In a few days, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect leaders that would run the country for the next four years. The 2019 general elections can only take place in an atmosphere of peace and security. That is why the police, in particular, and other security agencies in general, are critical to the success of the elections.
It was apparently in realisation of the critical role of the police in the security architecture for the successful conduct of the elections that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, has moved to ensure that the police and women are ready for the exercise. It is also good that we remind ourselves of the challenges facing the police, which the new Inspector General of Police has inherited.
Nigeria has about 370,000 policemen and women. Recent recruitment into the force by President Muhammadu Buhari, added another 10,000 policemen/women. However, even with the recruitment, Nigeria is still very under-policed. This is one of the areas we believe that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to intervene for effective policing in Nigeria.
Our men of the Police Force die on a daily basis while carrying out their constitutional assignment of keeping Nigeria safe for all. Every well-meaning Nigerian should commend this as well as the steps taken so far, by the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed to reform the force for better service delivery to the country. But for these steps to translate to success, every Nigerian, especially politicians, have very big roles to play.
Some of the roles include: avoiding the politics of do-or-die affairs. This is because in an election, all the candidates of the different political parties cannot be declared winner for a single electoral position. And the earlier our politicians realise this, the safer we would all feel.
Then there is hate speech and misinformation which must be avoided. This is one of the major problems confronting our country today. Our politicians make all sorts of comments during their campaigns. They even use their local languages to spread hate speech, thereby creating unnecessary problem, which sometimes lead to violence, killings and destruction of property. Anywhere in the world, hate speeches constitute threat to national unity and thus, should be condemned by every well-meaning Nigerian.
Destruction of campaign billboards is a sign of intolerance and another thing that should be condemned. This is one of the serious electoral offences anyone can commit. The constitution allows every citizen the opportunity to seek any electoral position, and this provision of the constitution has to be respected by all.
The other point is violence during campaigns and elections or after elections. This has always been a challenge in the electoral process in Nigeria, and since election is a periodic exercise which comes and goes and leaves the country behind, politicians and their followers should understand this and also note that power and position comes from God and He alone gives it to whoever He wants.
To ensure that every citizen is safe in the coming elections, the Ag IGP Mohammed Adamu, recently held a meeting with all the heads of operations from all the states of the federation at the Force Headquarters Abuja and warned that the police will deal decisively with any political actor who contravenes the Electoral Act and criminal laws. He also warned individuals and groups engaging in unacceptable activities to know that the police leadership would not tolerate any form of criminality. He charged heads of operations to return to their various jurisdictions and do just two things; protect law abiding citizens, identify, isolate and deal decisively with any political actor that acts in contravention of the Act. He assured that the police shall perform its duties within the dictates of the law in the overriding national interest and renewed the force’s unwavering determination to guarantee level–playing field for all political actors in the general elections. From all indications, we can prove to the world that Nigeria can get it right under this IGP.
The heads of operations in all the states of the federation should therefore follow the footsteps of Ag IGP, Adamu, who is rebuilding the public’s confidence in the Police Force and who is also taking steps to ensure the payment of all allowances due officers who would be assigned to provide security for the 2019 general elections.
–Bala Itodo is a social researcher and public communicator based in Abuja.
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