BY BODE GBADEBO, EJIKE EJIKE, and IGHO OYOYO
A former Inspector-general of Police (IGP) and the immediate-past chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Sir Mike Okiro, has identified lack of proper funding and insufficient personnel as major reasons for capacity constraints in the Nigeria Police Force.
Okiro’s stance is coming at a time the country is enmeshed in security challenges that require effective policing to contain.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP on the current state of insecurity in Abuja, the former police chief regretted that over the years, successive government had failed to invest well in security to enable security agencies tackle insecurity in the country.
“The government must also help the people by providing proper funding, welfare packages, equipment and other things that would help the security agencies to tackle insecurity in the country,” Okiro said.
According to him, while the police lost over 59, 000 of their personnel due to retirement, dismissal, retirement, among others, within five years, there was no recruitment exercise to engage more people in the force to combat crime.
The former IGP said, “We have not invested well in security over the years. Welfare, funding have been a challenge. A policeman with his small salary has the responsibility of taking care of his house and other needs, and also respond to emergency. For police to function well, his accommodation, transport and other welfare must be taken into consideration.
“Lack of manpower is also another challenge. As chairman of Police Service Commission, I discovered that for five years, there was no recruitment and the police lost over 59, 000 people due to retirement, dismissal, retirement and others.
“Development is going on and the cities are overpopulated, yet the strength of the manpower of the police force is going down. Even with the current news of recruitment of 10,000 but it is not good enough and not sustainable.”
On the way forward in the face of daunting security challenge, he said intelligence gathering is key in the fight against insecurity, and it requires money.
He stated: “Government must invest in intelligence gathering because if intelligence is lacking, the operation will fail. Though there is paucity of funds now, funding is still key as no country would get foreign investors without proper security in the country.
“The Police Trust Fund will also go a long way to assist in tackling some of the funding challenges of the police.”
The former police chief further said Nigeria’s quest for state police can only succeed if it is modelled after that of Canada.
Okiro explained that in the Canadian model, a police officer is recruited by his community and is paid by the federal government while carrying out his or her duty at the local areas.
He noted: “This is because the state government cannot pay police, and owing police is very dangerous. Imagine some state governments that have not paid their workers. How would they pay police officers who would be recruited under state police?
“A system where state government recruits and the federal government pay the state police officers is the one that can be sustainable. Insecurity is a worldwide phenomenon that has been coming and going. A study of criminology shows that most of the countries have gone through this challenge.
“Over the time, some of these advanced countries like US and UK have grown and developed to the extent of overcoming their insecurity. The issue of gun in America came because people were allowed to carry personal guns to protect themselves from insecurity.
“In Nigeria, it is not a new thing. However, it is not a one man’s responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility and everyone must work towards achieving it both in cash and kind.”
On personal fulfillment as policeman, he said he is happy that he achieved the greatest position in the force even though he joined the police just to get a job.
Senate Okays N11.35bn For Police Trust Fund
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday approved the sum of N11,352,457,101.70 as budget for the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) for the 2020 fiscal year.
The resolution was sequel to the consideration of the harmonized report of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Police Affairs.
The implementation of the NPTF 2020 budget would elapse on April 30, 2021.
Chairman of the Senate committee on Police Affairs, Senator Halliru Jika, in his presentation noted that the Joint Committee observed that it was the “first budget of the NPTF since the establishment Act came into being in the year 2019.
“Only the 0.5 percent of the total revenue accrued to the federation account and 0.5 percent of the total VAT were remitted to the NPTF Account. Other sources of revenue as prescribed in the NPTF Establishment Act have not made any remittance,” he added.
He called on the NPTF to expedite action on the implementation of the 2020 budget in other to meet up with the deadline of 30th April 2021.
Giving a breakdown of the budget component, the lawmaker said projected income was put at N34,984,314,243, and N11,354,457,101.70 for capital.
He, however, explained that the balance of N23,631,857,141.30 would be carried over to the 2021 budget of the NPTF.
He noted that the purchase of utility vehicles in the budget was replaced with procurement of the Covid-19 protection kits for Police personnel amounting to N358,379,191.00, and the sum of N533,894,117.70 earmarked for the procurement of drugs and medical equipment.
The Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, in his remarks, said the approval of the NPTF budget would “help the police to increase their capacities and of course, provide better and improved services across the country.
“This is one of the benefits of what we have passed here – the Police Trust Fund – and I’m sure that the National Assembly will continue to support our security agencies for optimal performance,” he added.
Catholic Bishops Lament State Of Instability In Nigeria
Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops, under the auspices of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have decried the state of instability in the country, saying that it must not be allowed to continue to fester and degenerate.
The Bishops, in a statement issued yesterday and jointly signed by CBCN president, Most Rev Augustine Obiora Akubeze, and secretary, Most Rev Camillus Raymond Umoh, said they were raising the alarm because of their deep patriotic love for the nation, and not for any sectional interests.
The Bishops said that despite the persistence of crises around Nigerians, assassinations, COVID-19, kidnappings, murders, banditry, armed robberies, they sincerely affirm their faith in the viability and desirability of the Nigeria Project, as one prosperous nation under God, adding that they were also convinced that building such a nation, especially in the present circumstances, comes at a cost.
They stated: “We are also convinced that the alternative of tearing ourselves apart, comes with a cost that is far higher than what it takes to keep ourselves together. We must be ready to seek a common purpose with sincerity of mind.
“As individuals and as groups, we ought to be ready to make the necessary sacrifices that would enable us to manage our differences better and turn them into a positive rather than a negative force. Governments at different levels ought to lead the way.
“We need to have the courage to admit that there is a lot wrong with our nation. It is our patriotic duty to point this out, with all objectivity and sincerity. The rule of law has too often been disregarded, giving way to widespread impunity, leading to a progressive break down of good order.
“There is a wide consensus that even the laws and rules we have made for ourselves are often the cause of our problems. No wonder there is an on-going clamour for constitution review, restructuring, decentralization of the security agencies and calls for many changes to many things we have been taking for granted”.