THE Federal Executive Council, FEC’s approval of a 20 per cent salary increase for the police with effect from January 1, 2022, commendable as it is, is a mere drop in the ocean.
On its own alone, it only scratches the surface in addressing the plight of the average policeman, especially the lowest cadres which do the grunt work of maintaining law and order.
Currently, the lowest ranked police officer, Constable II, earns N41,496 per month.
Twenty per cent of that brings the figure to just over N51,000. This certainly is not enough for officers to shun corruption and outright criminality frequently associated with armed police personnel on duty.
It will not stop them from taking out their frustration on members of the public. It was police brutality that sparked off the various #EndSARS protests which the Federal Government claims to be responding to.
Since the October 2021 #EndSARS protest during which many police personnel were killed and their stations burnt, hoodlums have now formed the dangerous habit of attacking police establishments and killing officers at will in many parts of the country, thus worsening our security woes.s
It is just a typical cosmetic measure that the Federal Government resorts to rather than addressing issues in a manner that will bring lasting solutions.
We believe that the lowest paid police officer should not earn less than N100,000 per month.
Other aspects of their welfare such as allowances, insurance, training, kitting, equipment, barracks upgrades and retirement/death-on-duty benefits must be adequately addressed to bring out the best in them and reduce their hostility to the public.
Beyond taking adequate care of the police, we must re-examine our current policing architecture and apply the needed changes to suit our current realities. The call for “state police” must be heeded as soon as possible.
We currently have a police staff strength of 370,000. Even the plan to add 280,000 more may not change the situation because a country of over 200 million people and a landmass of 923, 768 square kilometres requires adequate and effective security penetration.
There is no sensible logic in maintaining our colonial and military legacy of central police structure. It leaves large swathes of ungoverned spaces where criminals and terrorists now operate at ease since nature abhors vacuum.
We have always called not only for state police but also local government or community police and prisons, whereby traditional institutions will have a role in the security of their communities.
This is the only way of ensuring that our security architecture is deeply rooted enough to adequately protect the people. The current strategy which the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, calls “community policing” is laughable.
It has not worked because no serious federation of Nigeria’s size and complexity runs a unitary police system.