2015 Elections: Insecurity, Public Administration Reforms In Nigeria

THE 2015 general election is just a few weeks away. One of the issues that have dominated the campaigns is insecurity. In the last few years, there have been huge challenges of insecurity as a result of insurgency in the North East and parts of the North West; and armed robbery and kidnapping across the country, especially in the Southern part of the country. Political parties and candidates have promised to stop the insurgency and improve the security situation of the country. Unfortunately, they have not given any coherent and comprehensive strategy to deal with insecurity in the country.

   Meanwhile, security is very important for the development of any country. It is well known and established all over the world that peace and security of life and property is a necessary pre-condition for development. The principal agency charged with the responsibility of internal peace and security of nations all over the world is the police. 

   It has been established that policing all over the world is undergoing constant and rapid changes to meet the challenges of changing security situation and crime wave. This has led to the concept of modern policing.  The concept of modern policing underscores the point that old ways of policing are ineffective and new and modern techniques and trends have to be utilised for a more systemic approach to policing. It has been documented that in order for police agencies to be successful today, they have to be able to adjust to constantly shifting social and environmental pressures. From the vast emerging literature of modern policing, it is clear that modern policing has to address issues of community policing, strategic oriented policing, problem oriented policing, proper organisation and management, respectful policing and use of Information, Communication Technology and scientific aids in policing. 

   Community policing is a key way of policing today across the world. Police institutions across the world are moving away from the traditional model of policing in favour of a policing model oriented towards establishing a close working relationship with their communities. The utilisation of neghbourhood watch has become integrated into policing in many nations. Experience and practice has shown clearly that community policing can effectively contribute to reducing crime and promoting security. 

   Police institutions across the world are adopting strategic oriented policing. This is a situation where the police adopts proactive and preventive methods of crime prevention e.g. preventive patrols. It has been recognised that the key to success in policing is making better use of information about criminal activity whether the information comes from the police, the public or even the criminals themselves. Another approach widely used is problem oriented policing. Problem solving policing is characterised by the systematic application of analysis to situations that demand police intervention. It asserts that situations may be “criminogenic” i.e. crime causing and that modifying the causal situation can control crime. This involves among other things looking at policing not only as law enforcement but also as having service and welfare aspects. As some scholars have pointed out, the service and welfare aspects have always been present in policing. What is required is for modern policing not only to acknowledge them but to seek ways and means to operationalise them in the most effective ways possible. 

   In addition, modern policing requires proper organisation and management.  The organistion and management of the police must take into cognisance the diversity and perculiarities of the society. It is well established that policing has to conform to local conditions and what works in one region or society may not be suitable in another. There is the need for proper organisation and utlisation of modern management techniques. Policies must be developed to address specific issues and challenges including provision of health services. Furthermore, the requirement of democracy demands respectful policing. Modern policing requires that there must be respect of citizens’ rights and conduct of police duties according to the law. Various scholars and practitioners have made the point that the return to democractic rule in 1999 necessitated a paradigm shift in basic policing approach and the need to inculcate the tenets of democratic policing in police officers in Nigeria. Some people have argued that for a dramatic drop to occur in crime requires an aggressive police force. But studies have shown this to be false. One scholar has demonstrated that there was large reductions in crime in two neighbourhoods in NewYork while the police was practicing respectful policing. There is the need for practical manifestation of respectful policing in Nigeria.

   Finally, modern policing requires the use of ICT and other scientific aids.  In order to deal with the complexity of policing and the use of sophisticated tools and techniques by criminals, police all over the world are depending more and more on the use of ICT and other scientific methods in crime prevention and detection including fingerprints, CCTV etc. The Nigeria Police need to catch up with its counterparts in other parts of the world.

   It is important to point out that there is a clear link between insecurity and lack of effective public administration. This is why the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration in 2005 argued that one of the best ways to deal with insecurity in a country is to revitalise public administration. According to them, the process of revitalising public administration should focus on improving economic and social decision making institutions and processes; strengthening integrity, transparency and accountability; and reconciling security requirements with the demands of social service delivery. It is clear that capacity deficits in institutions and institutional processes adversely affect all other areas of development. It has been proven that strengthening institutions has a positive effect on integrity, transparency and accountability, which in turn improves policy options, service delivery and human security. 

   The challenge is to ensure that the entire public administration structures are pro-poor and that they support development. This is because the best assurance for human security is the realisation of development and provision of basic services to citizens. It has been argued that revitalisation of public administration would be enriched by a developmental approach that encourages efficiency and service provision, strategic thinking, policy innovation and options, and political leadership. According to the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration, public administration has an invaluable and irreplaceable role to play in helping to shape policies and co-ordinating multiple stakeholders including the private sector, non-state actors and civil society. This is why political parties and candidates must tell Nigerians in concrete terms how they will deal with the insecurity situation in Nigeria and revitalise public administration. 

Igbuzor is a Pharmacist, Human Rights Activist, Policy Analyst, Development Expert and Strategist. He holds a doctorate degree in Public Administration.

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