By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
THE lingering problem of shelter for officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, may at last have been addressed following the intervention of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
And in the event, policemen dutifully engaged in both internal security and mediation in civil cases can now heave a sigh of relief after years of battling with poor accommodation.
Before now the few available barracks for police men were in advanced state of squalor and dilapidation, with some in danger of total collapse.
Thus, the toiling men and women of the force found themselves living under inhuman and pitiable conditions, exposed in most cases to the harsh effects of the elements. The barracks were said to have deteriorated due to alleged mismanagement and paucity of funds.
The good news at the moment is that in a bid to boost the welfare and living conditions of officers of the NPF, IGP Ibrahim Idris, recently commissioned the first tranche of 312 units out of the proposed 1083 units of two and three bedroom flats built by Realmax Realtors Ltd at the Muhammadu Buhari Estate in Mowo area of Badagry, Lagos. Upon completion, the estate which sits on over 64 hectares of land, is billed to have facilities like nursery and primary schools, a mini- shopping complex with a banking facility, an event management centre and a petrol station.
Commissioner of Police, Cooperative, Shola David, acknowledged that much when he stated that the 1083 units of flats named Muhammadu Buhari Estate at Badagry was in fulfilment of the IG’s promise to improve the welfare of Nigeria Police officers. He said: “Today is a remarkable day in the history of the Nigeria Police under the leadership of the IG as he commissions the 1083 units of flats at Muhammadu Buhari Estate. This is the first phase which has 312 units consisting of three and two bedroom flats and officers of the Nigeria Police have shown interest.”
He further said that the police boss will soon commission similar projects embarked upon in Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara and Sokoto. The project, Vanguard was told, started about eight years ago under previous police administrations. The first estate named the Goodluck Jonathan Housing Estate in Idimu, a 500 unit of three-bedroom flats constructed for officers and men of the police force in Lagos, was also targeted at catering for the housing needs of police officers at a subsidised rate. Envisaged as a morale booster, the initiative to build an estate on buyer-owner basis was intended to drive the desired result as regards the officers living up to their responsibilities without poor accommodation-related distractions.
The project took eight months to complete and it represents another successful Private-Public Partnership in providing housing for policemen. Interestingly IGP Ibrahim Idris is said to have been motivated to do this as a way of ensuring that serving personnel who would one day retire are provided with affordable housing. Idris who also commissioned the newly constructed Mopol 22 Headquarters building in Ikeja said he was committed to the improvement of the welfare of police officers. He added that one of his pivotal keys border on welfare of men and personnel of the force.
He said: “In my inaugural speech on July 22, 2016, I said the Nigeria Police Force will henceforth be guided by international core value of policing with integrity, ensuring that the rule of law prevails in all our actions and activities. I also assured police personnel of my determination to accelerate all issues as regards the welfare of police men and their families such as promotion, prompt payment of salaries, provision of affordable housing units among others.”
For the brain behind the 500 units constructed in Idimu and the recent 312 units in Badagry, the dream to build affordable accommodation for policemen was not without its share of challenges. CEO Director, Remax Realtors Ltd, Mrs. Adefunke Adesoji, said at the commissioning, “On behalf of the chairman and the board of Remax Realtors Ltd, we are pleased to commend the uncanny leadership qualities of the IGP for making today a reality and finding time out of his busy schedule to commission this project. We do appreciate your moral and financial support since you came on board, especially at the most critical time.
We see this not only as support to our organisation but rather, your unflinching commitment to the welfare of the men and officers of the force by providing them with decent and affordable accommodation they can all be proud to call their own, now and at retirement, which indeed is one of the goals enunciated when you mounted the saddle.
“The event of today has been a journey of about eight years when the management of the Nigeria Police Force under IGP Mike Okiro (rtd.) mooted the idea of a House Ownership Scheme for the men and Officers of the Police Force. Since then, Remax Realtors has worked with the Nigeria Police Multipurpose Cooperative Society to provide 500 (three bedroom flats) at Idimu which was commissioned by the former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Estate christened as Goodluck Jonathan Housing Estate.
Today is another landmark occasion where Remax is privileged to be involved in the commissioning of another estate under our current President-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). The estate, when fully developed, would have 1083 bungalows of both two-bedrooms and three-bedrooms delivered to the Nigeria Police Multipurpose Cooperative Society.”
The amenities provided are modern, with water reticulation systems to provide water to the estate, a central sewage processing system and over 14 Kilometres of paved road running through the estate. Other facilities planned are a nursery and primary schools, a mini shopping complex with a banking facility, an event management centre and a petrol station.
It is planned over 64 hectares of land to give a befitting layout and ambience for a 21st century development that would appreciate in value particularly giving the intended commercial significance of Badagry been put in place by Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State and eventual completion of the 10-lane expressway under re-construction.
“The construction of Muhammadu Buhari Estate threw up several challenges that led us to the drawing board on many occasions, severally, the most significant of which made us to raise the levels by filling up the land mass with sands, in order to forestall the likely effect of flooding that would likely occur from a raised road level when the expressway is completed. The project also suffered a major shock, having been caught at construction stage with massive foreign exchange devaluation.
For example, the exchange rate at contract signing was N156 to one dollar this rose and invariably hovered at N380/450 to one dollar at different points. This led to higher cost of building materials on both imported and local goods, thereby spiralling costs of construction at an astronomical rate .”
From the foregoing, it is obvious that the vexed issue of shelter for the police will soon be a thing of the past if the present efforts are sustained by not only the present management of the force but subsequent administrations that will be on the saddle.