By Francis Damina
No doubt, from North to South, East to West, insecurity has become the cog on the wheel of Nigeria’s drive to nationhood. Of recent, apart from the dreaded Boko Haram, there have been, across the country, much talk about the unity or otherwise of the country predicated on the activities of criminals. Almost on a daily basis, tens, and sometimes, hundreds of innocent people, either get killed or kidnapped with their oproperties often not spared. And these usually include pregnant women and children. Clearly, Nigeria is becoming unsafe by day! Yes, this accounts for the emergence of non-state actors such as the Sheikh Mahmud Gummis and the like of Sunday Igboho operating on the nation’s perennial fault lines of region, religion and ethnicity like other ethnic, religious and political leaders who have equally elected the path of insularity.
But inspite of the calls and eventual change of the Service Chiefs as the way out, pundits are doubtful if there can be any end to the menace unless there is a change of strategy in our security architecture. It was based on this, moved by the call of duty, and the instinct to build a peaceful and prosperous nation, that stakeholders met at the center of the nation for a one-day sensitization programme on community Policing organized by the Nigerian Police Force in collaboration with UNITE CONSULT and C.O. LUKE $ CO. on January 26, 2021, at the famous Yar’adua Center, Abuja. The objectives of the programme included : appreciating the vision of IGP Mohammed Adamu on Community Policing, promoting knowledge of Community Policing Handbook, deepening the Knowledge of the Police rank and files on the imperative of community policing, promoting knowledge of the provisions of the New Police Act of 2020, appreciation of the role of the community in ensuring sustainable security. And, appreciating the objectives and functions of the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (NPTF).
The programme came in the wake of the #ENDSARS protests and the attendant police reform measures aimed at complimenting the commendable efforts of the IGP in realizing the vision of Community Policing through capacity building training and reorientation of the communities, targeted groups and the police ranks and files.
Attendance included participants drawn from the Nigerian Police, Churches, Mosques, Organized Communities: States, Local Government Authorities, Business Tycoons, Organized Labour, Academic Community and Civil Societies. The programme which saw the arrival and registration of participants at 9:00 – 10:00am, was also laced with an opening remark by Mr President ably represented by the Hon. Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi – Katukan Sokoto – who emphasized the obvious challenges of insecurity in the country while stressing that security is among the 3-point agenda of the Buhari-led government that include Anti-Corruption and Economic Recovery. He therefore appealed for synergy among all stakeholders noting that no society develops amidst insecurity.
Earlier in his welcome address, cerebral labour leader and co-facilitator, comrade Issa Aremu mni, while lauding the 20th Inspector General of Police, Mohammed A. Adamu mni, appreciated the concept of Community Policing as envisioned by the IGP saying the recent happenings in Ondo State and the involvement of stakeholders especially the Governors’ Forum is a quintessential of “Community Policing in action”. He said: “Let me commend the Nigeria Governors’ Forum led by its chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi for initiating the meeting with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), security agencies and other stakeholders yesterday Monday January 25, 2021, on the recent security challenges in Ondo State.”
“In principle and details, it was an art of Community Policing in action we just witnessed in Ondo as contained in the Community Policing Handbook which is the module for today’s intensive discussion . With the permission of IGP, I will recommend the events in Ondo as a case study for the participants on how to deepen the concept of Community Policing.”
“I am excited by some of the outcomes of the GF meeting. This shows that when there is a community engagement, we can overcome any security threats. Godliness is in the details of some of the resolutions.”
After commending the role of the Police in maintaining law and order in the recently concluded elections in Edo and Ondo States, the need to build partnership for peace with particularly MACBAN, the media and fake news, he concluded by saying: ” policing is part of nation- building process- it is work in progress, not an event. The point cannot be overstated; that police as an institution is a ‘dependable variable – dependent on the political and economic character of the nation’ “.
The two-phased event was thereafter, flooded with interventions and goodwill messages from stakeholders/resource persons especially the royal fathers, labour union, academia and civil society. The following were noted by all the participants. That:1. crime and criminality in the society have strong correlations with governance especially the economic and political character of a nation. 2. there must be a shift from the traditional reactionary method of policing to a proactive method such that the Community will be actively involved in the process of crime fighting and maintenance of peace, law and order. 3. traditional rulers who are at the grassroot, and who are in full knowledge of the behaviors of their subjects, and ought to recommend them or otherwise, are often been snupped in police recruitment processes. 4. members of the force should be re-oriented, better trained, adequately remunerated, motivated and accorded dignity in order for them to offer patriotic services to the citizens. Police men are working men and women who must be paid. The Wages and Salaries Commision should quckly implement the directive of President Muhammedu Buhari on this. 5.There should be improved trust and confidence between the communities and the Nigerian Police. 6. there should be regular training and psycho-analysis of officers and intending officers of the Police Force to ensure that those recruited are actually qualified. 7. the Police must be well-equipped with the necessary facilities to reflect global technological advancement as is expected of a country that really desires sanity and development.
In response to the over-flogged issue of renumeration, the Acting Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Ekpo Nta, Esq., noted:
“In trying to reposition the Nigerian Police Force, we cannot ignore an important element of an appropriate compensation.”
“As one of the several ongoing interventions of the Federal Government to address Police reforms, Mr President recently approved in principle that the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission should come up with a new salary structure for the Nigerian Police Force.”
“In that regard, the Commission is working relentlessly with relevant stakeholders to recommend a new salary template that will attract the right personnel, further motivate and boost the morale of the Police Force.”
He concluded by saying: “Our Commission is happy to note that apart from the proposed enhanced renumeration package, Government has also established a Police Trust Fund to invest in human capacity building, equipment and infrastructure upgrade. All these initiatives will engender the right partnership between the populace starting from the grassroots to the mega Communities based on friendship, respect and trust.”
The second phase of the event which started after lunch, was coordinated by the trio of Barrister C.O. Luke, Comrade Issa Aremu- both co-facilitators, and AIG Bala Senchi. After presentations on the significance of Community Policing by AIG Senchi and Luke, Esq., questions, interventions, and recommendations from all participants were entertained. Worthy of mention are questions on renumeration, ethics, relationship with conventional Police, and the need or otherwise, for the Community Police Officers to be armed.
The event which witnessed close to a thousand participants from the FCT, Kogi, Plateau, Nassarawa, Niger, and Benue States, also saw two participants from Kano state. Apart from many guests, the presence of the of former IGP Ibrahim Idris, representing the Etsu Nupe, and HRH Alhaji Shaban Audu Nyizazo, The Etsu of Kwali, representing HRM, Alhaji Adamu Baba Yunusa, The Ona of Abaji and Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as the aesthetic intervention of President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Ken Ukaoha Esq., added colour to the event.
Finally, amidst the drums of war, the insularity of some supposed stakeholders, and the pessimism of the men and women of letters, there is no doubt that it is only by concurrently coming together, in realization that security is everyone’s business, to discuss ideas such as this, that the salvation of our nation lies. May God help us in the coming days, weeks and months, as we put our heads together on how best to police our communities.