POLICE REFORM: A Move Towards Double Jeopardy By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni
When the Presidential Committee on the re-organisation of the Nigerian Police Force was inaugurated on the 17th of February, 2012 and was tasked to identify challenges and factors against effective performance in the police and recommend how the challenges can be addressed, many a few shared sentiments at what the committee would come up with despite knowing that the Nigeria Police is overdue for such exercise. But the Parry Osayande-led Presidential Committee amongst other suggestion advocated for the scrapping of the Ministry of Police Affairs bringing it at cross road with the ministry’s Minister Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (retd.), who quoted, assumed the committee has worked out of is guiding mandate. The Minister criticized severely the Parry Osayande-led Presidential Committee on the Reorganization of the Nigeria Police for advocating the scrapping of his ministry. Noting that the assignment given to the committee by President Goodluck Jonathan was to look at how the police could be reorganized to meet modern challenges, adding that anything outside that term of reference amounted to derailment. Tell me, is a grossly inefficient and money gulping Ministry of Police Affairs not hindering the performance of the Police force?
Amidst the ongoing debate on the need to reform the police force, one can see the throwing of caution to the wind by Minister for Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, as greatly unnecessary. Rather than result to brick and stone throwing, the Minister should give Nigerian Tax payers a solid reason why his source of monthly salary should not be terminated. Considering the fact that the Ministry of Police Affairs has no particular assigned role in the 1999 Constitution as amended being neither in charge of Police administration which is assigned to the Police Council, nor in charge of operations which is assigned to the Inspector-General of Police nor in charge of appointment, discipline and promotion which are assigned to the Police Service Commission.
In essence, the ministry has sold its birthright has given it by section 5, 147 and 148 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(1999 before amended) which include; to formulate policies and provide Administrative Support for the Ministry, the Police Council and the Nigeria Police. Oversee the training and welfare matters of the Police, Police Pensions Administration, and any other matters as may be assigned by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Chairman Nigeria Police Council, so, why should it be retained? What can be seen as its last responsibility standing is the Police Pensions Administration and the Police Pension Scam had shown clearly it lacks the wherewithal to handle it. So, on behalf of fellow tax payers, I say the ministry should be a good riddance to bad rubbish.
Another issue that caught my interest in the ensuing impasse is the issue of state police and joint funding. The Parry Osayande-led Presidential Committee has really done well by bringing many things to the fore most especially the ‘uselessness’ of the Ministry of Police Affair, the corruption of budgeting and inadequate training ( don’t let us be discouraged that, President GEJ known for setting up of committees has set up yet another sub-committee to put the first committee’s effort in jeopardy). I feel Osayande’s committee, should have done an all out reform by recommending state policing. To suggest joint financing is more like ridiculing the much taunted ‘States can’t handle independent police financing’.
In a reform according to Vice-President Namadi Sambo that would be gulping N1.5trn, doing half job is no job at all. What’s the essence of a reform if it’s not holistic? The aphorism of half bread is better than none is not applicable when securing lives and property is the bone of contention. According to V.P Sambo, Federal Government would provide 32 per cent of the total amount, while state and local governments would contribute 28 per cent, while the balance would be provided by the private sector. From simple mathematics, one could see that the difference between the Federal and State/Local government is just 4 per cent and the Private Sector would be more burdened by this reform. And from the Police Trust Fund experience emanating from Lagos State, the private sector feels more comfortable dealing with the state governments than the focus less federal government. So why not let the states be independent? After all, we are in a purported federal system structure.
As against Osayande’s position, State policing won’t break up the country. If it does not break the countries that presently practice it such as U.S and Brazil, why would it break the giant of Africa? And for Osayande’s information, nothing ever breaks Nigerians. Not the civil war, not military rule, not June 12, not fuel price hike, not subsidy removal, not even our visionless leader, so why would State Policing break us. A trilateral arrangement (Federal, State and Local government) can be created with the three inter-related and inter-dependent just like what is witnessed in the Judiciary with a National Police Commission to curtail under-hand dealings. This body can also be empowered with regulated sanctions to manage the state police hierarchy. The Governors from the North who are kicking against state police on the excuse of inability to finance are just being myopic and self serving. Pray, they should tell us what they have been doing with the monies accrued to them all years – nothingness.
The scenario playing itself out in Edo State as regards the assassination of Gov. Adams Oshomole’s Private Secretary, Olaitan Oyerinde, graphically presents the loop-sidedness of a federal police structure. While Oshiomole as the Chief Security Officer of the State has been able to get details and updates as regards the case from the State Security Service, the Commissioner of Police in the state finds it more palatable to keep the Governor in the dark in respect of the same case; a crime that was committed under his domain, which also has a direct effect on him. When prompted, the Commissioner insists that, this is due to “order from above”! Another sore point in the drama is that, the police and the SSS paraded different suspects as killers of Olaitan Oyerinde! Where is the synergy of information sharing you may want to ask?
We are one nation that preach what it does not do and do what it does not preach. In a true federal structure, the states would be able to fund their police departments so long as they figure out that states, as federating units, should have economies that shouldn’t be dependent on the federal government for funds. The present case of robbing Peter to pay Paul and the father spoon feeding his 36 children is making imbecile out of them all. Why should the Federal government take the resources of the buoyant states with a long-hand and return same with a short-hand? Resource control is part and parcel of federalism, until we achieve that we can’t say to be in a federated Nigeria. My position as always been that an entity, whether State or Local government that can’t finance itself doesn’t worth existing – I stand to be corrected. Let each state be given the required atmosphere to fend for itself, even the states being criticized as lacking resources would spring surprises as creativity would be gingered to enhance sustenance. Some state’s resource might end-up being vibrant human population and every entrepreneur knows that human capital is the chief of all resource because without it every other might be useless. Let each state thrive. Adversity is the mother of invention.
Conclusively, we must understand that State Police and indeed true Federalism would put paid to the quota system, that has brought us retrogression, ineffectiveness, mediocrity than progress. The placing of Parry Osayande’s committee work in the hand of another sub-committee and the none inclusion of State Policing amounts to waste of resource and double jeopardy.
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