COVID-19 and Lessons from Police Trust Fund

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By Abdussamad Dasuki

A recent development in our national life has reminded me of the foresight of the 8th National Assembly, and it’s important to restate it. This is the challenge that necessitated the passing of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill into law. The bill was designed to tackle the uncertainty of funding Nigeria Police Force, and to serve as a ready immunity to shortfalls in their finances. The outbreak of COVID-19 and its consequent impact on our economy have highlighted that wisdom.

Even though our police aren’t as effectively funded as desired, their critical role should never be subjected to the further risks of any sudden financial disruption. This was the fear or realization that prompted this special intervention to stabilize and guarantee the financing of their necessary expenditures.

Our agreement then, and which now been implemented, was to set up a legal framework that provides the funding needed for training and recruitment, and management and control of the special intervention funds established under the Act. It’s also based on the danger of not granting adequate resources to that pivotal organization to enhance the skills of their personnel in order to ensure efficiency, overall performance, and consistent improvement in discharging their duties to the nation.

Additionally, the Fund is also to be utilized in ensuring that the Police have the necessary operational equipment, instructional materials, stations and living quarters. In summary, the bill is an “insurance” against the the economic breakdown we are currently undergoing. And that’s why I feel the need to celebrate its impact and the example it has set.

Where’s the funding coming from? The first is 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account (FACC), and then a levy of 0.005% of the net profit of companies operating a business in Nigeria. Other sources of the funding include grants, donations, aid, endowments, and other monies set aside by the National Assembly in the budget to meet the objective of the Act.

I look back to this Act today, and, aside from being impressed by that bill which I supported as a member of the House of Representatives then, it validates the leadership of the Senate under Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives under Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. This is a part of the legacy of the 8th National Assembly, which was unfortunately dimmed by long-standing political conflicts, as a result of lawmakers’ democratic resolve to prevent undue executive interferences during that period.

I know the challenge of having a bill implemented in Nigeria. As the Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, I struggled to have such bills passed in protecting our military institutions. I co-sponsored the Armed Forced Trust Fund Bill and was the lead sponsor of the Maritime Trust Fund Bill. In spite of being promising and glaringly remedial, we couldn’t get this assented to by the Executive, as a result of the typical intergovernmental politics.

So, as Nigeria struggles to stabilize as a result of the devastating economic impact instigated by COVID-19, this Act serves as a template on ways to protect our critical institutions from collapse. Police Trust Fund has forestalled a disaster that could’ve come with any shortfall in funding the police, especially at the time the country’s crime rate has been frighteningly high.

The Buhari-led government is thankful for this Act as the administration has adopted it to mitigate the consequences of our dwindling revenues, as a result of the global pandemic and attendant declining Oil price. The federal government has already released about N11.5 billion to the Police. This allocation is designed to be given on a monthly basis as proposed in Section 4 of the Act, and so it’s going to be determined by the size of the revenues and profits of designated sources of funding. Thus, whichever excuse the Police must’ve cited in the past, this fund is a kick in the right direction and Nigerians expect them to deliver on their own part.

But, tragically, at the mercy of this escalating pandemic is also Nigeria’s health infrastructure. This is one sector that has been a victim of the country’s dysfunctions, and it’s heartbreaking that it takes a realization that we can’t outsource our health crises to the West before we embark on finding a solution. Our health workers are in need of similar special intervention fund to “insure” them against the unforeseen and emergencies.

In the meantime, we can all play a role by embarking on making life easier for our health workers. Here in Sokoto state, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has been quick to respond to the needs and welfare of health workers, and in this pandemic, he has doubled the hazard allowances of health workers in the state ad interim. This confidence-boosting intervention is evidently a sign of the quality intervention on the way, and luckily we have a template already in Sokoto state.

*Abdussamad Dasuki is a former member of the House of Representatives representing Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency of Sokoto State, and Chairman of the House Committee on Navy. He’s currently the Commissioner of Finance in Sokoto state.