Deep inside me, I feel deep pain and anybody with blood flowing in his veins would feel the same way. My heart bleeds as I write this piece. For quite some periods now my thoughts have gone out to the Nigeria Police.
I have spent quality time thinking about their plights: the dangers they face each day in the discharge of their duties, the disused and dilapidated barracks in which they live, the poor salary, the lack of equipment to do their job satisfactorily, the non-payment of their pensions as at and when due. Oh my God, I cannot go any further. All said and done, the bottom line is that the Nigeria Police are an endangered species. In fact the most endangered.
They are really endangered, and I want anybody to challenge me to the contrary. The most worrisome fact is that our fellow compatriots who enlisted into the force are not catered to, even by the very government that employed them to do such a delicate and special job of protecting its citizens. I had thought of a suitable title for this article – a title that would capture the seriousness of the situation. I had thought about ‘endangered species’ but settled for this one. And sincerely speaking, are they not an endangered species? Everything points towards that.
From their salaries to operational environment, it is the same story. There is no aspect of the police remunerative package that gladdens the heart or even motivates. There is none. I doubt if they even have an insurance programme for them, save for the occasional hand-outs the IGP gives each time a policeman is killed in the line of duty. The Nigeria Police are the most politicized, paralyzed and polarized of all the armed forces – Army, Navy and Air-force.
They lack respect, love and empathy from the citizens they are paid to protect. Instead of being their friends the police are held in disrepute by the public. In fact, the mere mention of the word ‘police’ instigates suspicion and fear in the minds of the citizenry. But that should not be the case at all.
The Police have been reduced to a level that is worse than abysmal, yet we expect them to perform at optimal level. We all know why the public distrust the police. It is common knowledge.
The police are accused of weighty crimes such as receiving bribe to subvert the cause of justice, harass and extort money from innocent citizens, colluding with criminal elements to perpetrate crimes, and displaying inefficiency and apathy in the discharge of their duty. Let me, however, quickly point out that these allegations do not apply to all the members of the force, but to a few bad eggs that populate it.
Nevertheless, it is easy to accuse police of evil deeds, but has anybody cared to find out the reason why some policemen engage in these unwholesome and unprofessional acts? Even though there are no reasons justifiable enough for anybody to engage in crime, the police should be given the benefit of the doubt. They work under very terrible and dehumanizing conditions, and are therefore compelled to do certain ‘things’ to survive. Please don’t misunderstand me. How can they deliver the goods with all the barriers placed in their way? They chase armed robbers, operating with sophisticated weapons, with crude, obsolete guns.
Instead of competing on developmental projects, the rich class and the so called leaders are competing on private jets. It's a shame for Nigeria that in this 21st century, the police force is still the way it is today.
Ridiculously, many of the policemen engage these armed robbers without bullet-proof vests, armoured vehicles or even walkie-talkies. This is why they are killed like fowls, leaving behind their helpless widows and orphans to fend for themselves. What of their insurance? When a policeman is killed in the course of duty, his family is handed out a peanut, not even an insurance benefit, as compensation. Even the peanut is not a part of a well-designed, permanent reward system. The list is endless and I can’t continue. The government should please do something urgent to salvage the situation. Nigeria is getting better!
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