The current precarious security situation in the country, despite concerted government efforts is worrisome. Equally disturbing is the approach towards finding a solution to it. Experts are expressing their concern that some of the measures being put in place may lead to a deeper crisis in the future if not decisively challenged and addressed now.
In an assessment of the procedures, they refer to the recruitment process into the security agencies especially the police. The Government and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) recently announced a proposal to recruit National Youth Service Corps members and the beneficiaries of N-Power Programme to beef up the manpower needs of the Nigeria Police Force. The corps members and N-Power participants are to make up for the inadequacies in the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 additional hands by the Force.
According to the chairman of the NGF and governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the governors, in particular, feel that the 10,000 men being recruited by the police are inadequate in addressing the country’s current security challenges, hence the urgency to seek other options to ensure that the shortage of manpower in the police is addressed.
While we commend the federal government for its efforts to increase the number of police personnel, we don’t believe that N- power beneficiaries should be compelled to join the police force. They are certainly not the first option. In our opinion, the choice to join the police or any other security outfit should be a personal decision made out of conviction and passion.
It is pertinent to point out that the N- Power programme is under the federal government Social Investment Programme (SIP) which aims to address the challenge of youth unemployment by providing a structure for large scale and relevant work skills acquisition and development while linking its core outcomes to fixing inadequate public services and stimulating the larger economy. The scheme is designed to focus on providing non-graduates with relevant technical and business skills that enhance their work outlook and livelihood.
Without doubt, the 350,000 police workforce is grossly inadequate to secure a population of 200 million Nigerians. It falls below the standard of global best practices. This Newspaper observes that there are only 219 police officers to every 100,000 Nigerians, well below both the Index median of 300, and the sub-Saharan Africa region average of 268.
Last year, the Global terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as fourth most terrorized country in the world. Unfortunately, the Police are overstretched and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of security obstacles in the country. As a direct consequence, the military has to play more than a complementary role, virtually taking over the responsibility of internal security in the country.
Again, the World Internal Security and Police Index International, WISPI in a 2017 report indicated that Nigeria had the worst police force in the world. The report rated the Nigeria Police Force the “worst” globally in terms of its ability to handle internal security challenges.
The reasons for this poor rating are not far-fetched. The recruitment process is unarguably one of the reasons why the police is in such a terrible state, becoming the laughing stock of everyone. It’s an open secret that cultists, thugs and never-do-wells enlist into the police force without any check. We contend that the faulty recruitment process is one of the major reasons why the Nigeria Police is regarded as the worst in the world. Many persons get recruited into the police force not for altruistic reasons, patriotism or passion but due to lack of jobs.
It is our opinion that the country must not draft N- Power beneficiaries wholesale into the police force. We appreciate the fact that the N-Power programme, especially its graduates component, was meant to be a stop gap measure whereby participants would serve for two years within which period they were expected to find a more permanent employment, exit and pave the way for others. Their conversion to other areas of need, talk less of the police, was not part of the plan.
In view of the foregoing, we call on the federal government to discard the idea of enlisting N- power participants into the police force as we believe it will be counterproductive in the long run. The proposal as it presently stands is tantamount to conscription. We insist that only candidates who are motivated to join the police force should be given the opportunity through a transparent process. It is also imperative that a thorough background check be done on all the prospective candidates as this will go a long way to having a police force every Nigerian will be proud of. In our view, any recruitment or employment opportunities should be thrown open for all eligible citizens to compete for. That way, the best brains are likely to emerge to serve the very purpose of their selection.
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