In the day to day performance of their duties, men and women of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) are confronted with issues that challenge the most dedicated among them. Some of these issues can be daunting indeed. Although efforts to reposition the NPF to enable it perform its constitutional roles have been made by the government at all levels with occasional assistance from individuals and groups, still the rot persists due, largely, to past neglect.
These problems which need to be restated range from poor funding, obsolete weapons, lack of modern offices and posts, poor logistics, non-functional communication gadgets, poor remunerations and working conditions. Some of these problems that unfortunately hamper the effectiveness of the men and women of the force are traceable to poor maintenance culture, misuse and over-use of equipment, vehicles and communication facilities which are limited in supply in any case.
This situation is too obvious to be emphasized here. Nonetheless, for reasons that are critical to the welfare of the police operatives, this newspaper deems it necessary to beam the searchlight on the accommodation facilities or lack of them in the force.
We are drawing attention to this aspect of police welfare because of its importance to their role as those put in charge of securing life and property of the citizens. In our opinion, an officer who is not relaxed may not be in a position to think clearly or, for that matter, pay attention to the details of his assignment. It is disheartening, in our view, that policemen still live outside the barracks in various parts of the country. Apart from the danger this poses to their own safety and that of their family members, it is a major inhibition to their smooth deployment for operation or recall for emergency duties.
Sadly, where the barracks are available, they are in bad shape and congested. Most police barracks in the country lack basic amenities that ought to be taken for granted in any decent environment. In some of these barracks, access roads to them are deplorable while movement within them are hampered by pothole- infested pathways. It is not uncommon to see broken sewage pipes, overflowing soakaway pits, hanging windows and blown off roofs.
It is from this background that we feel gratified that the new acting inspector-general of police (IGP) has promptly identified the poor state of the barracks and has solicited the support of the Police Trust Fund (PTF) to give the officers and men a more befitting barracks to live in.
This move by the police chief is commendable and deserves the support of the PTF and the federal government. It is widely believed that where an individual lives plays a significant role in his or her social and mental wellbeing which, in turn, influences their thought pattern and productivity.
However, surprisingly and curiously too, the renovation of old barracks and building of new ones did not feature in the IGP’s 12-point agenda. While we appreciate the decision by the IGP to dismantle road blocks across the federation, withdraw officers attached to private citizens and deduct court damages from the salary of any officer found to have abused human rights, they are not enough to raise the sagging morale of the men and women in the field who know and feel it.
We are persuaded to argue that depending on external institutions like the PTF for the renovation and construction of barracks will not yield the desired results considering the bureaucracy associated with the operations of such organisations, paucity of funds and corruption in the system.
It is from this perspective that we call on the IGP to look inward so as to create buffer funds for this purpose. The police authorities also need to prioritise allocation of funds to barrack projects in its annual budgetary system. A judicious spending of such funds allocated to the projects will save the police from the current embarrassing situation.
We also appeal to the PTF to keep the promise it made to Nigerians that soon they will begin to feel the impact of the organisation once the N74 billion 2021 budget now before the National Assembly is passed into law.
The PTF should equally pursue the implementation of its enabling Act which provides for the Trust Fund to collect a levy of 0.005 per cent of the net profit of companies operating in Nigeria amongst other sources; 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account; any take-off grant and special intervention fund as may be provided by the federal, state or local government and monies appropriated by the National Assembly in the budget to meet the objective of the Act to enable it perform its duties to the force.