IG. Mohammed Abukabar
Capitalist democracy has been described as a free market system in which the pursuit of individual self-interest ultimately produces societal good. But Nigeria’s democratic capitalism seems to suffer a terrible lack of team work that results in a synergy that can produce the good society craves. The country holds the dubious distinction of having a ruling class composed of elements with disparate interests that unrepentantly and wholly oppose the general good. This unfortunate fate is awfully evident in the relationship between critical institutions of the Nigerian state.
The recent disagreement between the Minister of Police Affairs Caleb Olubolade, a retired Navy Captain, and the Presidential Committee on the Re-organisation of the Nigeria Police was yet another public show of the crisis of institutional synergy in the country. The committee headed by Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Parry Osayande, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, had while submitting its report to President Jonathan in Abuja on August 14 recommended the scrapping of the police affairs ministry. It said the ministry’s existence denied the police funds that should directly be managed by the Inspector-General of Police for the efficiency of the force.
“The fiscal and financial responsibility and accountability of resources of the Nigeria Police should be vested in the Inspector-General of Police who is the operational head of the Police.
“The Inspector-General of Police should exercise this authority through prudent budgeting (using activity-based costing), and input from all the different police commands and formations with the aim of achieving a decentralisation of police resources. He should present the financial statements, annual budget, his policing plan, and the report of the activities of the police to the Nigeria Police Council, which would take ownership of the budget while the Inspector-General defends it at the National Assembly,” the Osayande panel had prescribed.
The committee also said the Ministry of Police Affairs neither had a role in the 1999 Constitution nor is it in charge of police administration of operations.
But without so much as a detailed study and analysis of the pros and cons of the committee’s recommendation regarding the police affairs ministry, Olubolade went into a frenzy of disapproval. His contention centred on the allegation that the Osayande committee went beyond its brief to recommend a disbandment of the police affairs ministry.
“But the assignment given to that panel was to look at how the police can be professionalised and re-organised.
“Usually, when an assignment like this is given, one must look at the subject. The subject is to reorganise the police and any issue discussed outside that can be termed to be derailed,” the minister said.
Olubolade denied that his ministry impeded the IGP’s powers over the police. He drew a parallel with the Ministry of Defence, which exists alongside the Chief of Defence Staff, who is the highest ranking military officer of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Chief of Air Staff, and the Chief of Naval Staff, and oversees the Armed Forces.
Yes, the police affairs minister has got a point there. But the haste with which he deployed resistance to the proposal to scrap his ministry smacked of blunt defence of political territory, even if it meant hurting the national security interest.
Institutional disharmony, particularly with regard to the security institutions, is also messing up investigation into the May 4 killing of Principal Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Olaitan Oyerinde, in Benin. The police and the State Security Service have paraded two sets of suspects for the killing, with each insisting it is holding the right suspects in the murder. SSS Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, told a press conference on Thursday in Abuja that the agency had in its custody six suspected perpetrators of the assassination, which they planned to hand over to the police. Oshiomhole has since expressed confidence in the SSS findings and accused the police of underhand games in the murder.
But the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, a Chief Superintendent of Police, at another press conference in Abuja on the same day insisted that human rights activist and Director of African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, Reverend David Ugolor, who has been in police custody, was responsible for hiring some suspects, also in police custody, that killed Oyerinde.
The Nigeria Police and the Federal Road Safety Corps are also feuding over who has the right to issue vehicle number plates and keep the database of vehicles in Nigeria. The function is currently undertaken by the FRSC but the police claim it is an exclusive responsibility of the State Motor Licensing Authority while keeping of database is the duty of the police.
This stand-off came to a head in March during the public hearing on new number plate and driver’s licence by the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, where Deputy Inspector-General of Police Olajide Akano said new number plate registration and driver’s licence upgrading by the FRSC were illegal and a violation of the Act setting up the commission.
However, the FRSC Corps Marshal Osita Chidoka noted that the Enhanced Central Motor Registry programme of the police had been faulted and certified illegal by the Joint Task Board that met separately in Kano and Nasarawa states. Investigation, however, reveals that in many countries where the Biometric Central Motor Registry system is implemented, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Angola and some European countries, the responsibility is that of the police.
The various institutions might have their points, but the fact remains that Nigeria will hardly make a headway with the security and welfare of its citizens unless it exploits the combined power of its institutions. The display of extreme individualism by critical institutions of the state has done Nigeria no favour, particularly in the area of security. It has only served the operators of such institutions who milk incidents and situations for self-aggrandisement.
Experts blame lacunas in the laws of the country for the growing cases of rivalry between institutions of the state.
The current constitution amendment process offers a crucial opportunity for the country to set the record straight in terms of the powers and responsibilities of its security institutions and halt the dangerous rivalries between them.