Caveman’s paradise: The privatization and commercialization of the Nigerian police (II)
From the above statement, the mindset of Nigeria’s police, and by extension our rulers, is very clear to see. Whereas self-preservation is a natural law, but when it is elevated to a national policy among those who have access to what belongs to us all, a
As I was putting this article together though, I came across a story that a mobile police chief was kidnapped in Katsina State. In another incidence where a DPO (divisional police officer) was kidnapped in his home state, Niger, the Inspector General of Police Idris had this to say:
“We must take the protection of our officers seriously. We have a problem; two days ago, one of our DPOs was kidnapped. How can you be a DPO, you have all the policemen under your Command and then you start driving as if you don’t have anybody… You allow the useless kidnappers to pick you and your orderly, it is very embarrassing. We had the same issue in Zamfara state where an ACP going on leave travelled alone. It is embarrassing… Utilize the men you have and you must protect yourself first. You can only protect others when you are protected because you are a target.”
From the above statement, the mindset of Nigeria’s police, and by extension our rulers, is very clear to see. Whereas self-preservation is a natural law, but when it is elevated to a national policy among those who have access to what belongs to us all, and freely voiced out like this, such a society is in trouble. So an Assistant Commissioner of Police cannot walk alone anymore but must have a retinue of policemen in tow? So a DPO needs more than an ‘orderly’ just to go visit his concubine? It is tragic that we have come to this point where there is no protection for the poor people of this country; where survival has become commercialized and privatized by those who have access to money. Tragic.
The thorn in the flesh of the police is of course one of their own; Senator Misau. He has alleged that there is a certain N10billion monthly being pocketed in the personal protection racket by the police top echelon, which has not been able to wash itself clean. Instead what we had was harassment. The question will always be asked; what becomes of all the billions paid by banks, oil companies, telecoms firms and other respectable companies, politicians, 419ers, and sundry people who now benefit from the services of Nigerian police while the people are totally deprived? Do we not now see how Nigeria has reversed into the Dark Ages even at a time when other countries are powering into a glorious future? When our big men up and go at the drop of a hat, to foreign countries, have they ever wondered why they enjoy the ambience and tranquility of those countries? Do they think we here in Nigeria don’t deserve a bit of that? What is life when you go around with guns and live in fear? What is there to enjoy? Maybe I’m naive. I have been asked to go and look for ‘police protection’, and buy a bullet proof car (the person does not know that one cost at least N150million!). By God’s grace, I would never live that kind of life. This country must change. We have had enough of non-leadership already. Our leaders should be stopped henceforth from further plunging us into darkness of the mind. Didn’t James Michener once say, that an Age was Called Dark, not because the light refused to shine, but because people refused to see it? Nigerian rulers seem to have vehemently refused to see the light. They have signed a pact with darkness - physically If all state governors have 221 policemen each dedicated to them, how much do others have, in this great caveman’s man’s nirvana? and otherwise.
The reason why I wrote this article is to find out just how many policemen are available to ordinary Nigerians in a country where we have carried capitalism too far; where money dictates how much police protection you have or if at all, irrespective of the kind of work you do; where it doesn’t matter if you are a criminal, your money dictates how much police protection you are availed.
I take my cue from the response by Mr Jimoh Moshood, the Nigerian Police HQ spokesman; words he uttered in response to Governor Willie Obiano’s complaint that his police protection was withdrawn on the eve of Anambra’s last election. Hear Jimoh;
“Obviously, the total number of Two Hundred and Twenty One (221) Police Personnel attached to His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, Governor of Anambra State is more than the strength of some Police Area Commands in some states of the country,”
When I saw the above statement months ago, I realized that I would have to extrapolate or bootstrap the remaining figures. In the land of secrecy, when you get such an honest statement of fact, you hold on to it. If all state governors have 221 policemen each dedicated to them, how much do others have, in this great caveman’s man’s nirvana? Recall that it is said that Nigerian Police has about 370,000 men but I have used 450,000 in my analysis just to be generous and to accommodate new recruitments). A 2012 report has it that 107,000 Nigerian policemen, are ghosts, and since every regime discovers hundreds of thousands of ghost workers but never seem to get rid of them permanently, I have retained the numbers for ghost policemen.
From my estimation of the numbers as published here last week, I believe I have been conservative. In fact the AIG Zone 5 in Benin had last two weeks voiced out that all of 80% of our police force are on ‘bodyguard duties’, in his words. That is the most extreme estimate yet. I had concluded my own estimates when I realized I did not add the policemen attached to Commissioners and Board Chairmen at state levels, including traditional rulers, but I think readers should exercise their own imagination in critiquing my write-up. I could be wrong, but I doubt very much. My concern is we are sinking in this country. This is not how to run a country. All the problems we are having with insecurity are due largely to the privatization and commercialization of the police, and security in general in this country. We need a new approach. I am not even convinced that state police should not be the next option. Whatever can guarantee the safety of the average poor Nigerian, is welcome