By Helen Ovbiagele
Some readers were vehemently against my view that we’re not quite ripe for establishing State Police, because we lack the maturity to handle it in a way that would bring us peace, and give justice to all.
Maybe my view was pessimistic, but after reading mail from those who are for it, I still am not convinced that it is desirable in the present dispensation. We’re far too steeped in misplaced loyalty (ethnic, political, religious, etc.) to be able to run a neutral State Police Force whose primary concern should be to maintain law and order in a State, without any bias.
What’s more, when we establish State Police, can we guarantee that the individual States will not invite foreign ‘trainers’ for their forces? With this would come foreign funding for the State Police to empower it above other states in the federation. This would come at a price, of course, as these foreign funders would want something back.
Before we blink, our country would be awash with mercenaries disguised as ‘trainers’ for State Police, armed to the teeth in defence against fellow Nigerian states, and also ready to be used by the ruling political party in the individual states to ‘sink’ those who oppose it. Okay, maybe the imagination is being stretched a bit far here, but in our beloved country, anything can happen.
Thank God there were readers, however, who agreed with my view.
“Helen, I’m not at all with you in your opposition to State Police being established in the country. It seems you’re not aware of the severity of the lapse in security all over the country. It is obvious that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain law and order efficiently from the Centre, that is Abuja.
The sensible thing to do is to allow each State in the Federation to have its own Police Force. Thus, quelling riots and uprisings would be much easier. The command to do so would be readily at hand. From my own observation, a testy situation is usually allowed to simmer for a while, and sometimes get out of hand, before an order would come for the Police to move in. By that time, a lot of damage would have been done to lives and property. That doesn’t show a sense of responsibility. – Tunde, Lagos. ”
“Madam, I understand your fears that States may fight one another if State Police is allowed, but then, you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg. No scheme is totally flawless, but the benefits of having a State Police far outweigh any perceived danger. With a State Police, crime can be fought and contained right from the grassroot.
The police would be functioning within the dictates of the traditional/cultural life of the people. I live in a small town in the south, and I can assure you that some of the law enforcement officers there who belong to other states are indifferent to the culture of the place and this has sometimes caused some friction between the two parties, which, but for the intervention of the elders in the community who pleaded for restraint, could have led to an uprising.
A State police would consist of officers drawn from across the state. They know how the ground lies, and are in a good position to monitor/check criminal activities from grassroot level upwards. - Friday, Sapele”
“State Police will allow States to defend their area, against internal and external enemies. I don’t think we shall get to a point where we would turn guns on one another, even though I know that that’s a natural fear. Rather, the State Police will bring protection right down to the grassroot, and officers would be drawn from within the State.
Residents would be more comfortable with their own people than with officers drafted in from other places, who may not owe allegiance to the place. Such officers wouldn’t care much about maintaining security. After all, they’re taking orders from afar. - Luc, Abuja.”
“The big question is, can this brand of police do their work without fear or favour in this country? Will the Nigerian factor not set in, as they observe ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tunes?’ With those candid words, madam, you said it all! We say NO to State Police! We’re not yet civilized and ripe enough for it. – Emeka, Enugu.”
“Mrs Ovbiagele, I support your view that we can’t handle State Police now. As life is now in our country, there’s no way States will not use their own Police Force to wage war on perceived enemy states. That would be normal, isn’t it? You can’t expect a State Police to look kindly on people in their midst, who come from States where their own kith and kin have been slaughtered because of their ethnic or religious group.
I doubt if they would restrain their own people from wanting to take revenge on their own soil. Also, you’re right about the political party in power in the State, using the State Police to suppress those who oppose it. I think that members of a State Police would be used to fight personal battle.
We can’t manage it, so, let’s not even think of it. It would become an Albatross around our neck if we insist on establishing it. In future, maybe; but not now. Peace in the country is too fragile for that at present. Thanks, Mrs Osarobo, Edo State.”
“Dear Helen Ovbiagele, your fears about State Police are certain if as we don’t have State Police, the Nigeria Police is under the State governors of the respective States. The governors make the choice of who is to be posted to them, and if the Commissioner of Police refuses to take orders from the governor, that Commissioner of Police would be posted out. We should encourage State Police to provide security at grassroot. The establishment of State Police would provide employment opportunities, among others. From Crescent Ogbu, Abuja.”
“Aunty Helen, good day. I’m one hundred per cent not in support of State Police in Nigeria. Most governors in Nigeria today can best be described as extremely forceful in character. They will only end up using the Police in their respective States to fight their political opponents. - from Mrs. Kate, I, Owerri.”
“Madam, I would support the establishment of State Police Force in Nigeria, only if people to be recruited into it are not Nigerians, but come from outer space, and they’ve not been contaminated by our bribery and corruption, ethnic and religious bigotry nature.
As long as they’re recruited from among us, they’re not going to be different from the present Federal Police as we know them. They may even be worse, because they would feel that they belong to the ruling political party in the State, and thus can be used for personal purposes.”
We thank all those who wrote in, but regret we can only take the above.
* We continue to get mail on ‘Reduced Import Duties For Machinery’. We take a final one from the latest batch.
“Madam, free import duties for machinery is really not very needful, but reduced duties on certain/specified categories. This is because we have machines manufacturers here, whose products will not be able to compete with imported ones if their import duties are free duty across board. What hits manufacturers most are power and transport infrastructures.
Running generators for production in a system where inputs keep an upward movement always, in prices. Evacuation of those products/services to points of sale/need. Bad roads and absence of alternatives like rail and water ferry services are even more expensive to manufacturers than you can imagine.
Take the cost of repairing our vehicles after every delivery, of fueling them, police settlement on the roads, and the occasional falling of the trucks, with the wholesome damage. Worst of all is time wasted, giving rise to inability to repay your bank facility. These are the issues. - Harriest.”