The police college building in its dilapidated state
A veteran broadcaster and the Chairman, Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh has rolled up his sleeves, determined to help the police get essential training needs for efficiency in their job delivery, writes Adeola Akinremi
“Imagine when there is any accidental discharge by an officer and someone died, the police officer is shouted at and even arrested or mobbed. But how many people do know that we have a firing range that is moribund at the Police College and in most cases an officer undergoing training may not have had the opportunity to perfect his/her skill at firing range before being given the uniform and a gun. In another instance when police officers arrive to deal with an accident or robbery, they have to make some quick decisions, prepare evidence reports amongst other things. In that situation, while officers themselves as still confused as to the clue of the accident, people are already shouting and abusing the police. The frustrating thing for me as a police officer is how little other people know about the Police College that serves as the cradle,” says a police officer in a conversation with his friend who wanted to know why the police are inefficient.
But, the Chairman of Channels Television, John Momoh thinks about that kind of thing a lot. Just a few months ago he started thinking about what to propose to the Board of his organisation at Channels Television as activities for its 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and his mind once again come to the police. Then one day, he developed the idea, passed it to the board and it was approved.
So, when he arrived in his office located on the third floor of the building housing his news organisation on 44/48, Channels TV Avenue to start work for the New Year, he has one preoccupation. It was how to change the Nigerian police. He said to himself, the Nigerian police will not change by a mere rhetoric of what is wrong with that institution. “There must be an action,” he said. That action, he said, would entail many things, but to his mind, providing facilities at the Police College for essential training needs of the police would help salvage the situation.
He said: “ in the course of us doing a documentary, trying to find out what the issue of security is about, why are we having these issues, we strayed into police college to see if we could do some work there, and we discovered that it’s a very bad situation that they have. And if you have such a situation, you will be able to tie it to what is happening in the public as regards the police.”
“What has come about is that they are not well trained; they don’t have any good training facilities; they don’t even have the basics. You take somebody to a place like the Police College Ikeja, which is meant for 750 people and he shares the place with 2250 others, making 3000. A place for 750 people now harbouring 3000; you don’t get a good training from there.”
“A lot of the policemen that have gone through the Police College Ikeja don’t even know what a computer is; they don’t have a desktop not to talk of an iPad. There’s no training facility; no good firing range and that’s very important. You need to let them know how to fire to avoid hurting innocent citizens.”
“There’s no college existing there. Then that person is supposed to be a police cadet; he graduates and comes out, you give him a gun to go and start a roadblock. His orientation is totally in disorientation; he doesn’t have the right training. He comes out feeling very bitter about the society, so, there’s a disconnect… And we thought there was need to address the issue of training. In our investigation, we discovered it’s really bad news and we thought that we should have this intervention.”
To start, Channels TV will engage in a series of public enlightenment programmes in the coming weeks to sensitize the public on dangers of the situation, starting with the Channels Forum, which according to the veteran broadcaster will hold on January 22, at the MUSON Centre, Onikan , Lagos where the station will stage a live discussion involving captains of industry, security chief, the media and members of the public.
“What we want to do is bring the issue to the public to let them know that we have a fundamental problem. For them to understand that there’s need for us to stop blaming and start doing something. Yes, 2012 was a very bad year for security; what are we doing individually about this? This is what we want to do. We are going to have a live broadcast where we will have eggheads, who will be discussing this. We will have a keynote speaker, who has been involved with security; he will come and give speech. Hopefully, some governors will be present. Because it’s a TV programme, if you cannot come, you can watch from home and still be able to make contributions. We will have other issues to take up that day. From there, we will take this over a period of one to three years to see what we can achieve.”
But Momoh insisted his organisation doesn’t want donations that will involve money. “Yes, you might find some people who would say we don’t have the time just take this money, no, we want to discourage them. We all know the issues with money. Some people will take it and keep it in fixed deposits account to generate profit; some will take it for private issues. We know all that and that is why we are asking people to take up projects and not give us the money. Our interest is to see the Police College become one of international standard with all required facility.”
“what we are emphasizing is that we get people who will be donating or taking up project for the college. No money comes to us? All we are asking is, can you help provide this facility at the police college, can you help build this classroom, can you help supply this equipment, can you help provide some batons, can you give computers; can you help with firing range and all of that? So, we believe whoever can take up any of that will be helping the society because it will help transform the police in a way as their learning environment is improved, their psyche will be addressed as well and It will impact greatly on the quality of the police officers we find on our streets because their foundation has been addressed.”
And for a 73-year-old college whose students and infrastructure have suffered years of many neglect a sudden change in poor infrastructure, inadequate laboratory equipment, congested classrooms, poor ventilation, untidy environment, lack of toilet facilities and safe water may be too hard to handle, Momoh said, “We are hoping that what we put in place will make it sustainable. Of course government will have to come in at some time to ensure people are trained to manage the facility the right way