Zayyad I. Muhammad writes that the forthcoming elections will define the new police boss career
Congratulations on your appointment. But you are lucky and unlucky at the same time. You rose to the top at a critical moment in the Nigerian polity – election time. The next two months may mar or make your achievements as a police officer, depending on your management of the Nigerian police and its obligations during the forthcoming elections.
In Nigeria, policing is interwoven with politics. During this period, many politicians will attempt to frustrate you, while some will try to manipulate you via political powers. Fortunately for you, you have a Commander-in-Chief who does not have the trait of a typical Nigerian politician. So, as a fine officer, when you find yourself on a tight-rope, do not cry nor run.
While the pressure of the elections are there, keep in mind that you are being faced with the challenge of managing a police force that is plagued by poor conditions of service, deplorable work environment, lack of incentives and motivation, corruption, low level of public confidence and serious lack of expertise in some specialized fields.
Mr. IGP, the Nigeria Police needs total overhaul and this can be grouped into three core areas: leadership, methodology, culture and attitude. The Nigeria Police has witnessed various changes since its inception in 1861 when it began with a 30-member consular guard formed in the then Lagos Colony. From 1964, the NPF has had 20 IGPs, each coming with his own transformative ideas. However, if the NPF must be responsive to modern public policing standards and demands, reforms in the three areas mentioned above are imperative.
For reforms to create desired change, all strategies and goals must be communicated and a buy-in among officers created – especially junior officers. Reforms cannot be imposed on the police. However, the urgency of these reforms cannot be over-emphasized.
The police have some fine and intelligent officers who persevere in spite of obvious challenges. Some of them inspire the trust and confidence of the public. However, in general, the Nigerian Police direly needs a new direction and different orientation. In addition, it needs modernization and massive reorganization similar to what obtains in private corporations. Mr. IG, you can be one to lay the foundation for the new police.
The police under you can rejig the mentality of ‘absolute hierarchical superiority’ by giving junior officers who are always on the field the chance to weigh in their views. The public expects you to look at things ‘off-the-police-shelves’ to see what they expect and need from the police. This will bring imaginative ideas to strike a new resonance among the officers of the police and also bring visible functionality and efficiency in police.
The public expects the police to prevent crime, and maintain peace and public order. However, the job of the Nigerian police is dangerous, with high rates of on-the-job injuries and deaths.
The police operate without up-to-date and high-tech equipment. You cannot fight crime with only guns, broken batons and jalopy pick-up vans. The police should be armed with modern firearms and protective equipment in addition to small tools like lasers, incapacitant spray, telescopic and expandable batons, etc. Communication is vital for modern policing. Thus, any existing police radio spectrums which are subject to serious interference should be gradually replaced by a new spectrum of superior quality.
The police should have their entire vehicles and posts/stations installed with Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system for effective communication, as well as for data and voice transmission. TETRA is encrypted to prevent interception.
The general management of policing equipment by the Nigerian police is very poor. For instance, most of the vehicles used by the police are in bad states. The process of vehicle purchase, fuelling and maintenance should be redesigned – outsourcing and workable decentralization are the best options. The Police Service Commission should commission competent automobile firms to supply and maintain for the Nigerian police vehicles which are built to police specifications in factories. Fuelling of vehicles and other policing equipment should also be contracted out to responsible fuel marketers. This will eliminate corruption and usher in easy administration.
The biggest problem facing the Nigerian police is culture and attitude. The police need to create and cherish a strong culture among its rank and file.
The Nigerian police should seek the services of Public Relations experts/firms to develop a modern PR plan for it – one that should go beyond the traditional police’s PR method – public display of achievements. Instead, its officers and men should be trained in many areas including basic professional behaviour in the public, how to attend and talk to people, association with civilians and even posture when in public view, etc.
One of the most critical aspects that need urgent attention is smart dressing. Every officer in the Nigeria police should dress smart and neat. This will reflect the meaning of the yellow colour in the police flag – discipline and resourcefulness and the elephant in its crest- steadfastness and reliability. A major benefit of culture and attitude reform is that it will help engender better community policing.
Above all, as a matter of urgency, you have to get your team well prepared for the forth coming elections which are about a month away. The police have a huge role to play in the elections if it must be successful. The time is short but in colloquial parlance, it is the baptism of fire for you. It is believed you are up to the task.
––Muhammad wrote from
Jimeta, Adamawa State.