The police force is undoubtedly the most visible agent of any government authority by which the political system and also the character and abilities of any governmental body is assessed. This is said to be true because the police force as a body is seen as the guardian of rights and laws. Largely, the actions, inactions, characteristics and behaviors portrayed by the police show the political nature and economic stand point of a society. The behavior of the police force is seen as a true reflection of what those in authority are willing to condone or accept as the dos and don’ts of any given society.
Carrying out adequate analysis on the complexity of any system in order to fully understand its problems and challenges should start with the understanding and appreciation of the history of such system and also understanding the dynamics of its development. A careful look at the history of the Nigeria police force indicates that the organization was established, and maintained by both the colonial and post-colonial governments for the purpose of ensuring the maintenance of order and also for the purpose of ensuring a culture that is free of impunity, incivility, corruption, lack of transparency and brutality.
According to Jike (2003), the case has been different as the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nigeria Police Force have been compromised by different problems such as; brutality against harmless citizens, inappropriate policing, extortion, extra-judicial killing, poor performance in terms of intelligence analysis and also various cases of perversion of the course of justice.
It therefore becomes very necessary to strategize appropriate policies and programmes that are reliable and dependable so that the Nigeria Police Force can be transformed into a police force that the people can be truly proud of. In this presentation, I will explore the complexity of the Nigeria Police Force and then submit strategies for the way forward.
It is the duty of the Nigeria police to perform all conventional police functions. Their major role is to ensure the protection and safety of lives and properties within the territorial boundaries of the country; they are saddled with the tasking responsibility of ensuring general internal security. They also support the efforts of the immigration, custom and prison services within Nigeria as directed by relevant authorities. They do all these to ensure that peace and stability are enjoyed by the Nigerian society at large. In essence, the Nigeria Police Force is mandated by law to perform a variety of tasks which includes: ensuring the preservation of the laws of the land, preventing crimes from happening and also detecting crimes when they happen, protecting lives and properties and enforcing laws and order.
Assuming that the security system of the country is the way it ought to be; assuming that the Nigeria Police Force is able to ensure that national security completely covers critical dimensions like; Community security, Food security, Economic security, Environmental security, Personal security, Health security and Political security, the analysis of the system was carried out.
Despite all the reforms put in place to improve the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerians and other foreign residents in the country face different forms of violent and criminal activities daily. Such activities include; terrorism, kidnapping, oil theft, vandalization of pipeline, political assassinations, rape, and many other heinous crimes which are constantly on the increasing frequencies. This mockery situation has portrayed the Nigeria Police Force as a fragile system to the point where the country is desperately looking for a lasting remedy to the increasing national security challenges.
First and foremost, the various allegations that are constantly brought against the police force impose hindering impediments in effective policing. So many other factors such as ethnicity, god-fatherism and nepotism obstruct the effectiveness of policing in Nigeria. Moreover, the inadequacies encountered in police funding, management of resources, favouritism and other forms of discriminatory practices during staff promotion have also weakened the structures and effectiveness of policing in Nigeria. There is also the problem of inadequate manpower, poor service conditions, lack of adequate education, poor deployment arrangements and schedules, inadequate training and unavailability or not up to standard security equipment.
The negative mentality and perception that police officers have regarding their duties, especially, during strenuous periods when they are scheduled to work round the clock without rest negatively affect their work ethics. During these regimes, they see their assignments as death- traps and consider themselves as animals who work aimlessly for a country that is not deserving of their services. This negative perception about their job hinders their abilities to get focus on the job and maintain work professionalism. There is also the issue of public negative characters and attitudes towards the police force and its personnel which often time clashes with the power available to the state to ensure peace and order.
We cannot talk about the ills against effective and efficient policing in Nigeria without mentioning police corruption. Police corruption is another obstacle that has eaten deep into the image and fabrics of the police force. The Nigerian public encounters different forms of police corruption every day which spans from bribery, extortion, hustling for favour and intimidation. The very small take home remuneration package also adds directly to the incessant rate of corruption in the police force. There is a general public perception that the police have created in the minds of the public; there is a mystical impression any time there is an encounter with a police officer. They believe that all a policeman want is bribe. This has made the general public become so naïve that they lost hope and senses of believe in the police system.
