.
Several factors can be attributed to this maze which the administrators of the nation’s primary security outfit have found themselves. Principal among these factors could be traced to the porous statistics gathering mechanism which most government establishments are guilty of.
Other factors could be traced to the tragic depletion of the strength of the force resulting of the unfortunate incidents of terror and insurgency which has befallen the country. The issue of ghost workers in the force, which was supposedly trashed out when over 140,000 ghost workers were discovered on the police payroll contributed to the reduction in the police population.
Of course, there is also the issue of officers found culpable in criminal or disciplinary actions and were shown the door out of the force. All these factors and perhaps many others played a major role in depleting the population.
The minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade in a world press briefing on Tuesday gave the population of the force as 370,000. The figure obviously conflicts the figure of 340,000 given by the acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar when he had a rendezvous with Police Correspondents.
However, a source in the Police Service Commission PSC told LEADERSHIP that puts the figure at about 320,000. According to the source, it is only the PSC that has should have the accurate population figure of the police and the other security agencies of government should not give the figures of the police population if it has not been confirmed.
The source which averred that the figures from the various security organs was conflicting because apart from not consulting properly with the PSC before making pronouncements on the population of the nation’s police force, another motive is what he termed the ‘politics of manipulating figures for pecuniary gains.
According to the source, when the figures increased, logistics would have to be planned to accommodate the working figures.
The minister also said in his speech at that briefing that there was projection to increase the population of the force from the current 370,000 to 650,000. This projection was also faulted by the source who pointed out that at no time did the administrators of the force which includes the three organs jointly decided On that figure.
He explained that the PSC which has statutory power to hire and fire police officers plan to increase the force to 500,000 and not 650,000. According to the source, the country may not have the capacity to double the figure of the force in one fell swoop.
He said that the problem of funding the police has remained a major stumbling block to increasing the size of the force.
From estimation, increasing the size of the police force to 650,000 from is current less than 300,000 would gulp billions of naira.
This money a source in the police affairs ministry said is not available anywhere. According to the statistics reeled out by the minister, in 2011, N9bn was appropriated for 12 capital projects but the ministry only received N6bn.
This, a source in the ministry said, has always been the case with the police. He said the federal government has never been able to release the required funds to execute capital projects. He noted that as long as the government continues to under fund the police there would always be a shortfall in the capacity of the force and the country with a population that is expanding in leaps and bounds would always bear the brunt for this.
An indication of the effect of a grossly inadequate police force can be seen in the indices of crime as reeled out by the minister of police affairs. According to the minister, in 2011 alone, 879 robbery and 366 kidnapping incidents were recorded. Many stakeholders aver that the figures like the figures of the size of the force could be a far cry from the actual figure of robber and kidnap that happened within the period under review.