THE Acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, must see himself as a Police Chief specially positioned in Nigeria’s history to turn the battered fortunes of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, around.
He is superintending the scheme to add 60,000 men to the staff strength of the Force over the next six years. The scheme was supposed to start last year, but mainly due to the power tussle between the former IGP, Mohammed Adamu, and the Police Service Commission, PSC, the 10,000 personnel that were supposed to get into the Police Colleges last year had to be lumped with the batch for the current year.
If IGP Baba goes the distance with the Buhari regime, he would have supervised the inclusion of 40,000 additional police officers.
By the time the recruitment scheme is completed in 2026, the 60,000 new hands added to the current 371,800 will take the Nigerian Police staff strength to about 430,000. The United Nations recommends one policeman per 450 citizens. After the additions, Nigeria will be closer to the United Nations’ recommended figure with one policeman to over 465 citizens.
In spite of this, however, the argument for state and local government police and prisons will still be valid because we are a multi-ethnic, federal society. With so many sophisticated new crimes (including mass abductions of school children and terrorism in the North and herdsmen attacks in the South), policing must be made more of a community-based affair.
As long as policing remains an exclusive function of the Federal Government, the police staff increment will actually amount to a waste of time and money until the sub-national governments are allowed to play a direct role in their own security.
Beyond adding more personnel to the Force, IGP Baba is also saddled with the additional burden of ensuring that the recruits are carefully sifted through and only qualified, competent and patriotically motivated Nigerians are brought in.
A lot of criminals and rotten eggs have found their ways into the NPF, and they oil the wheels of criminality from inside. Will IGP Baba be man enough to change this trend?
Also, especially under the Buhari dispensation, a lot of nepotism has gone into recruitments into the armed forces, police, security and other uniformed agencies, with the Muslim North always favoured.
This has weakened national solidarity within the Force and even led to situations where disgruntled elements over the past year have turned their guns against policemen and institutions.
The Nigerian Police Force must be fully “re-Nigerianised” and detached from its use as a weapon of regional domination. The confidence and acceptance of the Police among the citizens must be restored.
We must change the current trend where the Police is now perceived as more of a problem than the solution to our security challenges.