By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
A former Inspector-General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, has advocated for the establishment of regional Police to curb the worsening security situation in the country.
The former IGP told Vanguard in an exclusive interview in Abuja, that the security agencies were doing their best but their best was not good enough because of lack of equipment and poor funding from the government
He urged the government to look at the needs of the security agencies, equip them so that they can have enough to get information, adding that getting information involves money.
He contended that security agencies like the operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS can not get information without enough funds.
Asked whether he was in support of the clamour for state police, he said that the country was not yet ripe for it.
According to him, “State police has been on the agenda for a long time now. It has its pros and cons but I am of the view that Nigerians are not adequately enlightened for state police.
“Because if you look at the duty of the police in the country…before, after the war in 1974 or thereabout, the police were transferred to every part5 of Nigeria.
“You can post a policeman from the north to Port Harcourt, from Benin to Maiduguri and you will get results. But today, you have to think twice before you talk of state police because you have to put a lot into consideration.
“One, some governors cannot even pay the salaries of their teachers and nurses to talk more of paying the salaries of policemen. We are talking of manpower, the number of policemen in each state is more than that of the civil servants.
“If the governors cannot pay their civil servants, they cannot pay their police and you cannot afford to owe the police for one month not to talk of for two months. Without paying the police there will be disorder.
So, in terms of state police, I think that will not work.
“But what I am advocating for is what is called the Canadian model. In Canada, the provinces or the regions, you have the police officers posted there from the entire country but the equipment being used by the province or regions belong to the region.
“For example, the equipment being used by police in Kaduna will be bought by the Governor of Kaduna State but the policemen will come from other parts of Nigeria but will be paid by the federal government.
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“But with state police, soon they will put polices into it and use it to harass or go after the opposition. Although you may say the federal government can use the police to overrun…but you can see that the whole country is not run by one political party and so it is not good enough to have state police being handled by the Governor of a state, it is dangerous.
“What I am trying to advocate is a policing system where you have regional cooperation. Make it in such a way that the police officers are from that area. You can post someone from Enugu to Ebonyi or from Ebonyi to Anambra, that is transfers within the zone.
“Why I say so is because, once they know the culture of the people, they are not too far from their place. Secondly, the idea is that they are not far from their state of origin and so it becomes easier to manipulate about it is still the federal government that is responsible for their salaries.
“But if you post someone from Ebonyi to Calabar or Ebonyi to Jos, it is the same thing.”
Further asked his take on the current security situation in the country, he said, “Well, the current security situation is something to be worried about. There is insecurity everywhere. Initially, we thought it was a north Eastern affair but no. It has gone to Northwest, northcentral, South-South, southwest, everywhere in the country. If you are living in the country, it is a dangerous trend, there is insecurity everywhere.”
On what should be the solution, he responded, “The solutions are many. One, when it comes to security and criminality you don’t leave that to any single individual or the government to solve or security agencies, everyone is involved.
“On the part of the government, fund, equip security agencies they cannot do magic with anything. It is just like you are employing a driver without a license and you asked him to proceed to the airport to pick up your friends. It is difficult, it is like a vehicle without tires, or no battery, or the engine is about to knock but you said go. How can he go?
“So, the government should look at the needs of the security agencies, equip them so that they can have enough to get information because getting information involves money.
“Security agencies like the DSS can not get information without funds, so the security agencies ought to be funded and well equipped.
“Also, efforts should be made to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed Nigerians. I know that some people no matter what you provide for them will go into crime but there are others, through policies evolve programs that will generate employment for the youths.”
Fielding question on whether the security agencies were doing enough to curtail the criminality ravaging all parts of the country, he said doing enough was relative.
Sir Okiro said, “Doing enough is relative because you can put in your best and your best may not be good enough. You can put in your best but without equipment, it will not be enough.”