From its inception during the colonial period to this point of our sociopolitical evolution, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has been confronted with a myriad of problems that need urgent solutions. Governments across the world take the Police and policing issues seriously. Nigeria must not be an exception. It is because the Nigerian State has treated police matters with levity that we are currently facing the grave insecurity that threatens the existence of the country.
A school of thought opines that decentralization of the Police for policing is long overdue. To boost security, they contend, we need to tinker with the existing framework. The 2014 National Confab made recommendations on this. International and best practices endorse the idea of layers of policing, The Trumpet gathered.
Some compatriots are clamouring for community policing because citizens can no longer sleep with their eyes closed. The loudest of such cries is the call for police matters to be removed from the Exclusive to the Concurrent List. It has become ridiculous to call Governors and Local Government Chairmen Chief Security Officers of their domains when they cannot give directives to Commissioners of Police and DPOs to secure their areas of authority. Often these officers take instructions from Abuja. This is an anomaly in a federation.
If policing is decentralized, the NPF, the State and the Local Government will witness a healthy competition that will make the different tiers of police and policing wake up to their responsibilities. The result is that the police at different levels will work on their hitherto battered and dented image.
The slogan “The Police is your friend” will then gain some credibility because they would be nearer to the people. It is then we can work on the matter of police links and a better networking with the Army, Navy, Air Force, private security organizations, Boys Scouts, Brigades, vigilance groups, Red Cross, Civil Defence, Customs and Immigration.
Effectively policing Nigeria requires installation of CCTV networks at local, state and federal levels. If our major cities and villages are networked on CCTV with central control towers under the supervision of the police at different levels, monitoring and prompt intervention will be guaranteed.
This will create the enabling environment for the Police to network symbiotically with radio, television and New Social Media networks or stations all over Nigeria. This will be in addition to what the newly established Police Radio is doing. It is then that we can move the Nigeria police from the present colonial trainings that makes them not to be our friend.
This is because they are far away from the citizenry due to their single command structure. A rejuvenated police force will key into new training, retraining and exposures to modern policing that deal with modern security, public relations, rebranding and imaging challenges.
A restructured police force will minimize if not stamp out corruption at roadblocks, courts and other assignments. Also, with a well-structured organisation, there will be prompt attention to the improvement of the welfare of the police at all levels. Morale will be boosted in the task of policing the nation. We must institutionally protect those who protect us.
Furthermore, there will be no more bureaucratic hurdles, language and communication barriers, conflicting loyalties and alienation from the people, as we currently experience. The current pseudo-federal police system that posts policemen and women who only take orders from Abuja before confronting security challenges will be a thing of the past.
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Also, police officers who lack emotional and cultural intelligence will be removed for good because anything that hinders performance is antithetical to proper policing. As a result of restructuring, the peculiar issues of the police will be addressed from multi-pronged dimensions that include local, state, and federal governments of our federation.
The Trumpet is of the view that a serious matter like the Police and policing must be addressed by all tiers of our governments. And there is wisdom in listening to the multitude of ideas that says the time to solve these police and policing matters is now or never. Nigeria is the only country in the world which runs a centrally commanded police system. It is wrong, tedious and anachronistic.