The gap which normally exists between well-thought out motives and the methods deployed towards achieving the vision and mission statements for individuals, public and private organisations goes beyond mere rhetoric. In fact, bridging it demands the will to win against every obstacle and the power of team work. That comes up by assembling those with the professional clout and who share in that vision for it to see the light of day. Besides, the enabling environment must be made available for the leadership mantra of walking the talk.
With such facilitating factors, we take a critical look at the recent assurance given by the new Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, who has vowed to frontally tackle the security system, long bedevilled by corruption and abuse of power. He has gone further by pledging to take necessary action against any form of misconduct from personnel of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). That is inspiring but there is more to be done than said.
IGP Egbetokun, who stated this at the recent official handing over ceremony in Abuja, noted that the need to tackle the twin evils of corruption and abuse of power within the system came on the heels of the prolonged, deep-rooted concerns and grievances by the public against the police. We are well aware of, or have at one time or the other fallen victims to such negative factors that have brought the police to its current parlous state are we not?
Of course, we are. Name them: Asking for, and taking bribes before carrying out their statutory functions; using brute force on some complainants before investigating issues of crimes and criminality as well as being hands-in-gloves with some evil-minded elements. Others go further to arm some of the criminals-with tools and sensitive information. Unfortunately, the listed acts of malfeasances have over the years unfolded as the rule rather than exception. But it is important to understand the root causes of these endemic malpractices that have led the Nigerian police to its current situation and more importantly fashion out the best way forward.
According to Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended): “There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.”
With regards to its statutory functions, it is supposed to perform important duties such as crime prevention, crime investigation and road traffic control. Others include election security duties, controlling and quelling civil unrest, military duties and VIP protection services. These are indeed, significant in cumulatively clipping the widening wings of criminality in Nigeria. But have they? The answer is patently obvious.
While it should be noted that some of the allegations against the police force, especially that of fuelling fear on the citizenry and unleashing mayhem on peaceful protesters are part and parcel of the carry-over mentality from the colonial police, poor working conditions and paltry pay packages have played a part in some of the acts of misdemeanour of the force.
To begin with, the word ‘force’ should be done away with as we move forward. Secondly, the paradigm should shift to crime prevention rather than spending huge sums of public funds buying arms and ammunition to quell crimes. And that also means that our current set of leaders should apply the Root Cause Analytical Approach in stemming the tides of crimes.
That brings to the fore, the recent promises made by Egbetokun while taking over the baton of ensuring security of lives and property from his successor, Usman Baba. As he stated: “Our police force will be a beacon of integrity. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. Henceforth every police officer will be selected not only for their skills, but also for their passion, compassion, empathy and commitment to public service.”
Furthermore, he pledged to prioritise new ways of recruiting, training and equipping the officers. And that is to ensure that they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their duties effectively, efficiently and with excellence. To regain the trust of the Nigerian people, he also promised to establish a robust internal system to investigate allegations of misconduct within the police force.
To ensure efficiency he also promised prioritising the welfare of officers, which should include rebuilding their barracks, conducive for human co-existence. The other is adding intelligence gathering and the use of modern technology for swift response to issues. Well said, we would admit.
In our candid opinion, for all these well thought out motives to succeed, a holistic approach should be adopted. That has to do with the governments at all levels drastically reducing the ever-escalating poverty rate, socio-economic injustice, worsened by the rising waves of ethnic and politically-motivated sentiments. Such would inspire the needed confidence to be built in the police from the public. And of course, the police would become “our friend”.