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

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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

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