According to Igbuzor (2008), poor funding and mismanagement is one of the serious factors affecting the efficiency of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). The police force carried out a recruitment exercise sometime last year. Young men and women were recruited to increase the manpower available to the force but appropriate measures were not put in place for proper financing, training and equipping of the new officers; this is an example of poor management. Firstly, the Nigeria Police as a body is seriously underfunded to take responsibilities of the needs of its existing officers and therefore, proper recruitment becomes a problem. The 2004 and 2005 Nigeria appropriation bills for instance did not adequately put to account the management of the police force and then subsequently in 2006, there was recruitment for additional officers. This act of course overburdened the force that was already under financed. A careful analysis at the way the organization is funded shows that the federal government of Nigeria has been disappointing in its duty to fund the Nigeria police operations. Arthur-Worrey (2013) submitted that this is why police officers constantly turn towards the directions of private individuals and the state government for their needs.
The lack of proper resource management has also largely influenced negatively on the efficiency of the Nigeria police force. These management inadequacies are very crucial in the areas of the quantity and quality of available manpower. Statistics according to Osayande (2008) has shown that a number of police personnel are mostly referred as ill-literates both in the ways they write and in the ways they speak.
The creation of parallel security organizations has seriously reduced the effectiveness of the Nigeria police force. These organizations are also given the powers by law to arrest, detain and investigate alleged crimes. This undermines the powers of the police and reduces their strength as the primary law enforcement agency in the nation. In some cases, these other security organizations are better equipped and funded. In some other instances, they even challenge the powers and authority of the Nigeria police. An example of such organization is the National Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
Looking at the information that were derived from the careful analysis of the Nigeria Police Force as a system, the following ways and strategies are hereby recommended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in Nigeria thereby making the system a stronger force.
There is a need to encourage healthy and favorable discussions among people, communities and the various authorities. Ensuring healthy discussions among people help to foster understanding among one another, helps to identify issues of conflict and also helps in bringing about peaceful resolution during times of conflicts. Misunderstanding situations leads to strive, battles and different forms of crisis while dialogue is a solution because it respects individual’s, perception, views and opinions; understanding results to an increase in the value and productivity of the individual.
One of the major problems affecting the Nigeria Police Force centers around the biasness in the allocation of the country’s resources. In order to avoid strives, conscious efforts must be put in place in distributing the country’s resources with all fairness. Every aspect of the national project must as a matter of great importance be carried along and accorded a good sense of belonging.
If there must be a sustainable entrepreneurial development, the government must create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The country’s youthful population must be given proper orientation and also equipped with skills that will make them feel important and useful to the society; this will help reduce the increasing rate of crime in the Nigerian society. The government should also endeavor to create job opportunities for youths that are employable. An avenue for creating awareness should also be made available among fresh graduates so as to enable them understand the vast benefits of entrepreneurship.
The Nigeria Police Force as a regulatory and law enforcement agency should be properly equipped so as to give them a stand for better and proactive interventions to enable them address most of the security problems in Nigeria rather than managing security problems through reaction mechanisms. The Nigerian government should also improve the standard of living of the Nigeria police officers by making sure that they have un-restrained access to needful logistics such as accommodation, infrastructures and funds. Adequate human resources should also be made available by relevant authorities for effective and proactive policing in the country. The police job should also be made very attractive so that police officers can be encouraged to perform their duties with joy and also ensuring that proper standards and measures are duly followed during training and recruitment processes in the police force.
The Nigeria citizens and dwellers can also take responsibility for the welfare and security of their lives, properties and their general environment. They can make this happen by providing vital information to the police so as to help them combat crime. Citizen participation and co-operation with the Nigerian police can help salvage the security situation of the country. National security reinforces national development as the both are complementary aspects of the society.
The government of Nigeria should ensure that religious tolerance is encouraged in high level among the people; this help to a high extent in reducing religious violence among the various religious bodies and groups within the country. The government should work in detail alongside the police by doing everything within their capabilities to ensure the availability and maintenance of friendly security climate system in order to draw the attention of foreign investors to the country and also promote socio-economic development.