I was chatting with a police officer and I found out that there are things the federal government must do for the police to be fully reformed. The inspector general may try all he could but failure to reform the police in these two matters, every other reformation may not yield needed results.
I know the police hierarchy must be holding marathon meetings now on what to do to save the police from the heat emanating from the public outcry. Yes, the IGP, Muhammed Adamu, must be having discussions with the president on what to do. He must be having sleepless nights brainstorming on what tactics to employ. All these may be very good but the IG must not forget that no matter the amount of physical reformation, some things are still very important.
During the discussion, I discovered that orientation may be good but we must not forget that in the midst of all the orientations and drills, the officer and his family must have food to eat. That is very key to the success of the police officer. A good salary package is a great necessity. After all the orientations and drills, an officer with four children and an unemployed wife, goes home with N40,000, no training or mindset change orientation will work. This is because the officer is standing in the sun but his family is waiting for him at home. They must eat or are they not humans like other Nigerians?
The officer told me that the most important change is salary change and not mindset change or whatever is called. He told me that the meagre salary paid to these men is an added reason why the officers are on rampage. The take home pay given to them cannot take them home. They must look for every other means to gather more money to meet up their challenges and since they have the power to hold the public to ransom they resort to that. It is the problem of stomach infrastructure. It is an undying desire, it must be met to satiate the soul.
For him, N100K salary for the least police officer will not be a bad idea. It will also be another booster to attract more people to the police force. But when an officer is on the hot sun daily and at the end of the month, he goes home with N40K or N50K whereas his needs in a month are more than N200K, he must find whatever means to measure up and that is the spiral effect Nigerians see on the road daily. So, the salary of the police officer and by parity of reasons all security personnel must have their salaries moved up for better security.
Another point he mentioned in the discussion was the issue of equipment for better policing. You can see that at times you are surprised that armed robbers have more sophisticated guns than the police on the road. Where do they get them from that the Nigeria police cannot get? How can police run away from robbers when they were trained to attack robbers? The answer is simple, the equipment or gun in the police’ hand cannot match that of the robber, hence the police must run away to save his life.
Most of their equipment, even their vehicles are rickety. We see some of them on the road, especially those in the rural areas. They have no vehicle and those that have are subject to continuous push and is it those vehicle you want them to use to chase robbers? That is inhuman to them. Most of them do not even have funds to fuel those vehicles and you want them to work? Yes, we criticise the police but we must also know that they need equipment to carry out their functions. It is not only training, but after the training, the equipment needed cannot be wished away. Going to war without gun is sending yourself to early grave because armed robbers are merciless souls. They know that if they are caught, police will not have mercy on them, hence if they get hold of police they also do not have mercy on them.
These are critical issues that must be looked into. Criticising police or protesting or training may not yield the needed results. These two matters must be addressed and that is the only solution to the ugly show in the police force. The IGP may have done well by disbanding SARS and carrying out reforms as he has promised, the reforms will not be complete or will not yield results if these two issues are not co-opted into the reforms being put together by the police. Let the reforms start but most importantly, the federal government should increase the salary of the officers and provide great equipment for the officers and other security personnel across the country.