The Governors And Police Security

Nigerian Police.

Nigerian Police.

It is certainly incongruous and unacceptable for a Nigeria ravaged by crime to allow the deployment of police personnel in large numbers to guard political office  holders at  the expense of their core professional duties. This long-existing incongruity has appropriately compelled the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase to reduce the number of police personnel attached to state governors from 150 to 62.

But since the number of policemen at the nation’s disposal is grossly inadequate for the citizens, even this number that the IG has recommended for governors is too high. To avoid over-stretching the limited capacity of the police, only 15 policemen, a quarter of the number recommended by the IG, should be attached to a governor.

Currently, the nation has 370,000 police personnel to a population of 170 million.  This is a sad development in the light of the United Nations’ recommendation of 222 policemen to 100,000 citizens or one police personnel to 400 citizens.

It is indeed a surprise that the nation’s insecurity has not deteriorated beyond its current scary level  since security operatives are so distracted from doing their core duties. Apart  from the police personnel who are attached to governors, thousands of  members of  other security agencies  like the Department  of State Services (DSS) are attached to the same governors  and other political office holders.  Besides, the wives and  aides of these political office holders, lawmakers, ministers and even local government chairmen  have police personnel attached to them.  Even former political office holders retain their police orderlies.  Worse still, there are police officers attached to government’s agencies and their officials as well as some private individuals. It is only in the rare instances  of  such people’s lives  being threatened  that they should  be given police protection for a period.

The entire scheme reeks of corruption. These postings are usually done  by senior  police officers in a bid to gain pecuniary benefits and  policemen often jostle, even bribe,  in order to be  posted in this regard. Some of  these police officers and men deployed  outside  their core duties  are also known to bribe their ways into remaining in those postings for unduly long years. Sadly, some of these officers find it impossible to adjust to their normal responsibilities after they are  redeployed from  those non-core  assignments and this phenomenon of deployment for non-core duties corrupts the system and destroys  professionalism.

It is one practice that must be checked if the nation’s police are to be effective in protecting lives and property.  The way governors and other political office holders are known to appropriate the wealth of the nation is how  they also appropriate the nation’s security men as personal guards.

In the first place, a logical question to ask is: what is a governor afraid of to warrant such a regime of many police units to guard him? If he is in genuine service of his people, would an automatic armour not be built around him as a result of the people’s love for him? And if a governor is so afraid of his own shadows, it should be assumed that ordinary citizens are even more endangered and it is  his  duty  to provide security for all.   More importantly, the more the appurtenances of an office are advertised, the less likely a judicious use of that office. True servants of the people should be satisfied with less public show of their station or power but if a governor needs more persons in addition to the number of policemen proposed here to protect  him, he  should  hire from his pocket the services of private security firms to do this.

While the on-going attempts at police operational reforms by Inspector General Arase are  good, it must be noted  that previous IGs equally attempted the same but nothing came out of such exercises.  Thus it is incumbent on Arase to make good his word. He should immediately withdraw the police personnel from  those who should  not  have them, reduce the number of those who are entitled to police protection and reduce the number of men attached to those who are even entitled to security cover.

It is good that the realisation  that  the police  lack  enough  personnel  to carry out  their responsibilities  has  made  the Federal  Government  order  the recruitment of additional  police  officers and men. But the addition of more police  personnel may only partially solve the problems of the police. For one, the poor welfare of the police  personnel is a demoralizing factor that is  to a large extent responsible for their poor performance. And this is because the Federal Government has many responsibilities that compete for the insufficient funds at its disposal.

Thus the only way Nigeria can be best policed is for the nation to decentralise the Police Force in the letter and spirit of a true federation. This would ensure that a state or community is allowed to have and appropriately deploy in communal fashion the requisite number of police personnel to ensure security.  Money would be spent and noise would be made but no true progress would come to Nigeria if it remains federal only in name but not in truth.

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  • EdBaz

    Why do they need police to protect them? If they are doing what they should be doing as Governors wouldn’t they be free to work around with only 1 policeman? Even the Prime Minister of UK does not have more than 5 officers protecting him? In other countries like the US and UK, those holding positions equivalent to our governors doesn’t have police assigned to them. They should only be assigned 1.

  • emmanuel kalu

    only in nigeria. governor of US state have two policemen, one to drive and one to guard. nigeria governor should only have two, and if they need more. they can hire it out of their own pocket.
    the author of this article is correct. only when we decentralize the police force, would we have an effective policing system. each state would be able to decide the size of policing it needs. lagos and yobe state would not have the same force size.