So if we spend so much on the Nigerian police, how come the state of the Police Colleges are so bad?
Last week, it seemed that the Presidency was set on a course to reform the Nigerian police, starting with the institutions that trains new recruits. The documentary created by the Channels Television station promised to show the extent of the decay of the Police College in Lagos. The lack of investment in infrastructure that Channels TV planned to unearth is a sign of the lack of investment in virtually all structures in the Nigerian police. The alleged response of the Presidency that its political opponent commissioned the documentary to embarrass the administration, and the subsequent cancellation of the documentary on national television shows the intent of this government to ignore the decay in the Nigerian police force, and that the dramatic visit last week was just for show.
In the recently approved 2013 appropriation bill, the Nigerian government allocated to the police a sum of three hundred and thirty three billion, nice hundred and seventy one million, seven hundred and fifty three thousand five hundred and thirty seven naira (N333, 971,753,537). Over two billion American dollars was allocated to five separate agencies that are meant to disburse the 2013 budget to the Nigerian police. The Ministry of Police Affairs, whose duty is not quite clear, who is responsible for neither operations, administration nor human resources of the police was allocated $58,599,717 for presumably special projects that are often not in the best interest of the affairs of the police. Police formation and command was allocated more than three hundred and eleven billion Naira, more than ninety eight percent of which was earmarked for recurrent expenditure. The Police Service Commission plans to spend two billion to appoint, discipline, and promote officers under its command. It is not clear why this much was allocated for this narrow purpose but considering the result of its duties and how disorganized and indiscipline the Nigerian Police are, it is not clear if the Nigerian people are getting what they are paying such high cost for. The same trend of large allocations and low results are evident with previous budgets. The 2012 budget allocated 40% of the total budget to security spending. Considering how insecure the people are in this country, how dangerous the North is due to Boko Haram and sectarian clashes, the rampant kidnapping and extortion in the Southeast and the armed robberies and executions in the Southwest, we are clearly not gaining anything by spending so generously on security. The trend is the same, large spending with little result.
So if we spend so much on the Nigerian police, how come the state of the Police Colleges are so bad? If the 2013 budget mentioned and allocated funds in five separate line items, why are our police men and women so poorly paid, why must they procure their uniforms through personal funds, why are their equipment so out of date, why are their weapons so ancient, why are the police barracks so atrociously insecure and shabby? Where is the money? Who has it? Who has been spending it and on what?
Last year, the presidential committee on reorganization of the police force called on the government to scrap the Ministry of Police Affairs. The head of the committee claimed that the ministry allocates funds for projects that are not priority for the police force, and that it does not allow inputs from the administrators of the force. There are three different agencies directly responsible for the affairs of the police; the police council, the inspector general and the police service commission. One is not sure what the duties and responsibility of the Ministry of Police Affairs remains.
In the end, reforming the police includes clear reorganization and leaving one single entity in charge of the police, an entity that is responsible for reform, one that is not subjected to the whims of the political actors. Now that we know that the presidency is not interested in reform and since the NASS is preoccupied with graft and corruption, it is up to the citizens to drive change in the way police funds are allocated, disbursed and monitored. This must start with lobbying Channels Television to air that documentary so that the Nigerian people can finally see how awful it treats its police force.
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